We need more aviation heroes
We need more aviation heroes
Ever since Neil Armstrong passed away, I have lamented on the status of our aviation heroes.
The number of people who have risen to hero status in the aviation world continues to shrink – we just aren’t making them anymore. The days of the military or NASA pilots going Mach 4 in an airplane or blasting off into space in an unproven rocket just don’t exist. Most of our heroes were from the first half of the last century, guys like Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post, and Roscoe Turner – to name a few. These guys were worshiped in their day.
Thankfully, we aren’t embroiled in a world war, but certainly those produce lots of flying heroes. Eddie Rickenbacker, Frank Luke, Jimmy Doolittle, Robin Olds, and Richard Bong are just a few examples from the World Wars.
NASA was a veritable hero factory for the second half of the 20th century with the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts. Kids were glued to the first TVs idolizing these individuals.
Fast forward to 2012 and it seems like everything has ground to a stop; no more NASA manned space program; no large-scale conflicts; no death-defying records are being set.
I would like to give a nod to Felix Baumgartner’s amazing parachute jump from the edge of space, but it wasn’t really a flying gig.
Ok, so there are a couple of current aviation heroes. Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles, that successfully landed their Airbus in the Hudson river, deserve hero status. They have been adequately celebrated and continue to work as ambassadors and role models, which is perfect! That’s exactly what we should want!
Some less promoted, but just as important heroes are the Space Ship One pilots, Mike Melvill and Brian Binnnie. Those guys had some serious guts to strap on a homebuilt rocket and go get the X prize – heroes in my book!
Aside from private space exploration it seems the only new heroes are going to come from in flight emergencies.
The days of taking chances, exploring, and pushing the boundaries of physics are now left to the private sector, the government will be using machines – thank you very much. No more Chuck Yeager’s or Bob Hoover’s; thank goodness they are still around, but they can’t live forever.
Some heroes are never heard about while others get more limelight than they deserve, the court of public opinion rules. Either way it is important we have role models in our industry because this gets young people excited about opportunities in our field and that is good for everyone.
So where do you think the next aviation heroes will come from?
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