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Social Media — Sharing Aviation’s Story

By David Leiting Jr.

August 22, 2017 - If we do not tell aviation’s story, then who will tell it for us? As EAAers, we are consistently faced with questions such as “Is flying really that safe? I hear about a different accident nearly weekly.” Comments such as “I hear another airplane went down; you could never get me in one of those contraptions!” are also common from those unfamiliar with the world of flight.

Where do these preconceived notions come from? They surely are not inherently ingrained into one’s frame of reference; otherwise, the pursuit of flight would not have been so vigorous in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The negative perception of flying has grown out of the media coverage given to each emergency landing, near miss, and aircraft accident. Flying an aircraft comes with a level of risk but pilots are constantly training and refining their skills to mitigate that risk, yet the media overlooks these stories. Just as they overlook the successfully completed homebuilt that has flown 5,000 accident-free hours, or the Young Eagles ride that just exposed a young person to his or her very first taste of flight.

Now, it is not the media’s job to share these success stories. It is their job to push out news stories that garner more readers and views. It is not the media’s job to share aviation’s story; it is the job of those within aviation. Each one of us bears the responsibility of sharing aviation stories because, again, if we do not tell aviation’s story, who will tell it for us?

In today’s digital world of social media, it is incredibly easy to find and share aviation news articles. On any given evening, one’s timeline will be full of friends and EAA chapters sharing aviation stories. Unfortunately, these stories typically align with the narrative that is shared by the mainstream media — usually nine articles about aircraft mishaps for every one article about a successful Young Eagles rally.

Luckily, EAAers are involved with aviation and already relatively familiar with many of the positive stories floating around the internet thanks to the many different aviation-related pages. However, imagine seeing the negative stories from the viewpoint of an individual not involved with aviation. What picture does this paint?

If the majority of the stories read were of the negative variety, how likely would outsiders be to put their families in an aircraft, allow their children to go for a Young Eagles ride, or consider building and flying their own airplanes? Not very likely. In addition, how likely would they be to support the local airport when funding is reduced and the city is considering closing it?

The effects of these negative stories go beyond personal social media pages and extend to your chapter’s page. What happens when prospective members visit your chapter’s Facebook page and the first story they see is about the most recent aircraft to go down in a field near your home airport? This is not a story that is going to make them want to visit your local airport or bring their families to a Young Eagles rally.

As stakeholders in the aviation industry, specifically EAA chapters, it is our job to share The Spirit of Aviation through positive stories. After all, chapters are the churches to EAA, the grassroots group designed to spread the good word of aviation and recruit new members into our EAA family.

By browsing EAA’s website, blog, or social media pages, you are sure to find a wide variety of inspirational and informative aviation stories. Outside of EAA’s channels, there are plenty of other online aviation news sources that also consistently share positive stories.

If we do not tell aviation’s story, then no one will tell it for us. So before you click “Share” next time, ask yourself, “Which story am I telling?”

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