Having an airport exhibition at your home patch isn’t news…every city has one. But why I have chosen to “work” the Norwest Fly Fest in the booth of my flying club this Saturday is – to me – worthy of mention. And while this may be a Eugene, Oregon story, the ramifications are coast to coast, baby.
Not long ago, I had the distinct privilege of hearing AOPA President Phil Boyer speak up in Portland on their Project Pilot Program, then still in the planning stages. Phil summed the future of aviation up this way:
"Look around at any airport, and you see the pilot population is aging. We all know seasoned citizens who have lost their medicals. The sad part of this is that at the other end of the pilot stream, people in their 30s and 40s are not choosing to become pilots. It is now the responsibility of every licensed pilot to join forces and bring new student pilots into the fold. This is no longer an option, friends, it is mandatory."I’m paraphrasing the Prez a little here, but this was the point Boyer was making. And like almost everything that comes out of my President’s mouth, it was right on.
So I’m joining some other members of TakeWing Flying Club this coming Saturday out at Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) for the Norwest Fly Fest. It’s a day when our local aviation community will come together and pull collectively in the same direction – forwards – without holding grudges against anyone who ripped out a perfectly good crosswind runway.
If you value yourself as a proud pilot, you need to be on this bandwagon, my friends. Maybe not this weekend at EUG, but out at your local patch, at work, at the gym, at the game, or at a cocktail party. Talk up the advantages of flying to everyone you meet, tell them about the thrill we get when the wheels depart Mother Earth and the wings win their battle with gravity, and we are flying.
This weekend, I’m going to be talking the ears off of anyone that comes near the TakeWing booth, talking until I change one mind. One pilot, that’s all I ask. I want to convince one guy or gal to drop the dime and sign up for what I guarantee will be the ride of their lifetime.