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Winging It! With Dr. Paul

The G. A. Fleet

Just gaze about the tarmac of your local aerodrome, mid-morning of an average weekday. Here and there you'll see neglected remnants of the forgotten dream, the derelict dowager duchess with sagging struts and tires deflated, a fine layer of silt covering wings and windscreen, announcing to all the world: "inactive." Then there are the well groomed mistresses, secure in their tiedowns, patiently awaiting the weekend return of the master. Here is homebuilt haven, every aircraft a tribute to craftsmanship and creativity. Other spaces sport the fine antiques, tailwheels secured and jaunty props gleaming, proud reminders of a bygone era. General Aviation is indeed a diverse lot.

Now note the empty tiedowns, even at an airport with a substantial waiting list. On the average ramp, on an average day, they number perhaps ten percent. And what can we conclude about their absent occupants?

Many belong to the training fleet of hundred-horsepower two place classrooms. These spend their day in circuits and bumps, flown by fledgling falcons in wide-eyed wonderment. Others are the business aircraft. Complex singles and high-performance twins serving the needs of commerce and industry. They will return shortly after sunset to be fueled and serviced, and off tomorrow on another day of labor. Air taxi and commuter, charter and small package carrier, towplane and pipeline patrol, traffic spotter and crop duster, all share a common bond. Workers of the sky, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chocks.

Toni Wakes drawing

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this page last updated 14 June 2007
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