With the new year came a big new announcement from our friends in Frederick, Maryland. Six new fly-in events will grace the calendar starting in 2014, spreading from the east coast to the west coast, with important bases of operation in the middle of the country, too.
Yes, this is big news. It signifies and entirely new and different approach for the largest and arguably most important of the aviation-centric alphabet organizations.
AOPA’s outreach efforts are going grass-roots. They’re coming to a town that puts the big dogs in close proximity to the major population centers of the United States.
That’s a two-way street, too. Not only will they be making an effort to get closer to you, they’re giving the rest of us a chance to get closer to them, too.
This is the dawn of a new day in general aviation. Or at least it could be. All that’s required for this new outreach program to be a huge success is you.
AOPA is on board. The aviation press will be there. The host facilities are excited to have a major influx of new visitors coming their way.
There’s no doubt in my mind that AOPA members and potential members will turn these into well-populated, important events on the aviation events calendar. The only question remaining is a simple one: Will you get on board and help the bandwagon roll along or will you be a detractor?
Human nature is to gripe. We do it all the time. We don’t like the Democrats, we don’t like the Republicans, we bitch about the Yankees, or the Browns, or the Bruins. And the weather. We almost always complain about the weather. Yet we bellyache about meteorological issues with the full knowledge that nobody on earth can do anything to make a difference in the temperature or the precipitation that is ruining our plans for the day.
That’s the sad reality. We complain even when we know our complaining won’t do any good. We criticize even in the face of ample evidence that our grousing is making things worse rather than better. We object, and oppose, and attack, and nag – but we rarely do anything to make things better.
Let’s consider a more productive course of action, shall we?
Mark Baker is the new honcho at AOPA, not the old honcho. He and his crew can’t fix the past. They can only affect the future. So he is working with his team to start fresh, open the door to opportunity, and welcome as many comers as wish to pass through that portal.
Here, outside the confines of the AOPA offices in Maryland, we have two choices. Only two — there is no third alternative. We can help hold the door open through participation, or we can put our shoulder into it and do all we can to narrow the opening that new converts come through. We do that by bitching. By bringing up the same stale arguments that make the rounds year after year. We hurt the cause of GA by constantly pointing out what’s wrong with the marketplace, but we rarely do anything to improve the marketplace. More often than not we are our own worst enemy.
Let’s at least give the new kids at AOPA credit for making an attempt. They’re obviously putting in some long hours, getting truly creative, and doing what they can to get back to the grass-roots where general aviation began.
Will it work? Nobody knows for sure. That’s the honest truth. But it’s not hard to foresee the outcome if those of us out here in the world continue to act as we have in the past. The efforts of this hard-working, noble organization will be harder and more expensive to bring to fruition, and less satisfying for those who choose to pitch in and help pursue the goal, if we persist in our traditional cannibalistic crusade against anything we didn’t personally think up and approve.
Let’s stop doing that. Really. Let’s just stop. If anything can be singled out as the most malignant force in aviation, it is certainly the pervasive negativity of a vocal minority who seem fated to tear down the castle in an attempt to prove once and for all that imperfections exist in its design and construction. Of course, should that minority prevail, we will have left but a pile of rocks and a few smug detractors standing on top of the heap saying, “See, I told you it wasn’t perfect.”
Imperfection is a fact of life. We are all flawed, our aircraft all have weaknesses, our airports and seaplane bases could all use some sprucing up, but that’s not an excuse that justifies burning them to the ground in a vain effort to satisfy our own egos.
Congratulations and thank you to the new, revitalized, grass-roots AOPA, I say. And congratulations to San Marcos, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Plymouth, Massachusetts; Spokane, Washington; Chino, California; and Brunswick, Georgia. There’s a new day upon us. Good for anyone with the sense to seize this new day, wrestle it to the ground, and make the most of it.
AOPA regional events? I like the idea. Yep. I like it a lot. I’m going to do my best to help make these new events successful. I hope you will, too.