Someone intimated I was old this week. Well, actually what he said was, “Dude, you’re so a fossil.”
“I have a Facebook page,” I blurted out in my defense.
“Lame,” was the response.
At the very least, if I’m going to be insulted it should be with proper grammar. It was, after all, a high-school junior radio and television journalism class. I was invited to talk about journalism as a career. What prompted the fossil comment was my mentioning the interesting people I’d gotten to know as a journalist. I told them I had met and become friends with such interesting people as Scott Crossfield.
“You know, the first guy to go twice then three times the speed of sound.”
“He trained Neil Armstrong!”
Deer-in-headlights look from the students.
You remember the Wright Brothers, right?
One student thought they were from Saturday Night Live and in “that old movie about some guy who got out of prison and started a band.”
The rest of the class leaned heavily toward aviation and less toward journalism. No one could put World War II or Vietnam within 50 years of the actual dates; only two students had even heard of the Korean War. Paul Tibbets, Chuck Yeager, Burt & Dick Rutan, Bill Lear were all foreign.
Not a single student had ever given a thought to a career in aviation and, except for one student whose father was a private pilot, no one knew anything about aviation. They knew there are pilots, a few figured out there are mechanics but no one could name any other aviation-related occupation.
At a time when our industry is growing worldwide and demand for pilots and mechanics exceeds the number of students, it is chilling to think there may be no next generation, at least not one of any significance. We’ve fallen down on the job of promoting our industry and if we don’t get better at it, that failure will come back to haunt us in the not-too-distant future.
Adopt a school; be an aviation resource. Talk to students, start a Boy Scout Aviation Venture Crew, get involved. If you have a successful business you might consider starting a scholarship for post-secondary education students going into aviation.
And I’m not a fossil. I typed this blog on my iPad while having dinner in a restaurant and emailed to my home computer connecting to the Internet via my hand-held Five-Spot portable WiFi. I checked to be sure it was successfully mailed by looking at my incoming email on my iPhone. When I got home it was in my email inbox on my computer. (Admittedly, that computer shares a desk with my 1974 IBM Correcting Selectric Typewriter.) OK, I’m a retro kind of guy. I even have a 25-year-old waterbed.