Consuming too much wire copy and short takes of news that come my way brings with it a near overload of information -- some of it actually useful and interesting for me, personally, professionally.
Such it was with a recent spate of stories with encouraging news about general aviation, both personal and business flying. Stabilizing prices for business-turbine aircraft, stronger sales of pre-owned, more people flying more hours, according to FAA's IFR numbers for business flying.
Love stuff like this, personally and professionally. Professionally, feels good to hear affirmation of what we can sense rumbling quietly in the firmament of flying. Hearing from more people interested, getting a sense that more are looking at buying their first airplane, something in the generic four-place piston-single range -- the biggest segment, numbers-wise.
Traveling with friends in a Citation Mustang recently reminded me of the wonders and convenience of all of general aviation, whether the personally piloted light-end jet, a corporate large-cabin bird or those simple, predominant piston singles.
AOPA and EAA extol the wonders and benefits of personal flying; NBAA accumulates a wealth of honest numbers about the time and, yes, cost efficiencies of putting company people on company company airplanes. And collectively the private aviation community can point out how the typical passengers on the typical business flight hails not from the boardroom but from the drawing board, technical-support warehouse or marketing bullpens.
Private airplanes even today help funnel supplies into disaster areas and rescue wounded from accident site; little airplane monitor our environment and help fight forest fires and catch crooks, and fly Mom, Dad and the kids to Gram and Gramps'.
Love seeing all this acknowledged and replayed with news that times are getting better.
After the hat-in-hand spectacle of The Big Three Detroit automakers before Congress in late 2008 helped transform a downturn into a drubbing, signs of reversal are choice.
These are the good things, the necessary things aircraft and their users should feel good about.
And then info on a different plane of business aviation comes onto the radar screen and the image that it planted in my brain is bad and the ugly -- rolled into one.
The story spoke of how recently a large bank declined to continue providing a top exec 120 hours of jet time per year, jet time apparently for personal use as opposed to business. Now giving aircraft access to key or otherwise qualified employees on their nickle doesn't strike me as a reputation spoiler when the involved staffer pays the freight -- in this case, that would have been just under $8,000 an hour. Cheap if you can afford it.
But the hours were a perk reportedly picked up by the company which, to add icing to this aeronautical slice of cake, also picked up the tax liability employees incur from such a perk. That's the bad.
This didn't play out in front of members of Congress; it didn't make the cable news stations -- yet those news outlets and many in business aviation know this sort of arrangement has been a routine aspect of compensation packages -- probably for as long as there have been business jets.
Even without the draw created by becoming front-page news, arrangements like this just plain make business aviation look suspect where it's otherwise legitimate.
Seems that some of these otherwise bright people, replete with degrees and accolades, would act smarter, make these arrangement unassailable for the company and the tool -- that business aircraft. But then comes the ugly -- the ramps full of company planes crowding airports in Louisville early next month and Indianapolis later in the month, as they did in Miami for Super Bowl and Daytona for, well, Daytona.
Too many users lack any hint of insight about the ugly with which they brush private aviation -- personal and business. That's not good.
Only we can overcome this degree of ugly, by remembering and reminding others of what's truly good about general aviation.