Pilots – the Canaries of Freedom

by Ken on August 5, 2019

In past days coal miners placed canaries in mines to protect them against the ravages of poisonous gases which could quietly snuff out their lives. The canaries were placed to react and, yes, to die creating a warning for the miners  before their own awareness of the looming dangers.

We rely upon early warning systems in  our canaryoffreedomlives; but more about that in a moment.

Freedom is  fundamental to the human spirit; but, like any vital commodity it can be effortlessly forgotten and unnoticed.  Yet starve us of that liberty or of our rights to pursue happiness in our own, ethical way and we begin to look around and wonder why it feels a bit stagnant and stuffy.

Most folks feel we are loosing many of our freedoms. Our rights, our latitudes of action are being replaced by restraints and compulsions and more laws.  We are being relieved of the oxygen that catalyzed the evolution of our country.

Once facet, of many, that is under attack is the freedom to fly.

This country still enjoys the freeest skies on earth. This we have taken for granted since the Wright Brothers’ 1903 flight. But times are changing and under threat of many,  severe changes in the near future.

The reasons cited are many: terrorist threats; “need” for user fees; protection of more locations deemed to be vulnerable, restrictions on more airplanes, a changing traffic control system, and many more.  Laws are being proposed which will transform the general aviation in our county to be more like the systems in Europe and other areas where general aviation has all but disappeared.

American pilots are afflicted daily and shall be subject to further and further restriction as time moves along.

The public, largely, does not care or notice issues affecting  General Aviation. Most are not pilots. Pilots are perceived by some as a class of “rich” folks who have little in common with the average man or woman. To many folks airplanes are large tubes with multiple jet engines owned byairlines or  large corporations. Few notice the little propped buzz machines, and other small aircraft that fill our skies.

These go unnoticed, like the sounds of the birds all around. But, as with the birds, all  would notice if they were gone.

General Aviation pilots, by and large, are just regular folks – with a love and a passion. And the economic impact to this country of these folks is rather startling.

The threats against the freedoms and abilities of average folks to fly goes largely unnoticed.

It is easy to adapt a basic attitude that if it does not affect us personally then it is not a threat. I sure have been guilty of that myself.

I recall a passage from a Holocaust documentary which went:  “First they come for your neighbor’s neighbor; then its your neighbor. And, before you know it, they are knocking at your own door”.

The bold truth is that the disappearance of the freedoms to fly for those who do fly will inevitably mark and assure the disappearance of remaining freedoms for every American.

However, and get this, The pilots’ freedoms to fly will disappear first.

As the canary’s death in the mine indicated danger nearby, the disappearance of pilots’ freedoms to fly will be the early warning signs of conditions yet to be; which will spread with gaining vigor.

Pilots are the canaries of freedom.

If you can look around and see:

  • Small airplanes flying on a beautiful day.
  • Pilot fly-ins where pilots and their airplanes congregate to enjoy their passions.
  • Airport communities where folks can own and operate their own airplanes from their own homes.
  • Small airports with small airplanes
  • Uncontrolled airports where airplanes are free to come and go as they please
  • Any other evidence of General Aviation going hard and strong.

Then, regardless of many things, we will still have a strong and free country.

Ken Risley

See AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association)

EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association)

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