A simple message can have far-reaching impact — just ask the readers of GeneralAviationNews.com, who have found a way of networking online.
This may not seem to be a column about politics, but it is. Because ultimately politics is the art of people interacting with other people in order to get something done. Based on that, flight instruction falls well within the realm of politics. And just like politics in the governmental sense, the politics of flight instruction can be both as uplifting and as infuriating as the Washington D.C. variety so often is.
Human beings have a propensity for making decisions that lead to less than desirable outcomes. Said another way, we’re pretty dumb sometimes. That’s not exactly shocking news, I know. But then something comes down the news wires about one of us doing something stupid, or more often, allegedly doing something stupid, and we get ourselves all lathered up about the idiocy of whatever the flavor of the day is in the latest news cycle
On Monday of this week the news broke that FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt was arrested on a DWI charge in Fairfax, Virginia, over the weekend. By evening we knew that Babbitt had requested, and was granted, a leave of absence. At the same time it was learned that legal counsel were advising the Department of Transportation regarding Babbitt’s employment status.
Earlier today I went to meet three local men for lunch. They’d asked me to put on my city commissioner hat and come listen to their idea for improving the quality of life in our little burg. Being an agreeable sort I took up the challenge, drove to the outskirts of town and pulled into the parking lot of a terrific southern eatery where calories are plentiful and cholesterol is not a dirty word.
Outside of politics, the men I was meeting have no professional connection to me. One is a minister, another is an educational consultant, and the third is a retired coach. I’d met two of these gentlemen before but the third was a mystery to me. I didn’t know his full name or his background until we were introduced on the porch, just outside the restaurant.
This is where it gets interesting. The third man didn’t try to impress me with his credentials. He didn’t comment on how well I was dressed, or how much he liked my car. Instead he said this, “My father flew B-29s in the war, you know.”
Sam Lyons is an institution. You might go so far as to say he is a brand name. So much so that in 2010 Sun ’n Fun created an Artist in Residence position and awarded it to Sam.
This week marks the beginning of the traditional national tendency to reflect on the year gone by. It all starts at Thanksgiving, when we identify specific moments, events, objects, and relationships we appreciate most. Then we transition into Christmastime when we tend to recognize how good we’ve got it, no matter how many material things are still missing from our lives. And it all closes out on New Year’s Eve when we flirt with the year gone by one final time, before shifting our sights to the future and the nearly limitless opportunities that lie ahead of us.
It’s been more than a year since one of the most attention getting moments in the history of aviation and law enforcement took place. John and Martha King famously ended up in handcuffs and were stuffed into the back of police cars for the devious criminal exploit of landing a privately owned airplane at a public use airport. It all turned out to be a paperwork problem that was entirely beyond the control of the Kings — yet there they were being held at gunpoint as if this cheerful, compliant, nationally known couple were as threateningly dangerous as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in their prime.
The capture of the Kings was entertainment for some, it was serious business to others. Often, an individual’s reaction to the situation depended on which side of the blue line of law enforcement they stood on. Because of that unfortunate reality, I think it’s worth revisiting that incident, and the core causes of it in the hopes that we can prevent such a thing from happening again in the future.
In my position as a city commissioner I often find myself being lobbied by a resident or a developer who has a position they want me to adopt. That’s fair. In fact, it’s the basis of our system of government. We are, after all, a representative republic. Periodically we elect someone from our midst to go represent us at some level of government. Those people are expected to learn as much as they can about the issues, make judgments and decisions based on the information they’ve been able to gather, and then stand up to defend those decisions at election time, assuming they want to keep the job for another term.
Lobbying is a reality. Although, contrary to popular belief, most lobbyists aren’t paid for what they do. They’re you and your neighbors. They’re anyone who steps up to the plate to make their position known to someone who has the ability to cast a vote when the time comes. They’re largely ineffective, too.
Nobody likes to hear that, but it’s true.