Stand back, Jack

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It goes without saying, of course, but every now and then it’s a good idea to stand down, relax, maybe even take a nap. No matter what you’re working on, or how important you perceive it to be, there is a point of diminishing returns if you push too hard. You’re only human after all. If you don’t periodically stand back, take a break, and revive yourself through a vacation, a cooling off period, or just a diversion to other things, your work will suffer.

That’s true of your efforts on behalf of general aviation, too. [Read more…]

How to fill a hangar

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How can your airport fill up its empty hangars? Perhaps the most effective method would be to send a pilot or two into the local middle schools and high schools to tell a few stories, pop a slideshow up on the smartboard, and invite a whole bunch of the kids out to the airport. Let me provide a little context for that idea. It’s valid, believe me. But as fixes go, this isn’t a quick one — nor should it be.

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Back ups, understudies, and substitutes

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Politics shares at least a little bit with baseball — at least in the sense that to get something done politically, you’ll occasionally need to rely on your backup.

You see this in the theater, as well. Eventually you’ll find that the main player isn’t available for some reason, so an understudy will step into the spotlight to carry the load for a while. The education industry has known this for years. When Ms. Reliable can’t make it one day, her students don’t have to spend the day staring at the wall. Ms. Substitute (or Mr. Substitute) is only a phone call away. Class will be back in session shortly.

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Malcolm, Heather, and you

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Consider this brain-teaser if you will. What do Malcolm Gladwell, Heather Locklear, and you all have in common? Malcolm is, of course, the author of a bestseller “The Tipping Point.” Heather Locklear leapt into the national consciousness as a perky, blonde, ever-smiling actress in the 80s, and you’re already pretty familiar with yourself. So what’s the connection?

Well, in a word, connections. That’s what you all have in common. And, believe it or not, that matters to the future of aviation. Allow me to illustrate.

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Mind your manners

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Years ago when I was writing a weekly column for a local newspaper, a reporter asked me, innocently enough, “Where do you get your ideas from?” He meant well.

As a reporter he wasn’t paid to be creative. His bread and butter came from being accurate. That was his comfort level and he did his job well. I, on the other hand, was expected to come up with something fanciful, inspirational, conversational, or controversial on a regular basis. To be perfectly honest it’s not as hard as it might sound. All you really have to do is open your eyes, open your ears, and pay a little attention to the people around you.

One recent example might be the conversation I had with one of the elder statesmen on our field, a real firecracker of a woman who is as sharp in her 80s as most folks are at half her age. She still flies regularly, and even motivates others to get out there and punch a hole in the sky on a regular basis.

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The big dogs came to town

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As the political season heats up with candidates on the stump and spokesmen backing them or tearing them down on television, there is one message that is clear to many of us. We will never personally meet or have a substantive conversation with the individuals at the top of the ticket — not unless we have a checking account balance that has a lot of zeros behind it.

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The unavoidable nature of ‘No’

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If you’re going to advocate for general aviation, or pretty much anything else for that matter, you should probably get comfortable with the notion that you’re going to hear the word “no” from time to time. Frankly, you’re probably going to hear it a lot, so get used to it. Hate it. Get frustrated, annoyed, and maybe even a little bit mad about it. But don’t give up and go home. “No” isn’t the end of anything.

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Airshows, spectators, and the inimitable Fred Rogers

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If you’re reading this post, you can be fairly sure that you’re an aviation enthusiast. You might be a pilot, but you might not be, too.

Believe it or not, there are massive numbers of people scattered across the globe who are aviation enthusiasts, yet who don’t personally feel the need to grasp the controls and guide a machine through the air. There’s no contradiction there. Not all NASCAR fans rush the pits to force their way into a car so they can experience the big banked turns of Daytona first hand.

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The conundrum of community

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We who write about general aviation have a tendency to use a particular term to describe the lot of us. It is fairly common for us to describe the collective bunch as “the aviation community.” The intent is to bond us together, at least in the reader’s mind. And in many cases the term is literal — there is an actual community of aviators, or aviation enthusiasts, who live and work and recreate in close proximity to each other.

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Don’t ask, don’t tell

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It’s no surprise to anyone in the aviation industry to hear that the pilot population is shrinking. Sure, it’s sad – but it’s not a surprise. We all know it’s shrinking. If only there were something we could do to reverse that trend.

Good news — there is. In fact that trend can be reversed relatively easily, and reasonably quickly, too. I know that’s true because it’s happening right here in my neighborhood. With a little nudge from you and your aviation-minded friends, it could happen in your neighborhood, too.

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