Its funny looking back, how aviation tended to level out social demographics. The funniest I ever experienced was the dialog between a F100 A level exec and a auto mechanic. At the airport, both tended to wear biker attire, and flew similar airplanes, and often chat with one another. During the workweek, each had dramatically different roles…
One week, the F100 exec took his BMW in for some engine work. He never put 2+2 together that he knew the mechanic, nor did the mechanic the same. It was just business… Until the next weekend at the airport, when the mechanic was chatting about a car he worked on, and then a whole bunch of laughter ensured. The 2 guys did not recognize each other in their work attire, and just went about their business. At the airport, things added up, and they got a good chuckle out of the deal.
I remember the same as a young green behind the ears pilot flying parts here and there. I often would run into big wheels at any number of airport lounges during wait times, and we’d chat a bit. I had no idea who I would be talking to, short of the obviously attire they were wearing, or the jet they flew in on. Yet, the wisdom and the things I learnd from those fellows was always amazing, to say nothing of how much they would feel free to share with an interested youngster.
To some extent, this leveling thing seems to be somewhat history related. Years ago, I met a number Quiet Birdmen, and it blew my mind that these gurus of aviation held to such a level social playing field. It was the love of flying that brought folks together, whether it was a retired old guy in a 150, a airshow guy with a Stearman, or a 747 Captain, it made no difference, it was flying.
Today though, there does seem some disparity… and I’m not so sure why that is. Folks still love flying, but the starry eye teenager at the airport fence, or the grizzled old QB with a cigar perpetually flying the hanger have ceased to exist for the most part. I’m sure the sanitized sterile airport environment of today has some to do with it, but I’m leery to attribute causality. I’m thinking there has to be more… I think if it could be identified, and addressed, it might do more for aviation, that even the most expensive and dedicated marketing platform to generate interest.
What do you think?