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Sat, Dec 11, 2004

Aero-Views: GA Community Buried Discovery Wings

We are the only ones responsible for the channel's demise!

By ANN Associate Editor Juan Jimenez

By now the news has resonated all through the aviation community -- Discovery Wings is gone, and will be replaced by The Military Channel. The comments I am seeing seem to blame the channel's management, because it never really covered general aviation, or aviation in general, well enough to justify its being called Discovery Wings.

Other comments bemoan the fact that general and sport aviation programming made up only a small fraction of the channel's lineup, and that's why they would not watch it.

I watched the channel when I had the Adelphia cable service at my home. I have DirecTV now, thanks to Adelphia's inability to do something as simple as efficiently transferring my service from one address to another, two blocks away, but the DirecTV service available in Puerto Rico doesn't carry Discovery Wings.

Having said all that, I believe that the fault for the demise of the channel belongs squarely in our own laps. Why?

Because we complained about the channel's programming and its lack of coverage of GA and sport aviation, but we did not lift a finger to do something about it.

How many of us wrote to our alphabet organizations to ask them to get involved in this issue? Certainly some well-placed support for the development of program content that would better address our needs as a community could have helped. Producers spend their money on what people tell them they want to see, not what the crystal ball says they should select as subject matter for their shows.

How many of us got involved in campaigns to support production companies that were in a position to cater to our interests? The programs that featured the construction of a home built kit aircraft and helicopter were very well done. I thought they were very interesting and well designed. Certainly there is a wealth of subject matter that could easily provide material for several years worth of episodes on the various aspects of experimental, amateur-built aviation.

How many of us wrote to the sponsors of those programs that did finally go on the air to express our delight at seeing them involved in general and sport aviation? How many of us told them we'd buy their products as long as they continued that involvement?

Get my drift?

Pilots and aircraft owners represent a small fraction of the total number of citizens in this country. If we do not actively support and cheer those who try to make a living addressing our interests in the media, those people will find greener pastures. After all, they too have to feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their families.



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