Altruism vs Novel Coronavirus

This originally started out to be a paean to Patrick’s Day, and where we were going to spend it, in Hawai’i. The subject, or title, of this piece took care of that. How the novel coronavirus affects aviation, or at least my small part in aviation, will be the topic of this month’s rant.

There are few things that bring people in such intimate contact as flying. General aviation airplanes are small, confined spaces. Sometimes, depending on the size of individuals, shoulders rub, elbows bump, legs touch while you’re flying. To maintain proper social distancing, one person (i.e. the student, ’cause I sure as hell ain’t gonna do it) would have to dangle from a strut or squat on a wing – neither of which are conducive to flight training, not to mention hazardous to the danglee’s, or squatee’s, health.

So, what are we flight instructors to do? A friend proposed cell phone to cell phone “face time” flight training wherein the instructor would fly an airplane, alone, whilst demonstrating maneuvers to the student, on the ground, watching on her or his phone on face time. It might be hard to convince a student that such a method would be worthy of payment, let alone convince the student that he or she would also have to pay for the rental of the airplane.

In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, are we in general aviation flight training being socially responsible? A disinterested observer would scream, “NO.” So, what are we to do? This is the hard part.

In a number of states, including California where I live, bars are closed, restaurants are closed except for take out or drive through, non-essential businesses are closed. Bar and restaurant owners, and bar and restaurant workers, are taking it in the shorts to keep the rest of us safe. The airlines are getting clobbered. Hotels are on their knees. Casinos are shuttered. Tourist destinations are deserted. What are flight instructors doing? Spitting, sneezing, and coughing in society’s face. Hence, please note the following definition:

Altruism, n. 1. The principle or practice of unselfish concern or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism, e.g. the preeminent example of egoism in our troubled times, Donald Trump). 2. Animal Behavior. Behavior by an animal that may be to its disadvantage but that benefits others of its kind, as a warning cry that reveals the location of the caller to a predator.

So, Gentle Reader, it behooves us, as flight instructors, as persons responsible for the lives of others, to behave altruistically, and call a moratorium on flight training until such time as this novel coronavirus pandemic stops growing.

This could not come at a worse time for me, personally. My wife works in the restaurant industry, other family members work in restaurants. Hours have been reduced for some, and others have been laid off, perhaps because people are no longer eating in restaurants.

We had planned to vacation in Kona and Ka’anapali. We cancelled our trip because, while we really, really needed our holiday, we may not have been able to pay for it.

So, we don’t have a lot of income at this time. And postponing all flight training will cost me a lot more income.

Nonetheless, it’s something that a socially responsible person must do. Check in next month and see how it all works out. Gosh, I hope we’ll be alright.

Posted in Rants