Around the Patch

Unchained reactions.


He must not have filed a flight plan…

Soon after the very first airplane crash, there were those on the sidelines muttering, told you so. In the hundred-odd years since, culture has changed dramatically. Then, transference of opinion required a transmitter and receiver in proximity, and the identity of the opined was generally known. You had to stand ready to defend your comments to your peers.

Quite a bit different today, isn’t it? Many of us receive our news through online services, and most of those employ what ought to be an ideally egalitarian forum of response. Im referring here to those open comments pages that follow news stories. Im sure the theory looked great on paper: Allow the general populace to sound off on stories ranging from the benign-isnt it scandalous that Mavis Leno was married to Jay for 23 years before getting a real engagement ring?-to much more serious, and in doing so enable the voice of the masses.

Its a great thing…at least when the masses have something intelligent to say, or at least an informed opinion. Sadly, in our cyber landscape, neither is too often in evidence.

Lets bring the discussion close to home, and Ill explain the reason for this mini rant: A recent accident at the Ramona, California, airport was reported by the local news host in a manner that Ive come to expect from the mainstream media: perfunctory, at best.

But it was the web comments that made me cranky. Example? (Offered here exactly as posted; somewhere a village is missing a shift key.) home made airplane kits. is this really fair to all of the people on the ground who may be hit by the next crashing tonka toy plane whose owner didn’t use enough glue on the wing? are these planes examined and approved by any agency before they are allowed to fly over our heads?

Understand that this posting referred to an accident that claimed two lives.

And yet I find hope. Counter comments began to appear soon after, defending the pilot, the airplane and homebuilding in general. What makes me most proud is the manner in which pilots, homebuilders and friends of the family rallied to the endeavors defense in a uniformly measured, articulate way. It was a beautiful thing to watch. For every broadside slam from an anonymous poster came three or four reasoned responses, slashing innuendo down the middle with the sharp blade of truth.

We all need to follow suit. Vigilance is critical. Unless we counteract these broadsides with logic and truth, they become fact to those who do not (and cannot be expected to) know any better. It is up to us-pilots and builders and enthusiasts who actually know something about the field, have genuine experience in it-to keep the armchair crackpots in their place. And I urge you to do so with kindness, courage and an even tone-intelligent people have no hope of being as good a crank as a real crank.


Permit me to call out Omar Filipovic, our new(ish) webmaster for praise this month. After some savvy work behind the scenes, hes managed to get our web site in a much more flexible form than we have ever enjoyed. That virtual elasticity has allowed us to post breaking news from airshows-we had a pile of reporting from Sun n Fun and will continue with up-to-the-minute coverage from Oshkosh-something we have done in the past, but was perhaps too hidden from view. This rework also presents a place to host our newest product: video. So far, our multimedia efforts can charitably be called modest, but we have big plans. I think you’ll like seeing flight reviews, hands-on features and product evaluations in moving pixels. I understand we already have an impressively large blooper reel.

Previous articleCompletions
Next articleAre All Battery Chargers Alike?
Marc Cook
Marc Cook is a veteran special-interest journalist who started as a staffer at AOPA Pilot in the late 1980s. Marc has built two airplanes, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Aviation Sportsman, and now owns a 180-hp, steam-gauge-adjacent GlaStar based in western Oregon. Marc has 5000 hours spread over 200-plus types and four decades of flying.


  1. I’m a ten year pilot with 700 hrs. After my first two years of flying, I began flying aerobatics and that is mainly what I’ve focused on ever since. I mention this simply to let you know that I am a neither very experienced, nor inexperienced. But one thing I can say I am as a result of my flying experience, is a pilot who has learned enough to keep his mouth shut and not be arrogant regarding other pilots. Everybody makes mistakes, and unfortunately aviation related mistakes, can be very unforgiving. We, however as fellow pilots, need to be forgiving. And for all those critics out there who aren’t even pilots; you really need to shut up!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.