It’s About People

FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff
4 min readJul 8, 2022

By David Boulter, FAA’s Acting Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety


When you read about any of the many recurring air shows that take place around the country each year, there’s always plenty of enthusiasm for the aircraft and, yes, the air show itself. But if you ask people why they come at all, much less as repeat visitors, you will hear a recurring phrase: I really come for the people!

There is great power in diverse teams with members who can bring a variety of interests, knowledge, skills, and perspectives to any endeavor.

That rings true because air shows have the near-magical power to bring all kinds of people together in a harmonious way. When you are with people who share your love for aviation, the only disagreements worth discussing are a preference for high-wing versus low-wing or maybe the old chestnut about whether pitch controls altitude or airspeed. But we all put even these good-natured debates aside to watch every takeoff, assign a friendly “grade” to every landing, and watch the air show aerobatics with awe. We also take the opportunity these gatherings provide to reconnect with far-flung flying friends. It really is all about the people.

People Make It Work

Please keep that in mind as you read the articles in this issue’s “All About Air Shows” theme. People working together for a common purpose are the only way anything gets done. There is great power in diverse teams with members who can bring a variety of interests, knowledge, skills, and perspectives to any endeavor.

The work and dedication of such teams are exactly what it takes to make the magic of fly-ins and air shows happen safely. In this issue of FAA Safety Briefing, the magazine team takes you behind the curtain to meet some of the people whose painstaking work is essential. FAA employees assigned to air show duties, from preparation to execution to follow-up, come from a wide range of specialties and backgrounds. Event organizer staff are similarly diverse. Events themselves are becoming more diverse as well, especially with the advent of activities like drone racing.

Photo collage.

Don’t Be That Person …

Especially after the pandemic-related shutdowns, attendance at air shows is up. That’s great. But if you are flying your own airplane to the event, your vigilance needs to go up as well. Unless you found a way to personal frequent flying during that time, you are likely to be a bit rusty. Even if your own skills are sharp, be mindful that you may be sharing both the skies and the show grounds with a few out-of-practice pilots. To avoid falling into that category yourself, hire an instructor for some refresher training before you go, and take a look at the tips the magazine team has assembled in this issue.

The bottom line is simple. If every pilot who takes part in these events does their part to make it all work, we can all enjoy everything an air show has to offer — including the people!

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This article was originally published in the July/August 2022 issue of FAA Safety Briefing magazine.
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FAA Safety Briefing
Cleared for Takeoff

Official FAA safety policy voice for general aviation. The magazine is part of the national FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam).