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Fourth of July and Aviation Freedom

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I want to take the time to wish everyone a happy July 4th. As we celebrate the founding of our great nation, take the time to reflect on what it actually means to be free. A wonderful man, Chaplain Rocheford, quoted something to me and my fellow Marines while I was on active duty. He reminded us that "Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know." Well said. I share those words because I want to emphasize the fact that we have many freedoms that are taken for granted, most notably the freedom of the aviation industry.

What does flying and freedom have in common? A lot, actually. Someone who has a private pilot certificate, essentially equivalent to a driver's license, can go to their local airport, hop in an airplane, and go flying wherever they want and whenever they want, as long as no restricted airspace is violated. That person doesn't have to ask permission, nor tell anyone where he is going. Granted, there are certain designated areas where aircraft may not fly, and the law-abiding pilot community is very conscientious about respecting those boundaries.

The U.S. aviation infrastructure is also an example to the world, thanks to the capitalist, free-enterprise system we currently enjoy. Travel to any airport in the world, and you will most likely see a U.S.-manufactured airplane sitting on the ramp. Cessna and Piper, and now Cirrus, are three major aircraft manufacturers who deliver aircraft all over the world.

The training portion of the U.S. aviation industry is also second-to-none. People all over the world come to the U.S. to learn how to fly. This is possible because of the quality of training, which has been developed over the years due to the input of industry experts who have a passion for flight, and for sharing that with others. The constitutional freedoms we enjoy as pilots allow us to truly enjoy our trade.

Let me expand upon flight instruction. My status as an instructor provides the opportunity to share my passion with others. When I provide training, I must abide by industry mandated standards, but my constitutional freedoms recognized by, but not given by, the government, give me latitude on how I teach those standards. When I get to the portion of training where my students learn how to navigate, I pick an airport, then take that student there for lunch - all without having to ask big brother. Not only am I providing a service, but I am also patronizing a reputable business that is also providing a service.

Every time I venture aloft, I marvel at the beautiful landscape. As I cherish the empty sky that my airplane and I occupy, I reflect upon the fact that this great country allows me to enjoy the view without the stress of making sure my "papers" are completed properly. I imagine what it was like for those who took to the skies to defend this great land. Finally, I thank God that mankind has been given the ability to fly, and that I live in the United States.

Happy 4th!

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