It’s been said that women speak nearly three times as much as men, and while this may be debatable, the studies in question obviously did not take pilots into account. Male or female, my experience is that pilots speak nearly six times as many words per day as non-pilots. I don’t plan to use focus groups, lab rats, or college students to firm this belief up into a published study, but anybody who has spent a weekend at a GA airport can back me up on this. In my nearly 25 years of flying, hangar flying is some of the most fun. Waiting out a thunderstorm or a fast-moving weather front under the shelter of a raised bi-fold door has resulted in some of the greatest relationships I’ve ever encountered. Sitting in a quiet terminal lobby on dilapidated couches with an honor system vending machine humming in the background while talking with people I’ve only just met is like comfort food for my soul. Visit any airport café on a Saturday morning and the energy level of the conversation is incredible.
Our ability to fly and enjoy aviation is an incredible freedom. However, flying is as much about relationships and emotions as it is about mechanics of flight and precision flying. For me, the social and emotional side of flying is what makes it rewarding. A kindred spirit exists between all pilots. It transcends age and gender. Unlike many other ways in which people can spend time and money, aviation also transcends financial status. In terminals or on the ramps, I often find budget-conscious pilots in a club-owned airplane chatting it up with a turbine single owner on his way to Vegas. Each admires the other. The turbine pilot is thinking back to the simplicity of flying an antique or vintage aircraft, and the club pilot is dreaming about the power of the turbine.
Pilots are also some of the most helpful people around. Have a flat tire or a dead battery? Chances are another pilot will go out of their way, even postponing their own trip, to get you on your way. I recently bartered for a tire and a tube from separate pilots at a sleepy California airport, while another pilot offered his hangar and tools to swap my flat nosewheel. Another pilot actually bought fuel for me when my credit card wasn’t accepted at an Arizona airport. I had to track him down to get him to accept repayment. The conversations and relationships were genuine. I’m sure we all have similar experiences.
APA supports general aviation, including the social side of this amazing hobby. Please visit our calendar to see what is coming up. Don’t worry if you don’t know anybody – you’ll meet them there and will feel right at home. Reach out and let us know about an aviation social event you’d like to make happen! I’ve mentioned it in the past, but if you have fellow pilot friends who aren’t members, ask them to consider joining APA. You help make APA an amazing organization and I’m blessed to be a part of it. Go spend some time at an airport, relax, and soak it all in.