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Mon, Jan 11, 2021

Barnstorming: Observing A Milestone

"Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received...but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage." -- St. Francis of Assisi

News/Analysis/Commentary by Jim Campbell, ANN Editor-In-Chief/CEO

Happy New Year…

My wife and I wish you the very best of all possible New Years…

It's been a long time since I reached out to all of you, but to be perfectly honest, most of the last calendar year has been brutal. Like so many of you, we fought illness, politics, an insane economy, and all manner of barriers… We’ve had more than our fair share of close calls (or so it seems).

But we have survived, and we’re still here – which is a whole other set of stories for another day.

I have had a number of Barnstorming editorial topics cluttering up my cranium for several months now, and I promise you that I will be getting to them fairly quickly. In the meantime, though, I wanted to be sure to reach out to you all and wish you a Happy New Year… With the most aggressive hopes that this next year truly turns out to be… Happy.

Aviation, more than many other industries, really took some damage this year. And while the availability of vaccines will probably start mollifying our situation within the next several months, I think we’re going to be feeling much of the strain of 2020 for quite a while. However; if you look at how aviation recovered after the vicious effects of 9/11, you have to admit we are a resilient bunch.

And I expect us to be just that as we go forth into 2021, and on.

I’ve been in an interesting frame of mind, of late.

I'm reaching something of a milestone in a few days… And it's made me particularly reflective.

In just a few days, it will be exactly 50 years since a VERY cold (below 20 degrees F, as I recall) Saturday afternoon when I forged my parents name on a permission slip, and got signed off for my first glider solo after months of preparation. For a young person who worshiped aviation all his life, (granted, not all that long a time), at the tender age of 14, that day is one of the most indelible of all my memories. There isn't an aspect of that flight that I don't remember with perfect clarity, and while I have an extraordinary string of fun, even amazing,  memories to treasure, there are but a few that compete with that amazing day – the first day I truly felt I could call myself a pilot.

And while I undertook a path and career that put me in the cockpits of some of the most exciting aircraft in aviation history, and allowed me to see the world from remarkable vantage points, that day and that solitary old Schweizer, may be the best memory of all.

Still; all along the way, I have come to understand that my most extraordinary memories are not of the aircraft I flew, but of the people that became a part of my life throughout this exceptional journey. Many of them are long gone, but so very many of them represent indelible and impossibly unforgettable aspects of my life… That still drive me to this day.

To all of them, I owe much.

And that has been the train of thought that has been running through my mind these last few weeks as this stunning anniversary date comes into view.

I'm not a 14-year-old kid anymore, but I have no doubt that I still have many great adventures ahead of me, and many missions to fulfill… But the most important has to be in how I continue to pay back the generosity and kindnesses that were shown to me by all those who have been part of my flying journey for the last half-century.

I have a deeply passionate desire to pay it back… Or pay it forward, if you will.

I'm not naive enough to believe that whatever missions I undertake from here on out can be done solo… And the lessons I have learned from my dearest friends have proven this to me time and time again.

The late Bob Hoover rarely talked about his achievements as a solo endeavor, but as the product of the teams he worked with, and the many partnerships and friendships he formed – this, alone, may represent one of the greatest lessons he taught me through the innumerable conversations, chats, adventures, and visits we shared.

And that's where I sit right now… How do I take the years left to me, and do something extraordinary with them? I'm proud of what I've done, and I know so many of you have been appreciative of my work over these many decades, but honest-to-goodness… It's just not enough.

Nor should it be.

So… I'd like to seek your advice and your input.

Where should I direct my efforts? How should I re-craft the mission of Aero-News (and my other projects) to be an even more powerful force in aviation? And how do I find like-minded people to build a proper defense against all the foes that aviation will face in the coming years? Is there anybody left out there that still cares enough about aviation to get strongly involved in re-crafting its future and wants to join in?

These are the questions I'm mulling as I prepare to finish my first 50 years as an aviator and get a proper start on the second 50 (grin).

I'd sure love to hear from you, all, as to how I can be more effective in re-crafting aviation's tomorrow.

I'll be back soon with a lot more to say…


Jim Campbell -- a very cold glider pilot, not so many years ago…



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