Hope is Not a Strategy

April 18, 2012 by Bruce Landsberg

Last week I had the privilege to address the International AOPA as well as a group of South African pilots in a separate safety presentation. The meeting was held near Capetown, South Africa. IAOPA, as you may have read elsewhere on the AOPA website, was formed in 1962  and now represents 70 countries.  Here is their website: http://www.iaopa.org.

After listening for several days to presentations from various countries, several themes emerged:

1) The U.S. has the best freedom to fly of any place in the world.

2) Our FAA is a model of efficiency and reason compared to many other regulating authorities (!)

3) We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately (with apologies to Ben Franklin).

4) We need to be engaged with the regulatory and local authorities on a regular basis lest politics begin to influence airport and aviation operational decisions – as if that could ever happen!

The President of AOPA South Africa, Koos Marais, very graciously offered me the left seat in his Cessna P210 and we flew around Capetown and the Cape of Good Hope one afternoon. I haven’t flown a P for some 30 years after leaving Cessna but it all came back—the aircraft has a “classic panel” with the original Cessna avionics and they still work.

A quick comment on airspace will illustrate my points above. We departed from a small GA airport near Capetown, but their TMA or traffic management airspace (think of it as Class B), began at about 600′ agl. We immediately contacted ATC, but because we were so low they couldn’t see us until we popped over a hill between us and the radar site.  This required flying close to the ground over houses etc., and we weren’t near any airspace that would have conflicted with any airline or international airport traffic—not well designed at all IMO.

Upon clearing the hill, they picked up the transponder and immediately cleared us to the coast where the flight altitude was 1,000. It was a spectacular view and the place where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet is also the graveyard of over 650 ships! One wants to proceed cautiously in such an environment.

A lasting impression is that flying is pretty much flying in every part of the world, but humans can make it far more complex than it needs to be for bureaucratic and economic gain. Preserving our freedom to fly sure makes sense—for many of our fellow aviators, much of their freedom has been irrevocably lost.

Hope is not a strategy—commitment and action will carry the day and it’s my hope that it remains the American way!

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • http://www.multiplyleadership.com Mark Jones Jr.

    Hope may not be a strategy, but sharing hope, spreading hope, building hope is a far better strategy than another bureaucratic program designed to convince the mind, instead of the heart.

    Let’s kill off No Plane, No Gain, and the Fly 5 More Hours, and every other ridiculous program that is just a process based attempt to build metrics…instead of hope.

    After all, hope is probably what got most of us into the cockpit…

    And here’s hoping that a blog comment will get a reply, because I’ve never seen an AOPA response to any blog comment.

  • Bruce Landsberg


    Thanks for your comment and you may want to go back through some of my previous blogs because I do read and occasionally respond. My point is that wishing for something and doing something about are two different things,

    Many people like to wait for others to fix something when they could have a direct impact themselves. I’ve suggested that we aviation types stop just talking to ourselves but invite friends and neighbors for a short intro flight. A very few may choose to become pilots but many more will have a better understanding of GA and will be more inclined to think of us positively.

    I’ve blogged on cost of flying before and there are a variety of reasons why it is as high as it is. AOPA is not just waiting for something to change but is actively engaged with FAA and others to make some changes to the certification process.

    When action is impossible then hope is all one has left. I don’t think we’re there yet and after seeing what I’ve seen on the international front, Ben Franklin was brilliant in his observation .

    Appreciate your thoughts and perhaps some others will weigh in as well.

  • http://www.multiplyleadership.com Mark Jones Jr.

    Thanks for the reply–there are some great plugins that will automatically notify respondents of replies that might make the conversation more engaging.

    I heartily agree that “talking to ourselves” probably isn’t the best course of action, but it seems like many of the “programs” that exist are exactly that. Honestly, I get tired of listening to the message of these programs–because the message is mostly factual and BORING–and I count myself in the few that are extremely passionate about aviation and about telling others. If we bore ourselves, then how can we inspire everyone else?

    I also agree that inviting friends and neighbors is a great idea–but I’d go further and suggest inviting a fellow pilot–what better way to hold yourself accountable to a high standard of airmanship than to let someone “look over your shoulder”?! It’s also a great way to “share” the cost of flying for those so concerned.

    One last thing that I’d add to your strategy…we can sow the seeds of inspiration and hope by merely getting people to read, watch videos, and view photographs of flight as well! I think WE should inspire ourselves and the communities we are connected to by engaging in these kinds of activities too. There are countless fascinating blogs with a host of multimedia that can engage people in their daily activities and gradually draw them closer to the airport where we can get them in the cockpit.