The Atlantic Takes GA View of Coal

By Scott Spangler on December 22nd, 2010

General aviation is so rarely a supporting player in larger stories that this occurrence quickly captures your attention. Reading Dirty Coal, Clean Future in the December 2010 issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows wrote: 

“When I have traveled at low altitude in small airplanes above America’s active coal-mining regions—West Virginia and Kentucky in the East, Wyoming and its neighbors in the Great Basin region of the West—I’ve seen the huge scars left by ‘mountain-top removal’ and open-pit mining for coal, which are usually invisible from the road and harder to identify from six miles up in an airliner.”

James Fallows flies his plane over the mines of West Virginia and discusses the future of energy.

He makes the same point in this video, saying one can discover all sorts of things about America that are hidden from the road and indistinct from 30,000 feet. This is the perspective I’d expect from Fallows, who in 2001 wrote Free Flight: Inventing the Future of Transportation, which focuses on Cirrus and Eclipse.

Aviation is not the subject of the story or the video, but GA and its usefulness is positively portrayed. Instead of cutting directly to the aerial views of West Virginia’s decapitated mountains, Fallows opens and holds open the gate in the airport fence for viewers, gets them settled in the cockpit, and talks them through the takeoff. It’s clear from his tone of voice that he is happy that you are with him on the flight. – Scott Spangler

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