COMMENTARY / GUEST EDITORIAL
Reflecting, reacting, and reinvigorating the passion
IN TODAY’S WORLD OF UNLIMITED ACCESS to mind-boggling forms of
entertainment, aviation sometimes gets lost in the hype of instant
gratification. The unfortunate result is a decreased number of new pilot
starts as compared to decades past. And, more than half who start flying
never earn a certificate. This tells us that simply preserving aviation is not
enough; growing aviation should be a high priority, and that starts with each
one of us at the grassroots level.
My fondest aviation memories are rooted at Flabob Airport in California
in the 1960s. My dad, an EAA member, would take me to the airport to
participate in EAA Chapter 1 activities. We would walk around the field
admiring various flying machines. Even a plane in disrepair would warrant
a discussion, opening my eyes to see the mastery of what was hidden under
the shabby fabric. Those discussions gave me an understanding of innovation
and the art of the possible. A 1930s-vintage Funk B with flat tires was a study
in two brothers seeing beyond building gliders and sailplanes. To power a
certificated, high-wing, strut-braced plane with a Ford auto engine of that era
was fascinating to me.
I remember vividly walking the flightline and coming upon a
weathered but airworthy Interstate Cadet. Dad paused and that look
I saw when one of us kids had made him proud came across his face.
He told me a story about Mom. While he was learning to fly in the Army
Air Corps, his recent bride didn’t sit still. She learned to fly and soloed in an
Interstate Cadet. She lived the art of the possible.
Jack and Rose Pelton
8 Sport Aviation March 2010
From the time I could walk, I served as a copilot in
Dad’s Cessna 140A, N9436A. Being exposed to aviation
early in life was clearly a blessing. It forever influenced
the direction of my life. Aviation became a love affair
and a passion. EAA Chapter 1 helped ignite that passion
within me and is a major reason my wife, Rose, and I are
lifetime EAA members.
The past can form a perspective for the future. We
must decide how we are going to rekindle the spirit
of the past and grow aviation. When looking at the
obstacles we face, I reflect on a quote from Abraham
Lincoln: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate
to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with
difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our
case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”
We have the tools to allow us to rise. The Young
Eagles objective is exactly what an EAA member did
for me, without the encouragement of such a program.
Through the Young Eagles program, every member
can react and make a difference in young people’s lives
by exposing them to the enthusiasm and passion of
aviation—not just flying, but all aspects of aviation.
Are we truly trying to change our approach? To
think and act anew? To lay the foundation for future
growth? Yes, we are. EAA worked for years with the
FAA to make the sport pilot/light-sport aircraft (SP/
LSA) rules a reality. These rules are a catalyst for
growth. We are already seeing results. The innovations
coming from this initiative are creating endless
possibilities. The SP/LSA movement needs to be
protected, nurtured, and embraced.
At Cessna we answered the challenge and are
encouraged to see others do the same. The Cessna
162 Skycatcher and other LSA are coming to market
solely because of the new rules. It is a fresh approach
to rekindling the passion for recreational flying while
also providing an efficient, comfortable, and safe
New and exciting training is critical. Cessna’s
network of Cessna Pilot Centers across the country will
enable this new training to be delivered. This program
integrates the airplane, curriculum, and student in a
seamless training environment—all the ingredients
needed to allow for a student’s success.
An integrated web-based training curriculum
coupled with the latest avionics technology in a roomy
cockpit is our way of reinvigorating aviation. We believe
it will appeal to baby boomers and millennials alike.
As EAA members we share a common passion
in aviation. Share it, live it, protect it, and most
Jack Pelton, EAA Lifetime 669229, is Chairman, President, and
CEO of Cessna Aircraft Company. He is also Chairman of EAA’s
Gathering of Eagles event, an annual fundraiser for EAA’s youth