Hangar Talk: Editorial
GA ON THE UP SIDE
by Craig Peyton
It's nice to know that parts of GA are booming. The National Business Aircraft Association just finished celebrating it's 50th year with a convention in Dallas. Business aviation is in a stage of rapid growth and clearly leading the future trends in GA. With grassroots aviation just off the ropes, I hope the business side can start kicking some life blood further down the aviation chain.
Speaking of grassroots aviation, Piper just unveiled their 300MPH turbine powered Mirage highbred for 1.3 million. It was very well received as a low end but comfortable corporate ride.
At the top end with 20 million dollar jets selling like donuts, the whole scene was upbeat and optimistic. The displays of Cessna, Ratheon, Boeing, and other major players left one with the impression that nothing was enough for the pampered executive. These flying jewels of high technology and design would have given the Pharaohs of Egypt a run for the money for pure outrageousness. The crystal glass, leather covered, luxury suite interiors of the modern business jet rival any exclusive environment on the planet. The pilot sits surrounded by awesome top end equipment. Serious fun. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where the spending is taking place in our polarized, corporatized society..
Being at Dallas, the high point of the trip was a visit to the Kennedy memorial. This strange visit to the 6th floor of the book depository, viewing the grassy knoll, and hearing his words on tape brought out a flood of memories and a few tears. It was weird to contrast those 6th grade emotions of Kennedy, with the high end aviation bash a short walk away. As much as I would jump at any chance to ride in a modern biz jet, and greatly enjoyed looking at the latest high tech, anti noise, glass cockpit innovations, the intense exclusivity bothered me. I well know, as a Mooney driver, I'm part of it also.
The South Dallas, Redbird Airport area where I stayed was a wasteland of chain stores, fast food, and chain hotels. Modern strip ugly, with one neon sign trying to tower over the next. The local color or regional influence on the enviroment was zero. Land of the bland. Powerful corporations racing around the planet turning every square foot into Taco Bells, Budgetell Inns, Midas Mufflers etc. is a depressing image. It's no wonder one thing missing from most corporate jets is the logo of the business they represent.
Business travel, in my experience, is one of the most satisfying uses of a personal aircraft (Poking holes in the sky is great, but hard to justify after a while.) By combining aerial filming and music with aviation media promotions, I have travelled quite a bit this year... which brings to mind a recent eye opening travel episode...
I always have my cameras loaded on board incase of any good shots while moving across the country. While trying to get the best winds and altitudes for long trips, (I usually fly the Mooney 5 or 6 hour legs) I'll bop down low if something looks good. On the way to Dallas recently I saw a great shot. The Three Mile Island power plant had two huge steam cooling towers that were poking through the morning fog with a eerie mushroom cloud coming out of the top. I decided to shoot the camera straight down into the tower from around 3,000 ft. As I banked for the shot from my open side window the cabin filled up with a very strong sulfur burning smell.
I thought nuclear reactors wouldn't smell that funky since I was well above the steam cloud. The bad smell wouldn't go away so I kept the cabin window open. I started to wonder if I would soon be glowing in the dark. Suddenly I noticed that my little Prostar laptop, which was navigating the trip running Mentor software tracking off the 360 GPS, was showing a low battery warning. This was weird because I was hooked into the cigarette lighter. I saw smoke coming off of the floor. It turned out when I banked for the shot my map case covered the computer power supply, which overheated and was busy melting into the carpet. Almost a fire...
The Kennedy dream was very unbaked and they say Camelot never was. Nevertheless, I remember a spirit and social caring in the air that seemed to die with him. Many programs like the "Corporate Angels" recognize the social responsibility these powerful organizations owe. I hope the wonder of flight, even at the top, can serve to bring people together, not widen the path of elitism and aloofness.
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