Know your neighbors

Jamie Beckett is a CFI and A&P mechanic who stepped into the political arena in an effort to promote and protect GA at his local airport.

Years ago when I was flying as an instructor out of Meriden Markham Airport in central Connecticut, I attended a meeting held in the city hall building in East Hartford, Connecticut. The concern on the agenda that evening was that then-Governor Lowell Weicker would purchase or lease access to the state’s second largest airport to act as a reliever to Bradley International in Windsor Locks.

The group that sprouted up to fight this action named itself RADAR, Residents Against Dangerous Airport Relocation. I have to admit I never entirely understood how using an airport that had been in regular use for more than 70 years constituted “relocation,” but the opposition was out in force that night, and I learned a lot about how the non-aviation public views those of us on the other side of the airport fence. In short, they are not enamored of us. [Read more…]

First: Ask the right question

When I was a relatively young instructor I had the good fortune to call a small uncontrolled airport in central Connecticut my home base. Meriden Markham may not make the annals of aviation as a hotbed of technical achievement, innovative design, or the home of a manufacturing marvel, but I learned more about teaching, and business management, and the importance of successfully marketing a service during my time flying for Meriden Aviation than I have at any other flying job.

Part of that education was happenstance. It was nothing more complicated than good luck that brought me to work for a chief pilot named Frank Gallagher. It was Frank who taught me the valuable lesson that a well-planned cooperative effort can have far more powerful results than a Herculean individual attempt. I’m not entirely sure that was his intent, but that was the lesson I took away from my time in Meriden. Working together to achieve a clearly understandable common goal works. It’s just that simple.

As unusual as it may seem, my first assignment as an instructor at Meriden involved a file cabinet and a phone. There was no airplane involved. Frank simply pointed me, and another new-hire instructor, to a file cabinet full of student records and assigned us to select the students who had stopped flying, but had not earned their ratings or certificates. With that pile of files on our desks, we started making phone calls. [Read more…]