I’m here at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, enjoying the world’s largest general aviation extravaganza. The smell of jet A and 100 LL (low-lead) in the morning air, the gentle roar of piston and turbine, and the sight of man-made objects defying gravity is something I’ll never get tired of.
For many people, everything associated with aviation is scary, almost unholy. Money spent for aviation is unnecessary.
What these people don’t fully realize is that it is only by pushing the envelope of human experience do we learn new technologies that can help everyone. For instance, seat-belts and anti-lock brakes are two easy examples of aviation innovations that the rest of us use every day.
Here’s another innovation that we might appreciate years from now. A group of aviation enthusiasts at Purdue is working with quadriplegics, paraplegics, and others who have been disabled in order to teach them to fly. And so far, they have fledged 40 people into the skies.
Why is the work of Able Flight and the Purdue Aviation Technology Department important? Because it pushes our knowledge and technology to the limits. It does the seemingly impossible and makes it possible. And in so doing, they may learn something that can help others, or perhaps even you and me.
So, the next time you see a child playing with a model airplane, or a youngster taking their first flight, encourage them. After all, they might help the rest of us in unexpected ways. Now excuse me, I’ve gotta fly!