The church my family attends makes available to all comers a time and talent sign-up form. Our church, like most churches, has far more needs, and desires, than the paid staff can, or should, reasonably accomplish. As a result, we’ve created this sign-up form to tap the collective knowledge and labor base that is the membership.
The aviation-related organization I can think of that taps the time and talent of its members the best is the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). While its scope is narrow — backcountry and recreational airstrip accessibility — its needs, like all organizations, are broad — advocacy, fund-raising, member management, communications and more. RAF leadership has learned what gets its members excited and targets their tasks. They know it makes little sense to ask all members to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress when they know a few who are more than willing to answer that call.
As we were walking home from church one Sunday, I got to thinking about the potential for a time and talent sign-up for aviation. While our scope varies by areas of interest, I believe all — or almost all — aviators would like to contribute to the broad mission of making all aspects of aviation accessible to whoever so desires.
Inside this broad mission, we would need to better refine to areas of narrower scope, such as general aviation, business aviation, flight instruction, airports, ground support, maintenance, advocacy, promotion and public relations, and more…many many more.
But here’s the thing: There are many people with skills and interest that can help multiple, seemingly less connected, areas of focus.
Within the general aviation focus, for example, are people interested in organizing and attending fly-ins. While fly-in flavors differ around the country, the underlying infrastructure is similar across the board. All need insurance, detailed procedures (for both normal and emergency operations), ticket and exhibit sales, and support, promotion, food, drink, and more.
If we tapped the collective knowledge base that is the pilot population, isn’t it conceivable that we could make hosting a fly-in easier, more fun and potentially more profitable (if that’s the goal)? If fly-ins are easier to host and more fun, they will be better attended and more effective, which is, of course, a good thing.
And is hosting a fly-in much different than hosting a trade show or a safety seminar or an airport open house? While some aspects won’t overlap, a great many will, thus the potential for us all to get better.
And there isn’t much of leap from these kinds of events to member organizations like the RAF or the myriad state pilot associations. You get the idea. Time and talent…we all have some of each… if only we knew where to turn for maximum impact.
Ben Sclair is Publisher of General Aviation News.