Right to Bear Wings
By Robert Goyer / Published: May 06, 2014
"Aviation" rhymes with "American." Well, even if it's not that close a rhyme, you get the idea. Aviation in many ways represents what it is to live in a free land with free skies. The same, it goes without saying, is or should be true for many of our friends worldwide. Aviation, metaphorically and literally, is a magic activity, one that takes a mere ground-bound mortal and through the power of will, ingenuity and the elegant abuse of raw physics, places us high above the world.
This might sound overly romantic; trust me, I know there's the cost of fuel and insurance, Class A-F airspace, a thousand pages of regs (okay, lots more than that) and that darned FAA medical to contend with, but the basis of it all, the reason we go to all of the other trouble is because flying is special. Apologies to kayakers, cross-stitchers, Sudoku-maniacs and Civil War re-enactors, but there's nothing remotely like flying. Even sky diving gets it wrong. Staying aloft is the point of the whole thing.
My point is simply this: I'm tired of apologizing for flying. I'm tired of telling the "not-in-my-backyard" types that we're very sorry and next time we'll try to climb on thermal energy alone so as to keep the faint and passing noise of GA down while trucks and road crews blare away unabated with hardly any notice taken. I'm tired of apologizing for our use of land, our negligible impact on the environment and our lording it up over the common folk for flying around in our airplanes as we do personal or business travel or just take in the beauty of the day. I'm tired of it.
This is not to say we shouldn't be good neighbors and try to minimize our impact, like any responsible citizen should do, but not because we're begging to stay on people's good side but instead because we choose to do it.
We need to make our message clear. You mess with aviation, you mess with freedom. You try to limit my right to fly, you're messing with not just me but with more than a half a million of my good friends, many of whom feel even more strongly than I do about the issue.
My plane is no threat to you. My plane is an emblem of the freedom to fly, a freedom that generations before us have fought valiantly to protect and one that we take the utmost pride in, for their sake, for ours and for our children.
There might not be a constitutional right directly associated with travel, let alone travel by air — the forefathers were only so prescient — but that right has been interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States to be so fundamental that its very omission from the Constitution is proof of its unassailably fundamental importance.
And when you travel in a plane, it is, in my non-judicial opinion, even more fundamental and more central our rights as citizens.
Think about it. Our national symbol isn't a trout. It's an eagle. Fly on.