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#164 “Them what can, do”

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I recently received a message from a friend across the Atlantic.  Earlier he had sought my help in defending himself from prosecutors who were after him for water-skiing his airplane.  I did a bit of research and found that this guy was far more qualified than I was.  In his message, he let me know that his trial for waterskiing in his airplane had gone forward.  He had emerged successful and the judge hadn’t even allowed the prosecution to finish their

While shooting a video for the Journal, I spotted an irrigation ditch and used it to wash the tires. (photo by Bert Garrison)


accusations before dismissing all charges.  I’m somewhat relieved.  Now if only all such matters could be settled with the same amount of level-headedness.  I’m sure they won’t… because “Them that can, do; them that can’t do, teach; and them that can’t do and can’t teach, govern”.

I consider myself a liberal, politically, on many issues.  But there is one issue in particular where I tend to side with my more conservative friends.  It’s about the size and power of government.  As an aviator I have some knowledge.  If there had been an FAA when the Wright Brothers flew, they wouldn’t have.  Some fed would have told them that they needed a Field Approval, not to mention seatbelts, but he wouldn’t have wanted to stick his own neck out to sign that form 337.  When Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, the precursor of the FAA was only a year old.  Otherwise, they probably would have stopped him at Roosevelt Field because an airplane from which you couldn’t see forward surely couldn’t be legal and WHY would you want to carry that much fuel?  Hmmm, must be a terrorist.

John F. Kennedy and both of his brothers paraphrased George Bernard Shaw as saying, “You see things as they are and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’ ”

That special quality which causes some people to say “Why not” or to simply wonder “what if…” is one of the things that sets such people apart from the flock.  But they are the ones who so often attract the negative attentions of the bureaucrat.

You know where I’m going with this.  Untold thousands of innovators and inventors would have been stopped had they been forced to deal with the regulations which now are regularly used to trip us up.

An example of an aviator whose imagination enabled him to ask “why not” and whose flying skill made him capable of pulling it off. The late Jimmy Franklin.

Geoffrey de Havilland’s last name wouldn’t be attached to as many great airplanes.  Nor would Igor Sikorsky’s or William Boeing’s or Lloyd Stearman’s.

The current flap over un-manned aerial vehicles, is partly a result of enforcement people crying, “Wait, no!  We have to regulate that!  What about our power???”

We witnessed these “Whuffos” exercising their power when they succeeded for a while in grounding the greatest aviator who had ever flown, Bob Hoover.  The guy who had fought to guarantee their right to wield that power and escaped from an enemy prison… by stealing an enemy airplane… was grounded because a couple of Whuffos in polyester pants said he was incompetent.

The "Pilot's pilot", Bob Hoover, this picture taken back when the T28 was new.
The “Pilot’s pilot”, Bob Hoover. This picture was taken back when the T28 was new.

Yep, I’ll admit that I’m pretty fond of that old wheeze, “Them what knows, does; them what don’t know, teaches; them what can’t do and can’t teach, govern.”  Does that sound as true to you as it does to me?