Recently, a friend of mine was working on a Holly carburetor off his vintage car when his nephew stopped by. The nephew looked at the carburetor and asked “what does that thing do?”
The scary point here is that the nephew had just graduated from a technical school with a degree in auto mechanics!
If new auto mechanics don’t know what a carburetor is, then how difficult is it going to be to teach Millenials how to fly?
Alas, here is a list of some, but not all, of the problems with teaching them to become pilots.
- They refuse to get their hands dirty by checking oil.
- They refuse to check fuel tank levels or sump tanks because fuel smells “yucky.”
- They are entirely confused by what can be found by a walk around of an aircraft. They think there should be a phone app for that.
- Some of them have difficulty in getting into an airplane with jeans around their knees and refuse to risk being seen out of uniform.
- They can’t find the power seat switch.
- Primer? No idea what to do here.
- If they don’t know what a carburetor is, try explaining carb heat.
- They are totally confused by the round thingies in the dash with the black pointy things in them. If a non-digital watch confuses them, good luck with steam gauges.
- I need to lean out the mixture strength? Doesn’t a computer do that?
- They’re baffled by the need to push a button to talk on the radio. And the person on the other end talks in a strange language. Who the hell is Roger?
- They are totally confused by a heading of 19. Also operating in three dimensions is not covered by GPS.
- There’s not enough room in the cockpit to use a selfie stick.
- It’s difficult to talk on a cell phone with head phones on.
- It is almost impossible to text with two hands and fly the airplane. This is particularly bad during takeoffs and landings.
- The flight instructor yells at them because of number 14.
I have had the pleasure and honor to work with a lot of young people and am amazed at how much they know. Much of their wealth of knowledge is about things they need to know to function in today’s high-tech world and job market.
But I still think there should be a life course in high schools that teaches some practical skills like changing a tire on a car and balancing a check book.
However, the other side of the coin is that GA needs to come into the 21st century and update the technology and systems we are using. We are basically trying to sell GA using horse and buggy technology to an audience that has never lived without computers or cell phones.