The Good Stuff


I realize some of you will be shocked to realize Im actually writing the following, but there are a lot of good things to be said about general aviations overall condition in the U.S. in 2007. Thats not to say things couldnt be better-nor is it to say Im throwing in the towel; far from it-but so much of what is the GA “experience” continues to be very, very good.

In recent weeks, I had the opportunity to make several flights up and down the eastern seaboard, in good and bad weather, stopping into airports of all sizes and in many different locations. With one exception, and even including the ATC folks with whom I worked, the experience was positive. I was welcomed at FBOs, treated with respect by airport and FAA employees, and other GA pilots were cooperative, helpful and professional. At one fuel stop, the airport employee apparently pulls double-duty; he was riding a tractor up and down the runway sides, mowing grass. I was left to find the restrooms and pump my own gas, trusted not to abscond with anything in the FBOs office or tinker with hangared airplanes. It was all good.

General Aviation's Overall Condition


The exception, of course, relates to the ongoing upheavals at the FAAs flight service stations. Generally, even that “experience” is improving, though I doubt it will ever again be what it was even a few months ago. But enough of that for this month.

Having been “sentenced” to a round-trip aboard a human mailing tube only a few weeks earlier, I had fresh memories of the indignities and drawbacks of commercial aviation. Using a GA airplane for personal transportation-not “recreation”-remains an efficient, effective tool. Its fun, challenging, relaxing, tiring and exhilarating all at the same time. If it didnt exist already, personal aviation would have to be invented, if only for some of us to understand what we are missing.

Yes, the GA community has a number of challenges it must resolve in the near term. The potential for bad stuff is real. But in the meantime, the good stuff is pretty good.


One of my recent experiences involved signing up my 19-year-old daughter for her initial flight training. The proud papa agonized for several weeks over which airport to select, what facility to use and to what extent, if any, he should directly involve himself with her training. In the end, I selected a school-and chief CFI-with which Ive been familiar for a long time and have used for my own training. Im excited at the prospect of welcoming a new pilot into the fold-and to the possibility of getting some sleep when we fly together.

Beyond all that, however, Im ecstatic I can pass on to a new generation the freedom and satisfaction of flying a personal airplane. Even if you dont have an interested family member, AOPA and EAA both offer highly recommended programs designed for pilots to share their knowledge and love of GA with others. Use it or lose it.

-Jeb Burnside


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