By: Brent Owens
When the group was deciding on a theme for this month’s Blogging in Formation series (#blogformation), we agreed to anchor it around July 4th (U.S. Independence Day). We settled on The Future of Aviation in the U.S., but we encouraged each other to explore the edges, good or bad, as we saw fit.
We Are The Future of Aviation In The United States
Aviation in the U.S. is at an interesting crossroads. We have enjoyed large populations of pilots and a commensurate number of airplanes through the bulk of the last century. Now with Baby Boomers aging and economies melting, the population of aviators has reached historically low levels. Couple that with the cost to fly at unprecedentedly high levels, things aren’t looking good. Also, we have more regulation, more oversight, more scrutiny, and our safety record, although good, is not good enough in the eyes of regulators. Combine all this with our modern distractions and it is very tough to recruit young men and women into our ranks, especially as a career. Flying for fun, or for a living, in the U.S. has proved to be a very difficult proposition in recent decades.
So with all this as the backdrop you would think that aviation here has gone the way of CB radios or Disco, but you’d be wrong. The group that has remained in this new era is more vibrate, engaged, and resourceful than ever. If you have been to Oshkosh, you know what I mean. It is truly amazing to be in the presence of such an awesome group of dedicated people.
The passion from those of us left is infectious. We are constantly looking for alternative ways to continue to do what we love and spread the gospel of flying. The organizations that represent us, are as strong as ever and are working hard to make sure we don’t give up any more of our freedoms to bureaucracy and security theatre.
Since we are in the eve of Independence Day in the United States, it is more than appropriate to celebrate our successes and put behind us our losses. Looking forward is the only way to get where we want to be in the future. It is incumbent on us to be leaders in our small family and do our part to light the way for future generations.
In a related article I wrote about how the EAA is working on a program to bridge the gap between Young Eagles prospects and future pilots (to be announced at Oshkosh 2013). This endeavor, will tap into a great deal of grassroots energy and it is bound to succeed. With it, we may come away with our own version of a “pilot boom” that hasn’t been seen since the Baby Boomers took up wings.
New pilot starts is really an important concept, because this is what will fuel the industry into the future. If we don’t have this, our ranks will keep dwindling away and soon we will have no voice to counter opposition and no economy of scale. If that occurs it’s only a matter of time before flying will be completely inaccessible to the average American. Several organizations have recognized this decades ago and started working on plans to stave off the bleeding, but it hasn’t been enough. Our current economic climate hasn’t helped either.
My plan is to do my part to support all these new (and old) efforts, because I know the greater good is the end goal. That also means; giving rides to people who are interested in flying; getting involved in local and national organizations that support us; writing my politician when our freedoms are under attack; volunteering at events; flying for charity, if possible; speaking at functions about aviation; (add your ideas here). See related article here.
We all have a choice to make, fly and be free or accept a fate of mediocrity. WE are the future of aviation in the United States and with that comes an awesome responsibility. What are your intentions?