With all the hand wringing and brow furrowing we’ve experienced lately as a result of the sequestration, it’s probably worth remembering that we live in the most technologically advanced, affluent, and safe period of human history.
While sitting at my desk last week, passing the time of day in a genial manner with one of the local CFIs, I noticed Rick Matthews wandering by my door. Being in a particularly social mood, I called him into the office. Rick is one of the creative minds behind the Aviation Access Project, but he’s based in Atlanta. What’s he doing in Winter Haven, Florida? I wondered.
It started with a conversation, which lead to a thought, which resulted in a plan. In no time at all that process caused an email to be drafted and sent to approximately a dozen hopefully receptive recipients. That was the start of the Polk Aviation Alliance, a diverse group of aviation professionals who have committed themselves to working together, collaboratively, to maximize the economic benefits of aviation to Polk County, Florida.
General Aviation is dead. If it’s not dead, it’s dying. If it’s not dying, it’s paralyzed with a sickness that manifests itself in the form of high prices, lousy service, ancient participants, and a generalized sense of ennui among the spectators at the fence line. You’ve read these charges, and I’m here to tell you they’re bunk.
This twisted logic is a prime example of pure, unadulterated, down-in-the-dumps nonsense. It’s the sort of thing that sounds good and can get a crowd to believe the hype. But it’s not true.
“A TFR is a regulatory action issued via the U.S. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system to restrict certain aircraft from operating within a defined area, on a temporary basis, to protect persons or property in the air or on the ground.” So says AC91-63C, an advisory circular issued with the intent of illuminating the public on what the fuss is all about. For many, the TFR system works well, is understandable, and while it may be perceived as an inconvenience at times, it is widely believed to be a necessary one – especially when viewed from the perspective of a non-aviator.
On the other side of the fence, where GA tries to thrive, TFRs are a becoming a real irritant and a significant impediment to commerce. In Florida they’ve become almost ubiquitous, popping up with alarming frequency — sometimes remaining in place for days.
Regular readers of this blog know I make no secret of my affection for flying clubs. My devotion to the concept is based on the wealth of opportunity these clubs can offer. In a nutshell, my thinking goes like this: If there is a better method of cutting the cost of flying, establishing a long-lasting social bond with fellow aviation enthusiasts, and spreading the word that general aviation is within the reach of the average man or woman, I haven’t found it.
Periodically, I, like all pilots, am asked to divulge how many hours I’ve logged. How much of that total is single engine and how much is multi engine? I’m asked to break out the land plane time from the seaplane time. Like you, I’m asked to break out night time, cross-country time, taildragger time, and every other category of time the form’s author could envision. My most recent entanglement with this came this past week. And once again I was forced to tell the truth — I don’t know how many hours I’ve amassed. Maybe more importantly, I don’t care.
It’s long been my contention that people are the magnet that makes airshows and aviation gatherings worth attending — not the aircraft themselves. Admittedly, I am in the minority with that opinion, but the idea seems to be re-enforced for me year after year. This year’s US Sport Aviation Expo in Sebring, Florida, was no exception.
According to the US Department of Transportation, the US and its territories have more than 19,000 airport, heliports, seaplane bases, and other landing facilities. That’s a lot of aviation. Or at least it’s a lot of potential aviation. [Read more...]
The odds are good you’ve never heard of Lon Cooper. There’s no reason you would have, really. But you should have. We all should have. At least we should have if life is fair, which it is not.