Aviation: both a vocation and an avocation

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There are no Hollywood movies about an accountant’s brilliant P&L. Kids don’t ask to go to watch a brilliant SEC argue a complex interpretation of a regulation. Top Gun is just one example of a movie glorifying flying; most airports include designated aircraft watching areas because of the public’s fascination. One of this generation’s most productive engineers is working on another design project.

What we do is work, but it is also an exhilarating experience. Here are two examples of why this industry is so attractive. Yes, there are also moments of drudgery! But…

Bert Rutan is an aerospace engineer icon; his creations have defined the edge of the envelope in aerobatics, light aircraft, the use of synthetics and space. His innovations migrate to larger commercial aircraft. The 71 year old entrepreneur has allegedly retired, but he cannot resist the urge to advance aviation. As explained in Rutan’s Next Airplane In The Works, he is back at the drawing boards with SkiGull which will have as its landing gear skis with wheels allowing it to land on water, snow and regular ground. The following quote by the creator makes it irresistible to a pilot with the money: “[i]magine an aircraft able to land in large swells near any ocean shoreline and ride the waves to the beach, from where you could hike in for lunch and gas.”

The thrill of “Maverick’s” flyby of the NAS Miramar is one of the reasons why the movie is so popular. Someone recognized the “avocation” power of aviation, is that someone took a good deal of time to find these flight flicks and to put them together in this 3:29 minute film which is a compendium of such cool flying. Enjoy!

If each of us engaged in the aviation safety profession can keep that energy and excitement within us daily, the drive necessary to revise that Ops Manual, to sort all of the SMS data, to recheck all of the details of that TC drawing, etc. will be there. Burt Rutan has been in this business for 56 years (he soloed in 1959) and still has the incredible initiative needed to begin a new aircraft design.

This story and the video tape are useful tools to keep the excitement of your aviation avocation in your daily approach to your aviation vocation.

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