Inspiration Is Where You Find It
In a season marked by grim economic numbers and tiresome politics, inspiration and encouragement seems a rarity, but it can come when you least expect it. Our Cub was in the hangar last week for its annual and we discovered that when you own an airplane that's so simple that nothing can break, something sometimes does, nonetheless. The Cub's exhaust system developed some cracks and the only thing for it was to replace the entire system. Not a real biggie cost wise, but a minor spike in the Wal-Mart budget required to keep a J-3 in top shape. I found an exhaust system and had it shipped to our crack IA, Danny Gualandri. He's busy with a lot of work around the field and I figured he would get to it sometime during the week.
But the next morning, it was installed and we were airworthy again. Even though he gives us a break on the labor for the Cub, he'd put the exhaust system at the top of his list. The next day, he told me why. While I'm at the airport two or three times a week, he's there every day and knows what we all know: Flight activity at what used to be a busy airport is a fraction of what it once was. "I just like seeing airplanes fly here. There aren't enough of them. I wanted to get you guys set for the weekend," he told me.
So, he did and we did. The Cub flies a lot—five or six times a week—and is practically a fixture in the pattern. We don't exactly need motivational speeches to take the old girl for a hop, but it's nice to have someone jollying us along with good mechanical support and advice. It's the kind of first-class service that used to be more common than it is today. So a tip of the hat to Danny and his helpers.
I wasn't going to mention Saturday's date in my blog, but on the way to the airport, I pulled up behind a jeep with a tire cover painted in a 911 motif. "Never forget," it said, along with an image of the twin towers. I thought to myself…no danger of that happening. Around town, the flags were appropriately at half mast, the cable channels choked with 911 programming. Venice Airport has a painful connection with the event, since several of the hijackers trained here.
While I acknowledge all of this I am, frankly, also getting weary of it. There's a permeable membrane between respectful remembrance and wallowing self-pity and nine years on, we tend more toward the latter than the former. We do maudlin in this country like no other. We've raised paranoia to religious status. 911 is politicized beyond anything decent. We've done to ourselves more harm than anything these bums could have inflicted upon us.
To its credit, even though no industry was more touched by 911 than aviation, we, as participants, seem to have put the event in perspective. The same is hardly true of the culture in general, our metastasizing federal government and especially the mainstream media, with its incessant need for anniversary stories, as if we need to re-live the event a hundred more times just to make sure we "never forget." It's time for another bumper sticker that says: Let's move on. We can honor the dead and survivors of the dead without hammering ourselves with an endless, repeating loop of 911 imagery.
While I think memorials are a good and necessary thing, I'm not much for sentimentality and group hand wringing. I don't know about you, but when the 10th anniversary rolls around, I wouldn't mind being on the dark side of the moon for a couple of weeks.