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!

Day By Day

Day by day, I sit here and there, moving around, piddling and pondering what is the meaning of my life.

Like a modern day, Robinson Crusoe, immortalized by the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, I am stuck on an island, but, of my own choosing, which I have determined to be my sanctuary.  If not opulent, in its surroundings, there is certainly everything you may think of to make my presence here,comfortable, relaxing and even fulfilling.  I am surrounded with the “waters” I love, my farm, my books, my art work, my music, computers, train layouts, plenty of food, my pets, aviation related items and such, my motorcycle, my study, my library, my fireplaces (three in total), swimming pool, airfield, large barn, animals of all kinds, comfortable furniture, a baby grand piano, guitars and other instruments and on and on and on.  It is an imposed “isolation” that has no constraints or boundaries, and yet there is something missing.

That missing ingredient is daily companionship, in my opinion.  Like Robinson, most of his daily needs and aspirations were met, but not until he met a companion, did he find the fulfillment and warmth of human companionship.  He found that when he met Friday.

Who was Friday?   He was the “black” native, castaway, that like Robinson, had found himself in such a similar predicament and situation.   He too, it might be said, found and discovered the bonding of human companionship with Robinson.  The two of them made a dynamic duo, the likes of which, did not exist on that island heretofore.  Now their days were filled with interaction and vibration of spirits, one with another.  Two distinctly different “worlds” or “personalities” gently ebbing in and out of each others proximities.   This is the important aspect of interaction between people that can only occur between two or more persons.  Animals are great, but they are not the same, as interacting with your own species!

Somewhere, along the way, we realize the importance of this social interaction, which gives new meaning and new depth to the existence of which we have chosen for ourselves.  This is why, in regards to incarceration and exile, that solitary confinement is so undesirable and so debilitating to the individual.  There is no escape!

To escape, gives relief, refreshment and reflection!   Once these are obtained, the individual can “go back” to their solitude and confinement and even tranquility, seeking for another burst of inspiration, insight and prospects of peaceful contentment with ones’ self.

Thank goodness I am free to come and go as I please, and to interact with all those who may present themselves in this world.  To have a loving wife and children and grand children and friends and associates and others, with whom I share common bonds of love and understanding.  Without these, I would only be a “speck” on the wall of eternity.  With these, I am much more, for not only have I found the “peace of living,” but, I have found the promise and hope of much more than myself.  For I have become the “essence” of life, for myself, as I interact and contribute to the “essence” of lif

e for humanity itself, in my small part.

And, as the Bible says, “And the moving finger, having writ, moves on.”