Saturday, January 2, 2016

Is Aviation Worth Saving?

This question has taken ten years of my life. The calendar read “2005” when I first realized something special would be required to save Lee Bottom Flying Field. What I came up with was grand. Instead of the focus, it would be the foundation of something greater – a refuge for aviation itself.
Minutes later, another thought crossed my mind, “Is aviation worth saving?” By “saving,” what I really wondered was, “Should I give my life, time, money, and remaining days to save something that few ultimately care about?” I’ve been at that moment ever since.
The first time I went aloft solo, the world made sense. That something else which captivated and drove others forward was finally visible to me. Born into a world of aviators, I was.
Everything aviation that could be consumed came my way. By luck or sheer will I found a way to experience it all. “What a life,” I thought, and I looked around for the others. They weren’t there.
Something so grand should have a line to get in. Aviation does not. Something so fulfilling should find supporters everywhere. Flying doesn’t. Instead, as with everything else, aviation has its version of the Kardashians. Endless empty calories absorbed at a table upon a rotten floor will make you fat, dumb, and happy until it collapses. Worse yet, when people are fat, dumb, and happy, and the floor falls in around them, they’re too fat, dumb, and happy to pick themselves up and do something about it. And yet, here I sit trying to help them.
If I were the type of person who builds monuments to himself, I would be going full speed. My vision would already be alive. I’m not, and it isn’t.
The future is what I see, a flying field in a bottle set afloat for others to find - a message from yesterday, filled with blind hope, created on the silly notion the very people it was meant for would find it. I know it’s absolutely insane, but that’s my dream. It could also destroy me.
My brother has expressed concerns I am not living because of this place, well-known authors have told me I’m mad, and those who claim to see the vision always turn out to have seen nothing but a collection of planes they could fly. Ginger loses her mind once a year because of the fly-in, I never get to visit other events, and I fly less than I ever have. But the vision
Creating what I see would take the best and brightest aviation has to offer. People from all corners of the planet would have to participate. One corner of the world, secure for aviation to survive, that’s all I ask.
Alternatively, I could sell everything and enjoy a great life of empty calories. Falling in line with the crowd, I would pretend I give a shit about Rob Holland, Harrison Ford, or Sully. I’d kiss the ass of an oil man or second generation wealth to fly their planes. Repeating the mantra, I’d tell everyone our aviation groups are saving us. My life would be great; full of people who loved me for being what they loved, empty calories. But who the fuck am I kidding?
Being that person would be suicide to my soul. All I ask for is one corner of the world, secure for aviation to survive.

NOTE:  I'm sorry if any of the language offends anyone.  The truth isn't always pretty and clean.  If you would rather read pretty "safe-space" bullshit you can find that almost anywhere else.


Gary Lampman said...

Over forty years ago I first visited Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome and thought this was the mecca for fliers. A dozen or more trips confirmed that observation, watching Cole Palen and his gang portray aviation history as fun and exciting. Thirty years ago I moved away to advance my career, turning wrenches for USAir for another 20 years. Then Cole&Rita passed away and darkness fell on ORA. It nearly died, but now a new generation has found the Palen "Spirit" (as in St. Louis!) and soul. That old excitment has returned with old hands and young volunteers wanting to show the world that flight is magic.
Lee Bottom has a spirit and maybe it needed a rest before the magic begins again. Aviation is not grand shows or loud events, but a Cub or Champ giving someone that first thrill of departing earth and seeing our world without the distractions of daily living and toil.
I've never visited Lee Bottom, but it is on the list. I hope stop and chat with you and Ginger and maybe when the goats are in attendance.

Rich Davidson said...

I love the messages that come in from posts like this. I've already had several people who thought they knew who I was talking about with oil and wealth. And yet, those were merely rough directions used to make a point.
Gary, thanks for your comment. It is appreciated.