After two and a half years of running seaplaneforum.com and now after roughly 11 years in the “low level aviation advocacy arena”, I have come to a couple of conclusions and suggestions as to what our industry needs to do in order to succeed and prevail in an ever growing world of challenges. It is my belief that our industries ability to adapt and change course will determine how and if seaplanes will exist, a few years from now. To those getting ready to leave the industry due to age or medical concerns – these points may seem dramatic, but I have a feeling to most of the younger seaplane pilots, they do make sense.
Our industry is affected by a clearly visible generational conflict, which manifests itself in two areas. ONE: Those on the way out are generally lacking the personal motivation to reach out and share their experience and knowledge, get involved and active on advocacy related subjects or seem to believe that what they have to share won’t matter to the younger generation; and TWO: Those on the way in, find themselves spinning in a hamster wheel without proper guidance or mentoring, yet, are DESPERATELY searching for jobs and opportunities. Unknowingly, they are blind to what is required to sustain this industry which is INDIVIDUAL EFFORT IN ADVOCACY. The candle is (I will attest to this in court, if asked to) burning from both ends!
But…Seaplane flying is FUN! Seaplane flying is ADVENTURE! Seaplane flying is EXCITING!
Each one of us, old or young, experienced or greenhorn, has a horse in the race of keeping seaplanes and general aviation alive for the future. Each horse looks different and runs at its own speed. There are people with money, people with time and people who can present well, people with incredible experience and people with barely a clue about whats going on. All of us make this industry.
I have decided to share my Seaplane Advocacy Wishlist, because I believe that I am not alone with such a list. I publish it because I am deeply concerned about several shortcomings and unnecessary shortfalls, which we can fix and rectify as a group, together, today – not tomorrow. I truly believe its up to each one of us to rescue and resurrect the greatest aviation story ever told.
Let me begin with the “Advocacy Organization Wishlist”.
Dear Advocacy Organization Santa,
I have been a good boy this year and I am sending you my wishlist for consideration. You know me well, so you already know that I will hope to see all of the items I asked for, but I think if you need extra time, I will patiently wait for you to get it all done! Thank you!
Fiscal Transparency is something every member of your association may appreciate. Even those who refuse to join the happy party today, once your fiscal transparency issues are fixed and you can openly answer inquiries, you will find membership numbers rising magically.
Personal Accountability would likely turn out to be a benefit not only for the executives and presidents, but also from the board of directors that wasn’t elected by the membership – but is self appointed. We know that “success breeds success” but when you claim to be membership focused you may find a personable character better placed than the multi millionaire business executive. Consider that some of your board members are using their membership on the board in furtherance of their own business and to appear more personable, but they may be far removed and fairly out of touch with the general membership. Replace them with people who care for the backbone of your association – the sooner you do it, the sooner more money from members will come in…
ADVOCATE! None of your membership programs are of much matter to the community at large. If the number one purpose of your association is to be advocating for seaplanes, do just that. Focus on your mission and constantly work to fulfill the promise made to members. Place your members before business interests and find your membership rising naturally. Retain members who are willing to play an active role and be involved. You’re not running a magazine subscription and nobody cares for fancy programs aimed to bring press. Attend 2-3 important events, but don’t spend a lot of time and money on events. Let volunteers do this work. Advocacy isn’t funny and it has very little in common with the romance of seaplane flying. Its hard work, and you are expected to do it. While at it, overcome your personal beefs, reach out to other groups willing and able to help you with advocacy work and don’t ever look down on anyone. Retain and select a good attorney who will go to battle for (y)our community.
Reach out to those willing to help with advocacy issues, instead of trying to portray aviation advocacy as your exclusive monopoly. Remember that by ignoring and stonewalling smaller (and sometimes pretty effective) outfits, you contribute directly to the further division of (y)our industry. Many of those who have left you will return (with their much valued $$’s!!!) once you start to show your ability to collaborate effectively and work with former “enemies” to accomplish the greater good. Don’t ask for money from your membership, provide them with something that makes them WANT to be a member. Be accessible to and treat your members like what they are. (Y)our backbone! Without them, advertising revenue will ultimately be affected. Look towards the bigger outfits out there to see clearly how not to do it.
Last but not least, realize that SILENCE KILLS. More than anything else which can be considered detrimental to our cause, you will find that silence and silencing will never work when trying to accomplish anything. Good relationships break from silence (or obsessive yelling), airplanes who are not controlled by pilots who understand Crew Resource Management (CRM) are more likely to crash. Clarity, accountability and honesty still goes a long way in our world of flying.
My wishlist will continue… next up… PILOTS and ENTHUSIASTS…