Monday, November 12, 2012

Because this is what Airplanistas do

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

You've heard me talk about our community of aviators online as our "aviation family" before, this hodge-podge of right and left, black and white, boyz and gurlz, all connected by the wonderful thing we call flight. We laugh together, cry (about user fees) together, and remain loyal to the First Unwritten Rule of being an Aviator: Pilots help other pilots, all the time, without asking why, because that's what we Airplanistas do.

I'm not talking about big favors, or giant business ventures on the cheap (or free), or about pilots taking advantage of other pilots. I'm talking about the small things, the no-brainers that we aviators do for our aviation family members:
I have pondered this "pilots helping pilots" concept many times while sitting in my group hangar at KEUG. I base Katy - my Cherokee 235 - at the end of the Lane Ducks row at Mahlon Sweet Field, alongside seven other airplanes in a row of T-hangars with no interior walls. Each hangar space is filled with the stuff we owner/pilots accumulate, tools, equipment, parts, and in my case, an autographed copy of a limited edition print of the Voyager signed by Burt and Dick Rutan. Yes, the print has value, but if you think I 'm worried someone will walk off with it, you do not understand how pilots treat their brethren.
John Stahr taxis his 'American Angel' in AOPA's Parade of Planes
In my hangar row - and at airports across this land - my tools are their tools, their beer is my beer (if I still drank beer). When someone needs something, there is no need to ask for help, you just mention it to the first pilot you see and he/she and their friends will be there to get 'er done. At the far end of the hangar row is one awesome reminder of how this "pilots helping pilots" philosophy takes shape:
You have read at length on this blog about John Stahr, the prolific aviation airbrush painter who has create a flying masterpiece with his RV-8, American Angel, which lives at the opposite end of my group hangar. I was so impressed with this artist's talent that I recently got John and his Angel the lead story in the Pilot Briefing section of AOPA Pilot Magazine. It was only 400 words and a photo, but it generated an invitation for John to taxi the Angel in AOPA's Parade of Planes at their Summit event in Palm Springs. He was also asked to display his beautiful airplane outside the convention center while the show was on. John has thanked me about a million times for this, but I keep telling him it is just what Airplanistas do. We draw on our connections to help a fellow aviator without need for compensation either monetary or spoken...and I am confident Stahr will pay this forward somehow, somewhere to keep the circle going.
The "Grillin' for Rockaway" event organized
by Tracy Diane (@DancingPilot)
Online, in the #Avgeeks community, we have much the same honor system. Especially on Twitter, it is a daily occurrence to see @pilots helping #otherpilots promote their event, locate information, or just get together to raise awareness about aviation. This weekend, I experienced two examples of how we in the online aviation family step up when we need to help our aviation Twitfriends:
A pilot in New York I have never met in person, Tracy Diane, tweeted out as @Dancingpilot that she was organizing a "Grillin' For Rockaway" event on www.fundly.com to raise $1,000 and fry up a mess of hot food for NYC-area peeps displaced by Superstorm Sandy. I tweeted a few times challenging the rest of the aviation family to throw down for this good cause, and in no time, @Katzmandu, @WiredforFlight, @KarlenePetitt and other aviators I do not know joined me in helping Tracy out. At one point, Tracy said "@Av8rdan I think you're campaigning harder than I am for this, ha ha. No amount of thank you's is enough :)" to which I replied, "Tracy, no prob, it's what we Airplanistas do."
Not long after that exchange with @DancingPilot, a loyal reader, @Bendrt (Ben Davison, a private pilot in the Chicago area who flies a Beech Sundowner from Chicago Executive and an Archer from 06C) contacted me to submit the "100 Aviation Wishes" list found at the end of this post. See, Ben didn't have to do this, he didn't have to spend the time to carefully think up and write down this list just so I could publish it on my blog. He didn't ask for money, and didn't selfishly insist on a byline in capital letters. He just wrote and submitted the list to help another aviator keep fresh content on a blog he enjoys reading...

Because that is what Airplanistas do.

So as you sit back and enjoy this wonderful list Ben wrote, think about your own role in this aviation family. Ponder the "pilots helping pilots" concept, and consider upping your game to reach out and do something nice for another flyer. It doesn't have to be a big thing, it just has to help push GA forward in some small way.

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100 Aviation Wishes
by Ben Davison

1. Earn a MES (multi-engine seaplane) rating
2. Become a flight instructor
3. Restore a Republic RC-3 Sea Bee to wholeness
4. Find and restore a P-47 Lightning...
5. ...and fly it in a heritage flight with an A-10.
6. Earn my skydiving license
7. Land an airplane in all 50 states
8. Watch the sun rise from a hot air balloon
9. Break the sound barrier (on purpose)
10. Log stick time in a Grumman Goose in the Alaskan wilderness
12. Take an aerial tour of the Australian outback
13. Earn my A&P mechanics rating
14. Fly a seaplane from my family camp in Maine to Lake Winnipesaukee in NH
15. Fly the entire Eastern Seaboard in one long cross-country
16. Skydive from a hot air balloon
17. Learn to fly a sailplane
18. Watch the huge tides in New Brunswick go out from the air
19. Fly to Greenland
20. Learn to fly a helicopter
21. Fly for the USCG auxiliary or CAP
22. Fly for a worthy charity
23. Take up 1000 young eagle flights
24. Log time in a Stinson 108 (modest goal but I like them)
25. Land a skiplane at Pioneer Field in Oshkosh, WI
26. Fly the Cri-Cri
27. Own or part own an L-39
28. Become aerobatically proficient
29. Fly a scenic cross country low-and-slow...in a Trike
30. Laugh like a madman while making a low pass  in a T-28
31. Meet and talk flying with Richard Bach
32. Take a flight with Rod Machado
33. Write an inspiring and interesting aviation novel
34. Solo 100 students
35. Jump out of a C-130
36. Log time in a Lockheed Constellation
37. Take my mother & father flying
38. Earn my ATP in a biplane (you can do that, right?)
39. Own a Lake amphibian
40. Fly, fish and camp in the Alaskan backwater alongside a Beaver
41. Fly the Fisk arrival into Oshkosh
42. Spend a summer flying and camping on rural airstrips out West
43. Get checked out on the one-of-a-kind arrival into Courchevel
44. Experience commercial space flight
45. Take a long cross country through the US and Canadian rockies
46. Hang glide over a beach in California
47. Ride along on a Hurricane Hunter flight
48. Inspire people to learn more about aviation
49. Volunteer at Oshkosh
50. Be an invited guest at Sun n Fun Radio
51. Jump out of a DC-3 (preferably a flying one, and with a parachute)
52. Take a HALO jump
53. Earn my masters in aeronautical engineering
54. Work air traffic at Airventure
55. Find and restore a Siai Marchetti FN.333 Riviera
56. Take a floatplane and a summer and camp across rural New England
57. Be a pilot for Penobscot Island Air
58. Build an electrically-powered Sonex and fly free of AvGas
59. Live at an airpark
60. Operate a charter jet from Sun Valley ID to Aspen
61. Fly first-class in a 747 to Switzerland
62. Work air traffic at a Level 12 facility
63. Land a Piper Cub in the grass at sunrise
64. Fly my family to a vacation at the beach (Hilton Head or the Bahamas)
65. Log stick time in a C-46 in honor of my grandfather, who flew them over the Hump
66. Form an aviation scholarship to help more people become pilots
67. Ride in a U-2 and see the earth from the edge of space
68. Get winch-launched in a sailplane
69. Start a flying club
70. Learn to fly a Beech Staggerwing
71. Launch from and land on an aircraft carrier
72. Fly over the mountains and desert of Utah in a new-generation Waco biplane
73. Bring back Meigs field!!!
74. Work the control tower at Glacier (KGPI)
75. Fly a low pass in a P-51
76. Learn how to homebuild with composites
77. Island hop the Hawaiian islands
78. Hang my legs over the side of a Huey in flight
79. Log time with 100 different passengers (3 so far! 97 to go!)
80. Experience a full-power straight up climb in an F104
81. Get type rated in the C-47
82. Fly a Mooney to the Florida Keys
83. Tour the Boeing plant
84. Experience a tactical approach from the cockpit of a C17
85. Make a "steampunk" biplane
86. Master the art of photographing airplanes
87. See the fjords of Norway from the air
88. Build a replica Wright flyer and launch it on the Kill Devil Hills
89. Build and fly a SubSonex
90. Participate in disaster relief in a GA aircraft
91. Build a ludicrously well-equipped experimental airplane (synthetic vision, glass, IFR...)
92. Fly a seaplane across Canada from coast to coast, with a long stopover near Hudson Bay
93. Land on 16R at Van Nuys
94. Guest-host on an aviation podcast
95. Fly an airplane at or above FL400
96. Master the art of tailwheel flying
97. Take an amazing aerial video of the coast of Maine
98. Ride with the Thunderbirds
99. Fly over the North Pole
100. Experience as much of aviation as I possibly can before I hang up my wings

Editor's note: If you like this list, please email me your own "100 Aviation Wishes" list and I will publish it right here - av8rdan.