Aviation is part of my life, every day of the week,
365 days a year. Each day, directly or indirectly,
I address questions such as, “Why do people
want to fly?” or “I am interested in flying…how can I
Each of us should take a few minutes to answer the question, “Why do I (want to) fly?” Reflect for a moment on
why it’s important. To be honest, it’s not a question of why
we want to fly, rather why do we care.
One thing that I have learned from EAA
…for many it is a
members is that there are “core” reasons that are common for most of us,
passion and inner
but there is also great diversity in our
feeling that engages us
aviation interests. The path you take to
get involved in aviation or learning to
fly can vary significantly.
In the end, for many it is a passion and inner feeling that
engages us in aviation…it can’t be measured, it’s just there!
Demographically, EAA spans a wide spectrum. Members
come from all walks of life, but when they’re at their local
airport or here in Oshkosh, the common bond is their
engagement in some form of flight. When we are together,
we speak the same language, share information that’s valuable, and enjoy the stories that are never ending.
When I talk with members who have been involved in
aviation for decades, I’m asked, “What can we do to preserve the legacy of flight and provide future generations
opportunities for participation?” Some question whether
the young people today have the same interest that existed
20 to 30 years ago. Their perception may be “no,” but
the reality is “yes.” We have to remember that because of
today’s communication technology, our youth are deluged
with a level of information that is unprecedented.
But technology can serve as an advantage and is one of
the reasons why I am optimistic about aviation’s future. I
would like to share an example. Each summer in Oshkosh,
we host hundreds of young adults in the EAA Air Academy
program. When they arrive, I share insights as to how their
participation will impact their lives. For many it’s the first
time they have been away from home for an extensive
period of time…most importantly, it’s the first time that
they’ve been with a group who are together for one rea-son…aviation. That’s significant!
As a result of their involvement in the Air Academy,
they will make friends that can be maintained for a lifetime. For most of us growing up, our sphere of friends was
geographically close to home. Today,
technology allows young people to
make and maintain global relationships
that reinforce a common interest, such
as aviation. The geographical boundaries that we experienced no longer exist.
As a result, I see their interest and passion for flight is just as strong today as
it was for many of us…they are just engaged in different
ways than we were.
There are many reasons for EAA to exist…information,
camaraderie, relationships, advocacy…the list is extensive.
One of the most important is to preserve and promote
the opportunity for those who have a passion for flight,
especially young people, to participate at the level they
choose, whether it’s enthusiast, builder, restorer, pilot, or
participant. Never before has this been more important
Each month, sharing perspectives on subjects such
as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) actions,
government regulations, and safety is important and, in
some cases, requires a call for action. But there is also the
emotional side of aviation. Taking the time to reflect as to
why it’s important, and why we continue to participate
helps put things in perspective.
So in a way, this is a call to action…to reflect and understand the value and personal satisfaction that we’ve gained
as a result of our aviation participation, including the
friends we’ve made, because at the end of the day…that’s
the real value for many of us.