Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oshkosh Diary: Doesn't anyone want to fly anymore?

At the tail end of a segment on our being a nation of dreamers on MPR's Midmorning yesterday, I did a short interview with host Kerri Miller on the week at Oshkosh. It starts at 45:48.

Kerri asked whether kids are still interested in flying and so I relayed an anecdote from a friend who flies Young Eagle flights at Oshkosh (Young Eagles takes kids for their first airplane ride to try to get them interested in flying). He called me Thursday because he had a seat available and wanted to know if I'd like it. I couldn't because I had an interview scheduled but how is it with so many kids around Oshkosh this week, no enough wanted to go flying? And what does that say about the future of general aviation?

My interview was with Ray LaHood, the U.S. secretary of transportation. He was giving me the usual rote answers that were uninspiring, if not borderline patronizing.

"Did you ever want to learn how to fly?" I finally asked.

"Me?" he said. "Oh no!" He then relayed all of the aspects of general aviation that are stereotypes of why we shouldn't fly -- he was too old, too risky etc. All of them, of course, are wrong. But it's hard to have confidence in a transportation vision and a secretary who says "the administration is 100% behind general aviation" who has never harbored the dream to take flight and look down.

Kerri also asked about the DC3s at Oshkosh. A lot of them didn't show up, I told her, because of the conditions of the field. But look at this beauty that was at Aeroshell Square. This is why I bought a little aluminum polish at Oshkosh (I spent a total of about $20 on airplane stuff this week, a record low for me, even for me).

 Click on the image for a larger and more beautiful view. There are reasons not to go with polished aluminum on my RV airplane -- paint hides mistakes, they say -- but when you look at a plane like this, it's hard not to think about the option.

No comments: