We Have a Republic

This article is in direct response to a very recent, syndicated column by Froma Harrop, which is published by approximately 200 newspapers across the nation.  Her article, dated May 17, 2017, is entitled, “Can Americans Save Their Democracy?”

My comments are addressed to her and to all red blooded Americans, who love this country!

Personally, I am very offended by your vitriolic vituperation of our President of the United States of America!

In your recent column, of May 17, 2017, which is circulated to my local newspaper, the Douglas County Sentinel, you present yourself as an unhappy, political looser, who cannot adjust to a fair and comprehensive change in American politics.

For one thing, you think you are the salvation of “Our Democracy” for the American people.  Please be advised that this country is not a Democracy but rather is a “Republic.”  We are governed by laws and not by men or women.

The Honorable Benjamin Franklin told us that the Founding Fathers gave us a “Republic” if we can keep it.  As a matter of fact, the word “Democracy” is not even mentioned in the Declaration of Independence nor is it used in the Constitution of the United States or in any of the fifty Constitutions of any of the individual States.

You, and many others, who think you are doing so much for the people of this country, in your venomous attacks, are in reality damaging the true political intent of what this nation is all about.

Why don’t you say the truth, “Can Americans Save Their Republic?”  Then, at least, you will be more accurate in your rants and raves.

And, PLEASE, show some respect for our nation by showing some respect for our President.

Free speech is given within the bounds of truth and good tastes!

Thank You

Steven D. Ayres

A Free Citizen of Douglas County, Georgia, United States of America

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This & That

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” in the words of  Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776, “the summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country;  but he that stands by it now, deserves the the love and thanks of man and woman.

This was a time of great desperation among the soldiers of the Continental Army.  General George Washington knew that his army was in a state of low morale and that something had to happen to lift them up from a spiraling death grip.

On December 25, 1776, he led these american soldiers across the frozen Potomac River, under the cover of the darkness of night, into the town of Trenton, New Jersey, making an early morning surprise attack December 26th

on the British Army and their hired mercenaries of German Hessians.  They were totally taken by surprise and General Washington obtained a badly needed victory which probably saved the American Army.  It certainly was a pivotal moment in the War for Independence!

History is a peculiar and capricious story of mankind.  Human enterprise, both victory and defeat, fortune and folly are  all told and recorded for posterity, for the ages.  We should be so favored to be remembered on the “better” side of history!

When things go wrong, as they often do, step back and reflect on what has happened.  You might want to apply the the “Three E’s” to see everything clearly.

E – Examine

E- Evaluate

E- Execute

These three things can help you to really “Examine” what happened.  Look at the whole picture so that you can “Evaluate” what has happened and that you are not receiving a false impression.  And finally take action to correct or “Execute” that which will make it right.

Einstein, I believe, said that there is no past and no future, only the present.  The reality of the “present” moment is all that matters.   Ummm……  This is heavy and you might want to ponder upon this.  In science maybe, in philosophy I don’t know!  You decide!

One thing that I do know, is that we rarely get a second chance to do the same thing.  For example, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  So be it what it is, it is what it is!

What are the pivotal moments of your life?

Sojourn To Suches

 

How far is it to Suches, Georgia?

This trip for me was about 142 miles, give or take, seeing how I made such a circuitous route to get there.   I wanted to check on a few things along the way and I wanted to see the beautiful mountains of North Georgia.  The outstanding scenery did not let me down!

Just along the way, I saw rambling creeks and rivers, wild deer,  a black cat (bigger than normal), incredible vistas of mountains and valleys.  The weather was a bit wet and cloudy at first, but after just a little while, it cleared to a wonderfully mild, clear and pleasant day.  The temperature was perfect!

The purpose of my journey was to visit an old friend who had recently moved to the mountains to, I think, “Get away from it all!”  He and his lovely wife had bought a very nice, furnished, mountain property, all surrounded by nature and not far from the AT, or aka Appalachian Trial at Woody’s Gap, one of the stopping off places along the 2,155.1 mile walking trail that extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Katahdin Mountain in the state of Maine!

What a national treasure this old walking trail is, even now in 2017!  It has been the subject and nemesis of many a wayfaring stranger and hiker, from young to old.  They say, if you have lost your way in life, you can find it again on the AT!  With that in mind, my friend Jerry and I put our feet to the test and walked a small portion of the trail at Woody’s Gap!   The very first discovery we made was a snake right on the path, just starting out!  A small  harmless yellow garter neck snake, but a snake nevertheless.  Wow, what a start!

A short ways in we met north bound hikers coming out seeking a nice respite from the trail at Woody’s Gap and three days of intensive hiking.  One of those guys was Mike, a brand new graduate of Indiana University, who was on his way to Maine, a thru hiker they are called, as opposed to a day or section hiker.  His hiking buddy Tyler, was close (about a mile) behind and bringing up the rear, as they say.

As it worked out, we offered to go and get pizza for the two hikers from a close by little store which catered to passing hikers and a small local trade.  It was about a mile or so away, which seemed like three, up there in the mountains.  By the time we got finished, we had made about three trips to the trading post, bought, sold, delivered, two pizzas, then another third pizza, swindled ourselves $10, got ripped off, refunded money to Mike, went back and got our pizza and came out into the parking lot, and Jerry says, I am still $10 short!?!   Oh, I said, I forgot to give you my $10 for the pizza, that I was purchasing for us, having  discovered that the vendor had not over charged us, but had rather charged us for all three pizzas to begin with!!!   Oh, now we are even and set!  So much for high finance in the mountains along the AT!

In appreciation for our kind efforts, Mike agreed to send us pictures taken along the AT of vistas we might only dream about for now!   A pretty good trade and a very gracious thing on his part!  So we had done our “Good Deed” and had made it a happy day for a couple of new found friends off to see the woods!

Later, Jerry and I, took our pizza to High Valley Airport, 2800 ft elevation, the highest airport in Georgia, grass field and all, where we met Keith, from Mississippi, an itinerant motorcycle rider.  He travels up and brings his bike in his pick-up truck and stays, on the honor system, in one of the little cabins provided there.  He has done this solo for a number of years!  Wow!  Good for him!

The three of us, have a nice little pizza picnic there on an outside picnic table overlooking the small airfield, renown for hosting the Annual Smokey Mountain Cub Fly In, in the beautiful month of October each year.  Jerry and I, both being pilots, and Cub Owners, have a most curious interest in this little airfield.  We have a great time there, sharing stories with our new friend Keith, and move  on into the late evening toward sundown.  No other people and no airplanes today!

After late night conversations and a good night’s sleep, we arise early and I, by myself, head off north toward Blairsville and Vogel State Park.  Leaving the sleepy little town of Suches, was sad, but, one day soon, I will be back.  Meanwhile the wonderment of the mountains continued to open up as I traveled the small, curvy road to Vogel State Park, in what I call, coming in the back door by way of Lake Winfield Scott State Park.  At Vogel, I had a wonderful early morning visit and enjoyed a second cup of nice warm coffee as I overlooked the peaceful mountain lake.  One of the last times I was there was on my honeymoon in 1969 with my first wife, mother of my oldest daughter.  A four inch snow covered the entire park with the quaint little log cabins musicly  staccatoed in the woods.  It was then, and will always be, a fairy land of wonderment!

Next down the road, was Dahlonega, Georgia, heading back south, and all the enticing things that a small college, mountain town can offer, like the North Georgia College, the little airport, and the fabulous “Gold Museum!”  I could share an entire story about that and having a delightful lunch on the veranda of the Bourbon Bar & Grill, as I overlooked the town square!

And, how at the airport, I met an older experienced flight instructor who was out cutting the grass at his hanger, with a little push mower.  I told him, it was about 40 years ago that I had flown into that airport, in my little Ercoupe 415-C, and how my friends picked me up and we spent the entire day in Dahlonega and Cleveland.  By late that afternoon, they took me back, we said our good-byes and I was off back to the Big “A” Atlanta and my home field at Charlie Brown, aka Fulton County Airport.

Oh, those were the days, that set men free and all the world was ours to see and explore!  The only thing then was to ask for more!

See you next time!

 

On Being Decisive – Yes & No

Once there was a man who went to the psychiatrist for a problem he was having and the doctor said, “I understand you are having difficulty making decisions, is that true?”

“Well, yes and no,” said the man!

Point made!   We all have difficulty making decisions from time to time!   To be decisive is a rather rare attribute, that can be both good and bad.  See what I mean!

But, there comes a time when we do have to finally make up our mind.  Knowing the difference between time and delay and carefully weighing our options is hard to put your finger on.  There is what we might call however, “Paralysis by analysis!”

Some of the places we may have problems are as follows:

  • Do I go to college or do I get a job?
  • Do I work part time or full time?
  • Shall I choose this career or that career?
  • Will I marry this person or not?
  • If so, when?
  • Are we well matched?
  • Will we be happy together?
  • Are we compatible?
  • What movie are we going to go see?
  • Where do you want to go to eat?
  • What am I going to do today?
  • What color shall I choose?
  • Regarding weather – fly or no go?
  • What sports coat looks best on me?
  • What about those designer jeans?
  • What hair style should I wear?

Well, by now, I am sure you get the picture.  Some things are of course more easy to decide and the choice is of a lower consequence.  While on the other hand some things are a powerful and long lasting choice with significant consequences that can affect us for the rest of our lives.

When you are confronted with a choice – try to weight out the pros and cons and then make the best decision you can under the circumstances.  When it comes to more important decisions, think a lot harder and really try to project the aftermath and the circumstances to follow, but don’t let that necessarily stop you from moving forward.  Just try to make a really good decision, for the moment of absolute certainty never arrives, in most cases.  In others it most nearly does.  So listen to your “gut feelings” and more times than not you will make the right decision.

So, for today, what is the question or questions for you???

Be careful, for you have to live with your choices, at least for a little while, until you change your mind!

Burning the Midnight Oil

Somewhere around 1898, most of our late night lamps were fueled by whale oil and the once ample supply was just about out!   Then, all of a sudden, as if by magic, oil was discovered in Pennsylvania.  The entire world pivoted on this great event!

There are times, when the weight of the world is upon us, we struggle, we wiggle, we dust off our bottoms and get on with whatever the task is before us, and often we are “Burning the midnight oil” to get’er done!  The job or work before us, may be daunting and even overwhelming, but we persevere, we keep going and we don’t quit!!!  Many time our lives “pivot” on our success or failure!

How often have you been under this can of pressure?  There are a number of times, that I can recall when I felt that I had reached the end of my rope, as the saying goes.  When I did not think that I could do one more thing or last one more second!

Fortunately, for me, these occasions have been rather few and far between.  A long time ago, for some reason, I know not why, I developed the ability to withstand the uncomfortable and the unbearable.  Most conditions are not permanent and only last for a period of time.  Knowing this helps to look past the present unpleasantness and toward the redeeming future.  Call it forbearance, call it tolerance, call it what you will, it is the ability to post pone the actual realization of reality to a later time.  The reality may however, hit you at a later time, when it is more tolerable and can be more tolerably disposed of and/or dealt with.  It is not easy under any circumstances!  I believe that it is a method of mind over matter, as they say, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!

The midnight oil burns for all of us, depending on what it is that we do.  We burn it during the day, in the evening and through the midnight as needed to make the wheels of success turn for us in the direction we want to go.  It is often a matter of “Attitude” that we develop to keep us going, to pick up the energy we need to get to the finish line!

Some of the things we might be involved with are as follows:

  • Cramming for finals or that special test.
  • Childbirth or pregnancy.
  • Suffering through an injury or some special pain.
  • Having to take a performance test of some kind.
  • A special job project we are working on.
  • The writing of a book – perhaps your first novel.
  • Repairing or rebuilding an engine – such as your car.
  • Trying to make that next commission sale.
  • Getting through a divorce.
  • Going through a spiritual breakdown.
  • Making a career choice.
  • Finding a job – especially one you like.
  • Learning how to cook.
  • Buying a car.
  • Being low on food or money.
  • Any emergency.
  • Anything that may stress you out!

 

Life can be difficult!  That is for sure!  Do your best in all that you do and that is all that you can do!  You and the “Midnight Oil” will often pull you through!  Don’t give up for often “Success” is just around the corner!

Good luck!!!

 

 

On the Other Hand…

Flying a personal airplane has never been easier or safer!

Modern aircraft offer all the bells and whistles and redundancy that the older fleet just did not have.  Combined with the modern technology and safety features, flying a personal aircraft is a pure pleasure.  Just flying from one place to another is like the difference of night and day using GPS navigation, where before “Pilotage” (Reading water towers and rivers) was the normal form of navigation, and then VORs helped tremendously, but nothing like today!  They even have parachutes for the airplanes!  Some of them!

Well, in the old days, you had things like the early radio navigation systems with the “A” sound and the “N” sound and when the two merged you were on course.  The initials may have been different, but you get the point.  Then to do a radio fix for location, you had to tune in two different VORs and where they crossed on your course of travel would tell you exactly where your were. Viola!  Great, but try that, by yourself solo, in strange territory, with those old folded air charts and fly the airplane, all at the same time.  Quiet a challenge!

Also, today, the airplanes that were at the top of the price list are now down at the bottom of the price list.  This means that when you were 20 years old and longed to own a beautiful new airplane, that now when you are 40, 50, 60, ???, you may be able to afford to own that beautiful new airplane.  Avionics and a few extra dollars can usually bring it up to par if it is not already with the modern technology.  Airplanes themselves have not changed that much in general.   Although, there are many new innovations and designs thanks to organizations like the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association), the AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association), and type clubs for nearly every kind of airplane you have ever heard of, like the Ercoupe Owner’s Club and the Clipped Wing Piper Club and countless others.  But, a new airplane still cost a bundle!!!

Let’s look at some of these “Positive” aspects of personal flying today:

  • Affordable “older” fleet of aircraft available to get started or keep going!
  • Many, many more good airports which are available to all pilots all across the nation and the world.
  • Good, modern airplanes available, if you can afford them!
  • Rental cars available nearly everywhere including airports.
  • Fuel available at nearly every modern airport or old.  This hasn’t always been the case.
  • Smart modern mechanics, flight instructors, A & Ps, Inspectors, FAA personnel, Tower Controllers, flight line technicians, FBOs (Fixed Base Operators), and Airport Managers.
  • New academic degrees in education covering every aspect of aviation you can imagine.
  • New paints, new fabric technologies, new metal analysis, etc.  All this adds up to a better flying world.
  • Even the weather has been improved –  NO, just kidding, the weather is about the same as a hundred years ago, but, our ability to deal with it as “Pilots” has drastically improved over the years.
  • Weather radar, Ryan Storm Scopes to detect electrical thunder storms embedded, and other new modern developments have vastly improved the safety performance of all flying activities.
  • Modern maps and aeronautical charts for both low and high altitude flying, which are constantly updated every six months.
  • Micro chip replacement cards for modern navigation devices.
  • Portability of modern navigation devices from one “older” aircraft to another.  This includes navigation and communication.
  • See and be seen technology to avoid air collisions.
  • YOU are the “Pilot” – YOU are the man or woman!!!  It is up to you to become the good and safe and smart pilot that you should and want to be!  It is largely up to  you and you alone!
  • Local pilot training is available, is affordable (not cheap) and reasonable for the type of activity that you are undertaking.  It will take some money (est. $4,000 – $10,000 or more depending on your precise level of training – more like $20K for ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) and a lot of time invested.  It is not easy, but it is doable!
  • More training today is offered than ever before.
  • Rental aircraft are available nearly everywhere for qualified pilots.
  • And as the book says, Anyone Can Fly!  Recently, a young lady, with no arms since birth, learned to fly and passed her check ride in an Ercoupe!  My old airplane of choice!  No rudder pedals in most – some do have them!  This young lady, Jessica Cox, is “Right Footed” and has just published a book by that name!  Read it and be inspired!

Being a  “Pilot” takes aptitude and smarts and some skill, but mostly it requires a “longing” that takes precedence over nearly everything around you!  It is a full body and mind sort of thing that requires you to give it all you have in both heart and soul!

It is one thing, in your life, that you most likely will never regret!  Doors will be opened like you could not have imagined for your life and even if you go “solo” you still go off into the wild blue yonder!!!

What a rush!!!  And a thrill!!!  Like nothing else on this old earth!!!

Happy Landings!!!  And, always

fly safe!!!

What’s Happened to Personal Flying?

Lately, there has been a lot of speculation as to what has happened to the pilot population through out the United States and indeed through out the world!

Being a private pilot myself, I have began to examine some of the issues that aviation has presented to all pilots and all aspiring would like to be pilots.  Whether you are young or old, we all face just about the same problems when it comes to aviation.

At one time, it was thought, that every family, at least, would have their own personal airplane or flying device at their home, just like we have the family car or cars in the garage today.  After World War II, there was a spurt of growth, because of all the military pilots coming out and home from the war.  Many loved flying and wanted to pursue it in their civilian lives, but things got tricky after a while and everything did not pan out the way we all thought!

Some of my own considerations for the dwindling pilot population are as follows:

  • It is not easy to become a pilot.
  • Flying is not a casual activity.
  • It often takes nerves of steel to overcome the natural feelings of being on Terra Firma and perhaps the un-natural feelings of flying through the air like a bird.
  • Regardless of what some people may say, you really do put your life on the line every time you fly.
  • Flying is expensive, no matter how you look at it, whether you own, rent or borrow.  Unless you go “old” as in “vintage” or build it yourself  “wow” the threshold of ownership is certainly prohibitive for the average person.  Even the LSA – Light Sport Aircraft market has a threshold of around $125 K and the store bought models in the small category are around $300 K give or take.  Fuel is actually the cheap part of flying but if you do a lot it can mount up also!
  • Flying is extremely inconvenient!!!  There is an old saying that flying is having to go somewhere you don’t want to go (the airport) so you can fly somewhere else that you don’t want to go (where you usually have to rent a car) to get to where you really do want to go.
  • While there are many airports throughout the United States and the world in general, they are still very limited for a number of reasons.  Not so much to fly into, but the first time (getting out) convenience of your home base airport, where ever that is.  It may be within five miles of your home (great) or it may be within thirty-five miles or fifty or a hundred miles depending on where you live.  This heavily impacts the decision to use a “personal” airplane, even if you do have the qualifications and and the availability of an aircraft.
  • Any destination beyond 300, 400 or 500 miles is often better served by commercial flights.
  • Personal flying, like all flying, has become very technical in this modern age.  No longer, do you just get in the airplane and go flying, at least hardly ever!
  • Equipment on the aircraft itself has become increasingly complex and expensive and often requires new training to use.
  • Flight Instructors are becoming as scarce as hen’s teeth for a number of different reasons, so bi-annual reviews and new ratings and even just basic instruction is often difficult to obtain.  Flight ground schools are just as difficult, logistical, costly and difficult to assimilate.
  • It takes a “Major” piece of real estate to operate a “fixed wing” aircraft and helicopters are extremely pricey and hosts another whole bag of issues.  So, there are “extreme” limitations on places of operation for airplanes whether private or

    public.

  • Air space has become very complex and rather congested in many areas making it down right dangerous in many cases for flying without very strict rules and regulations.  So much now, that new Automated Data Surveillance Broadcast systems – In and Out, will be new FAA required standard equipment in all aircraft, by the year 2020.  You can read up on the details!
  • All aircraft accidents are broadcast, almost daily, over the local and national news, and for the most part are extremely unpleasant with multiple fatalities and carnage.  No wonder, fewer people want to fly!  In small airplanes!
  • It is so much cheaper and safer to pay $89 or whatever it is to fly to the beach for the weekend than to hassle with all the difficulties and challenges of flying a personal airplane and subjecting you and your family and loved ones to all that risk!
  • Risk aversion is a primary consideration when it comes to not flying small airplanes.
  • The big airlines have done a marvelous job of providing good, safe, relatively quick and (???) convenient and (???) affordable air travel, so why bother with trying to do it yourself?
  • Yes, deep breath, air travel is all the above and more – no wonder it is so much misunderstood and falling in a death spiral of its own making!  Personal air travel that is!
  • Commercial travel has just about pushed small general aviation out of the picture.

To fly today as a private pilot, you just about have to be a “Superman” for sure!  There is very little evidence otherwise!  General aviation, for the little man, is getting smaller by the day.  I have been watching it and participating in it for the last 68 years or so.  Less than one-half of one percent of the population today are pilots.  There is a severe shortage!  Who, the H…, wants to do all that and risk his life doing it?

Some of us.  The old “Aviator” is becoming a relic of the past I am afraid, but, hopefully, as we continue to grow and advance into the new age of space and beyond there will be new horizons, new challenges and new “Space Men and Women” of the future!  God Speed to them all!