The Folks Who Made This Year So.... "Interesting"
Each year ANN selects
the person(s) who, for good or bad reasons, made the most tangible
impact on the aviation world in the past year.
Once again, we tackle this task with a mixture of enthusiasm and
Presented in alphabetical order and in four parts, we present a
dozen of the most prominent newsmakers ANN
has covered over the past year and why we think so…
Phil Boyer and 'Team AOPA'
For way too many years,
aviation was bereft of strong leaders with the courage to offer
aggressive guidance to an industry hungry for same. That has
changed over the last few years as AOPA President Phil Boyer has
not only embraced his responsibilities as the head of the largest
pilots' organization in the world, but has defined what the new
century's aviation leaders must do to help this industry grow in
the face of new foes and tribulations. Best of all, he's assembled
one of the most capable management teams of any aviation
association, and uses each member of that team to their best
advantage... no small feat, that.
While we thought the worst was behind us after 9/11, that tragic
but historic moment is obviously going to be dogging us for years,
if not longer, and the AOPA gang is fully aware of that issue.
Jim Campbell, flew right seat in the AOPA CitationJet a year and
some months back with Phil Boyer. He gained additional
insight into the man and the organization, detailed in a 3-part
series entitled "Above and Below FL 180 with Phil Boyer."
At that time, Jim noted that, "One of the reasons that I decided
to do this extended story, this way, was the fact that aviation is
too often led by those who can "talk the talk" but sure as hell
can't "walk the walk," especially with the history
of leadership at the FAA. It's been too long since the
FAA was led by an actual pilot and unless our new Administrator
starts taking flying lessons, its gonna be a long while longer.
Thankfully; the AOPA situation is much different.
So… while I have always felt pretty positive about the
skills and talents of AOPA's leadership, I feel quite good
about the fact that the world's largest pilot's organization is not
only well-led, politically, but also led by a guy who can handle an
airplane quite well. I might also add that one of the things that
Phil has been talking up lately is the intensive taildragger
training he went through recently in order to get checked out
in a Citabria and then, a Waco. It pleased me in no small measure
that among the things that Phil seems most pleased with lately, as
a pilot, are the new skills he picked up in an open-cockpit
biplane. He obviously had a ball and it's a fortuitous thing,
indeed, that we have a guy fighting for us who can shoot an
ILS to minimums, after two funky missed approaches, in a small
biz-jet as well as land a somewhat blind (but no less delightful)
biplane in a crosswind.
That's a damned good thing, folks… and reason why we
continue to strongly endorse the current leadership of AOPA (while
reserving our right to give Phil all kinds of hell at a
moment's notice--grin-its FUN to be a journalist)… We are
reminded (all too often) that the quality of our leadership
will be CRITICAL to the survival of aviation at a time when the
threats are greater than at any other time in our history."
GA is fortunate to be led, in part, by Boyer and the
dynamic men and women of 'Team AOPA.'
The Crew of Orbiter Columbia, STS-107
I could natter on with all things profound… but last
February we lost seven of the aerospace world's brightest stars.
The best way to remember them, though, comes from one of those
STS-107 Crewperson Laurel Clark was obviously having a GREAT
time aboard Columbia when she wrote an e-mail home, just hours
before 'heading west.' What an amazing lady... and how poorer we
all are for not having such a person amongst us anymore.
"HELLO FROM ABOVE our magnificent planet Earth. The
perspective is truly awe-inspiring. This is a terrific mission and
we are very busy doing science round the clock. Just getting a
moment to type e-mail is precious so this will be short, and
distributed to many who I know and love.
I have seen some incredible sights: lightning spreading over
the Pacific, the Aurora Australis lighting up the entire visible
horizon with the cityglow of Australia below, the crescent moon
setting over the limb of the Earth, the vast plains of Africa and
the dunes on Cape Horn, rivers breaking through tall mountain
passes, the scars of humanity, the continuous line of life
extending from North America, through Central America and into
South America, a crescent moon setting over the limb of our blue
planet. Mount Fuji looks life a small bump from up here, but it
does stand out as a very distinct landmark.
Magically, the very
first day we flew over Lake Michigan and I saw Wind Point (Wis.)
clearly. Haven't been so lucky since. Every orbit we go over a
slightly different part of the Earth. Of course, much of the time
I'm working back in Spacehab and don't see any of it. Whenever I do
get to look out, it is glorious. Even the stars have a special
I have seen my 'friend' Orion several times. Taking photos
of the earth is a real challenge, but a steep learning curve. I
think I have finally gotten some beautiful shots the last 2 days.
Keeping my fingers crossed that they're in sharp focus.
My near vision has gotten a little worse up here so you may
have seen pics/video of me wearing glasses. I feel blessed to be
here representing our country and carrying out the research of
scientists around the world. All of the experiments have
accomplished most of their goals despite the inevitable hiccups
that occur when such a complicated undertaking is undertaken. Some
experiments have even done extra science. A few are finished and
one is just getting started today.
The food is great and I am feeling very comfortable in this
new, totally different environment. It still takes a while to eat
as gravity doesn't help pull food down your esophagus. It is also a
constant challenge to stay adequately hydrated. Since our body
fluids are shifted toward our heads our sense of thirst is almost
Thanks to many of you who have supported me and my
adventures throughout the years. This was definitely one to beat
all. I hope you could feel the positive energy that beamed to the
whole planet as we glided over our shared planet.
Love to all, Laurel "
Mayor Richard Daley
He is easily the most
despised man in all of aviation.
Under cover of darkness, and with a willful effort to avoid the
proper legalities, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley took bulldozers to a
valued aviation treasure, ultimately (as it appears) destroying a
much valued part of GA's critical transportation infrastructure. In
the early hours of March 31st, greed and political dishonesty ruled
the roost as Daley destroyed Meigs Field, in secret, and using
armed police to bar those who sought to find out what the
bull-dozers were up to.
The eventual NOTAM, issued long after the bulldozers did their
worst said it all.
KCGX MERRILL C MEIGS
03/006 - AP CLSD 31 MAR 12:00 UNTIL UFN
For weeks and months afterward, Daley BS'ed his way through the
fallout, using all manner of excuses to validate his lack of
integrity and ramapant use of highly questionable political
The 'Friends of Meigs,' though, said it best… "The City
of Chicago today used surprise and shock tactics to start
demolishing Meigs Field, the world-renowned airport serving
downtown, ripping up runway without notice in the dark of night
under police guard."
"We are in shock," said Rachel Goodstein, president of the
Friends of Meigs Field. "The City of Chicago had agreed to keep
Meigs Field open until 2026," she said, citing a December 2001
agreement between Mayor Daley and Governor Ryan.
"This smacks of totalitarianism," said Goodstein. "It is nothing
but an unmitigated land grab."
The demolition came without warning, when dozens of heavy
earth-movers descended on Meigs shortly after it closed at 10:00
P.M. Sunday night. The Friends of Meigs only received warning via
news media inquiries. When Friends of Meigs representatives tried
to visit the airport to talk to officials about the situation, they
were turned away from the area by armed police.
"We understand that the City is trying to use 'homeland
security' as an excuse to destroy Meigs without notice," said
Goodstein. "Of all of the possible things they could do, that's the
worst possible for public security. If there is a security issue at
an airport, you work with the users to resolve it in the least
disruptive manner, you don't destroy millions of dollars of
Over the months since, the infamous Chicago political machine
has covered it's tracks well and outspent the private citizens who
banded together to try and save their beloved airport. But attempts
to turn back the clock by Meigs' advocates appear to have come to
no avail… and all of aviation has been cheated of a vital
resource by a greedy little political thug who wields too much
power with too little sense. Mayor Daley is a shameful and
repugnant character deserving of the scorn expressed by virtually
everyone in aviation.
To Be Continued...