Are you wondering what the value of aviation might be? Good. I’ve got an answer for that question. So sit back, relax, put your feet up and get ready for a unique perspective on why aviation matters to each and every one of us, even if we have no intention of ever going to an airport ourselves.

One of the best parts of writing a regular column for a proud aviation publication like General Aviation News, is that I get to hear from people all over the country. Sometimes they just want to share their two cents worth with me. Other times, they have a bone to pick. But sometimes they’ve got some good news to share. That was the case this week when I spoke to Ron Jarmon of Island Air Express in Panama City, Florida. Ron had some good news to share, so I shared it. You can read the whole story right here. But be warned, it’s positive, upbeat, and just might give you hope. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Being an advocate isn’t all about flag waving, back slapping, and wild cheering. Sometimes it’s necessary to provide a bit of cold water to the audience, much like when your flight instructor turns to you after a lesson and says, “That was okay, but we’re going to have to work on maintaining altitude a little more consistently in your steep turns.”

The instructor isn’t saying you suck. He (or she) isn’t saying your hopeless. They’re merely saying that you need to focus a bit, work on improving a weakness that can be identified, and more than that – they’re telling you that you’re not in this alone. You’ve got a friend who can help you. A friend that is motivated to help you. So reach out, grab a hold of their offer to assist and take it.

That’s the gist of this week’s Politics for Pilots column in General Aviation News. It runs with the catchy title, “Cannibalism: a cautionary tale.”

With a title like that, you want to read it, don’t you? Go ahead, click the link, read the piece, leave a comment. Your perspective might be the one that pulls this whole thing together.

C.G. Blake is an old friend and a talented writer. In fact, Mr. Blake was being paid to write way back in the days when I was still a long haired kid with a guitar and a dream. Over time my dreams changed a bit, but C.G. kept his nose to the grindstone, made a real success of himself, and has become quite an authority on the subject of writing and writers.

Some time back we conducted an interview as one writer to another. It was an interesting experience, since we’ve known each oth

er for such a long time and know each other’s back stories so well. After reading the interview perhaps you’ll enjoy that insight, too. I certainly hope so.

You can visit C.G. Blake’s blog here, and read the interview there. http://cgblake.wordpress.com/2011/09/24/interview-with-author-jamie-beckett/

A Ghost Story – sort of

The first story I ever wrote for AOPA Flight Training Magazine was based on a real life event that left an indelible mark on my psyche. The flight that resulted in this story has always been one of my prime motivators as a pilot. Be safe, make good decisions, be willing to say “no” when you need to, and don’t worry about getting home on time if the circumstances suggest the attempt might be counter-productive.

AOPA Flight Training, and AOPA Pilot have become publications that I am truly proud to be published in as well as being a happy reader. This was the piece that opened that door for me, however. So I have a particular soft spot in my heart for it – even if it is a little dark and mournful.

Read it here, if you dare.

It has occurred to me that my perspective is unique, even peculiar in these purportedly desperate times. I say this because there are a number of stories in the national press this week that I must admit, seem beside the point to me. No, they’re beyond beside the point. They’re stupid.

That’s not a word I use lightly; stupid. I reserve it for instances where no other word will do. And as sad as it may be as a descriptor of our current state of affairs, but stupid is the focus of the news all too often these days. No matter which network is airing it, regardless which publisher ships it, irrespective of which radio station it runs on…our news is being issued by nitwits without the decency to wear a ridiculous hat to identify themselves to the public at large as idiots in training.

The situation is pathetic.

As an example, within hours of Mitt Romney naming his vice-presidential pick, we began to learn details of representative Ryan’s life that I can’t begin to believe have any bearing on his ability to think, or act, or lead. I’m not sure which editor, in what corner of the world, thought that Ryan’s brief dalliance at the wheel of the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile was newsworthy, or pertinent, yet there it was on the news for all to see.

Horrors! We couldn’t possibly have an Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile driver only a heart beat away from the White House. Certainly not. Just consider the illustrious string of resume’s that have preceded him. There was a tailor (Andrew Johnson), a high school principal (James Garfield), a football coach (Woodrow Wilson), a miner (Herbert Hoover), and an actor (Ronald Reagan).

With all that in mind, is a youthful connection to a major hot dog manufacturing company really such a big deal?

On the opposite side of the coin is the ongoing debate, pointless and perennial as it has become, of whether or not President Obama was born in the United States, or Kenya, or Indonesia, or on Mars. So far Curiosity, the rover that recently landed on the red planet, has found no evidence of the young Barack spending an extra-terrestrial spring break on its substantial beaches. Perhaps Dinesh D’Souza will bring something truly riveting to light in his new movie, 2016. But even that matters little. That ship has sailed, friends. Once the man steps to the podium, takes the oath, and strolls into the oval office – you have a president, whether you like him (or her) or not.

The qualifications to be president are simple and brief. They are stipulated in that ultra-concise document known as the US Constitution. In Article II, Section 1, you will find the rules. To be President of the United States you have to fulfill exactly two prerequisites. You must be a natural born citizen, and you must be at least thirty-five years old.

That’s it. Somebody may want to break this gently to the talking heads on television, there are no additional qualifications. So when they spout off asking pointedly, “Is Random Named Candidate qualified to be the President of the United States?” somebody should point out that slim list of rules in a strong, clear voice.

So let’s be generous and assume that Mitt and Paul, as well as Barack and Joe, are all natural born citizens of the United States who are at least thirty-five years old. In fact, there are considerable indications that they all are. So we’re on relatively solid ground with this one. They’re all qualified to run. The question becomes, of the candidates offering themselves up for the job, are they the ones you would most like to see running your business? Because America is indeed your business, and mine, and everybody else’s, too. So let’s talk rather than shout. Let’s plan rather than react. And let’s take just a moment to consider that it’s possible that we don’t have to hate each other just because we have a different political philosophy of how to help the poor, care for the elderly, retrain those of our age, and educate the next generation coming up behind us.

That really shouldn’t be that hard – should it?


My friends at General Aviation News continue to grace me with column inches in their print publication, and plenty of free electrons on their website. Today’s installment is called, Contact. It deals with the tremendous benefits we have working for us in the modern age when it comes to communications. Take a peek. You just might like it.

“In the old days, the word “Contact!” was central to the process of getting things going. The pilot yelled  “Contact!” The mechanic then responded in kind while laying hands on the prop. Seconds later, after a grunt, a flip of the prop, and a puff of smoke, an airplane would leap to life.

Technology has changed that process a bit. But the need to make contact is as important as ever, in whatever form it takes.”