Tuesday, February 28, 2012

They're Out There

Inside the airline industry, aviators are rare.  Today they have been replaced by pilots. 
Pilots don't fly outside of work.  Most have no interest in flying small planes.  The majority of them would prefer the computer do all the work.  And they certainly can't do a visual approach.
Yes, I was exaggerating.  There are some pilots who can fly a good visual approach but not many.  Granted, nobody seems to care.  But for folks with an interest in real aviation, folks like me (us, you know who you are), it does get lonely at times.  I just wish there were more aviators than pilots and, at the very least, that the pilots had the slightest interest in aviation.  On the other hand, I suspect the pilots that fly with me are thinking, "I really wish this guy liked to talk about baseball stats, playing X-Box, or the difference in rivet patterns on the Airbus 319 vs 320".  I don't care for either.
Fortunately there is an upside to this disconnect.  Through the years I have learned how best to spot, seek out, and locate the old school underground.  You know; the aviators.  They're not easy to find for good reason.
Like rats in the city, the government wants rid of us and citizens wish we'd go away.  The final strain of aviators are marked for extermination.  Yet, like all well intentioned federal programs, the solution replaces perceived problems with real.  In this case mice.
Bred in FAA sanctioned schools, their rate of multiplication necessitates inbreeding.  Each one like the last, all chasing the cheese, they come out highly polished, spit-shined and creased.  Looking the part is all the feds want and that's what they get. 
Whenever I end up flying with someone whose existence lies within the bands on their shoulders, I find myself looking for clues; clues that my people are still out there somewhere.  Like tracks in the forest or broken twigs on a path, each little calling card lifts me up for although I cannot see them, I know they are there.
The photo at the very top is one such example.  Upon first viewing, you likely didn't notice anything special about it.  Yet I suspect a few aviators out there might have seen what I do every time I cross that threshold.  There, on centerline, just short of the runway end-stripe, are two sets of tire marks.  Those are aviator tracks.

How do I know? In subtle aviator code, the placement of the marks indicate they were clearly intentional.  Roughly translated they say, "I am a pilot and I will not go away".

Whenever I see them I start to laugh with great joy.  Beside me, pilots appear concerned as though I may have lost my mind.  In reality though, I laugh with renewed sanity; sanity returned with the knowledge that I am not alone.  


Anonymous said...

There are a lot of us real Pilots out there and we are in high demand . come on up and fly with me can you handle a Stearman or my Cessna 180 every flight is priceless Alex

Alex Smith said...

I fly a lot almost every day and I own a Cessna 180 and my old Stearman a 1941 PT17 and I still teach a lot of young pilots Alex

Anonymous said...

I fly for a Regional Airline and would love to fly a taildragger. I've spent the last 12 months looking at taildraggers to own but my income level just doesn't allow it. And then there is the complete uncertainty in the industry. I would discourage anyone pondering a career as an airline pilot. Certain politicians (those whose affiliation start with an 'R') have ruined the aviator's life, strikes are no longer a threat, 4 year contracts take 5 plus years to negotiate due to company stalling tactics, and the National Mediation Board is a joke. And what results are flight crews who just don't care anymore. It's just a paycheck, we are just labor. Too bad, how did Capitalism turn into this rat race to the bottom of the barrel?

-C B
5,000 hour First Officer sitting reserve at a Regional. Can't give identity because if the company I work for discovers this they will probably fire me. Talk about Nazis, it's corporate America.

Apparently that aviator had a left crosswind...

Kip Gardner said...


I feel for you - as a small farmer, i often wonder what happened to the concern for the success of small businesses in this country. It certainly isn't there in the political system, where corporations are clearly more important than people to some.

As for finding a taildragger to fly, I suggest you check out building your own - the Pietenpol community is a good place to start - always a lot of helpful people to guide you along, you can build as you can afford to, and it's not really as hard as you might think.

R. Rex said...

One comment says: "those whose affiliation starts with an 'R' have
ruined the Aviator's life". I guess that refers to Republicans. So I assume that you think Obama and his band of Marxist-leaning Socialists is good for the country. Wake up! The Country is going the way of Greece...which is to say, into ruin from out-of- control spending. I'm an Independent voter, not a Republican, but if you think Obama, Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi are going to do your aviation career any good, it's time to drink the Cool Aid.