Thursday, July 16, 2009


When I took my sport pilot CFI knowledge test, I also took the Advanced Ground Instructor test (and passed). To get my certificate, I finally wandered down to the FSDO to have an inspector sign off on my knowledge test and issue me a temporary certificate.

While in the neighborhood, I stopped by Midwest Airlines' maintenance facility to say hello to a friend of mine who works there. While he dashed to a meeting about the changes they would face after being bought by Republic Airways, I kicked back at his cubicle. I spotted two old Midwest spoons sitting on his desk, which, when combined with errant MD-80 and 717 return schedules formed a humbling timeline. From the days of china and full meals airlines have progressed to fee-riddled entities lacking in character. I wonder what will happen to Midwest under its new ownership, but moreover, the visual representation of the decline of the airline industry struck me.

Even examining Midwest's old and new logos made me think. The old scripty logo seemed much grander, but perhaps I'm just nostalgic. It seems a symbol of happier, more prosperous times when flying was still exciting and exotic to the general public.

It's debatable whether the changes to the airline industry we've seen over the past months will work in the long run, but that's not really the point. I simply find it startling how much aviation has changed in the past ten years (I had some delicious cinnamon pancakes on a Midwest MD-80 ten years ago, on airline china), and hardly for the better.

I guess my point is, we've been headed downhill and we're not doing enough to stop the descent. The sport pilot/light sport aircraft rule is a great start, but it can't be of much help unless we bring more new pilots in. The challenge is to bring the emotion back to flying again, where it isn't about shuffling a herd of passengers from point to point.

It's shocking how many changes I've witnessed in my short life, and they unnerve me. It's akin to sitting coach class on a runaway train, wondering what will be done to save the day while feeling entirely unable to affect the outcome. And I don't like that feeling.

Perhaps that's why I identify so much with airplanes like the Cub. Cubs are not about efficiency, expediency, ease of use, or convenience. They are entirely about emotion--when you're flying a Cub, you are not distracted by anything other than the million-dollar view mere inches away. You become a part of the airplane and wholly immersed in the experience.

In short, we need to insure the future of aviation now, by bringing pure fun and excitement back into the equation.

I hope I can be a part of that with my new CFI-SP ticket!


P.S. I need students!

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