...And Here, Darn it, Are The Heartbreakers
Final Compilations/Analysis by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Corporate
Insomniac, Jim Campbell
It is both the most "fun," and most
difficult task, facing the ANN staff at the end of every year --
determining who, or what, did the most to promote the cause of
aviation in the past 365 days... while also chastising those people
or entities that did all they could to undermine the many successes
the aerospace community has managed to accomplish.
Alas, 2009 saw more than its fair share of downers, aviation-wise.
Sure, "stuff" happens... but a few folks, issues, or entities
seemed to go out of their way to create problems for the world of
So... it is ANN's annual obligation to recognize Ten of our
Aero-Heartbreakers for 2009... in something of an informal order,
starting from the 10th to the 1st.
Let us know what you think of our selections... whom YOU would
have liked be included, or omitted, from such a list. In the
meantime, we hope those who had something to do with this year's
selections think a little more positively about the welfare of this
industry, so that future lists become harder and harder to
Be it ignorance, arrogance or just plain incompetence, these
were the folks or topics that made our lot a whole lot more
difficult and immeasurably injured the aviation world in the past
Shame on those issues, folks, or groups that made our lot so
much tougher in 2009...
Aero-Heartbreaker #3: The US Congress
I'm not going to debate party politics this time around --
just suffice it to say that no aspect of our government, least of
all the US Congress, distinguished itself in 2009. This grand
democratic experiment, started over 200 years ago, has stubbed its
toe a bit and for the moment we get to feel the pain. That being
said, the actions of our current Congress were some of the most
myopic, reprehensible, foolish, and ignorant I have witnessed in
nearly 53 years. I won't pretend to be an expert on all things
political, but like many pilots, I have the ability to cut
circumstances down to the bare essentials of the matter and
determine whether or not we're on a proper course. This I know to
be true, Washington is not only out of control but they haven't a
clue as to where they're going.
We saw some true low moments this year as regards Congressional
interface/interference with aviation matters. I can barely get my
head around the rank stupidity and the arrogant grandstanding that
occurred as a few Congress critters took cheap shots at business
leaders who have, in the past, provided billions of dollars of
economic impetus to this nation and affected hundreds of thousands
of jobs... and while they may have their own moments of stupidity
and foolishness, the last body with the requisite expertise to
lecture to them on the errors of their ways is undoubtedly the US
Congress. So, while Congress was beating the big three automakers
over the head for responding to Congressional subpoenas with the
use of business jets that allowed them to get their business in
Washington done in a single day rather than the two or three days
that the airlines might have exacted, another part of it was
demanding more and better aircraft for themselves -- paid for by
you and I. In other words, they knew damned well that business
jets, as well as all other aspects of Business And General
Aviation, are critical timesavers to people whose business moves in
the fast lane -- but these idiots could not pass up a chance to
lecture someone else about their business and show the world how
important they were. It was one of the most hypocritical displays
of political "Bravo Sierra" I've ever seen -- and I've see a few --
some at very close range.
And it didn't end there... we watched Congress tried to dictate
FARs and flight training criteria to an FAA that is now staffed by
an experienced Airline Captain who's also served as a Certificated
Flight Instructor and who knows damned well that the quality of a
pilots experience is far more valuable (than the quantity of hours
in their logbook) to their ability to safely get Mom-And-Pop
Airline Passenger from Point A to Point B. We watched Congress rail
against access to our airspace, and then turn around and dictate
additional restrictions. We watched knee-jerk after knee-jerk
pontification -- in concert with the media-anointed aero-issues of
the day in which congressional members in search of their daily
sound byte fix were more than willing to sacrifice aviation safety
and efficiency to their own ignorance and self-importance.
We continue to watch Congress demand greater security for air
travel, while continuing to ignorantly feed the ravenous maw of a
TSA that even its own original designers admit is not only out of
control, but incapable of doing the job they were set out to do.
"Security Theater" has become nothing more than a game played by
Washington to prove that our bureaucrats are doing (in the immortal
words of Mel Brooks) their "phony baloney jobs." If you want
aviation security, TSA is NOT the answer... surely that fact
should be evident by now.
I could go on and on, with examples of Congressional malfeasance...
their unwillingness to seek reasonable tort reform so that
businesses can get some relief from the expense of a legal system
out of control, their continued persecution of an aviation industry
that has in the past provided billions of dollars to this economy
and enhanced our balance of trade while also providing or enhancing
the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people, and so much more. And
all this is being done at a time while everybody is trying to build
a better economy and work our way out of the current economic
malaise. These idiots want to criticize what is not only a valuable
business tool and a critical part of her national transportation
infrastructure, but a massive part of American business.
It was foolish. It was ignorant. It was embarrassing. It was wholly
unfair... and it is what we have come to expect.
Folks; I give you the US Congress -- and in the immortal words
of Will Rogers, "thank God we're not getting all the government
we're paying for."