Flying is an interesting hobby as it is generally one that is limited in how many people you can include, but at the same time is an incredibly tight-knit, and large, community.
Unless you have the means to own a private jet or even a large twin, you are really limited to only about 2-3 other people coming along in your plane, if that. However, fly-ins can bring together dozens, or even hundreds, of people who are passionate about flying. Look at events like AirVenture in OshKosh where tens of thousands gather every year and it is clear that aviation is really a giant family.
Given the time of year, there have been a number of great articles talking about organizations that utilize planes to do good for others. Ron Rapp wrote a great piece about avgeeks who are “the best” because of the charitable work that they perform using their aircraft. Cap’n Aux also gave us a great look at individuals who opened their hearts to support others who may have personal struggles through the wonder that is aviation.
Both of these stories are great examples of the huge hearts that aviators have, and their amazing willingness to help other people. It made me wish that I was in a better position to help in the ways that these great men have. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that I have done at least a little good.
Just last weekend I spent about 15 hours flying during which I got essentially no training, but facilitated the training of 18 aeromedical personnel. I have performed three such trips in the last year including one which included returning 7 wounded military members to their home states.
This week I am at Ft. Benning, GA supporting the Basic Airborne Course (look for more on this next week) which will provide the training for about 400 soldiers to get their jump wings. This is the third time I have done that this year.
I don’t say all of this to toot my own horn, but to point out that we often overlook the good that we are doing because we consider it to be insignificant. All I did last weekend was get the plane where we needed to go, but that allowed for training that could not have been received on the ground.
I was also the beneficiary of a generous pilot this weekend when my friend took me up in his Piper Cub for a little fun VFR flying. It proved to be a short trip because of high winds, but it was some of the most fun flying I have ever done, and it further deepened my commitment to getting my PPL during the first of next year so that I can help others to enjoy the liberating feeling of small aircraft VFR flying.
It was a small thing to my friend, but it was a big deal to me. Each of us avgeeks has the ability to do these great things, and I am sure most of us do them without even realizing it.
Much has been written about aviators asking others to go with them and have some fun flying, but I would like to turn the tables just a little. I would strongly encourage anyone that is longing to get up and fly to ask any pilot you know to take you up the next time they go. If you don’t know a pilot then head down to your local FBO and hang around for a little while. You will inevitably make a few new friends and get that ride you have been longing for.
As I mentioned before, we aviators are really just one big family that is anxious to help our fellow aviators in any way we can. Most pilots would love a little company when they go flying if you will only ask. Don’t be afraid to ask because as most flyers will tell you, the stories are so much more fun when they are stories that you have shared with someone else.