It was July 21, 1969. A warm summer evening in Norwalk, Calif. My dad had our telescope set up in the backyard and we were all taking turns looking up at the moon.
It wasn’t a very powerful telescope but the moon looked big and bright as I peered through the eyepiece. Up there…way up there on the moon… a human being was walking—well, bouncing, really—around. A human on the moon! It was amazing, exhilarating, awe-inspiring.
We did a lot of looking up in the early days of the 20th century. Imagine the thrill of seeing an airplane fly over for the first time as a barnstormer sailed by. During World War II people living near airfields would pride themselves on their ability to identify the various military airplanes as they passed overhead.
Early airline travel and later the Space Race sparked a passion for flying and aerospace in a couple of generations of kids. We had jet engines and rockets and flying wings and supersonic flight, and it was fantastic. We’d hear the roar of an engine and we’d look up to see just what it was.
As airline travel has become a commodity, a necessary evil to get from one place to another, our society has lost something. We zoom along at 40,000 feet going 600 mph in a heavier-than-air machine and we are nothing but bored or annoyed at how long it’s taking.
If we hear a plane going overhead these days and bother to look up at all, it’s usually to complain about the noise.
The great challenge that faces General Aviation now is to find a way to lead people back to the understanding that flight is and can be so much more. Anne Morrow Lindbergh put it this way: “The fundamental magic of flying is a miracle that has nothing to do with any of its practical purposes—purposes of speed, accessibility and convenience—and will not change as they change.”
How do we rekindle humankind’s love affair with flight? How we get people “looking up” again?
I welcome your answers.
May you always be looking up to Blue Skies,