A century ago, the U.S. Navy purchased its first airplane after a series of tests in which a brave pilot–wearing inflated bicycle inner tubes as a lifejacket–demonstrated one could land safely aboard a ship and then take off from the same vessel. The date of that purchase–May 8, 1911–is considered the birthday of naval aviation. In the hundred years since, the aircraft carrier has evolved from a scouting tool to a leading strike weapon.
The briefing requests started three weeks out: “[company executive] available to discuss new products at our exhibit. Can we arrange a meeting?” In advance of the Unmanned Systems North America conference last week, I received nearly 40 such invitations, still only a fraction of the reported 510 exhibitors at the four-day event held in Washington, D.C.’s cavernous downtown convention center.
Last week the Associação Brasileira de Aviação Geral, better known as ABAG, sponsored the eighth annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (Labace) in São Paulo. This was my fifth consecutive show. I never tire of it, and I will be back. That’s partly because Labace is aviation, but also because it is uniquely Brazilian.
The older I get the more I find reality forces me to take solace in the reminiscence of the good old days. Take, for instance, the impending requirements for aviation safety management systems. SMS takes up more than its share of bandwidth on the grid, and it is a smarmy technobabble term that makes me emotionally curl up in a fetal position clutching my IBM Correcting Selectric typewriter.
A measure in the latest temporary FAA funding extension to completely cut the Essential Air Service (EAS) program in the lower 48 states by October 2013 will no doubt face some stiff opposition from the likes of Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and well it should.
Richard Bach, the well-known pilot and author of numerous books, articles and short stories about aviation (he’s probably most widely known for his book Jonathan Livingston Seagull), once wrote a story about a mythical flight school somewhere in the western U.S. and far away from civilization.
Transformation is one of the most extraordinary themes of the human experience. We strive for it, experience it, witness it–sometimes even dread it. But one thing we can be sure of is that constant change and evolution surround us.
Business aviation may still be brimming with righteous indignation over recent attacks by President Barack Obama (in the row over bonus depreciation) and The Wall Street Journal (over the Block Aircraft Registration Request issue), but it now faces bigger and more tangible problems.
I get so sick of hearing pundits talk about how bad it is to criminalize aircraft accidents, how we need to be able to determine the cause of accidents without the threat of criminal sanctions such as fines and jail time impeding the free exchange of information. Some claim that the chilling effect of looming criminal inquiries would thwart the NTSB’s ability to determine probable cause and so on.
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