Archive for September, 2009

Small General Aviation Airports and their Importance

September 20, 2009

I’ll keep this one brief.

Recently an article appeared on the front page of USA Today – Thursday, September 17th: Feds keep little-used airports in business.

Bad form all around. An article appeared in this paper many months ago regarding airport impact fees and how GA (general aviation) doesn’t shoulder its fair share.

Before anyone decides to assume the lynch-mob mentality, please consider this: Smaller airports serve many. They are departure and arrival points for a wide range of smaller international carriers, they manage the carefully choreographed ballet of small aircraft (and by small I include the entire range up to commuter jets) they provide several thousand jobs, and offer points of interest and education for those looking to get their pilot’s license among others.

But small airports also serve as centralized launching points in times of crisis and disaster. Many of these provide an invaluable service as a command center to mobilize support and aid. They also serve as centralized locations to mobilize to another location en-masse.

It’s critical that people understand there is more than meets the eye in almost any endeavor.  In general aviation we often hear about the waste of tax dollars on Citation jets as politicians jump around the country, or the corporate marauders who abuse such perks with indescretion and obscene inconsideration.

Little do we hear of Doctors Without Borders, many of whom are pilots who travel south of the border on their dime to assiste the less fortunate, or the wide reaching network of Angel Flight, where pilots offer to fly the critically ill and sick  – most often children – across state and country to get the medical treatment they need, or the outreach network of PilotsNPaws, a dedicated group of volunteer pilots who travel the country in their free time finding homes for rescued animals.

The next time we read or report on something, let’s take enough time to understand all points of the topic, because by doing so we stay on point, and understand better the world around us.  It is sometimes difficult to resist the temptation to nod and agree, especially if it’s something we either do not understand or don’t fully appreciate or agree with, but a little acquired knowledge applied goes a long way.


Black Top – Now that’s entertainment!

September 11, 2009

I just returned from a trip overseas and got the chance to visit  some old friends.  The trip was a highly necessary foray of a personal nature but I was fortunately afforded some leisure time.  One of these outings involved a visit to Harderwijk (NL) where the band Black Top ( ) was performing that evening at a well known and often frequented establishment known as Nicky’s Inn.   Nicky’s was celebrating their 25th anniversary and they had a full complement of entertainment for the evening.  Black Top was one of the evening’s star bands.  (A disclaimer:  I have been well acquainted with the guitarist of the band, Mick Hup, for ten years and consider him a close friend).

I have known Mick almost since he first picked up a guitar.  Even then, in one of his first competitions, Noel Redding, a guest judge at the event, recognized Michiel’s talent.  That is noteworthy. 

Collectively, he and his two band mates comprise one of the most solidly innovative and rich-sounding groups to emerge in a long time.

These guys not only look and sound like musicians (whatever that is) they also compose themselves on stage in such a fashion to convey to their audience and each other they’re totally into what they do.  All three were “in the zone” as they played, and I remembered the first competition I attended where Mick played.  There is a passion and love in performing that cannot be faked.

I have said this before:  when we find our passion and pursue it, and make the honest commitment to ourselves, that sense of loyalty to self creates all kinds of gifts for us.  When we perform with passion, all other elements fall into place.

These guys play with passion.  They love their music, they love their fans, and they love the gift  of music.  And the focus of their energies seems so effortless that even with a cursory glance at their bios one readily knows there is a great deal more to their training and knowledge than is presented by the written word.  That level of professionalism is no fluke.  It is part of a collaborative effort that these three men have made with themselves and each other.  I wrote of the professional attitude and performance of a KISS tribute band I had seen a couple of months ago, and the same sense of preparation and level of top shelf behavior is a part of the Black Top credo, even if they don’t use it as a motto.  Their performance in a live venue is as crisp and energetic as the tracks they record for their albums.

Whether one wishes to listen to music, or study the subtle mannerisms that make someone top league, Black Top is a good place to start.  Their commitment to offer the best part of themselves and be the best in what they do is evident every time they step into a studio or onto a stage.  Those of us who are entertainers and seek to entertain benefit by studying and observing those who perform in a variety of venues, skills and genres.  We do what we do best when we challenge ourselves to experiences “out of the box.”  It is these encounters that entertain, enrich, and educate.