Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going to Oshkosh?

Heading to Oshkosh this year? I am. If I’m lucky, Ginger is coming with me. We’ll be parking in Warbirds, talking to friends in Vintage, Oohing and Ahhhing over the Experimentals, wishing for floats at the seaplane base, and feeling nothing but the utmost respect for everyone who flies to the show.

Why are you going? How are you going? Where are you going to stay? What do you hope to see? What do you expect to get from it? There are so many questions to ask. However, do you ever give them more than a passing thought?

Me, I like to research EAA’s standing before heading to the event. Years ago it was a group that held a fly-in. Today, it is a week-long airshow supported by a group. Sure, there’s more to it. Nevertheless, when boiled down, take away the show and the group withers on the vine. Therefore, many things fall into the shadow of “Oshkosh.”

When was the last time you took thirty minutes to research (Google) all the people running for the EAA Board? Have you ever? Do they represent the little guy?  Do they even have a clue how the little guy lives and flies?

I see Jon Goldenbaum is a new director at Vintage.  This gives me hope. Yet, have you paid attention to other folks in the running for the Vintage Board? Why does Vintage never change? Why is it always the same people running the show? That says as much about the members as it does the leadership.

Warbirds, good or bad, it always gets the most jaw time.

As for the experimentals, I’m never happy with the coverage they get. There must be a better way to highlight them, but EAA never has figured it out. For that matter, neither have I. However, I do realize a solution is needed.

What about ATC? Is EAA still paying for it? I know the answer, do you? If you don’t, why not?

Recently EAA, and that other group, have claimed some great victories. I’m not going to go into detail about what they really accomplished and what things other people accomplished which they took credit for. Nevertheless, I will say they supported some good measures that turned out to be ok. Therefore, they get to claim progress.

The only thing I’ve seen recently that really bothers me is a column by the head of governmental affairs. When the person in this position uses their entire allotted space to attempt to convince the group it needs to be friends with the FAA, hold hands, and sing kumbaya, that is a serious problem.

Yet, it does serve as the perfect example of how well intentioned people are pulled into the political fraternity. Before long they are preaching from the other side of the fence, all the while believing they are doing well. Members should be concerned.

I remember the person he speaks of so fondly and what he was like when he was at EAA. It also concerns me the author believes that because someone was at EAA that makes them a good guy. The last time someone was producing such sweet words about people at the FAA, he left EAA to work for the FAA, where he belonged.

What really gets me, though, is the attempt to use the founder as evidence of why we should all assume the FAA will eat us last if we feed it. When Paul was running the show, there actually were some people left in the FAA who had a knowledge of small planes and who actually wanted to see them survive. In truth, that was decades ago. Back then, Paul could find some “good people” in the FAA to work with. Today, if you believe you’ve found such a person you’ve gone mad.

You can choose to take my words on this subject to heart, or to ignore them. Whatever you do, remember that aviation exists on government paper. No government paper, no aviation. Do you really want our guy to be the one reaching across the aisle, managing the downfall instead of fighting for its survival? Not me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we have to throw bricks through windows. However, I certainly would prefer to hear from someone who isn’t trying to convince me to work with his friends at the FAA. If he feels this really needs to be said, then the members are obviously expressing otherwise. And, if that is the case, why then are you representing the FAA and not your members?

Back to the good stuff.

EAA has done another great job of attracting amazing aircraft. Everyone says it’s all about the people, but I wonder how many would show up if there were no A-20s, Spitfires, Hellcats, or Emigh Trojans on the field? No planes, no people.

If you’ve been reading EAA publications you’ve certainly read that many improvements are being made to the grounds. This is a great thing. To be world class you have to be up to date. I hope they keep it going, but do it with membership input.  Without it some horrible assumptions will be made.

Finally, I want to leave you with the following questions. Has EAA accomplished anything in recent years that makes aviation significantly cheaper? Has EAA accomplished anything that makes aviation much more free, as in the freedom to fly? Has EAA done anything that has led to a net increase in pilots?
Keeping a few people behind the stick for a few more years, making a few non-certified instruments available for use, and giving kids free rides do not fall under the category of “much.” Therefore, if you answered honestly, that leaves you with one question. Is EAA right to be managing the decline instead of shooting for a true turnaround? Many of you will not like the answer.  Most of you are afraid to consider it.

See you at Oshkosh. 

1 comment:

Ron said...

Rich, are you looking to buy a set of floats or was that just a comment about going to the seaplane base?

Contact me if you're looking. ronwright5@yahoo.com