Our aviation world is struggling. It’s struggling with the aftermath of an event that happened almost 10 years ago, September 11th of 2001. It was that day which unlike any other in our recent past, has put a heavy ding on what we do. It has deeply changed our citizens perspective of being immune from terror, fear and injustice. The events of 9/11 woke our country up to the many shortfalls of our systems in place to protect us from such harm.
The agencies came to the rescue, with too little too late, but nevertheless, they came out swinging. Our country launched into a seemingly never ending “War on Terror”, visibly abroad, outside the U.S. but more so and not quite so visibly, against it’s own citizens internally. A frenzy of paranoia ensued, allowing for knee jerk reactions to something that was not truly fully preventable. Experts argue that with all the precautions in place today another September 11th is fully possible. Since this dark day in our countries history, we have not celebrated a fourth of July without raised terror warnings.
What we have also never done the same way again is fly airplanes, be it on the airlines or privately – exercising the “privilege” of manned flight. Miraculously, our quickly established freedom killer agencies found and continue to find the most indications for another attack on our country around the major holidays, when air travel depends the most on it’s pristine ability to function. Just in time to keep the events fresh, our awareness about all the evil is reactivated. Some argue that fear is a perfect tool to cramp new regulations down the citizens throat, some argue that only fear of terror prevents it. Better safe than sorry! I hear it all the time. Flying wise, we have lost a multitude of freedoms and liberties we used to have. Our constitutional forefathers would turn in their graves, if they had to see what we have done to the U.S.A.
But, aviation is not only under attack from it’s everlasting, true to the bone, concerned about the public’s safety, Government! The regulatory agencies have created enough havoc to bring us to our collective knees, but there is more. Much more! A newly developed style of environmentalists have encroached upon our liberties, some of them entirely focused on bringing an end to aviation as we know it. They do not attempt this feat by mere logic & dialog. NOPE! They sue. Courts settle complaints of paddlers and tree hugger’s , if the governing local agency does not collapse instantly. Their goal: ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION. There is no compromise, no common ground. The complaint can focus on the noise our aircraft make while being operated or on the fact that they use leaded fuel. If that’s not good enough, they reach out to milkmaids explanations as to why flying is dangerous, sometimes with idiotic, self declared experts speaking on behalf of them, quoting the most ridiculous reasons for why General Aviation must be eliminated.
For seaplanes and those who fly them, this means a changed environment. For most it means a sudden change, unanticipated, one they are ill prepared for. They are not ill prepared because they are mentally challenged, mind you! They are ill prepared because they have been kept in the dark, for decades, about the impending crisis. For decades we have operated out of lakes, rivers and puddles, safely and respectfully to our environment. We’ve done all the things good people do. Communicate, educate, take people for rides, so that they can see that what we do is not all that crazy. Look! Fish do not suddenly pop up dead, just because a seaplane landed or took off. More invasive species are transported by birds, turtles and boats (driven by sometimes utterly drunk drivers) than we could produce in a decade. We have been proactive and nice, we have been good diplomats. Did it work? I am sorry, but I doubt it did! I think we do not communicate enough, fast enough, real enough and hard enough. We do not share, collaboratively, what we have learned along the way. We do not properly communicate seaplane accidents and incidents, which in some sick twisted way have and continue to be used against our arguments. We keep a lid on things! Would we not do so, god forbid, the press could learn, do better research and find facts from idiotic fiction!
The matter of the fact is: We are being taken out of business!
Instead of collaborating, we fight silly email wars, we seek the good message in huge “grease in your ear” telephone conversations about how the world will change, oh so soon. Meanwhile – Lows Lake is being closed to seaplanes. Meanwhile the environmentalists sue. Meanwhile our generational conflict remains unaddressed in it’s entirety. Meanwhile we just accept that seaplane pilots don’t like to type and share their knowledge. We don’t push them, we don’t pull them. We leave them be! Those in charge of pretty much all the major aviation organizations (insert 3 or 4 letter abbreviation here) have been challenged, asked, begged, screamed at… and still – things are the same. Blanket statements, idiotic blah blah, fake solutions, lies and bullshit, red tape, lack of transparency, lack of basic style and respect for your fellow airman. The emperors need their underdogs and peons to get their mission accomplished. Focus on the good news, entirely blind to the fact that for every waterway rescued from closure to us, there are 10 (ten) in the pipeline, currently being attacked. Limited written communication, if it can be done the choice is to talk on the phone, as nobody can ever hold anyone accountable for their lack of action, compassion and understanding. It’s nothing short of a shame. It’s untrue in it’s very nature.
What I believe will happen soon: These organizations will dissolve, become silly luxury clubs for the rich and beautiful, shadows of what they were intended and funded to be. We can’t fix them from the inside, and we have no right to critique them from the outside. So, what do you do? Do you believe you can be part of an association that acts slower than the Federal Aviation Administration? Do you think your money makes a difference? Can your association leader truly relate to a peon, who can’t afford the gas/ insurance/ hangar or maintenance to their aircraft? Can they deal with people who are not writers and book authors, in perfect mastery of the English language?Can they still deal with you, after you become emotional, because the lake in your back yard is being taken by nothing but pure ignorance? Can they motivate 7.000 or 430.000 members to get up and fight? Can they continue to ask you to jump on a broken, leaky boat? What’s the goal? Drown in unity? Good questions, bad questions, constructive or not – I do not know, nor do I care. What I do know is that I will not be part of the wall of silence. We’ve got too much on the line to remain silent and passive.
To those in charge of any such organization – may I recommend good literature to learn the ropes of effective leadership? You’ll need it!
That brings me back to where I started:
In times of universal deceit – telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act!
Rest in peace, George Orwell!