Reminiscing… The summer before my Senior year I went on a trip to Washington D.C. with one of “those” groups (Presidential Classroom, to be exact). We spent the entire time in Washington attending various gigs around town, exploring the sites, meeting with Congresspeople, and having town hall-like meetings with important people in and out of the Administration (trust me it’s not as exciting as it sounds).
On one occasion, the then Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, now retired, graced us with his presence. He talked about, among other things, where he was and what he did on 9/11. After his brief yap, we were allowed to ask questions.
Being that I was, at the time, extremely interested in becoming an Aerospace Engineering, I thought it would be neat to ask the Secretary of Transportation a question.
My first question regarded how the Dept. of Transportation and the FAA were working with a civilian organization trying to attain access to space. My backup question was, “What steps are the Department of Transportation and FAA taking to promote the advancement of America’s airway system? Including the fostering of new technologies to promote new aircraft that would replace the current aging fleet of aircraft operated by American air carriers.”
Now, Norman Mineta is old, like really old, senile even, so, it wasn’t surprising that his answer veered off course and he started talking about air traffic controllers and what the Dept. of Transportation and the FAA were doing to ensure the Air Traffic System in the United States remained in some sort of operational state into the future. Now, I also understand how he could have misunderstood my question, but the fact is I wanted to know what the Dept. of Transportation and FAA were doing to ensure that the aging fleet of aircraft operated in the United States would be duly replaced by planes with newer, advanced, and better technologies under stricter safety guidelines.
Suffice it to say, the Dept. of Transportation and the FAA were doing absolutely nothing to thwart the onslaught of problems that occur with the age of any ‘thing’. It’s common sense to understand that while one person aging to 80 has problems that can be dealt with by the system, but 1,000 people aging to 80 have a greater amount of problems stressed upon the system likely making it harder to deal with and a greater preponderance of individuals will pass through the system without getting fixed.
Using the above analogy, I at 15 years of age understood the problems of the future 5 years before the FAA decides to lift a finger in order ensure planes don’t start falling out of the sky because they are old.