I tend to write upbeat stories that are intended to inspire and motivate. That’s not always practical, however. For instance, when your house bursts into flames because the turkey frier got out of hand, that’s probably not the best time to ask your guests if they’d like a bowl of ice-cream. Better than you get up from the table and go outside for awhile, no matter how quick a response time your local fire department can promise.
Sometimes something stupid happens. When that occurs, I often find myself fighting the urge to jot down a few words on the topic. Today is one of those days. Something stupid happened. Actually, something happened that is so stupid it is hard to measure even on an industrial scale.
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Some say it’s time to turn out the lights. It’s over. I say we’re very near the dawn of a new day. What do you think? The good folks at General Aviation News gave me some space to share these thoughtswith their readers. So whadaya think? Is general aviation is the dumper, or does it have a bright future and many golden years to come?
Something’s happening in America, and it’s weird. Our affluence has become so ingrained in our daily lives, we no longer notice it. We’ve become convinced that we’re underprivileged, overlooked, and forgotten. The opposite is true, of course. We’re wealthy beyond the imagination of billions of our fellow human beings. Billions, mind you. Not just a few hundred thousand millionaires whose salaries and investments make the average hourly worker’s income look like a tip for good service in a top end restaurant.
Yeah, I’ll say it. We’re so spoiled we don’t even recognize how good we’ve got it. Waaa, that guy has more than I do! So what? Is that guy happy? Do his children look up to him? Does he have real friends, or does he just have a collection of hangers-on who won’t let go until the last dollar is gone? You don’t know. And that’s the whole point. Read More →
I wrote a piece for General Aviation News this past week that seems to have raised some interest. It’s touched a nerve, kicked up some dust, gotten at least a few people off the couch and onto the Internet – and it’s resulted in a phone call or two as well.
The question is a simple one – how do we tell the good pilots from the not-so-good pilots? Is it even possible to establish a simple measuring stick that will work with all pilots from all walks of life, all the time. Personally, I doubt it. On an individual basis we all have a reason to care about the topic, though. After all – aviation establishes safety as its primary focus with everything else taking a back seat.
So here’s the piece I wrote. It’s called, Building a Better Yardstick.
Comment at will, as always.
Lyle Schofield (left) gives a celebratory thumbs-up with his student Yeongmin You, immediately after Yeongmin completed his first solo flight in a Cessna 172, at SunState Aviation Flight School in Winter Haven, Florida. January 2013.
It’s been a long time since I did my first solo in an airplane. Long enough ago that although I remember tiny details of how it felt, and what sort of conditions I encountered, I forget the overwhelming sense of joy and accomplishment that comes from soloing. From doing something that’s challenging, and rare all on your own.
It’s a great feeling. It really is.
This past weekend I got to re-experience that unique, once-in-a-lifetime excitement when one of the instructors at the flight school I run, soloed a student. The smile on the students face when he emerged from the airplane was stellar. He was so proud, so elated at the accomplishment. And I found myself feeling just as proud and elated for him.
Soloing isn’t for wimps. You’ve got to have a pretty darned good idea what you’re doing.
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Lately I’ve been seeing a staggering number of Wounded Warrior Project commercials on television. They’re always the same. Country musician Trace Adkins pops up on my screen encouraging me, and everyone else watching that particular channel, to contribute to the proud cause of the Wounded Warrior Project. Photos and interviews with military veterans who have suffered significant trauma, both mental and physical, are interspersed throughout the ad. And I can’t help thinking every time I see these commercials, why is this organization even necessary?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but military veterans who are injured in wartime or through military service, are essentially workers injured on the job. Wouldn’t their employer be on the hook for their medical needs? It seems likely that at least a significant portion of those costs would be borne by the company or the contractor who hired those employees and assigned them to perform dangerous tasks under difficult circumstances. And that’s assuming these people were injured while employed in the private sector.
Obviously, our military vets with injuries are not private contractors. They are volunteers who make the conscious choice to pick up arms to defend our nation and its people. They willingly embark on a noble career path that will at least potentially put them in harm’s way. And they do it without regard for high pay, special perks, or lavish retirement benefits. They ask only one thing of the rest of us – they ask us to have their back if things get ugly. Read More →
I’ve never been very good at tooting my own horn. But I enjoy it as much as anyone else when my work gets noticed in a positive way. So with sincere thanks to the fine people at AOPA, I share the notification here that I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the 2012 Let’s Go Flying Award recipient.
Aviation has been a magnet for me since I was young. Frankly, I didn’t get into it as a pilot until I was in my late 20s. But once I took the plunge, I went whole hog. And I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Aviation in all its various forms has been a real driver in my life. It’s adventurous, it’s rewarding, it’s educational, motivational, inspirational, and a whole lot of fun. What more could I ask for in life? What more could anyone want?
The best news is, aviation is never filled to capacity. If you’re interested in getting involved, we’ve got room for you. Whether your interest is in designing, building, maintaining, restoring, managing, flying, or just standing on the sidelines enjoying the view – we’ve got an opportunity for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, young or old, tall or short, thin or chunky. Aviation doesn’t care about any of that. It just wants to give you the greatest thrill of your life by allowing you to enjoy your time on earth and above the earth as fully as you possibly can.
Thanks AOPA. I really am humbled by the attention. And rather than tuck the award away at home, I’ve loaned it to the City of Winter Haven, which will put it on display at Gilbert Field. My hope is the users, tenants, and visitors to my favorite airport on the planet will be inspired by the attention AOPA showers on those who work to promote and advance aviation, and find a way to put their efforts into earning this or another award themselves.
Now, on to the next thing…
I write a weekly column for General Aviation News, which I love. GANews is a leader in the field, from my perspective. They’ve embraced electronic publication and the possibilities blogs present, while integrating that new world approach seamlessly with their old word paper product. I see them as the best of both worlds, and that is only one of the many reasons I love to write for them.
Another point that makes me a huge fan is their willingness to give me free reign on topics. Today’s blog post is a good example. I’m writing about the rush to euthanize general aviation. What’s most troubling about this movement is that it is taking root inside the ranks of formerly, and sometimes current, general aviation participants.
Well…rather than let the cat entirely out of the bag, go ahead and click the link and read the piece. I’m sure you’ll be entertained or enlightened, even if you’re not a big fan of aviation. Feel free to leave a comment if you’re moved in that way, too. That’s the whole point of the blog model, to get a conversation started where it can air out in public.
Read on, good friends. Read on.
I truly enjoy writing for AOPA Flight Training magazine. It’s a well intentioned publication that focuses on quality material that’s beneficial to flight students, pilots who are hoping to add a new rating, and flight instructors who wish to benefit from a bit of insight and experience from others.
This month AOPA Flight Training is running a piece I wrote about the Tuskegee Airmen and their experience as flight students and pilots flying the line. They may be the most inspirational group in history, for my money. Whenever someone tells me how hard flight training is (and it can be) or how difficult a time they’re having learning the lessons set out for them (and they very well may be struggling), I like to keep in mind that the Tuskegee Airmen had the deck stacked against them too, yet they came out on top with an excellent record of achievement.
These are truly remarkable men. It has been my good fortune to meet and speak with a handful of them. I share a few of their thoughts in this piece. I hope you enjoy it, and find something to light at least a spark of inspiration in yourself.
The typical advice given to writers seems simple enough. Write something every day. That’s logical. If you subscribe to the work ethic of the every day writer, it will build up a body of work over time. Another day, another page or two come into being. It stands to reason. The more you write, the more you will have written.
To this I say, “So what?” If you have something to say, write. If you don’t, relax and let your mind drift. Until you have something to convey to the reader, why put fingers to keyboard? The point is not to fill pages, but to fill pages with something worth reading.
I can’t say for sure, but I suspect Harper Lee didn’t write every day. Her great accomplishment, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a classic and it deserves to be. But is it a moving story of human strength and frailty because it was produced through a religiously daily grind at the notepad and typewriter? Or is it one of the great American novels because it is…well, novel? Which is more likely do you think? Is its greatness derived of its production schedule, or the story it tells?
I think we all know the answer to those questions.
Maybe writing every day isn’t so important after all. Maybe the better advice is to imagine, to think, to envision your story with all its strengths and weaknesses and then set yourself to the task of making it work. When you have a nugget of a story to tell, that’s a good time to sit down and start writing. When you have something to write. Something to share. Something to discover about your story and the characters that inhabit it. When you have a problem to solve, that’s a good time to be writing. Until then, consider a coffee, or maybe a biscuit with a tasty colorful smear of jelly. Let your mind take you to where it wants to go. Then follow it and take note of what happens.
Now, you should sit down to write.