Flying Without GPS: The Old Way Just Doesn’t Cut It by Neal Pearson

I want to recount something that happened to me on a recent flight to Denver. This flight originated in Watertown, South Dakota, with a stop in Pierre. Here is where things became interesting. After an additional 14 people had boarded and a little time elapsed, the captain shut down
the plane’s engines. Now having flown numerous times, not once on any of those flights did the plane’s engines ever shut off. A passenger then said, “must be saving fuel.” I thought to myself, not likely.

After a considerable amount of time, the pilot came on the intercom and told us the computer that runs the GPS system was not working, but not to worry, we will still make the flight to Denver employing Flintstone navigation. For those that don’t remember the Flintstones, and in particular Fred, I now began to worry, because Fred Flintstone had a way of getting lost on almost every adventure he ever took. The pilot’s statement of using landmarks to get to Denver seemed logical, but he forgot one thing that made this seem an impossible accomplishment; that one forgotten thing was the cloud cover. The landmarks that I presumed he was going to use were interstate highways and rivers; both of which could be seen from 30,000 feet. Having flown over this area and driven through it, I know that both landmarks run east to west. When the cloud cover cleared and I looked down, I saw as we flew over one of the rivers that we were in a perpendicular position to the river; course correction occurred. The next landmark was Interstate 80, but this splits off to I-76. Yep, we followed I-80 for a while. Soon realizing the mistake, we altered our course again. This time, we found I-76. Hurray! We’re on the right path to Denver.

Much like a plane’s GPS system is critical to fly the correct course under heavy cloud cover, the annual meeting works to steer the AGA in the correct direction for the success of the AGA membership and customers. Because, in a way, this meeting sets the GPS for the AGA
staff and AGA Board of Directors to pursue the correct course. The committee meetings, the discussion and actions taken are and always have been the guideline for the future of the AGA.

Another critical function of the annual meeting is the election of AGA Board of Directors members. By and thru, this process brings fresh ideas and ways of looking at things. So I encourage everyone to read the board candidate bios, cast your vote in person and vote for the candidates that you feel can best serve, navigate and land the AGA into the future. As the pilot pointed out, following the old way is not the best, because it is a way to get off course.