Monday, April 26, 2010

Worshiping the Golden Cow

Having read the April 2010 EAA Sport Aviation Magazine, I wish to thank you, Mr. Melvill, for your editorial about EAA Oshkosh. Unfortunately, I fear success has blinded you to reality. Yes, EAA contributed to your success. And yes EAA contributed to Burt's success. But what amazes me is the willingness of those who have succeeded, like you, to abandon those attempting to do the same. Your blind cheerleading for the modern day EAA Airventure Oshkosh is one such example.

If you're unsure about what it is I'm speaking of, let me explain.  In paragraph five of your editorial ironically titled "Opportunity", you clearly state that your purchase of a set of plans from Burt, at Oshkosh, led to your 31 years of success, which includes the first manned private space flight.  Your career is undeniably amazing.  Yet what struck me as odd and perhaps disappointing was the lack of reflection about what really led to your success.  As you yourself said, with little emphasis, in the same paragraph, "He (Burt) was selling plans out of his plane on the flightline."  It is here that you mistakenly identified the subject, Oshkosh, instead of the spirit, grass roots members, as the launching point of your career.  But I believe it was that spirit, the one that supported designers selling plans from their planes on the flightline that led to your career.  And in case you've been too busy to notice, a person attempting to sell kits from their planes today gets a club to the head and an invitation from a foot soldier to pay up.

Knowing several people who know you personally and who've spoken well of you, I was surprised to see you abandon an opportunity to cheerlead for the little guys in aviation that you were once a part of.  Instead, you filled another Sport Aviation page with more of the same blind cheerleading for a once great organization that is now little more than the world's largest aviation event.  By this I am very perplexed.

Perhaps it was a bout of overwhelming sentimental reminiscing that allowed you to miss the true meaning of such an obvious milestone in your career.  If so, I hope in the future you will use your celebrity and influence to cheerlead for those people who may someday invent the future equivalent of Spaceship One, but today cannot afford the cost of opportunity at the event that changed your life.


Jeff Marken said...

Well put, Rich!

Dan said...

Wow, I haven't tried to sell anything from my plane at Oshkosh...maybe I should just to test the waters?

Ron Rex said...

Great point Rich! Oshkosh has gotten so money-oriented that a very large percentage of antique airplane owners will no longer least not with their ships. Last time I was there (2006), as part of The American Barnstormers group, we requested that our airplanes be roped off. EAA wasn't happy about doing that but finally agreed. Even so, we found it impossible to keep people from crawling under the barrier and climbing on our biplanes. As far as they were concerned, they had paid to get in and could do whatever they wanted. In the old days, you had to be a pilot or have some other legitimate connection to aviation to be allowed on the flight line.