Get Involved in Aviation
I realize that the majority of this audience is already pretty involved in aviation, but there is always more that all of us can do. Many of us are passionate about flying and are constantly looking for ways to help general aviation grow rather than the stagnate state it seems to be in.
The reality is that it can be incredibly challenging to become a pilot, which is the one thing most people think of when they think of aviation. While there are dozens of other jobs in aviation that can be equally exciting, that is not really the involvement I want to focus on here.
Instead, I want to talk about all of the different aviation events that take place that can be one of the best ways to inspire people into pursuing aviation. When people talk about why they love planes how many of their stories start with a relative that took them to air shows and such? Most of them. So maybe we just need to do a better job of getting the word out for these events.
I had the chance to go to one such event back in February that I wanted to share. It is called Aviation Geek Fest, and it is put on by the guys over at AirlineReporter.com. This was my first opportunity to attend the event, but this was the sixth event they have put on.
It takes place in the Seattle, WA area which makes sense with all of the aviation stuff that exists in the area. To give you an idea of how popular this event is, the 250 full tickets sold out in under 30 seconds and included people from multiple European countries, as well as India and Dubai.
In short it is an opportunity to get together with a bunch of other avgeeks and enjoy planes. In reality, it is so much more.
The first day involved floor level tours of the main Boeing factory at Paine Field in Everett, WA which allowed us to walk amongst the 747s, 777s, and 787s that were in production at the time. The public tour (which is still awesome) only takes you to the catwalks above the aircraft but this tour was as close as you can get without buying one of the planes yourself. We were then taken through the Everett Delivery Center where airlines take delivery of their new beauties.
There was also a chance to visit all of the other amazing aviation opportunities at Paine Field to include Historic Flight Foundation and the Flying Heritage Collection. You will not find two places with more meticulously maintained aircraft that are all still airworthy, in the world.
The night was rounded out with an Avgeek Social bringing us all together for a great dinner, great conversation, and an amazing guest speaker. Capt Chad Lundy is a Boeing test pilot that was heavily involved with the 787 test process in particular, but had a lot of other great stories as well. As someone who already has a career in aviation it inspired me to work harder to achieve those dreams that seem unattainable.
Day two of this amazing weekend took place south of Seattle at the Museum of Flight on Boeing Field. The museum itself was phenomenal just as most museums of the type are. The highlight for many of us was the static display of aircraft outside of the museum that included a Concorde,
a VC-137B (a 707 that served as Air Force One for four different presidents), and my personal favorite, one of the 787 Dreamliners that was used during the test phase.
After a morning spent browsing through the museum, we all were able to go to the 737 factory in Renton which is never open to the public. It was a unique opportunity to get our eyes on the planes in every stage of their assembly, and a real joy for all of us plane lovers. I don’t know that I can really convey just how cool it was.
Upon leaving the factory we stopped at the Boeing Customer Experience Center which is where customers come to see what the inside of the planes they are considering buying might look like. It was still in development at the time, but included mockups of all the different aircraft allowing us to sit in new business class seats, and get an idea of just how nice all of these planes can be. They also have a 787 simulator so that you can land the plane which I’m sure you can imagine was incredibly awesome.
While all of these events were awesome, I have saved the best part for last, the people. Many of us avgeeks live, work, and play with people that simply don’t understand our passion so it was incredible to be amongst people that are just as passionate as I was. There is an immediate bond with these people because we all just get it. I cannot imagine a better way to spend a weekend than drooling over amazing aircraft from all different eras with amazing people who love them just as much as I do.
That is the real point of this article. There are amazing people out at airports every single weekend of the year that are anxious to share their passion. If you don’t feel like you can just go hang out at an airport, then first of all, you are wrong, but maybe that just isn’t your personality, so find an event to go to.
It doesn’t have to be as big as Aviation Geek Fest, or any of the massively popular airshows out there, it may just be a local fly-in or pancake breakfast that will help you break the ice with these amazing people and get your foot in the door. When you do go, don’t go alone. Bring your friends who think becoming a pilot is impossible. Bring your kids and foster their love of aviation at a young age. But above all else, go.
If general aviation truly is fading in any way then it is because we have allowed it to happen. There are so many awesome events out there that absolutely anyone can attend and many of them are free or very inexpensive. The key is that we must all get involved. No matter how involved you may be, there is more that all of us can do, even if it is just spreading the word to other people. So like I said at the beginning, Get Involved in Aviation.
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