The Campaign Time Machine

January 19, 2012 by Bruce Landsberg

On a Sunday talk show Newt Gingrich announced he was reviving one of Abraham Lincoln’s campaign strategies – (this is not an endorsement of either Newt or Lincoln – merely a report). He noted that  Lincoln wanted to debate Stephen Douglas back in 1858 but Douglas would have nothing to do with it.   Lincoln promised that wherever Douglas spoke, he would show up a week later. Naturally the news media of the day carried Lincoln’s rebuttal and Douglas saw he wasn’t getting the last word. Thus the famous Lincoln – Douglas debates ensued.

Newt wants to debate Obama, assuming he becomes the nominee, and he brought a modern twist to the discussion. Wherever the President speaks, Newt said he would be there four hours later to deliver his response. There’s only one way to do that – General Aviation! All the candidates and the President use GA. (Air Force One is the world’s largest GA aircraft – owned by the taxpayers and operated by the military – in my opinion only). Late breaking news – Rick Santorum chartered a jet to make 5 cities in one day in SC – you sure won’t do that by bus! It’s the only way the candidates can do business or take time off for a needed quick vacation. Isn’t it just a mite hypocritical to blast the use of personal aircraft when they are so essential to running a business or enjoying your personal life? Rhetorical question, of course.

GA continues to be under attack from various directions. We’ll stay out of the politics since it isn’t appropriate for the Foundation to engage but you might be enlightened by Craig Fuller’s blog this week regarding user fees.

While AOPA fights the political battle, your AOPA Foundation will push into 2012 on the education front: safety education for all pilots, preservation of GA airports, growing the pilot population and finally promoting the perception of GA. We’re wrapping up the numbers for 2011 and you’ll see them here first. We’ll leave the politics to AOPA but you can help in the aforementioned areas by making a donation or by volunteering to get someone interested in flying or helping to protect your airport.

Just remind your non-aviation friends how all GA makes everyone more efficient – not just politicians. Our aircraft are truly time machines.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Mitch Latting

    We completely agree. We must, as pilots, take the initiative to promote GA and protect our GA airports. Both these missions go hand-in-hand. You can do it on a local level. The efforts do take time and it is hard work, but the outcome can be most gratifying!

    Mitch Latting
    Share the Passion!
    Mooney Ambassadors, Friends of Oceano Airport

  • Pranesh Dey

    Hi Bruce,
    Are your columns available in book form? That would be nice because a lot of readers like me would like to preserve them for future reference. I would take this opportunity to ask you a couple of other things. I’m a 36-year-old Indian. I live in New Delhi, India’s capital, working as a copy editor for an English-language daily newspaper. In 1995, I used to learn gliding, accumulating a little more than 10 hours of flying time in 150-plus sorties. My flying training stopped after that. But I was hooked to flying for life. Since that day, I have never stopped learning how to fly theoritically, expanding my knowledge by extensively reading books written by pilots and website articles. I’d describe myself as a highly dedicated and hardworking flying student minus any flying experience. Based on my theory knowledge, last year I wrote a piece on the Air France 447 crash and emailed it to Mr. Barry Schiff (I idolise him). He actually replied, saying it was well-written. It was the best compliment I have ever received in my life.
    On a different level, this love for aviation has completely changed my perspective towards everything — one, it has given me a good attitude and, two, safety consciousness in day-to-day life, at home and in public.
    For the last two years or so, I have been following AOPA’s articles online. A local bookstore stocks old issues of AOPA Pilot, from where I often pick it up. From the articles, I get this view that American pilots are very passionate about GA. Thanks to AOPA, today I too have developed a love for GA. Can you guide me how I can, in my own way, help the cause of GA or serve AOPA? I would be very grateful. Warm regards

  • Bruce Landsberg


    Thanks very much for your kind thoughts. You can check out past columns in the publications section of the website under Safety Pilot.

  • Pranesh Dey

    Thanks for the reply.