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News: ďFlying is like good music: it elevates the spirit and it's an exhilarating freedom. It's not a thrill thing or an adrenaline rush; it's engaging in a process that takes focus and commitment." - Harrison Ford

Author Topic: Opening Day  (Read 9654 times)

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davidh

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Opening Day
« on: May 14, 2007, 12:36:00 AM »
Here in Seattle where I live, last weekend was the official opening of boating season.

Itís a fairly big deal around here Ė sure, it's a major event for the folks who own boats, but itís not only the local yacht club and boat nuts who make a fuss over it.  The local media flog it incessantly for days in advance, and even the local TV weather folk make their predictions with an eye towards the big day.  Newsmodels report from the log boom on Lake Washington, and everybody gushes about how great it is to be out on the water.  It's a major annual Seattle tradition, a rite of spring.  It's considered part of what makes us who we are.

Personally, donít own a boat and I probably never will.  Now I've got nothing but best wishes for the boating crowd Ė my hat's off to 'em, and I'm glad they have this big public splash every spring.

But I wonder Ė where's our Opening Day?  When do we get to watch all the local media gush over the much-anticipated start to flying season?

Iím not just jealous of the attention (well, I am, but not because I personally crave the spotlight).  All the hubbub surrounding the opening of boating season sends out some messages to the media-consuming public.  Boating is fun.  Boating is cool.  Boating is for people just like you Ė not just for Paul Allen and other rich guys.  Sure, there are bazillion-dollar yachts out there on the log boom, but there are also humble little fishing boats, sailboats, even dinghies and inflatables.  You see young people, working schlubbs and people that look pretty average out there (along with the obviously well-heeled).

There is a lot of free publicity, and a lot of it says: hey, you, average guy Ė you should be out hereÖ.and you could be out here.  It's a mainstream activity, for regular folks.  I bet this message contributes significantly to the continued success of the personal boating industry.

You have probably noticed that general aviation has been in a long, steady decline for decades.  Sure, there are some bright spots one can point to, but I don't think anyone can argue that general aviation is on the upswing.  Prices go up, airports close, guys quit flying, and most people just never start - never even consider starting.  There are a lot of reasons for aviation's decline, but one that would seem to be at the heart of it is that there just aren't enough new pilots starting to replace those who are no longer flying.  I worry about this trend.

I'm convinced that one reason that there arenít more people taking up flying is that itís viewed as an exotic, exclusive activity.  Whenever I tell a co-worker or casual acquaintance that Iím a pilot and that I own a plane, they seem nearly shocked.  If I told them I had a little boat, I bet they wouldn't be particularly surprised.  Why?  Because I donít fit their preconceived notion of what they think of a pilot and aircraft owner is like: Paul Allen or maybe John Travolta - wealthy, exotic, living in some world.  Other than celebrities and less famous rich guys, recreational pilots are all but invisible to most people.

While there's certainly some appeal to be perceived as a member of an elite, super-cool group, our collective invisibility isn't doing us any favors.  Whether it's fighting to save your airport from the developers, beating back hysteria and the restrictions it spawns, or just plain old consumer pleasures like having a choice of goods and services available at reasonable costs, we need all the pilots we can get.  Phil Boyer is right when he talks about strength in numbers.

I think that pilots need to become more visible.  We need to show people that recreational flying is something that's a perfectly reasonable thing to do, accessible to average, middle class people.  We need the kind of free publicity that the boaters enjoy leading up to the first weekend in May every year.

So, with no authority whatsoever, I'm hereby declaring the first weekend in June to be the Official Opening Day of Flying Season here in Seattle and across the region.  That seems like as good a time as any.  Yeah, I know, the good flying weather usually arrives like clockwork every year right after the 4th of July, but I donít want to wait until then (that's OK, we'll call that the opening day for camping season on July 5th).

Of course, I donít expect all the local TV news-readers to appear at Boeing Field breathlessly reporting on the new Diamond Twin Star at Galvin, or anything else.  That's OK, I'm sure that when the Seattle Yacht Club started commemorating opening day festivities sometime back in the 18th Century, it probably didn't gain much attention from non-boaters.  But you never know what we might start.

So I invite you all to think about the upcoming Flying Season, to be more visible, and to think about what you can do to help get across the surprising notion that flying is something that even normal people can do.

See you out there.
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

wilyoung

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2007, 09:01:51 PM »
Having been a boat owner for many years, starting with a 17 ft canoe and ending with a 30 foot cruising sailboat, I know there are just too many differences to make "opening day" the same for airplanes. The closest practical event is "airport days" or some such. The biggest difference is that any numb-nut with enough money can go out and buy the biggest boat available, turn the key, throw off the dock lines and get underway (or at least try to) without having one single hour of instruction. You don't need to show anyone that you have any proficiency in boat handling, knowledge of rules of the road, navigation, or anything else. And there are a lot of folks who do just that with smaller boats. Once they've done that in a smaller boat for a while they figure they can handle anything and move on up without any further training. Any proposed licensing requirements usually get beat down or reduced to applying only to kids under 14 or 16. There's no way flying will ever compare to boating with the general public.
Wil
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JohnH

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2007, 06:51:13 AM »
Quote
There's no way flying will ever compare to boating with the general public.


I agree, you can't compare boating with flying.  However I think that David's message was that we should PROMOTE flying as hard as they PROMOTE boating on opening day.

There should be more airport "open house" days so that the public and walk around and get up close and personal with airplanes instead of looking at them from afar and complaining about them.
John Hubbard
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davidh

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2007, 12:54:41 PM »
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the intent was to suggest that we need to simply be more visible to the non-flying public.  People don't even think of learning to fly, in part, I think, because the general public has such limited exposure to general aviation (and what little exposure they do have is very skewed).  We need to be perceived as more mainstream (I almost said "ordinary" but flying will always be extraordinary).
David Herman
N6170T - 1965 Cessna 150E
Boeing Field, Seattle, WA

roymcm

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2007, 03:59:11 PM »
Do you neighbors know you are a pilot? Your co-workers? You friendís friends?  Do you send out mass e-mails before every flight stating that you have an empty seat? Have you asked every one you know if they want to go flying?

JohnH

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2007, 04:28:53 PM »
yes, yes, yes, not always, yes.
John Hubbard
Plane-less in
CYCD

Al Gilson

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2007, 06:18:07 PM »
yes, yes, yes, not always, yes.

Ditto for John's answers.  I hate flying alone.

Al (Wanna go flying?) Gilson
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zero.one.victor

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2007, 09:04:45 PM »
   I bet aviating would be as popular as boating if
1) you didn't have to learn so much
2) you didn't have to be current and proficient
3) you could aviate while consuming adult beverages
4) they made a "party barge" with wings
5) if you could just get towed back into the marina if you screwed up
  No offense meant to serious mariners.

Eric

wilyoung

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2007, 09:13:59 PM »
   I bet aviating would be as popular as boating if
1) you didn't have to learn so much
2) you didn't have to be current and proficient
3) you could aviate while consuming adult beverages
4) they made a "party barge" with wings
5) if you could just get towed back into the marina if you screwed up
  No offense meant to serious mariners.

Eric

That was sort of my point. Take a friend boating, friend says, "I could do that," goes out and buys a boat and off he goes. Take a friend flying, friend asks, "What's it take to learn to fly?" you start telling him and he says, "No way! I'll just hop a ride with you once in a awhile."
 
Wil
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Jim L

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2007, 08:59:17 PM »
I'm with ya David. I get what your saying and I'll do my best to spread the word. It's so sad that in Spokane the only visible day we have is Skyfest at Fairchild. It's a great airshow but it's the only thing in Spokane. Unless I'm missing something. Anyone? Anyone?
Renter
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zero.one.victor

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2007, 09:52:45 PM »
  I buzz town every chance I get. Does that count? 
  Don't get any newcomers asking for rides, but the cops come out to the airport quite often looking for that OTHER white Cessna.  ;)

Eric

Al Gilson

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2007, 05:35:48 PM »
I'm with ya David. I get what your saying and I'll do my best to spread the word. It's so sad that in Spokane the only visible day we have is Skyfest at Fairchild. It's a great airshow but it's the only thing in Spokane. Unless I'm missing something. Anyone? Anyone?

Northwest Biplane Fly-in at SFF June 20th

Al (Only one wing...but it's a high one) Gilson
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JeffD

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2007, 10:33:59 AM »
Here in Oregon the Legislature is considering a gas tax on Avgas piggybacked off of the federal debate.

In my letter writing campaign, I usually ask the question, "...how can you consider a tax on aviation fuel, and not the same tax on boat and motorhome fuel..."

Of course I know the answer...it's because there are less of us and more of them, but it sure is unfair.  I have a real problem with picking on any one segment just because the public at large won't care.  Good way to end an industry if you ask me. ::)
Jeff Davis
Kennewick WA

Jim L

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Re: Opening Day
« Reply #13 on: May 25, 2007, 11:33:19 AM »
Thanks Al. I didn't know about that one. I'll be there.

Jeff~
That is messed up. Now the question to be asked is:

Will this affect the Alvord desert Fly-in?
Renter
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