See and Avoid: Airplanes and Partisan Politics

By Scott Spangler on March 25th, 2013

Since the FAA issued the list of contract towers it will close to satisfy the self-inflicted sequester, I’ve been reading a lot of wailing and gnashing and incredulous screeds of how could they? Common to everything I’ve read so far is the pointy fingered whine of put-upon victims. Let’s get real here. We got what we voted for. All of us.

AIMOur elected officials—all of them—embody the ideological narcissism that has, over the past three decades, grown bitter in many of us and turned America’s future into a zero-sum game. If one side can’t win, it will do its upmost to guarantee that the other side will lose. We gave them power—we encouraged their behavior—every time we voted, every time we raised our fist in support or condemnation of candidates who promised to govern in our best interest but only answer to and serve those who finance their duplicitous endeavors.

Before air traffic controllers took to towers to help pilots make their way to and from airports safely, we all learned that as the pilot in command, we alone are ultimately responsible for the safety of our flight, to see and avoid other airplanes that could compromise this sacred responsibility, something we all too eagerly surrender to others, whether they be in an air traffic control tower or an elected office.

If we’re not happy with the world we have created with our votes and political support, only we can change it by seeing and avoiding those who have done our bidding and brought us to today’s place in history. Changing course, if that’s what we as a collective whole really want, will take time. We didn’t create this problem overnight, so we will not rectify the situation as quickly as we might like.

Time will tell if we have the gumption to summon and sustain the unified focus and the willingness to sacrifice in the name of compromise because we accept that in zero-sum situations, we all lose. In the meantime, let’s stay safe out there. As we should when flying to and from any airport when VFR, we should have our heads up and rotating, systematically searching our surroundings for traffic on an unfortunate trajectory. (This essential see & avoid maneuver should work as well when it comes to those who want to serve as our elected officials.)  And if it’s been awhile since you’ve flown to a nontowered airport, before you fly, add this to your preflight planning:  Aeronautical Information Manual, Section 3—Airport Operations. –Scott Spangler, Editor


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5 Responses to “See and Avoid: Airplanes and Partisan Politics”

  1. Brent Says:

    Well said Scott! I have been totally ignoring this issue, for essentially the same reason.

    Thanks for posting what I was thinking!

  2. Dana Says:

    Spot on! I wish voters would wake up.

  3. Kevin D Murphy Says:

    Congratulations, Scott! Those of us pilots who are reasonable have long known that control towers at low-activity airports are at best superfluous. Go get ’em, tiger!

  4. Neil Cosentino Says:

    This is a great opportunity to look at ATC safe acft flows at what we call “Pilot Controlled Airports” using ADS-B and new ROW rules for safe 24/7 arrivals and departures … it is coming…

    For a better understanding research the objectives of the NASA sponsored SATS demo at Danville VA June 2005.

    We need to go back to 2005 and bring those demo goals into the 21st century…

    A pilot controlled ATA is at an airport without a tower or when the tower is closed for any reason…

  5. Dave Says:

    Very well spoken Scott. We have created a society that wants instant gratification without doing the work that is necessary to make it happen.

    Many are also unwilling to do what is necessary to bring about real change because it would require them to take a chance and be an individual. We need more people that speak openly and genuinely, not just those who only speak in an inflammatory way.

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