This month, the membership of the LinkedIn network were asked what event exemplifies the spirit of Aviation Day; a commemoration of aviation that was begun by President Franklin D Roosevelt in 1939, to commemorate the birthdate of Orville Wright who was born August 19th, 1871.  

The membership chose the flight of the Wright Flyer in Kitty Hawk North Carolina on December 17, 1903. The aircraft would have appeared simple but was an engineering marvel made from balsa wood and fabric. They even made one wing four inches longer than the other to compensate for the weight of the engine which was a few feet to the right of the pilot. * 

We are no longer supposed to be awed and proud of our achievements. We have spawned a lost generation, even more disassociated than the lost generation of the 1920’s. “Lost” in this context refers to the “disoriented, wandering, directionless” spirit of many in the early postwar period.  It was a discouraging sign of the times then as it is today.   

And now we suffer through a pandemic that has been especially hard on our industry. Don’t get discouraged; it is never wise to underestimate the energy, creativity and courage of we Americans. We have proven time and time again that we are willing to take on any challenge, and be stronger for it in the end. This writer has no doubt that we will overcome this pandemic that has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, our familial patterns and closeness, our religious observances, the relationships we treasure, our work, our personal pastimes, and of course, the very lives and health of those we love. 

This pandemic is not simply a health problem, it is a challenge of unraveling the isolation, and the bad mental habits of the self-involved. Then there are the naysayers, and the new normal prognosticators.  Personally, I don’t give a damn about the so called “return of the pandemic”. I’m going to hug every one of the grandchildren at my first opportunity when the coast is clear. That is as normal as it gets for me. 

The industry we work in has especially been hard hit. Travel is by its very nature a close encounter kind of business. Whether it be a bus terminal, a ship’s boarding area, or an airport terminal, pre-pandemic you could touch and talk to more people than you do in a month of your normal existence. The absence of these travelers is reflective of the hard hit we have taken in our pocket books, both in our businesses and our personal life.  

However, I have learned about the people that work at the airports and in aviation in general; they are a resilient, hard-working and thoughtful bunch, and they will come up with whatever answers it takes to survive and prosper.

In the meantime, a toast to the Wright Brothers, who built and flew a flimsy aircraft, made of wood and fabric. They flew it 120 feet and ushered in the birth of an industry. And of course, a toast to all the dreamers, the designers and the doers who make this industry the least boring place in the world. 

Joseph Alba
Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.

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