August 24, 2016.   Time to Celebrate “National Aviation Day.”

Last Friday, August 19th, was National Aviation Day.

Who knew? Not me. I only found out because a reader asked me about it. I’d never heard of it before and had to look it up. Turns out National Aviation Day goes all the way back to 1939. It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s idea. He chose August 19th because it’s Orville Wright’s birthday. According to Wikipedia, the idea is to “encourage citizens to observe the day with activities that promote interest in aviation.”

I’m unsure how much the average citizen can or should do to “promote interest in aviation.” Stand in a TSA line? Have lunch at Chick-Fil-A? Sorry, but I’m just not feeling it. I’m tired, jaded, frustrated. And if this summer is any indication, I think maybe we’ve stretched this aviation thing as far as it can go. Have you been to an airport lately? The crowds are overflowing, the noise levels are insane, the lines are endless and the delays are piling up. My flight the other day from Boston to New York — a 35-minute hop — was delayed for three hours because of “flow control” into JFK! And heaven forbid a thunderstorm roll in. Our airspace is so super-saturated with planes — half of them regional jets — that the slightest meteorological ripple tips the whole system into chaos. We’ve hit Maximum Aviation.

Yeah, flying sucks because we’ve made it that way, with inefficient use of airspace, mindless security rules, and so on. But one thing for sure, it hasn’t kept the people away. As I type this I’m sitting in a terminal at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. There are so many people here, surging through the concourses, that you can hardly see the floor — a great, streaming river of miserable-looking, stressed-out humanity. Where is everybody going?

“Final boarding for Kigali.” KLM has a nonstop flight — an Airbus A330 no less — to Kigali, Rwanda, among dozens of other far-flung places. I love traveling, and I wish that I was on that flight, right now. Just the same, I have to ask: are there really that many people who need to travel from Europe to Rwanda? Is all of this moving around really necessary? All of these people — the countless businesspeople; the throngs of college kids with their hoodies and backpacks; the soccer teams and the infants and the infirm — constantly on the move, across entire oceans and continents.

For me there’s a troubling paradox: The more I travel, the more I’m of the mind that people ought to be staying the heck home.

I know, what a buzz-kill, right? Shame on me. This is a flagrant dereliction of my duties and responsibilities as pilot-blogger and air travel advocate.

Here, maybe we should revisit this older post of mine.

That’s the spirit! In the meantime, I need a vacation, maybe. A trip somewhere.

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