Aviation in Pop Culture: Our First Step in Recruiting


How does one develop into an aviation geek? Is it something that develops as we grow up or is it that, to quote noted philosopher Lady GaGa, we are “Born this Way?” I’ve been pondering this issue over the last few weeks as I’ve recently been reunited with one of my favorite childhood movies, The Rocketeer. A comic book movie released before the onslaught of comic book movies, aviation makes up a large part of the setting and storyline. While not on the epic scale of The Avengers, the film is a fun trip to a fictional 1930s art deco California. Aviation was prominently featured in another integral part of my (limited by childhood) pop-culture life around the time of The Rocketeer‘s release: the television show TaleSpin. Re-imagining Jungle Book characters into bush pilots, the 43-episode series and its catchy theme song continues to hold a place of wonder and nostalgia in my heart.

My primary exposures to aviation came from two outlets: these two popular culture favorites and a bedroom window in a house under the approach path to Centennial Airport in Denver. I wasn’t lucky enough to have family that were pilots…but I was lucky enough to have family that supported my interest in the field. The Rocketeer and TaleSpin were a “hook” for my young mind, broadening my interest beyond toy cars to toy airplanes. That interest led to a sixth birthday party at the Stapleton Airport in Denver and an introductory flight lesson on the day after my tenth birthday at Centennial Airport.

In the months after Top Gun was released in 1986, the US Navy saw increased interest in naval careers, especially those in aviation. A recruiter at the time summed up the effect of the movie: “There seems to have been a big rush in those categories that I have to attribute to the movie. I’ve asked several of these individuals if they’ve seen the movie and if that’s why they came down to talk to us again and they’ve said ‘yes’.” A different audience than that of Saturday morning cartoons, yes, and another example of aviation in popular culture driving interest for people that otherwise wouldn’t had exposure to the field.

In some measure, my entire professional life can be tied back to a moderately successful comic book movie and 43-episode television series. Thanks to the mainstream success of Disney’s Planes and its associated merchandising, we now have another captive audience of young people that have been exposed to aviation. The stories of Baloo the bush pilot and Cliff the Rocketeer were enough to captivate my attention at a young and impressionable age, just as the story of Dusty Crophopper captivate many kids today. In 1986, the US Navy took the unusual step of setting up recruiting booths outside of movie theaters to build on the increased interest from those leaving screenings of Top Gun. Were it not for a family that actively supported my interest in aviation at that young age and enabling further experiences, the Rocketeer and TaleSpin toys might have ended up relegated to the same place as my wannabe construction worker hard hat. We are lucky now to have Planes and the upcoming Planes 2 to draw interest in the field to our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandkids and family friends. See the movies, support the kids’ new interests in aviation and we’ll hopefully recruit a new generation of hobbyists and professionals both.


  1. Martin,
    Great piece! I feel the same way. The more we can infuse young minds with something that can captivate their attention, the more successful we’ll be in growing our ranks. I was unrealistically optimistic that Disney’s Planes would enjoy the same success as Cars, but that wasn’t to be. In spite of that I’m sure it reached a lot of kids and the planted the seed.

    Fellow Cbus resident – Brent

  2. How about “Put yourself in the movie – learn to fly and join Dusty in the sky!” over a “Click Here” button on the official website?

    That button could lead to,, or some other site set up for the purpose of explaining the basics and finding a flight school.

    It seems like EAA already has a good connection with Walt Disney Studios and could make this happen.

  3. Here is a link to an outstanding “recruiting” video for today’s youth. Hats off to the folks that recorded this and set it to “current” music. In four minutes this clip does more to capture the attention of future pilots than my almost 40 years of experience!

  4. Great observation – I also suggest budding pilots to be may be aroused by reading P 450-456 of Vol. 1 of “Fifty Shades of Grey”[#1 New York Times best seller] – it contains a really neat glider ride (yes girls it will spin your head!). This is about as “pop” a culture as you can get!
    P.S. Real glider pilots don’t forget to pre-flight the plane, the parachute and the passenger, don’t do acrobatics under 2000 feet, don’t terrify their passengers, and can’t keep it up for thirty minutes from three thousand feet from a dawn take off – but then – that IS pop culture: lot of unrealistic “sexy” stuff. . . . At least it helps us understand how our passengers/general public see pilots and aviation.
    M. Voysey in Toronto.

  5. I am hopeful Disney Planes and any sequels will help drive interest. I know my son and daughter gave up matchbox cars for a fleet of planes, I could not be prouder. Disappointing though is how few items Disney has offered targeted to girls. Nearly all their clothes are geared to boys. Such a shame as my daughter is probably more in love with the movie than my son.

62 Pingbacks

  1. laser hair restoration equipment for sale
  2. commercial next plumbing pompano beach
  3. testosterone Booster Q&a
  4. High Bay LED
  5. Fort Lauderdale CPA
  6. hcg weight loss kansas city
  7. commercial ferguson plumbing pompano beach
  8. gym yoga church clothing for women cheap
  9. cheap removalists melbourne interstate
  10. darabuka dj fisoo
  11. Weight Loss body wraps Long beach Ca
  12. facial plastic Surgery peoria il
  13. laser hair regrowth does it work
  15. Plumbing repairs Pompano beach
  16. 30 doumbek rhythms
  17. fast hair growth products for women
  18. relevant site
  19. weight loss surgery options in ohio
  20. dock redbox unlimited
  21. plastic surgery des moines
  22. deck Pioneer Woman freezer meals
  23. hcg weight loss recipes
  24. article
  25. boca raton Cpat testing
  26. pool table movers in st louis mo
  27. average weight loss for hcg diet
  28. minnie Mouse Boutique dresses
  29. world percussion dj samples download
  30. webpage
  31. Wind Mitigation
  32. vero beach piano Movers
  33. tappan zee accident update
  34. discuss
  36. session what is a percussionist
  37. deck restore 4 gallon
  38. bodycon dress pattern sewing
  39. company listing
  40. house door opener
  41. laser hair therapy for thinning hair
  42. Boca Raton CPAt test questions
  43. laser hair growth treatment long island ny
  44. free people stretch lace bodycon dress
  45. hcg drops for weight loss yahoo
  46. grand theft auto 5 download
  47. repair plano
  49. POU Strategy Skills iphone hack
  50. all Harrods Promo Code
  51. Miki
  52. dig this
  53. prev
  54. download songs|mp3 download|music download|youtube to mp3|songs download|download music|hollywood songs download|english songs download|download dindi songs|latest bollywood mp3|hindi mp3 songs|music album|soundtracks|movie mp3|bollywood mp3 songs|downloa
  55. kamagra zel
  56. mp3oceans||hindi mp3 download|hindi music download|songspk alternate|mp3 music search engine|free mp3 download music|tamil free mp3 download|hindi free mp3 download|free songs download|free mp3 download album|free mp3 download sites|software
  57. turbo 807 echange standard
  58. Home Tuition
  59. bail bond in orange county
  60. Entrepreneurial Boot Camp
  61. repair companies offer
  62. direct electrical supplies huddersfield

Comments are closed.