In defense of pilots

Speech made to the Airport Advisory Board August 1, 2002 by Chris Rodriguez

To have a meaningful dialogue between parties on opposite sides of an issue, your goal should be constructive discussion with reasonable people.  To begin such a dialog you must first try to understand your opposition’s opinions, concerns, and desired outcome.  Here is a sample of those opinions and desires that have been made public record.Pilots are:  “a bunch of rich people doing nothing but making noise”  “jerks”  “geeks”  “low class trash”  “disciples of the devil and all going to hell”  “dive bombers”  “totally obnoxious”  “stupid”  “out of control”  “nothing but pigs”  “stinking pigs”  “polluting pigs”  “jackass’s”  “voyeurs”  “voyeuristic creeps”  “dips”  “bad boys in dippy little Cessna’s”  “morons in Cessnas”  “ridiculous dweebs”  “uncaring and unthoughtful”    “stupid, stupid pilots”  “dufuses exhibiting stinking pathetic behavior”  “idiotic”  “stuck in adolescence”  “scummy”  “eerie”  “morons” and “idiots”

Pilots should be:  “Kicked off the airport”  “not be allowed to operate”  “should be grounded for rest of year”  “need to leave the airport”  “should be beaten”   “beaten with a stick”  “banned from the airport”    “have their license taken away”  “never allowed to use the airport again”  “wouldn’t be surprised if shot down”  “leave for good”  “pound nails in tires of the airplane and then admonish the pilot” “should have their license jerked” and “should be shot”

Not many of the above statements are constructive or reasonable.  No one, whether it be the Airport Manager, the City Manager’s Office, the Mayor, a business on the airport, or a single pilot should accommodate or appease anyone who’s idea of problem solving are threats, harassment, and insults.  Neither the airport nor its neighbors can honestly believe the other will ever go away, despite their best efforts.  I’ve asked the question and had it asked to me about the apparent stalemate in this situation “when and how will this all end?”  Hopefully not by someone beaten with a stick or shot!  While I haven’t come up with or heard a good answer to resolve this problem, one thing is certain:  regardless of the City’s intentions, the appeasement experiment has been a monumental failure and should not only stop, but some of the damage reversed.  Too much of the City’s time, and our tax money, has been wasted on appeasing the unappeasable.  The party involved that the City has tried to calm down has only gotten more inflammatory and violent.  At this point the intent and motives behind it must be questioned.

If all that’s been heard is a vocal minority, perhaps we pilots are guilty for not making our case to the airport neighbors and non-flying public.

We are not all thrill seekers boring holes in the sky, or rich boys with their toys.  There’s currency & proficiency to be considered.  If you want your UPS/FedEx package absolutely positively overnight, or get your flight to anywhere in the world to conduct business or pleasure, where do you think those pilots are trained?  Where do they keep current and proficient?  It’s airports like Longmont, not DIA, that take care of this part of the pie.  In their own way the two are equally important.  These pilots are not pulled from the military ready to fly for United, they are usually self-funded individuals paying thousands of dollars over several years just to be able to fly you or your packages.  There’s a reason we have the best air system in the world, and you don’t have to go farther than this airport to see where pilots start their career and keep their skill level up.  Flying isn’t like driving a car or riding a bike.  It’s the ultimate meaning of “Practice makes perfect”, but in reality it’s “Practice, stay current and proficient, or die.”  Be thankful next time you get on an airliner of the pilots commitment to maintaining a high level of proficiency and competence.  It isn’t cheap or easy.

Here are some of the charitable activities pilots are involved in.  Angel Flight connects needy family and patients with pilots to fly them to medical treatment, all at the pilot’s expense.  “Flight Across America” will honor the victims of 9/11 and the people of New York; it culminates with flag bearers from all 50 states flying their aircraft down the Hudson River, past ground zero, and the Statue of Liberty.  Young Eagles is a program where pilots volunteer their time and expense to take kids between the ages of 8 and 17 flying in their aircraft introducing them to the joy and safety of flight, and to the airplane, the greatest invention of the 20th century.

Like the Young Eagles program, we should strive for education and exposure as a deterrent to ignorance, fear, and misunderstanding.  You’d think if kids could get it, we might, too.  Thank you.

About Chris Rodriguez

Chris is the editor/publisher of LightningRod Blog - as well as founder/editor of Wrongmont, Longmont Advocate, Vote!Longmont, Longmont Politics, the LightningRod Radio Network, as well as being the original Longmont Examiner. Chris is a writer and talker - whether it be blogs, podcasts, music, or public speaking. When he's not heard on Air Traffic radio, he can be heard on his podcasts or seen in the local paper causing trouble.
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