Bold Predictions for 2021


Yogi Berra may have complained about making predictions being difficult because they’re in the future, but the poor man never could have envisioned how easy it is after 2020. The only direction is up, right? I wrote that not so much out of hope or conviction, but of sheer, undiluted desperation.

Still, ever confident if often wrong, here are my bold predictions for 2021 for that ever-expanding universe we know as modern aviation. These are based on no more insight or sophisticated knowledge than I might glean from reading my own blogs. In other words, none at all.

Speaking of blogs, for 2021, all of the comment sections will devolve into discussions about masks. The blog I plan to write about masks on Feb. 24 will morph into a discussion of seatbelts.

Marc Cook will write 63 Boeing MAX stories in 2021, Kate O’Connor will write 52 and I’ll do a blog on the model’s great comeback success which I will somehow attribute to the efficacy of masks. Readers will be too stunned to comment, but Boeing stock will recover to $537.50 despite being fined for plumbing the lavs to empty directly overboard in a cost-cutting measure.

Plying the weekend beat, Russ Niles will cover a series of wacky, offbeat stories including a powered parachute landing in Arizona which, amazingly, did not strike power lines and erupt into a fireball, and a 737 crew—not a MAX, thankfully—that mistakenly lands on the 405 early in the morning and just lets the passengers off at the Santa Monica Boulevard exit. The pilots will say they were blinded by the smoke from the fires of the remaining six square blocks of Los Angeles not already reduced to ashes. In an amazing quirk of fate, Chesley Sullenberger will be in the first car in the 52-mile backup.

Bored to tears after developing Autoland, Garmin will announce AutoEverything, an affordable if cheeky robot that drives itself to the airport and flies the airplane to and from the desired destination. Owners will buy this system in droves but won’t trust it, so they’ll stay home and let the robots fly, thus unmasking … er … revealing what we always suspected: Slipping the surly bonds is overrated. It’s better to outsource it.

Progress toward a new, unleaded aviation fuel will move rapidly forward in 2021. In May, the FAA will announce we should have an approved unleaded fuel by 2076. Unfortunately, the agency will say, they expect all airplanes will be powered by hydrogen by then, which they promise to approve by 2080, 2130 at the latest.

Buoyed by the rollicking success of ADS-B and flush with confidence, the FAA will announce that it will finally field the Microwave Landing System, but will keep conventional ILSs in place as a backup.

Desperate to lure back lucrative business travelers, a leaked airline marketing survey will reveal that when would-be business customers were asked which they prefer, a Zoom meeting in their underwear or a middle seat on an airplane with flip-flop wearing snot-smeared kids on the way to Disney World careening down the aisle, 106 percent preferred Zoom. Sixty-three percent will say they do put on pants.

Embry-Riddle will finally get so many 172s in the air at once, the City of Daytona Beach will sue to recover electricity costs for keeping the street lights on 24 hours a day. The university will add an elective in Zoom marketing.

Finally, will AirVenture 2021 happen? Yes, yes it will. Because it will be revealed that Jack Pelton may be the only person in general aviation who knows what he’s doing. And he’ll prove it by selling EAA logo-wear masks.

Meanwhile, Happy New Year.

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  1. Re Garmin everything. Reminds me of an article on autonomous cars. You get up, shower, get dressed, grab a coffee and head out to your driveway; only your self driving car is not there !

    You check your phone and see a message from your car. It says “traffic is reported as really backed up on the highway so I left 10 minutes early to make sure I was note late for my arrival at the workplace”

  2. Nicely done! I would add just one prediction. In 2021 we’ll learn that all the “data” we have been using has been a figment of our imagination and has hacked, flipped and otherwise manipulated to protect the culpable.

    • That much was evident in mid-late 2020! The only question is how long the populace will play gullible.

  3. Never stunned by anything you pen and as long as we’re obviously still hallucinating after ushering in Ano Nuevo with too much bubbly, I’d like to look into my crystal ball, carry on your last sentiment to it’s logical conclusion and add a couple more crucial predictions.

    Someone at FAA — probably members of the mythical ‘they’ — decide that all the problems at Boeing are finally fixed with the surprise introduction of a new 737LAST eco-model (secretly designed during the MAX debacle shutdown and built in the Far East with auto-everything as standard equipment). All other Boeing models are ordered retired to save the planet. Recognizing his affable prowess, “they” swing the Administration pendulum at 800 Independence Ave by replacing the current Administrator with Jack Pelton who will be tasked with reinvigorating the GA segment which is still dying. Coincidentally, Boeing announces shutdown of all Seattle operations since the 737LAST eco will be Hecho en Algún lugar más .

    Being a truly genuine GA guy (as opposed to past imposters who talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk), Jack immediately announces that the Ex Parte period for MOSAIC is over, there’s no need for a NPRM and its tenets will be directly implemented no later than Airventure 2030. Recognizing that the aging masses of remaining “real” pilots don’t have that much time left on the planet, he immediately deregulates recreational general aviation for all machines weighing less than 12,500 pounds. Jack adopts a new positive FAA slogan, “Make Aviation Great Again” to replace “We ain’t happy until YOU aren’t happy.” To ensure the success of his deregulation scheme, he enlists Sen Inhofe as Deputy Administrator to implement same and fires all but six of the Army of FAA lawyers who are no longer needed. The Senator cum Deputy Administrator names this new deregulation Program, “FAA Zero.” The FAA opens a new website selling red MAGA ball caps making the cost of administering of FAA zero revenue neutral.

    John Monnett, recognizing another business opportunity supporting FAA Zero, designs a new airplane loosely based on an amalgam of the OneX and NASA X-57 Maxwell. It’s a of snap on set of folding wings and tail which turn a specially designed wheel chair into a one place cockpit … um, excuse me … flight “chair” (to satisfy the FAA secret PC police who still invisibly roam the halls of HQ). He chooses electric power for all of its 14 motors because the discovery of Unobtainium ore makes battery energy density problems a thing of the past. Priced at a mere $80K, this machine finally achieves the lofty goal of a sub-six figure LSA. He announces that a sub-model using the snap on parts for walkers will come next after walk launching flight tests are complete. No name for the new airplane has been announced. To help out, Jack announces an executive decision to eliminate the drivers license requirement of LSA.

    Jack’s vacant position at EAA is filled by “Lites” Leenhouts who — with a wealth of experience squeezing blood from turnips at SnF — announces that Airventure entrance fees will follow the idea of FAA Zero and become … zero as well. To make up for lost revenues from open gates, everything within the show will have an ala carte fee for use, including the porta pottys at $1/use (with no tailgating allowed). Hoardes of civilians now invade Airventure so he moves to build massive on airport hotels to solve the housing crunch during the fly in and managed by mask wearing out-of-school kids wearing nifty looking yellow T-shirts with matching masks. He takes the EAA public with a massive IPO campaign. Chronic complainers aren’t happy when they learn that the price of food will double again. He ends the Young Eagles program and begins a new ‘Old’ Eagles program, instead. Anyone over 65 and retired is offered a free ride in ‘Aluminum Overcast’ to knock the rust off of their flying skills (proof of retirement required). Recognizing the need for primary trainers, Cessna announces the restart of the C152 line with an electric version called iCU150 too. The “barkers” where the airplane raffle were formerly located now raffle off the opportunity to name Monnett’s new airplane at $1 per entry.

    The USAF — still short of pilots and in a cost cutting move — will take over the ERAU flight operations at Daytona Beach airport and Nationalizes the TAA C172 fleet to replace their aging Texan II trainers. The airport is renamed Bumble Bee AFB. The AF PC police rename hangars there as Hives and Squadrons are renamed as Swarms. Mandatory checking to ensure all pilots speak GOOD English becomes an entrance requirement once aspirants pass a National Agency security check. KOMN and KEVB become auxiliary landing fields for KDAB while Spruce Creek becomes an emergency landing field. The whole area is redesignated Class B airspace all the way up to the Class A airspace floor because of the density of air ops. The airspace is now assigned a new category — Super B (rhymes with Bumble Bee) airspace.

    Ah yes … 2021 … it’s gonna be a brave new third decade of General Aviation that Wilbur and Orville would have proudly approved of.

    I can hardly wait for April 1st.
    (Thanks for the early start and laugh !)

  4. Well you’ve got this wrong:

    “Sixty-three percent will say they do put on pants.”

    Most respondents will be pilots, 80% who will say they put on pants better than the average traveler.