Plane & Pilot
Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Useless Aviation

Just because you don’t do it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done

The problem here is the concept of the word “airport.” It’s two words, right? Air and port—that says it all. The runway is the port through which every airplane must pass. So, we piss off the same people over and over again. Even if there was only one takeoff every two hours, that’s still around five per day, 35 per week or 150 per month. Most people just shrug their shoulders and ignore us. A few, however, eventually get a “how dare they make noise in my backyard” kind of attitude. The less commercial the airplane looks, the more likely they’ll complain. Of course, lots of folks still complain about places like LAX and JFK, so there’s no getting around everyone.

It’s really disturbing, however, when a pilot, such as the e-mail writer, points at another part of aviation and says, “That’s useless.” When one of our own has crossed over to the dark side, it’s time that we look around and closely analyze why other pilots have become our enemies. It can’t all be their fault, and there are more of them than there are of us grassroots types, so they can actually hurt us, if they chose to.

Maybe we’d better see if we can clean up our own act. Maybe we can change our patterns a little and spread the noise around. Maybe we could do our touch-and-goes at several different airports. Maybe we can identify where complainers live and avoid their houses altogether. Maybe we can be more considerate to others in the pattern and on the ramp. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, some of these things actually is our own fault.

Still, if we could just make my airplane pass for a 757, perhaps they’ll leave me alone.

Budd Davisson is an accomplished aviation writer and photographer, CFII & A, 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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