Paulís Pick this month is from the September/October 1975 issue of Vintage Airplane.
Do things really change? Do we members change—new ones or us older folks? Not really. Here it is—2009—and I was asked to write an article for this month’s Experimenter, and I thought that an editorial I wrote for Vintage Airplane back in 1975, some 34 years ago, would still be appropriate today. In reading EAA chapter newsletters and personal correspondence received, us folks haven’t changed all that much. But look how EAA has grown through the years and all of aviation is richer for it.
Editorial for Vintage Airplane, September-October 1975
We have received several comments regarding our last issue of Vintage Airplane, and we were pleased that they were favorable and that we are able to continue to produce favorable results. However, in organizations such as ours, with our many and varied interests which range from the homebuilt, antique, classic, rotary wing, and warbird aircraft, many times we find it very difficult to gather the enthusiasm for the overall movement which is necessary to ensure our total success.
We must assure that we have among us both workers and a great deal of wisdom to meet the challenges that face sport/general aviation. In my many travels around the country I am privileged to talk to many who are involved in various phases of aviation. Across my desk each day come many letters expressing unhappiness with aviation, in one way or another. How does one, in my position, meet these challenges of attempting to reduce taxation and ward off the continuing growth of restrictions on use of airports or this vast ocean of air above us? All too often one believes that he or she can join an organization and that the dues will do the rest. I must admit that I too at one time believed this same thing, but it did not take me long to learn that this is not a solution to our problems. The solution is to develop a strong, reputable, hard-working force. One that is not made up of emotion, but of understanding and knowledgeable of the problems that we all face—regardless of the type of aircraft that we fly. I am sure that in the last few years, for example, many of you are concerned with the inability to use your own public airport as was possible in the past; that you cannot drive, in many cases, to your hangar, or to load and unload your airplane on the ramp; that you cannot use the lavatory in the terminal building; that you cannot walk across some ramps to request fuel for your airplane.
You have been concerned with the increasing number of control towers that spring up across the country, and the inconveniences quite often caused by them. You frequently lash out blindly at a three-letter word as being the cause of all our problems—FAA. It is like saying Uncle Sam is all bad. Within any organization or group, and in our government, there are many divisions, departments, and chiefs who make decisions that affect our lives. When a particular decision does not have a major effect on our life, would it not be best that we prepare ourselves, knowledge-wise, to speak authoritatively on the particular subject, whether it be TCAs, airport security, possibly the need for better and improved weather service, rather than to lash out at the three-letter word and accomplish nothing, but possibly lose the cooperation of many dedicated people in the FAA?
True, there are those in the FAA who perhaps are not as qualified or have the enthusiasm that one would expect. We too, in our organization, have the same problem. It may be a chapter president, an EAA member, or an officer who at one time or another does not represent the true spirit of what we are trying to accomplish.
Oshkosh time is a good example of that spirit. The great many FAA people who come there to work—a working vacation for them, as well as for many EAA members. They all serve the multitude and quite often, though tired and exhausted, are expected to perform perfectly or respond patiently to an individual or group of individuals who have recently arrived and are fresh and enthusiastic.
At the present time we have three divisions within EAA—the Warbirds, the International Aerobatic Club, and the Antique/Classic Division. The purpose in founding these organizations, under the leadership and umbrella of EAA, was to gather within our membership those who had a particular interest in assisting EAA headquarters by helping at our annual convention in providing forums, programs, parking assistance, judging, award presentations, and many of the other tasks so necessary to have a great event.
Throughout the year, they should aid headquarters by instilling a spirit of cooperation in the division members, and by providing leadership and identification for the group’s specific interests. All too often this responsibility falls back on this office, and with the limited number of hours in the day, I find that we too receive criticism for not being more than we would like to be. So few can only do so much.
This is why EAA and your divisions need loyalty and support, and understanding that dues are just not enough. Many expect to receive a publication the size of Sport Aviation devoted solely to antique and classic aircraft, warbirds, or aerobatics. However, with only 4,000 members in the divisions, the numbers are not large enough to cover the costs of printing, publishing, and mailing a publication that can only be increased in size through increased membership and funds. Many times I wonder if we are not in competition with ourselves, when we must put out three extra publications. Perhaps there is a better way to go, and yet have the identification of each group with the leaders to help us, not only throughout the year but also in convention planning and at convention time.
I would like to know your ideas and thoughts so that I can present them to the directors of the various divisions. I can remember when we first started with the Antique/Classic Division—for the first year we did not charge dues and very few joined. When a dues structure was set up, then people began to join.
I know that most of you are proud to wear the patches of the groups you belong to, and this is as it should be—whether it is an EAA division, the Antique Airplane Association, Professional Race Pilots Association, Soaring Society of America, Confederate Air Force, or others. This identification of your interests and enthusiasm is seen on jackets everywhere. I take my hat off to all of those who belong to the many organizations, and not only support them through membership dues, but also through personal dedication and enthusiasm.