Flying Across America

Promoting General Aviation

In the aftermath of an helicopter ride to school

Long story short, a dad decided to fly his son to school in a light helicopter to celebrate the first school day. Everything went fine, the helicopter landed safely, in a quiet area of the campus. But the dad did not warned the school or coordinated this flight with them. Alarmed, the school staff warned the Sheriff’s office and the FAA. Oops.

Was this legal and conform to the regulations or not ? This is not our point. Was this a cool thing to do ? Certainly. Was it smart to do it without warning the school ? Probably not. As pilots, we’re holders of aviation’s image and reputation. Such maneuvers are safe, but their impact is not always positive. The Orlando Sentinel published this article about the helicopter to school ride. The article is factual and do not speculate, kudos to the reporter for that.

Some of the comments are very negative, like the two copied below:

“I don’t appreciate this parent jeopardizing the safety of my sons who attend ERHS with his unauthorized helicopter landing. He should be prosecuted.”

“I’m surprised nobody realized how this action could have been interpreted by a principal or a cop. With all the shootings going on at schools these days, someone could have jumped to the conclusion that the unidentified and unauthorized chopper was carrying someone with weapons. This might have been a fun thing, or a joke in earlier times, but not in 21st century.”

But most of the comments are positive, many in the “no harm, no foul” direction. There’s an ongoing discussion about the legal aspects, but this is not the topic here.

The last sentence of the second comment is unfortunately typical and shows how parts of the public perceives aviation nowadays. This is one of the very reasons why we think General Aviation requires positive communication and promotion. Not to fly all students to school, but show that aviation still is fun and still brings a lot to the community, even in the 21st century.

If you also think so, please spread the word about our project, and buy miles to help us create positive communication about General Aviation and pass our message.

4 Responses to “In the aftermath of an helicopter ride to school”

  1. Role Model: Bring new pilots to aviation | Flying Across America Says:

    [...] recently got a comment from Joseph Geist about how the way General Aviation is perceived changed over the last years. Joe’s solo is [...]

  2. Joe Says:

    It is sad how easily people are willing to give up freedoms to get supposed security. 30 years ago I used to drop off a young flight student at school regularly after an early morning lesson. His school was located next to a private airport in Northern California. He was the talk of the school because of it. How sad that perceptions have changed so drastically that parents immediately assume the worst rather than seeing the beauty in the situation. I do not believe the Dad would have landed if he perceived any danger or threat to persons or property on the school grounds. I stopped flying Devin to school when his friends started hanging around the airstrip waiting for him to arrive. It just wasn’t a safe thing to do anymore.

  3. DenverPilot Says:

    There’s a flip side to this coin. If we never go BACK to doing things that were NORMAL prior to whatever event freaked people out so much, they never learn that the big bad boogie-man isn’t waiting for them around every corner. I assume the second commenter is completely freaked out by things like, say .. Columbine, and 9/11 combined. That’s just a guess. But since Columbine is literally at my back door, and I have good friends who worked HARD at Ground Zero and won’t talk about it to this day — I think I have a unique perspective when I say… phooey on that comment. Get back to your life. I’m NOT saying that a helicopter landing in a schoolyard is the best foot forward for General Aviation, and I’m not saying people shouldn’t be concerned about such things. What I’m saying is this… when you take it so far as to make it your LIFE VIEW that this kind of thing just CAN’T happen anymore “in the 21st Century”, you’ve basically said you’re NOT interested in progress, have no hope, and you need treatment for PTSD from the events of the past. The person that posted that comment has issues, and as pilots we need to balance the need to placate such people with just enough bravado and ALWAYS a safety-conscious culture to say, “Time to go fly again.” The country and the people still stuck on these over-media-hyped tragedies NEED to see that there are people doing JUST FINE and not worrying about such things in our DAILY lives. Scold the pilot of the helicopter all you like, but remember… he was doing exactly what the laws and the freedoms of this country ALLOW him to do, and keep the scolding mild. We need people like him to help others get on with living.

  4. Nolan Says:

    Apparently, the issue with these, presumed, two individuals commenting is their concern for safety. Perception is reality and GA needs to realize that we already have a “cowboy” image with some of the populace. However, I would venture that those parents concerned with safety could not articulate how actual individuals were ever endangered. Our actions always have consequences.
    -Nolan

    ps- I wish I could helicopter to work!

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