Have we all fallen out of love with aviation?
I'm looking for some good news. The shine seems to have come off, you see, and I think we need some positive stories. What I am thinking is.... when was the last time you were gripped by a story about aviation? Did it involve something going wrong?....and what did your non-aviation friends say about it?
Think airports and the big stories are the proposed runway at Heathrow (or any alternative) and Terminal 5. Didn't it used to be about the promise of holidays and new locations? Or the efficacy of business travel for all? Now I think airports and I think queues, eye-wateringly expensive carparks, walking miles through dingy corridors (Heathrow or Paris CDG) .
Think Airlines and do you think of glamour and excitement? Or fuel surcharges, delays or even aircraft not quite making it to the runway. It's great to think that our airliners are flown by heros (when they're not falling asleep), but people generally prefer not to have to swim to the terminal building.
The latest headline aviation programmes aren't exactly showering us all with glory in the press. Mentioning no names.
Of course, I might just be upset because I had a ticket to the Fairford Airshow on one of those days that was rained off. And the next time I watch an in-depth documentary about this or that near or actual plane crash my wife may well refuse to travel with me.
What I'm looking for is more aircraft racing and less aircraft disasters on TV. Go to the EAA website and watch the video about EAA: Airventure (otherwise known as Oshkosh), That's what I'm talking about. I would love to capture an ounce of that excitement and pass it on. There's a short scene in the film - it lasts for merely seconds - where a US military pilot is explaining something to an attentive young lad. I can't wait to share that kind of interest with my son. It might not be his thing, but here's hoping.
So what can we do? How about making a choice to go visit an aviation museum this year, like Coventry, Duxford, Hendon or Cosford and take someone who hasn't been yet? Start downloading the "Uncontrolled Airspace" podcast and let Jack, Dave & Jeb's entertaining (mostly) aviation ramblings entertain you and anyone who'll listen. For hardened aviation enthusiats there's always "One Six Right" to stir your soul, but for a more subtle approach there's a list of great and not so great movies on the forum thread here.
We've lost Steve Fossett, that great generator of positive aviation stories, but let us continue to support Virgin Galactic, Red Bull Air-Racing and the Rocket Racing League. For Christmas my wife got me a trial aircraft lesson (to be redeemed when the weather improves). Not that I intend to launch myself into a new career, I just haven't been in a light aircraft in a while. If pilot training is too much then how about a historic flight? Or if budget is the issue try gliding.
Just take someone with you.