Friday, May 2, 2014

Forty Years of Positive Thinking

Well?  Are you?
Open any American aviation publication and you’ll find someone lamenting the decline of the sport.  Depressed pilots are so common they’ve become passé.  Like Democrats lamenting freedom and Republicans lamenting Satan, their conversations have become tiresome and tedious.  And yet with all those words none of them have solved a single problem.  There’s a reason for that.
Common solutions are actually fomented in aviation’s decline.   Short sighted, safety focused, and driven by fear, to the unwitting reader they sound great because they’re easy.  Unfortunately, the only benefit they serve is to buttress the author’s income or the bottom line of the company promoted in the adjacent full page ad.  Most importantly though, the simple fixes being lobbied capture the eyes of the hopeful, thus drawing them from the true enemy as it creeps ever closer.  They are verbal Trojan Horses containing the enemy within; us.
Communities hell bent on harassing local airports, bureaucracies that attack with the never ending ferocity of fire ants, and individuals who insist on new laws because they lost a loved one to an accident are not turned back with free rides, angle of attack indicators, and another article on inadvertent flight into IMC.  These aren’t solutions.  They are the stiff tags on underwear, senselessly irritating and unsupportive, and they represent the mind of our country in three dimensions.   Fortunately, they also serve as genetic markers for flawed beliefs.  Look for the common solution and you will find the problem.
Real solutions don’t kill the soul to save the body.  Pills don’t cure, they mask.  And any so called fix for aviation which does not involve society as a whole participating in a multi-generational effort is doomed to failure.  Are you starting to get the picture?
There’s no doubt flying is ill.  However, despite its short-comings, the sport itself isn’t to blame for the real and potentially fatal problems it faces; our culture is.  This is why nobody wants to offer real solutions.  Repairs for problems such as these lie beyond the common thresholds of comfort and effort.  Therefore, to ask a person to participate is akin to suggesting they walk naked through a briar patch.  And it certainly isn’t seen as fun or positive.
This perfectly represents a large percentage of our population.
Think about it.  Giving a free ride to a kid* is a lot more fun than constantly trying to move yourself and others back toward a society which values freedom.  For example, aviation is no stranger to lawsuits yet how many times do you or your friends utter the phrase, “There ought to be a law against (insert thing you don’t like here)”?  It’s a simple phrase that seems so harmless but somewhere somehow some part of society ingrained that notion within the rest. Thus, each time it’s brought into this world it reinforces the notion that laws are an almighty God.  Now start correcting people every time you hear it.  Before long you’re the local thought Nazi.  No fun hu?  You might even be called opinionated.  And if you're like most people, driven to seek out the approval of others, you’ll bend like a slinky and let it slide.

That’s what political correctness does.  It punishes citizens for daring to think, tapes the mouth of logic, and allows society to crumble; a self-destruction of unworkable ideas founded in the throes of emotion.  And in the end, when the opportunity exists for you to do your small part, you look the other way.
What about safety?  Our society’s ideas about safety have been so skewed by product marketing and political fear mongering they’ve become a burden.  I think back to something I witnessed in DC several years ago.  There on the waterfront walkway, an old lady grudgingly screamed at two guys who rode by her without head protection; “GET A HELMET”, she yelled.  But why would she do that?
What does their lack of helmets have to do with her?  It’s as if safety has been given a hyper-contagious viral-like status.  If someone sees another person doing something they deem dangerous, they seem to fear it may waft through invisible currents of air and infect them with “potential head trauma”.   It is completely off the charts out of control.  So bad is it, I recently witnessed a guy cuss out a kid for being injured on a moped without a helmet.  His concern was not the kid but what it did to those who had to deal with it. One term used to describe the kid was “selfish”.
Now ask yourself this.  How many times have you spoken those very words or heard someone accuse another person of being selfish for doing what they wanted to do?   If not, here’s a popular version of it, “If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the others who care about you”.  If this is a favorite phrase of yours, I have some bad news.  There is no bigger act of selfishness than to expect others to alter what they do or want to do so that the chances of you ever having to be uncomfortable are diminished.  To call others selfish for such things is wildly hypocritical and illogical but it too has become so common I am certain to get hate mail for being so selfish.  Yeah sure, everyone should be considerate.  But remember, consideration is a two-way street.  So why then do these things keep happening?  Emotions.
When logic is replaced with emotions, it can only mean one of two things.  Someone, or society as a whole, either has it so good they’ve been removed from reality, or that same person or group has a mental stability problem.  And I guess, now that I’m thinking about it, they’re really one in the same aren’t they?

Have you noticed the politicians who melt down crying while discussing a heated issue or those who lash out with insane accusations such as islands flipping over and New York being inundated by the ocean if we don’t quit eating meat?  The human mind needs to work, to hunt, to gather; it needs to struggle to survive.  Without those challenges it goes mad.
Perhaps it’s easier to explain this idea with a more common example; dogs.  I love our Border Collies.  The breed is so smart and yet everyone knows that if they don’t have a job, they’ll go mad.  People are the same way.  Give them dominance (power), unlimited food supplies, no fear of being without a roof over their heads, and no responsibility and the next thing you know they’ll be shredding your couch and crapping in your bed.  A little hardship is good for the soul and yet even our so called poor have cars, TVs, and phones.  We have it so good, and so little to do of any real meaning, we’ve gone mad.
There’s a well known phrase in aviation, a little gem of hangar flying knowledge passed down through the years that says, “If you move something and something bad happens, put it back”.  I think we as a country could put that advice to good use.  Unfortunately, to do so involves discussing the most discomforting things; politics, religion, parenting, money, and individual responsibility.
Current generations, minus those under 30, were made to believe our country was so great it could be left on autopilot and would continue to be amazing.  Unfortunately, that isn't true.  Just like any airplane, it requires constant maintenance to keep it in tip top shape.   And quite frankly, we haven’t been doing that.
Fortunately, it’s never too late to start rebuilding.  Make it a point to remove those indoctrinations that are holding us back, kindly correct those who perpetuate false notions which fly in the face of freedom and logic, live a moral and principled life, ask questions instead of repeating sentences, promote smaller government, encourage positive financial behavior, educate your kids away from school, never teach a child the world revolves around them, embrace risk, and think long term.  Do those things, teach them to your kids, and then practice each and every one for a minimum of 20 years and the tide will have just then begun to turn.   A true solution will take at least that long but if you really want aviation to survive, along with all those other things you value, that’s what it’s going to take.  Don't do them and nothing you treasure will survive another thirty.
One of my favorite proverbs is, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.” It’s ancient Greek.  Sadly though, this is something our country has lost nearly all capability to understand.  The only proposed solution we ever get is a quick fix. Unfortunately, nothing that could be thought of and completed in the next five years could ever rebuild a society so ill.  And like Moses and his people, we have screwed things up so bad we don't even deserve to see the Promised Land.  But, we do owe it to those who will inherit the future to take a long and purposeful journey toward it.  Do that, never give up, and perhaps, in forty years or so, others shall once again enjoy the fruits of the country we have so carelessly driven off the road.

* - Most people always take this the wrong way.  I don't think giving rides to kids is bad, I just know it isn't a solution to aviation's ills.   So, if your goal is to save aviation by giving free rides to as many kids as you can pile in your plane, your efforts are being wasted.  If you get great pleasure out of giving the rides, that's great.   Who doesn't like giving those rides.  But, if that is all you are doing, don't complain about the decline of aviation, golf, the automobile culture, boating, etc.   All of them are suffering from much larger problems and a boat ride around the harbor won't help.

1 comment:

Disgusted with The Hartford said...

I've been giving Young Eagle flights since 1993. My goal was to give every child a front seat flight, not an "airline ride"! I was flying a 4 place plane at the time..

I flew from one airport and landed at another local airport. Shut down, changed the kids seats, flew to another airport and did the same thing again. I always had the kids on the controls and let them fly the plane if they wanted to. Every kid got instruction prior to engine start. Some of them got 20 minute flights while others I flew for almost an hour due to their enthusiasm.

I've had the pleasure of knowing that 3 of the kids I flew went on to the U.S. Air Force Academy because of their Y.E. Flight!

I hope I've done something over the years to get kids enthused about flying! I know I've enjoyed doing it.