My husband and I are just back from 10 days at Oshkosh for AirVenture 2013. On Sunday the last day, I finally had time to go through the Innovations pavilion. Located inside were many displays about new frontiers in technology, space travel, and big dreamers.
I sat down with a fellow in the Aerojet Rocketdyne booth. As we handed out brightly colored Frisbees to last-day attendees he said, “I have been meaning to ask someone, I see all these buttons and shirts. What is going on with Georgia, and why do we need to save it?” Georgia? I thought for a minute. Georgia. Oh, I get it, GA. I quickly explained that we as an aviation community are trying to promote general aviation and protect airports. I let him know that on the back of the first Mooney Ambassador sweatshirts we had a slogan “What have you done for G.A. lately?” Once in a restaurant a lady came up to me and said what is GA. [as in goo goo gaa gaa]. “Oh”, he said, “they don’t let us use acronyms when we do community presentations. They want us to use the full names of things so folks in the community know what we are talking about.” I think our rocket scientist friend has a point here.
We all need to make a commitment to speaking in plain English about what general aviation is. In the past, we talked about what it is not i.e.: military and airlines. Nevertheless, what it is not does not give us a clear picture of what it is. I suppose depending on my audience; I talk about general aviation in different ways. As a mother I talk with folks about medical flying, whether it is search and rescue, air ambulance, blood and tissue donations, or flying doctors. If it were my child that needed a crucial service, would l prefer waiting on ground-based transport or the immediacy and ease of general aviation? Most agree that airport or aircraft noise is welcome when you think it might be saving someone’s life. As a psychotherapist, I talk to folks about the magic of being a pilot and the ability to travel in all three dimensions. As a business owner, I talk about having three offices in three states. General aviation is the way that I can make my businesses more profitable. As a pilot, I talk with other pilots about the danger of apathy, especially concerning general aviation and our airports. As Jimmy Buffet said: “Ignorance or apathy? I don’t know and I just don’t care.” We need to be on guard against apathy in our pilot population. If you think that one voice does not matter just go back to our friend from Aerojet Rocketdyne thinking Georgia was in danger. It just took one voice to enlighten him.
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