Plane & Pilot
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Passion Breeds Success

If you love something, you can’t help but win

grassrootsYesterday, as we were taxiing back for yet another dash down the runway to defy gravity, I started laughing out loud. My student asked what I was laughing about and I said, “The thought just crossed my mind that, at this exact moment, my daughter is on set in Toronto producing her first movie, my son is negotiating with several agencies that are competing fiercely for his scripts, Marlene is making a name as a ceramicist and I’m sitting in my favorite airplane doing what I love to do. Life is good for the Davisson tribe, and I can’t keep from laughing.”
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Most importantly, passion is the fuel that keeps you going when life tosses obstacles in your way. For most people, just about everything having to do with aviation is inconvenient, and obstacles keep popping up that would drive the average person nuts. For one thing, although we can engage in the cerebral aspects of aviation at home (reading, movies, etc.), to actually engage in the activity itself means we have to drive to another location that’s sometimes a fair distance from home. (Note: To those of you living on airparks: Yes, we’re all jealous.) Then, if we’re conscientious, we’ll spend an inordinate amount of time carefully examining the device we’re about to fly (is that negative thinking?), and then we strap in knowing it’s going to cost us a sizeable amount of money.

If we own the airplane, the obstacles multiply. Simply finding a home for an airplane is usually a challenge (sometimes an impossible one). For instance, the waiting list on my hangar is something like six years long. In other places I hear it’s even worse.

And then there’s the maintenance: Is an airplane ever 100% right? There always seems to be some niggling little thing that needs to be fixed, and even the little things are expensive. And when a big maintenance item comes along, it’s always a choker. But we don’t mind, because that’s part of the game we love. We may not love spending money, but we do love the game enough to figure out how to make it work. It’s our passion that bulldozes the obstacles flat. If you’re not truly in love with it, the obstacles will wear you down, and you’ll slowly slide out of aviation and find something that isn’t constantly testing you.

I used to chide my kids that show business was the world’s most difficult way to make a living. Then I think about aviation, which is also renowned for not being an easy place to turn a buck. My kids have done very well financially and, so far, nothing I own has been repossessed, so apparently I’m also able to pay my bills—all of which is a testament to the power of passion.

I guess the bumper-sticker philosophy behind all of this is, “If you love it enough, you’ll eventually succeed. If you don’t love it, get out: We only have one life and it would be a bummer to waste it.”

Budd Davisson is an accomplished aviation writer and photographer, CFII & CFIA, aircraft owner and builder. He has authored two books and lectured at the Smithsonian and NASA’s Langley Research Center. Check out his Website at


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