A Pilot's Perspective.

By Barry Meek.

May 2006

Respect Your Airplane    

As I entered the gate at the airport one day, I was surprised to see an airplane I once owned parked in front of the FBO.   It had been at least 10 years since I’d seen her, and it struck me as peculiar that she looked just the same.   The paint, the panel, radios, even the worn cowling bolts I’d become so well acquainted with, were still intact.

There are many fond memories in that airplane. Some advanced training, adventures, flights into bad weather, good weather, and of introducing my daughters to flying. I was always amazed at how a 10 year old child could make the manoeuvres   so precisely and easily.   Must have been from playing all those video games.

I suppose it’s natural to wonder about an airplanes history, where it’s been, who’s owned it, all that stuff. But there was no one around to ask at that point, so I carried on with my business.

The incident got me thinking about the planes and vehicles I’ve bought and sold in the past.   I often wonder what became of one particular airplane, a Renegade, which after rebuilding and flying for one glorious summer, I sold to a fellow from Washington State.   We exchanged a few e-mails, one in which he described how a wheel had departed the plane on landing one day, and the lower wing was damaged.   But after that, I heard nothing more.   How’s she doing now as an American citizen? I wonder.

Airplanes, boats, motorcycles, furniture, clothing, tools, appliances, all the things we “own” in our lifetime, are really disposables. They come and they go through our lives, providing utility, enjoyment and comfort. In this society, it’s just “our stuff”. Some things last longer than others. I asked a farmer one day how much land he owned. His response is probably what got me considering all this in the first place “None”, he said. “I’m just the caretaker for now. This land will be here long after I’m gone, and someone else will be looking after it”.

He was right of course. The land isn’t disposable, or temporary, or throw-away. Society seems to think that way, but the farmer, the man who owes his very existence to it, has a much greater respect and understanding ofthe issue.

Given the enjoyment, utility, learning, memories and pleasure we get from an airplane, it would seem fitting that they should be around for at least our lifetime. And of course, many are. Some fly regularly, while others we have to go to museums or airshows to see. The point is, to a pilot, navigator, or anyone connected with aviation, understands, respects and tends to preserve airplanes, much like the farmer and his land. A machine that was built 50 or 60 years ago from metal, wood, fabric and a bunch of fittings, can still be flying today.   Proof that with care, love and attention, most of our disposables could last at least a bit longer than they do.

But we won’t go there.   Let’s just be grateful there are farmers and pilots around, who love the land and their airplanes enough to give the care needed so another generation can enjoy the same experiences we have today.

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