I love old stuff. Just can’t help it really; old airplanes, cars, and boats, old houses and books. I am fascinated by history and the artifacts left in its wake. One of the reasons that I so love going to airshows, particularly the prestigious meets like AirVenture and Sun ‘n’ Fun, is so I can salivate over the warbirds and the classics. Seeing a P-51 Mustang fresh out of restoration, like the one I encountered in Oshkosh this past summer, stirs in me a massive appreciation for the machine and the people who built, flew, and maintained them in wartime. Walking up to a gleaming Beech Staggerwing, like the one brought to NBAA this year, causes me to think about the executives who climbed into the back seat and the trailblazing pilots who flew these airplanes in the formative years of business aviation. I have talked with countless owners of such airplanes over the years and to a person they proclaim to not own them, but only to be their temporary caretakers. These people get it: How can you own something with so much history? You really can’t, you can only be a good steward of the history the object represents so that it may be passed on to the next steward.
My three years as FATA’s President has been full of ups and downs. I doubt I could have picked a more “fun” economy to run this association through. Maybe the Arab oil embargo or the dark days in the late 80’s where it appeared there would be no small GA airplanes built in meaningful numbers again. The end of 2012 has been another period of some struggle. All of the board members, along with your Executive Director, have worked extremely hard again this year to produce a workable balanced budget. We think (and hope) we have done so. Through it all the leadership of this organization works with a focus on the future; we know times will improve and FATA will continue to be an asset to aviation in Florida. However I don’t take for granted for one moment the history this association represents or the importance of our stewardship of that history. Imagine all that has happened in sixty-seven years, all of the things that FATA has seen and been through. The friends made, the deals done, and the sighs of relief.
I thank all of our members for being stewards of a great organization that has proven itself vital through the years. Please know that your leadership takes seriously being good overseers of your money.
Finally, as much as I love old stuff, I’ll admit I also don’t mind the shiny new stuff. So please plan to join us this year June 10-12 at the shiny and gorgeous Ritz-Carlton in Naples for our Annual Meeting. We are working on a great slate for you all again this year, so come see old friends and meet new ones!