Saturday, January 09, 2010

A $100 Hamburger in Every Stomach

In response to my "Plane in Every Driveway" post, pilot-friend and musician extraordinaire Chad Faragher had this to say:
Cool! Well, I have two opinions. The "dream" of a plane in every driveway was squashed for the same reason as a car in every driveway - infrastructure. Car travel was made popular by two things: service (gas) stations and paved roadways. Airtravel was made popular by airports with paved runways. But at the time ...of the invention of each, nobody believed it was possible to put enough gas stations around so you could get everywhere you wanted to go. and the idea of travelling anywhere you want to go without leaving pavement was absurd. But mass production made cars popular enough that people had to build the roads. Henry Ford actually conceived of a plane for every person too. For some reason, the idea never "took off". There was no supporting infrastructure for aircraft. At least cars had horse & cart pathways, wooden bridges etc. to build on. Modern pilots are pretty lucky to have things like controlled airspace, radar, transponders, GPS, modern weather reporting and predicting, satellites, etc.

I guess fear is a factor too. I know that some people that first rode in cars were scared to drive them faster than a horse could run. I'm sure people have plenty of reasons to be afraid of aeroplanes. They are particularly dangerous when things go wrong, so you have to put a lot of effort into making sure that things go right.

That brings me to pilot training vs car-driver training. If everyone got as much training to drive a car as pilots to do fly a plane, I think the world would be a safer place. On the other hand, piloting likes to be exclusive, after all, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

And finally, what do _I_ want to do with my pilot's license? Apart from the personal achievement of doing it (because it _is_ difficult) I really like the freedom of being able to go wherever I want, whenever I want. Although as we are constantly reminded, freedom isn't free. In fact, renting it costs about $150/hour.

I will probably visit many of the little hole-in-the-wall places in Ontario, but only for lunch ;) An afternoon in the muskokas, some sightseeing, and just generally answering the call of the open skies (referring to "the call of the open road" that motivates many recreational motorists.)

And another reason that must be mentioned, is the $100 hamburger. Although I'd be more inclined to go to Boston for lobster dinner or something like that.

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