Echoes for Aviation in Boston Marathon Bombing
Why this latest attack on our way of life failed utterly.
By Robert Goyer / Published: Apr 16, 2013
The news of the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday hit me hard. Though I was safe at home in Austin working, I had a close connection to the events. In fact, I had a number of close connections.
When the news came in that there had been explosions near the finish line and that this was an act of terror, my thoughts turned immediately to my friends, more than half a dozen of whom were running the event. Were they okay? Had any of their loved ones been injured? Were there going to be more bombs? I was beside myself. I reached out to everyone I could, and luckily, within 20 minutes, I knew they were all safe. The next time I’m in the mood to dismiss social media as trivial, I’ll remember how it kept us all in touch at that critical time.
As some of you might know, I am a runner. Running and flying are twin passions, forms of transportation that I find complementary despite the fact that my running pace is about 200 knots slower than my flying pace. As fate would have it, I qualified for the Boston Marathon — a lifelong goal — for the first time ever this year.
As fate would continue to have it, I then suffered a not particularly severe but persistent injury that prevented me from training for the marathon. I dropped out a few weeks ago. Apparently, not all of my friends or family were aware that I was no longer Boston bound, so I spent much of the day yesterday fielding calls, emails and messages from friends and family members around the world, letting them know I was not in Boston and that I was just fine.
I wasn’t really fine. I was in shock. Like many of us, and like just about every pilot, I thought back to September 11, 2001, when a pair of airliners flew into the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York. Later we learned of two other crashes, one into the Pentagon and one into a field in Pennsylvania.
Though the loss of life is small in comparison, any loss is too great. The attack on the marathon, like the attack on 9/11, is an attack on our freedom, our sense of security and our way of life. My friend and running buddy Tom Howe made the comment that marathoners are like pilots in many ways: They're go-getters who take great pride and joy in tackling something that many people think they’re crazy for even trying. His point was that the Boston Marathon was a likely political target for that very reason.
As pilots, we have to be aware that we are targets at our gatherings as well. Last week’s Sun ‘n Fun fly-in might have been a bit down in numbers by our eyeball estimates, but in terms of what it accomplished — this year and every year — it was a tour de force. The same will be true for AirVenture in a few months. I shall be there.
And I’ve already committed to being in Boston next year. I have qualified for the 2014 race, and I will race it. If whatever terrorists that tried to sow their seeds of hate in Boston yesterday think they have won in any way, they are sadly mistaken. We’ll see. This attack will make us stronger, more committed and more resolved to go do what we do, whether that is in the air, on the trails, on the water or in any walk of our daily lives.
We stand united. We are not afraid.