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Changing the Stereotypes of Aviation

Stereotypes are the simple reality of life.  While they often have a negative connotation, that is not necessarily the case.  There are good and bad stereotypes and there is also a certain level of truth to all stereotypes whether they are positive or not.

One of the biggest things that is killing the aviation industry as a whole are the stereotypes that many people associate with the world of flying.  One of the most common stereotypes that gets talked about regularly is that you have to be a rich person to fly on anything other than an airliner.  While money can be restrictive to the aspiring aviator, there are some great references out there, most notably to me being Brent Owens, the Fixed Wing Buddha, for ways to fly as inexpensively as possible.

Personally, I think there are two much bigger stereotypes that we must change if we want to see a resurgence in the industry.

The first is that aviation is only for boys.  While there was a time that women in aviation were either flight attendants or travel agents, that just isn’t the case anymore.  I am well aware of the fact that there are substantially more men in aviation than women, but there are some serious powerhouses out there that are doing their part to change that.

One of the biggest voices, and more important examples, is Karlene Petitt.  I don’t have the space to list all of her accolades, but the short list includes being type rated in just about any aircraft that starts with B7xx, incredible author (you should check out her books), grandma, and just because she had too much spare time, doctoral student.  We need more incredible women like this that have not only made it to the top of the industry, but are actively promoting it.

We also need more of the major players in the industry to actively pursue and encourage women like Airbus recently did with their “Girls for the Future of Aeronautics” event at their Toulouse factory.  Not only do events like this actively encourage women to pursue careers in aviation, it shows them how many different careers there are in aviation which is the second major stereotype that we must change.

Tell someone that you work in aviation, and 99 times out of 100 their next question will be, “Are you a pilot?”  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I am trying to become a pilot myself, but pilots make up only a small percentage of the world of aviation.  Even in the Air Force there are tons of jobs that are not done by pilots.

There are lots of different jobs with airlines which are relatively well-known, but there are also tons of opportunities at FBOs that are relatively easily attained.  There are tons of jobs at airports that get entirely overlooked by the vast majority of the flying public.  There are jobs for aeronautical engineers, mechanical engineers, public relations, social media, and even a few jobs left for navigators.  However, we are a dying breed, which really just makes us more special.

The point I am trying to make is that aviation used to be an exciting environment that attracted the best of the best and that almost everyone dreamed about in some way, but somewhere along the way aviation lost some of that appeal.  We need to start attracting those people who don’t want to be pilots but would love to work around airplanes.

There is a growing community of avgeeks brought together by the wonder of social media, but these people would work in aviation for free.  We need to find the closet avgeeks and bring them into the fold where their passion can infect others and bring aviation into the next generation.

We are on the precipice of a major change in aviation, I can just feel it.  We really just need each member of the aviation community to bring along a friend and the industry will be changed forever.  Who knows, that friend you bring along may be the next Wright, Earhart, Lindbergh, or Armstrong.  Or they may just be a guy with a PPL and a Piper Cub, either way we will be one step closer to changing the stereotypes that are holding us back from incredible growth.

October 19, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Twelve Days of Avgeek Christmas: Day 2 Aviation Books and Guides

One of the gifts that I have started to appreciate more as I get older is a good book.  I have always enjoyed reading, but when I was younger it was more out of necessity than real pleasure.  Now I realize the value of reading in all of its many forms.

Much of my reading these days is in the form of blogs and other online content.  These provide a valuable resource of information that in the past just simply was not available.  Much of what I read these days, about aviation in particular, could only be found by spending most of your life at an airport.  Now as great as that sounds, I just simply do not have the time for that, nor do most people.

In all of these online interactions I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people that have endowed me with vast amounts of knowledge that I otherwise never would have had.  Some of this knowledge has been practical, and some of it simply entertaining, but all of it has been worthwhile.

This book could make your aviation dreams a reality.

This book could make your aviation dreams a reality.

For the second day of Avgeek Christmas, I would like to share some of that knowledge with you, or at least give you the opportunity to go out and get it, because if you didn’t already know this about aviation, the sky truly is the limit, but you have to be willing to take the steps necessary to get there.  Maybe the best part about these gifts is that they all come in around $20 or less.

The first piece of aviation related literature that I would highly endorse is one that is designed to help save you money no matter where you are at in your aviation pursuits.  The Pilot’s Guide to Flying on a Budget is the most comprehensive guide written to help all of us avgeeks make our aviation dreams come true.

If you browse the internet you will find random articles with snippets of information that might be useful if you know how to apply them, but the author of this eBook has done exactly the opposite.

Brent Owens has spent his entire flying career in general aviation amassing nearly 10,000 hours of flight time in over 40 types of aircraft.  His unique perspective is evident in the blog he writes, his comments on Twitter, and his new eBook, The Pilot’s Guide to Flying on a Budget.

This insightful book takes a look at all different kinds of general aviation flying and helps you figure out a way to make flying a reality no matter what your situation is.  There really is something for everyone in this book to help save money, and suffice it to say that Brent definitely lives up to his goal: “My goal is to use this medium to promote, educate, and share this great gift of flight that we all enjoy!”

The Last Bush Pilots will leave you longing to fly in Alaska.

The Last Bush Pilots will leave you longing to fly in Alaska.

Now maybe you like aviation, but you want to leave the flying to others, and would rather just read about their adventures.  No shame in that, I for one love a good read, especially if it is one about airplanes and flying.  If that sounds like you, or your favorite avgeek, then I have the perfect book for you.

There may be no more exciting and dangerous flying than that done by bush pilots, and there is likely no more unforgiving destination for bush pilots than Alaska.  Eric Auxier should know, since before he became an Airbus captain and insightful blogger, he was an Alaskan bush pilot himself.

In his second book, The Last Bush Pilots, Eric paints a picture of flying that will leave you in awe whether you are a true avgeek or not.  He paints pictures with words that are every bit as beautiful and moving as anything ever drawn or photographed.  The book is fiction, but based on many of his experiences in Alaska.  I literally could not put the book down, until I had to so that I could get some sleep before flying.

This book was a recent read of mine and you can find my full review on my previous post.

Flying adventure is not necessarily for everyone either.  Maybe you love aviation, and you also love a good suspenseful thriller where you never know exactly what will happen next.  You may even be a fan of a little romance in your reading.  Nothing wrong with that, I personally have a romantic attachment to planes. (I’d tell you not to tell my wife, but she is well aware of it.)

Flight for Control paints a brutally honest picture of the airline industry today.

Flight for Control paints a brutally honest picture of the airline industry today.

If this sounds like more your type of read then may I heartily endorse Karlene Petitt’s first novel Flight for Control.  This is the first in a trilogy of books, with the second segment set to arrive around the New Year which will bring much joy to all of us who are anxiously waiting.  Throughout the entire book I wasn’t sure what was going on, but in a good way.

Karlene does an excellent job of weaving a tapestry of incidents that all lead to the exciting conclusion where everyone involved has their world turned upside down.  It is a very real depiction of the aviation world that we live in, and the challenges that face the industry.  Much the way that Brent and Eric write from experience, Karlene is an incredibly experienced pilot that has run the full gamut of the ups and downs of being an airline captain.

While I found Flight for Control to be incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking, it is definitely not for everyone.  Karlene makes it very clear that this book is written for adults that can handle some pretty intense topics and mature situations.  That being said, anyone involved in aviation, even as a bystander, will benefit from reading this book.  There is also great benefit to following Karlene’s blog as it provides limitless inspiration and insightful topics.

My last recommendation is a non-fiction offering from one of the greatest fiction authors of our time.  Tom Clancy is well-known for his military themed novels that have enthralled millions of people in both book and movie form.

I would highly recommend every single one of his novels, especially the Jack Ryan series, as he is one of the most perfect characters I have ever experienced.  If only he were a real person instead of the beautiful result of an extremely creative author.

Fighter Wing gives an insider's view of how a fighter wing works.

Fighter Wing gives an insider’s view of how a fighter wing works.

Many of these novels have an aviation aspect, but like I said it is one of his non-fiction offerings that fits most closely with the theme of an Avgeek Christmas offering.  Fighter Wing: A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing is part of the Clancy military reference library where he utilizes his special access to these military units to give an inside look at how they operate.

This book is definitely not a novel and it doesn’t read like one.  It is a pretty straightforward look at the people and equipment that give the US Air Force the world’s premier air superiority.  There are some pretty awesome pictures included, as well as a beautiful description of flight in the back of an F-15E by Clancy’s co-author John Gresham, because apparently Clancy gets air sick.

I thought this would be the fitting conclusion to a list of Avgeek books with the recent passing of Mr. Clancy.  He, like all of the authors I mentioned here, provided an essential opportunity for people to fall in love with airplanes and aviation.

One of the greatest resources for industry insights and information is one of the many flying organizations that have been established.  The two biggest that I would recommend looking into are AOPA and EAA, but there are all kinds of different groups depending on what you are looking for.  They all provide great resources for flyers of all types, and are well worth the membership fees.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is the largest aviation organization in the world with over 400,000 members.  They are incredibly active in supporting general aviation by trying to influence Congress and provide them accurate information so they understand how important general aviation is.

They also create numerous products in both print and electronic editions that are both informative and instructional.  They are also becoming more involved in encouraging young pilots and trying to help increase the pilot population.  If there is one organization you should join in aviation, this is probably the one.

They offer a handful of different membership options for pilots, student pilots, military members, and even youth.  Annual memberships range from $25-99 as well as a few free trial options for students all of which include at least one of AOPA’s valuable magazines.  It will definitely be money well spent.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is an organization that focuses on supporting recreational aviation that has tons of great offerings.  They support the Young Eagles program which aims to get kids excited about aviation, as well as likely there most well known offering, EAA AirVenture at OshKosh which is one of the most popular airshows in the world.

Everything that EAA does is designed to support the growth of aviation.  One of their most unique attributes is the support they offer to aircraft builders and restorers.  There is an incredibly network of people that are anxious to help anyone fulfill their dream of flying their own plane no matter what kind it is.

Membership for EAA is also incredibly reasonable at $40 for a digital membership meaning you get your EAA products digitally instead of print.  It is slightly more for an international print membership, but still only $66.  They also offer a family membership for an extra $10 that includes the entire family.  They do offer a lifetime membership that is pretty attractive if you can afford the $1,295 one-time price tag.

Each of these offerings will provide valuable information, and in many cases entertainment.  If you are looking for something a little more practical, possibly for a student pilot or a pilot working on a new rating, or even just other entertaining books, there are many different study guides and other resources that can be found on Amazon.

12 Days of Avgeek Christmas:

Day 1: Aircraft Models and RC Toys
Day 2: Aviation Books and Guides
Day 3: Aviation Apps and Flight Simulators
Day 4: Flight Lessons
Day 5: Headsets
Day 6: Bags and Kneeboards
Day 7: Sunglasses and Watches
Day 8: Handheld GPS
Day 9: Handheld Radio
Day 10: Cameras and Video Recorders
Day 11: Random Aviation Accessories
Day 12: Airplane

December 15, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

AvGeeks Share Their Stories in an Awesome Series of Posts: Blogging in Formation

This last week there has been an awesome series of blog posts from incredible writers who shared their stories about how they got into flying.  It has been an inspiring series of posts that only further deepens my love of aviation.  You would think that after hearing stories from all different people over and over it would get old, but hearing about other people’s passion never gets old, especially when you share that passion.

I don’t have near the story that these amazing people do, but reading their story gets me excited about where my story will go.  None of them had any idea where flying would take them, but it has been an adventure for every single one of them.  Flying is one of those unique areas that gives you experiences and adventures that you just won’t have anywhere else.

No one talks about going down to the hospital to watch a doctor give physicals, or down to the courthouse to watch a trial, but almost everyone has a memory of going to an airshow, or of the very first time they flew somewhere in a plane.  Nothing can quite compare to the thrill of flying in any type of aircraft.

I strongly encourage you to go and check out each of the posts from these people as they will fan the aviation flame inside of you.  Even if you aren’t an avgeek, it is hard not to be inspired by each of their stories.  Click on each of their names to read their story.

Karlene Petitt (@KarlenePetitt) is an airline pilot that was motivated to pursue flying because she was told that she couldn’t.  Her’s is an inspiring story of overcoming the odds when everyone else says it is impossible.

Eric Auxier (@capnaux) is also an airline pilot flying the Airbus A320.  His flying started with a hang glider and eventually moved on to bush flying before he got to the airlines.  I love how he refers to having a long-term love affair to “Fifi”, the Airbus A320.

Ron Rapp (@RonRapp1) didn’t get bit by the aviation bug until he was a little older, but after he got started, he never really slowed down.  He has quite the diverse list of aircraft that he has flown which comes as a result of his total commitment to something he loves.

Dan Pimentel (@Av8rdan) was another late bloomer in the aviation world, but he is making up for it now.  I have followed Dan on Twitter for awhile, and I am always impressed with his passion for aviation.  He is also the organizer of OshBash13 which looks to be quite the event for anyone attending EAA Airventure Oskosh.

Andrew Hartley (@smrtflighttrain) bounced back from tragedy in his life to become a CFI where he helps to train future avgeeks.  He shared my favorite quote of the series so far: “… if you love something, it is always worth the risk. Minimize it, manage it, be aware of it; but you can’t give up something you enjoy just because it might kill you.  Life is guaranteed to kill you anyway – so enjoy it by doing what you love, what you are passionate about, what your life would be empty for the lack of it.  Fly.”  Just beautiful.

Brent Owens (@iflyblog) has been flying since he was 15 in a whole assortment of different planes including his RV-8 that he built himself.  He has amassed over 10,000 hours, and was the brains behind this blogging in formation idea.  His story reminds me that if you really love aviation then it almost doesn’t matter where you end up because all that matters is being in the air.

May 11, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.