Friday, October 4, 2013

Keep It Simple

Low and slow, somewhere over Victoria County.

It's been a different month for me.  It's amazing how you can be doing what's essentially the same job, but changing where and how you do it makes it feel like a whole new career. 

In September, I've flown the Bosque River valley in a J-3 Cub at sunrise.  I spent time in Victoria giving dual instruction in the family J-3 Cub (which I literally grew up in---that's probably a really good subject for another article).  I've even given ground instruction in a real estate office and several local coffee shops. 

Not only has this been a really neat change, it's proven something else to me. Back in 2009, the model Parker and I used to start Waco Flight Training could be summed up in one phrase: "Keep it simple, manage expenses, and do a better job than the other guy."  I realized when I got to thinking about it that this little adventure is really living that out. 

Customers seem to be liking the flexibility, they definitely like the fact that I'm able to charge less (and ironically make more), and I'm not hating the fact that I'm writing this from my home office.  In fact, soon as I hit "post" I'm making lunch in the kitchen and sitting down for a bit with my Airline Transport Pilot study guide.

I know I'm kind of rambling, but I'm getting to a point.  There's an adage in aviation concerning, shall we say, capital outlays:  "The best way to make $2 million in aviation is to begin with $4 million."  I can tell you, if your goal is to blow money this is the best business to be in.  But, it doesn't have to be that way.  If you want to know why flight schools fail and financial support for them dries up, see the above adage.  Sink a couple of million on flash, and you're going to be left wondering why you can't get out of the hole. 

Maybe aviation needs a little less flash and a little more simplicity.  Airplane, pilot, instructor.  That's all you really need, and it doesn't really matter where the three meet up.  I learned to fly out of a hangar built in the 1930s, sitting in a metal folding chair between a greasy coffee pot and a 1950s-era Nesbitt's (sort of like Orange Crush) vending machine.  It's been rewarding to find that this kind of simplicity draws other people to aviation as well.  Those are the kind of people I want to hang out with.  Those are the kind of people I want to fly with.

"Keep it simple, manage expenses, and do a better job than the other guy."

Side note:

Thanks to Robbie Vadjos and his great friends and family for putting on a great Under-the-Wire Fly-In for the 24th year!  Despite a rain-out and the typical low turnout on the rain date, the passion, hospitality, and camaraderie were there as always and keep this event something that none of us would ever consider missing!

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