9:56 PM

Kudos Must be
Handed Out for This

The other day, right out of left field, I received a call from a reporter who writes for Eugene's local daily, the Register Guard, with a story idea. I love the paper and scour it daily, so I listened to what he had to say. Anyone who knows me knows that I will put down what I am doing to help the media get a story right about general aviation. Every pilot in the land should do likewise, to offset those many times when they get it wrong.

The reporter, Lewis Taylor, had called to ask what I knew about this:

His editor had heard from the grapevine that a major movie star's Gulfstream was spotted sitting at EUG by someone who called themselves a "planespotter". In trying to determine (a) if the rumor of the star's plane being here was true, and (b) what the heck was a planespotter, Lewis called to ask me what I knew about this "planespotting" stuff. I told him it boiled down to people who are known to hang out by airport fences and snap photos of incoming and departing traffic. You can view many of these photos on sites like airliners.net. But I told him it was a non-story because there were not going to be more then a small handful of true planespotters in the EUG area. Besides, the LAST thing his newspaper needed to do in this post-9/11 world was to encourage strangers to park their cars just off the approach end of 16R and aim a big, black telephoto lens at jetliners.
He took my advice, and called back to tell me he found nothing on the story, and it was indeed dead. In conversation though, I told the reporter that the really big GA story these days was Sport Pilot, which was growing more relevant each year. I told him the public would LOVE to read about this new class of ticket that could be earned for about half of a private ticket. I passed along the name of a CFI I knew who was arranging to put two new Cessna Model 162 Skycatchers on her flight line, and am very happy to report that Lewis followed through and wrote a long and very good story on the topic in this Sunday's RG:
Lewis Taylor's look at Light Sport Aircraft and the pilots who fly them was spot on in almost every detail. He captured the true essence of why people fly, and made it crystal clear that this was a new license that was easily attainable by all. He interviewed the contact I sent him, and she proved to be the reliable source I suspected she'd be. Between Taylor's accuracy and Dorothy Schick's enthusiasm for flying, I believe this article cannot help but inspire someone to get out to the airfield and learn to fly. If that one pilot earns his/her ticket because I hooked Taylor up with Schick, then I will be a very happy pilot.
If you want to see how a mainstream media reporter can research a story on GA and then deliver a well-written piece, go here. But me being me, I would be remiss if I didn't give him a good-natured jab for one little error in the story:
In describing Schick's current Sport Pilot teaching platform, a "curvaceous" German-made Comco Icarus C42, Taylor wrote that the Icarus "weighs just 715 pounds and can hold 1,200 pounds of cargo. It runs on aircraft fuel or premium auto gas and burns four gallons an hour." I can just imagine the elation FedEx's bean counters must be feeling tonight knowing they can now move well over half a ton of cargo on just a 4 GPH fuel burn! This revelation could lead to a future when in place of 767s full of overnight packages, we might see whole fleets of Icarus' inbound to Memphis instead. But at just over 100 KIAS, don't expect that package to "absolutely, positively" get anywhere before, oh, I don't know...next month.
Sorry Lewis, if you know many pilots, then you'd know we have to poke each other in the funny bone once in a while, it's hard-wired into our DNA. Major hat-tip to you...and if you are ever in the vicinity of EUG on a sunny afternoon, ask anyone where to find Katy's hangar...she wants to take you for a ride to thank you for casting such a positive light on general aviation.

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