Friday, June 26, 2015

Show Off!

Have you ever heard that?  I hope not.  Of course, if that statement does describe you and you haven't heard it, there's a pretty good chance it's only because nobody wants to be the one to break the news.
It's an odd thing about aviation that doing the right thing is the surest way to make you an outcast.  Point out a glaring issue and you won't be thanked.  Most likely you'll lose a friend or be shunned from the group.
I can say from experience, this is a very difficult position in which to find yourself. Today people want to be cool, gravitate to nonsense, and most certainly do not want you to rain on their fantasy parade.  Even if what you have to say is about to save their lives, people do not want to hear it.  You're the idiot, right up to the point things go bad.

When that happens, if you didn't say anything you can feel guilt for keeping quiet. When it happens and you did say something, you feel disgust at your friend or acquaintance for not listening to you.  But, at least you tried.  Most people do will not and I'm learning why.
This problem was presented to me once again earlier in the year.  When it happened I decided not to say anything.  I'm starting to realize who my friends are and the rest, I've decided, aren't worth the penalty that comes with caring enough to speak up.
Amazingly though, it's not just me who feels this way.  Anyone who has spent their lives around aviation knows exactly what I am talking about.  Aggravating isn't it?

Here's how it goes.  A friend sees you standing there watching events unfold, they walk up to your side, stare straight ahead, lean in your direction, and say in a low voice, "Are you watching this?"  A quick nod is all that's required to answer.  The next few minutes are then spent talking about the flying dead, how it will not help to speak up, and that all you can do is shake your head.  That's a shame.  It's also true.
As for me, like I said, I'm getting better.   Now, unless they are a close friend, I just let people go on about the business of killing themselves. Yet, sometimes that comes with other problems. What about when they are endangering others?
Having attended multiple events in the past year which had someone who was completely out of control in close proximity to people, I finally decided it might be a good time to approach the subject again.  Here goes.
If you are at a fly-in, do not do aerobatics.  I have no idea why people can't seem to get that through their heads but it does nothing but set the stage for disaster.   Crash, crash and kill others, crash and live, and everything in your life is going to go to hell. Additionally, the people holding the event will be raked over the coals for your actions. If they are friends of yours, have the courtesy to not put them in this position.  The average person is just as happy with a 100' fly-by as they are with you turning upside down. Don't be a show off.
When you are at an airshow or fly-in, be on your very best behavior.  These are the most difficult times for show-offs to maintain composure.  Therefore, if this is you, use the moment to practice being the least obvious person at the event.  The added benefit will be the good example you set for others.
Finally, if you take someone flying who you like, find interesting, know to be a person of importance, or anything else, do not be screwing around with them in the plane.   Kill them and you'll be forever remembered as the person who did it and nothing more.
Finally, I can't help but notice everyone getting excited about the Mosquito coming to Oshkosh. With that in mind, I think it is important to point out one of the main reasons there wasn't an airworthy example for many years.  What was it?  A pilot who was DICKING AROUND AT AN AVIATION EVENT is what it was; someone who should not have been doing what they were doing.  See the video above.
In fact, most of the warbirds and old planes we have lost in recent years have been due to that same reason.  Yeah, I realize the pilots are often cherished members of the aviation community.  Therefore, don't let their deaths go to waste.  DICKING AROUND IN THESE OLD PLANES WILL KILL YOU AND THE MACHINES.  Learn from their mistakes and don't repeat them.  The added bonus to this is that many of us will be able to sleep at night because you didn't die.
Got it?  I hope so.  This crap is getting old.


Jed said...

Do not mind an idiot killing themselves, but do not take out a rare aircraft, passenger, bystander or air field reputation in the act

Unknown said...

Ed Lubitz

If you heard the little voice in your head saying "watch this" then stop what ever you are doing because its probably dangerous, stupid or both.

Hunter said...

Rich, thank you for a passionate and spot-on essay about fools and their airplanes. We can all be fools at times, but there are some pilots who cannot be told anything. I'd bet that at every gathering of pilots, they could bring up a few names of folks they would agree "are gonna buy the farm one of these days." How to rein in those whose reckless behavior causes all the ills you mentioned, and more, I do not know. I would definitely have "the conversation" with a friend who shows-off, but for people I don't know, like you, I stand back and watch, or walk away because I can't. Best wishes for a great fly-in this year.
Hunter Heath
Retired from flying but not from loving aviation