By MATT McVICKER
“You should have seen this place back in the 1970s.”
I often hear this phrase passionately tossed around in the FBO lounge. The pilot is usually sucking back a blazing hot cup of coffee that has been curdling on the warmer for hours.
While I acknowledge the glory days of general aviation flying, the truth is, I wasn’t even born yet.
Close neighbor friends introduced me to aviation as a young child in the 1990s. I would gleefully hop in their Piper Chieftain often. I was in love.
The same wonder and excitement many Baby Boomers felt the first time they came to know general aviation has stuck with this Millennial ever since.
I was 16 years old the first time I soloed an airplane. I’ve been the weekend-warrior type ever since. I’ve been a part of flying clubs and have burned plenty of holes in the sky with rental birds from various FBOs.
College came knocking, and I knew what industry I wanted to work in. Now seven years removed from college I find myself waking up early to inspect runways in the morning. I am a proud general aviation airport/FBO manager at Findlay Airport (KFDY) in Ohio.
I have come to love this environment. The general aviation community is a tight-knit group. They look out for each other and gratuitously spread the joys of flight to anyone who will listen.
But what I have also come to know is that there are some things in this community that seem to be out of our control.
Whether it is regulatory challenges or rising costs associated with aircraft operation, many choose to harp on it to no end without action.
Then there are those people and organizations who silence the negative voices by taking action. Their actions are seen at local airports with community days and events. From SUN ‘n FUN in Lakeland, Florida, to AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, their voices are heard loud and clear. These people and organizations ARE general aviation.
There are plenty of perceived barriers of being a part of this community. There are also plenty of opportunities.
I encourage anyone with the means and time to invest in someone, an event, or an organization.
You saw what it was in the 1970s. I see what it is now. Let’s silence the negative voices and pave a sustainable path together with our actions. This Millennial plans to do so.