Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Good Old Boys Club...NOT!

Sometimes becoming one of the guys is easier than it looks

DON’T BE SHY. Introduce yourself, and a new world of shared passion will open up.
Do you remember when life was slow enough that we used to sit around in front of the hangar, the sun making us feel like reptiles soaking up the warmth, before bundling ourselves into our respective flying machines to go test fate? Do you remember those conversations? As far as that goes, do you remember conversation? The real kind, where two people face one another and their lips move, making sounds that cause the other to laugh/frown/nod in a fashion that indicates understanding?

The reason the above question is worth pondering is because a good percentage of the world’s conversations are now electronic. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I suppose it’s a little of both. However, no matter what your views on it are, one thing is absolutely certain: Thanks (or no thanks) to the Internet, if someone wants to talk to you, they’ll find you. There’s no way to hide from Google, etc. Plus, as we start networking via the Net, we find our circle of friends growing like crazy. There are dozens of pilots whom I consider to be really close friends but haven’t laid eyes on, even once.

Because of the above, the Internet throws lots of interesting conversations our way, and one that crossed my screen lately was from a young man who was frustrated at trying to get into aviation. In fact, he bordered on being miffed and accused us of being a “Good Old Boys Club,” and entry into the inner circle was difficult. As I went back and forth with him, lots of obvious but heretofore seldom-discussed concepts crossed my mind.

As I told him, part of the reason we look like a Good Old Boys Club is that, to a man, we think we’re boys, but lots of us are sorta old—or at least working on getting that way. And at one time, we were good. Or at least we thought we were. Some still are. But, it isn’t a “club,” and we owe an apology to anyone who sees us that way. And believe me, none of us want to make joining our world even remotely difficult. Just the opposite: We welcome newbies.

It’s easy to see why the hardcore aviation types appear to be a “club” and difficult to access. A newbie has only to stand on the periphery of any conversation with any group of long-time pilots for about two minutes to feel intimidated. For one thing, long-time pilots speak a form of pidgin English that’s loaded with unfamiliar terms, abbreviations and what appears to be jargon, but it’s hard for the newbie to be sure.

“Oh, yeah, it was definitely IMC even though ATC was briefing it as VFR, and I knew I’d be busting an FAR, and maybe my butt by punching into it, so I called Center who gave me a special to climb on top, so everything was cool.”


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