(March 2011) I TRY TO BE TOLERANT OF OTHERS, but sometimes it’s hard, especially when it comes to people who are envious. As all you fans of medieval thought are aware, envy is No. 6 with a bullet on the list of the Seven Deadly Sins. And the idea of envy being a bad thing dates to long before the origins of Western thought. Personally, I find envy to be unseemly and a bit baffling. My default setting is to be happy for people who have been lucky in life, not to hate them for it, and when I see someone with that envious look in their eye, I can’t help but think less of them.
So, what does this have to do with airplanes? Plenty.
I received an e-mail the other day from a reader who was very angry with Dick Karl and with our publishing his columns. He wasn’t mad because Dick is a jerk or because he writes badly — neither is true; he’s a hell of a nice guy and a terrific writer. The e-mail author’s beef was that Dick has a Cheyenne and, moreover, we’re insensitive enough to let him write about it. The author’s point was this: If we write about expensive airplanes, people who don’t have such nice airplanes will feel left out.
It takes little reflection to detect the problem with this notion. If we don’t write about airplanes that some of our readers can’t afford, well, that leaves us with exactly no airplanes to write about. Is there a dividing line somewhere between what we can write about and what we can’t? If so, does this presumed bright line lie just south of Dick’s vintage turboprop?
Truth is, there is no bright line. In the past we’ve gotten similar e-mails from readers who were just as unhappy with former editor-in-chief Mac McClellan owning a Baron or with me flying a Cirrus. (For the record, I’m a one-eighth-share leaseholder in an SR22, hardly the stuff of top hats and diamond-studded canes.) There are always going to be a few have-nots who are mad as hell at the haves.
We should never forget how lucky we are that we get to fly at all. I don’t know about you, but when I see people flying something even nicer, I’m happy as all get-out for them.
In case you were wondering, the photo here is of the Cherokee Six in which I was a partner a few years back on the ramp at Grand Junction, Colorado, next to a gorgeous Hawker 800. We’d both just arrived at the airport. My trip from Austin, Texas, out to Grand Junction was fantastic, affording me up-close-and-personal views of the high country that you can get only while flying in a small airplane. Still, the trip took me around eight hours from block to block, including 6.5 hours on the Hobbs meter, not counting a needed stop for fuel in New Mexico along the way. It was a long day. In the Hawker, by contrast, the trip would have been slightly less than two hours nonstop, and would have included a potty, Wi-Fi and refreshment center.
As I stood there on the ramp looking at those two very different airplanes, I didn’t once wish the Hawker were mine. After all, I’d just had a fabulous trip. I was, instead, happy that our community has room for such different kinds of airplanes and such different kinds of pilots and owners with such different kinds of budgets.
One thing that we all need to remember is that aviation is a very small world. Across the United States more boats get sold in a week than airplanes get sold in a year. Aviation is also a very diverse community, both economically and culturally. This means that it’s critical that we stick together, even though we’re very different from each other.
Much of the infrastructure we have in the United States, from the National Airspace System to fuel distribution to FBOs far and wide, is based on the fact that together we have a great deal more clout than we could ever hope to have separately.
Owners of Cherokee Sixes and Hawkers would be smart to keep that in mind.
Welcome, Stephen and Pia
As many of you already know, during the past couple of months we’ve hired two senior editors, Stephen Pope and Pia Bergqvist. Even before the big changes on the masthead last fall, we were in need of help with reporting on the many and varied kinds of flying we cover at this magazine, and now we have it.
An award-winning aviation writer, Stephen comes to our magazine after 15 years at Aviation International News, where he served as editor of Business Jet Traveler and covered just about every segment of the industry. Like me, he focused on avionics, writing about the revolutionary advances in electronics that we have been witness to during the past decade and a half. He also wrote a great deal about helicopters and business jet travel. While at AIN, Stephen won three prestigious Gold Wing journalism awards, including last year’s award for his story on business aviation’s efforts at helping with the Haiti relief effort.