“I wonder how often the jargon we use prevents people that could benefit from joining our various communities.”
I am well aware of how much jargon I use when talking about aviation because the other people I work with are well versed in this jargon, and it is just easier to use it with them. When I go out with my friends, and our spouses or non flying friends are with us, it is hard to not talk about flying because it is such a huge part of our life. My wife has grown used to this and does a pretty good job at engaging other people so that she isn’t just as bored as they are.
I must admit that even I have been uncomfortable around certain groups of aviation experts because I felt that my avgeekyness was simply inadequate to be in their presence. I am pretty good at identifying most commercial aircraft though I am far from polished when you get into all of the different variants. I doubt I will ever know which engines are on which aircraft, and I guarantee I will never know seating configurations or other things like that. I just don’t have the spare brain bytes for that right now, or probably ever.
If I can feel uncomfortable in that environment, then I can only imagine how someone with even less aviation knowledge would feel. There are a lot of people putting forth a lot of effort to try to increase interest in aviation, but I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t the ones standing in our own way.
It is one thing to show awesome pictures and videos or to even share a flight together, but how often do we scare someone off because we just know too darn much? If someone is new to aviation and you get talking about Lycoming engines, or even worse high-bypass turbofans, then it is entirely possible you could intimidate them. Even talking about relatively simple terms like crosswind, downwind, base, and final could scare them off if they aren’t ready for it. None of us like to admit we don’t know something.
I’m not saying that we should insult their intelligence or oversimplify the truly complex nature of aviation, but I think it is important that we be very careful with how we respond to people who show interest in this amazing community.
Avgeeks can be some of the most inclusive and friendly people I have ever met. I have stumbled across friends from Twitter at various airports and ended up spending the rest of the day with them enjoying the wonders of aviation together. These are people who I had never met in person, but that I had an immediate connection with because of our love of planes.
As I previously mentioned, I have also been amongst groups that left me feeling inadequate because of their ability to rattle off all sorts of numbers and statistics. This is likely in large part due to my own insecurities, but I can’t help but wonder if other people feel the same way, and have been scared away from aviation entirely.
Aviation jargon is an incredibly important part of aviation, maybe even more so than most industries because of the time sensitive nature of what we do and the efficiency that jargon can provide. Let’s be honest, it is a lot of fun to sound cool when spouting off a clearance, or trying to impress a girl by knowing all the pertinent data on Boeing’s newest aircraft (if you find a girl who is impressed by that hold on to her and never let go), but it could also scare someone off that is just too timid to think they could ever be that cool.
I’m not saying we need to eliminate this jargon, or even minimize it, because if we can’t sound cool while we look cool around planes, then what is even the point? Am I right? What I am saying is that we need to be very cognizant of how we are using that jargon to ensure that we are using it in ways that will be inclusive rather than exclusive. We avgeeks are the only ones that will be able to rejuvenate general aviation, and ensure that it has the booming future that it deserves, and I know that none of us would ever want to scare someone away.
So the next time you ask a girl if she fell out of a B-17, cause she’s the bomb (I love that movie), make sure she realizes you are talking about an amazing airplane and not the latest development in cancer research.