Next up in the series is Marvin Smith. I've had the privilege of Marvin's acquaintance via Twitter. He aptly self-describes as a graphic designer from Austin, who loves airplanes more than most things in the world. So much so that he created youlikeairplanestoo.com as a place to share aviation-related media. Already acquainted with Marvin? Than maybe you'll learn a few new tidbits, or if you don't know him, allow me to introduce him:
When did you first discover your passion for the aviation community? I've certainly had a passion for aviation since I was 3 or so, however, I only feel I've really been a part of the aviation community for the last year or two. After starting my website over a year ago, I quickly discovered that there were many people just as plane-crazy as me -- which was an awesome discovery. This first became apparent to me upon the creation of my website persona's Twitter account. Slowly but surely I found or stumbled across like-minded pilots, spotters, private companies, and enthusiasts with a passion for aviation and the aviation community at large. My passion was further enhanced upon my arrival to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend AirVenture 2010 last Summer. Never had I met a kinder, more enthusiastic and genuine group of people who all had one thing in common -- a love for aviation. I found that aviation lovers in general will jump at the chance to talk about their passion, offer you a ride in their aircraft, answer your questions, and do anything they can to foster and nurture a person's interest in aviation. Experiencing all of this and meeting various aviation lovers over the last year or so has made the time very special for me.
Do you or have you had an aviation hero? Who? It's hard to come up with just one hero or person in aviation whom I really admire, but I must say, after having read North Star Over My Shoulder, I was instantly a fan of Bob Buck and the life he spent in the aviation world. It should be required reading for anyone who even remotely likes airplanes.
In your opinion what makes you or someone an aviation geek (avgeek) or propeller head (prophead)? I don't think there's too many requirements for considering yourself or someone else an "avgeek" or "prophead." In my case, I came to the realization years ago. It was clear to me that I loved airplanes more than most things in life. Family and friends of course will hold the #1 spot, but right behind them is airplanes. I've never seen an airplane I didn't like, I absolutely must look up if I hear one, and given the chance I'll talk airplanes for hours. I suspect that these three traits are not unique to me and I'd consider anyone who shares even one of them an "avgeek."
Why do you recommend that your friends and family become avgeeks or propheads? I generally don't try to force my love of aviation onto others, but if they show even the slightest interest in airplanes or aviation in general it's off to the airport we go! Here in Austin I think spotters are pretty lucky in that there are several excellent spotting areas to go to around the airport depending on the weather. I've found that airplane spotting and being able to get close to the airplanes really piques someone's interest when they've previously never been able to witness aviation from that perspective. In this case, I like to take people to one of my favorite spots where the airplanes pass overhead at close distance as they're coming in to land. The sound of the engines and the rush of turbulent air followed by the whistle of the landing aircraft's wake often leaves the newcomer grinning and wide-eyed. "Welcome to my world," I say. It's a wonderful feeling to know that I've planted a seed of interest in that person.
What are the biggest challenges facing the aviation industry today, in your opinion? Since I'm not employed in the industry it's hard for me to speak about the challenges the aviation industry faces. However, I think most aviation lovers would agree that interest in general aviation has been waning in recent years and there's been an effort on the part of many in the industry to boost interest, especially in the younger generations. Documentaries like One Six Right have shed light on the fact that we're losing scores of general aviation airports every year. And that, of course is cause for concern. Those who love the industry and work in it see the benefits of general aviation very clearly, whereas many politicians and policy makers do not. And that's probably the biggest source of adversity for aviation in general and is something I think the aviation community-at-large is trying to make the general population more aware of.
Take flight, share something about yourself that you don't think was covered in these questions... I suppose that's enough out of me. I'll take this opportunity to thank you Stephanie for letting me expound on my love of aviation and look forward to reading others responses. I always enjoy meeting and talking to other self-professed "avgeeks" and the chance to geek-out about airplanes is always one I try not to let slip by.
Do you agree with Marvin on the challenges facing private (general) aviation? How do you think these challenges could be overcome? Have you plane spotted in the Austin, Texas area?