Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Author David McCullough provides advice from history

Others brief NBAA gathering on upcoming events

Best-selling author and historian David McCullough, author of The Wright Brothers, shared lessons from the first men to fly a powered airplane with attendees of the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Florida.

David McCullough

McCullough said the brothers’ hard work ethic that was learned at home left a valuable lesson for future generations. In a question-and-answer session the author, who has met with presidents and written about others, expressed doubts about presidential candidate Donald Trump. His opposition was hardly new. In July McCullough told the New York Times that Trump was a "monstrous clown with a monstrous ego." McCullough also appears on a Facebook page along with filmmaker Ken Burns called “Historians on Donald Trump.”

Here are excerpts from his formal remarks, which included no references to the presidential race. His purpose was to draw lessons from the Wright brothers for present-day achievements.

“No bird ever soared in a calm. In other words, you have to have the wind in your face.”

“Yes, we have very serious problems; yes, we have to address them, and yes we have to address them in a unified spirit, not by shouting names at each other and labeling whoever disagrees with us our enemy. It doesn’t work that way."

“Think how hard our predecessors, our ancestors, worked in their lives, and very often with the idea of what it would mean to all of us, their descendants. And that’s something you learn at home.”

“Every time the Wright brothers went up on a test flight they knew they had a very good chance of being killed.”

“One of the lessons of [the Wright brothers] is what they demonstrated with their lives—a lesson in how to live. They lived with purpose. The father preached that to them. Have a purpose. Have a mission. Don’t worry about how well you are going to do financially. If you love what you’re doing, that is the best reward that work can provide.”

“We’re raising young people who are in a very realistic way historically illiterate. What they don’t know is unbelievable.”   

“Be very skeptical, be very cautious, about any prospective leader who’s never experienced failure, who’s never made a mistake, because failure—mistakes—are part of life.”

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)

Also speaking to an opening session was Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), who indicated that while he has “no idea” what will happen in the upcoming election next week, current counts—he didn’t say who did the counting—show Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives, although there are contested races once thought safe for Republicans, and perhaps retain the Senate, but by only two seats. He said the situation is “changing by the hour.”

FAA reauthorization will be “right at the top of list” when Congress returns in January after a lame-duck session. The FAA bill will be taken up probably in February, he said.

In an earlier presentation, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske noted that CBP launched the General Aviation Working Group last year, bringing together AOPA, the National Air Transportation Association, and NBAA. He said work by the group has resulted in no longer shutting down auxiliary power units during all inspections. He said he is aware that Global Entry kiosks are not yet available at many facilities. Ways to utilize mobile and trusted traveler technology are under review to see if it is possible to speed security clearances. He said CBP is willing to explore processing of after-hours general aviation flights.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske

He noted that a new General Aviation Operators Guide will replace the obsolete Private Flyers’ Guide.

He also mentioned efforts on pilot programs under consideration, both of which would leverage APIS. “One program would address the Southern Border Overflight Exemption by going paperless—using APIS as the electronic method for submitting data.” This would allow compliant operators to go to an inland airport where CBP services are available and landing rights have been granted. He said CBP is in a better position to consider such a change.

“A second pilot program we are considering, a Single Syntax APIS Solution, would let all unscheduled private and commercial GA operators to interact with CBP through a singular mechanism in APIS,” he said. This would consolidate disparate regulatory and policy processes for operators who operate both private and commercial aircraft.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.
Topics: National Business Aviation Association

Related Articles