In many ways it feels like we’ve been living the words from the popular musical “Hamilton” in Act 1. According to legend, which is further propagated in the Broadway production, the British army band played an English ballad entitled “The World Turned Upside Down” during their retreat at Yorktown in 1781.
The siege of 2020, too, has turned many worlds upside down.
If you’re like me and plenty of others, your 2020 plans were severely rerouted or outright grounded. For a pilot in the pre-COVID days, a go/no-go decision was focused on evaluating the weather and doing the IMSAFE self-assessment on your fitness to fly. Now we can add a few more considerations: virus hotspots and what quarantine mandates exist at your home base and at the destination. Maybe someone cleverer than me can come up with a catchy acronym for that.
Presently, my home state of Kansas has a list of states that if you visit you must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon returning home. One of those states happens to be where my eldest daughter lives and is training with the Navy – Texas. Not that I particularly want to visit the highly COVIDized area where she lives, but any thought of visiting her is a “hard no” right now.
Another COVID casualty: my annual 10-day flying adventure to the Out Islands of the Bahamas was canceled. I was heartened to see that the country is attempting to reopen, albeit with some fairly onerous requirements, including a negative COVID-19 test within the last 10 days. If you happen to get sick while there, treatment and travel back to the United States could be tricky. As much as the country depends on tourism dollars for its survival, I know I’m not alone in choosing not to take the risk just yet.
Some pilots have come up with creative ways to keep current on their skills and buttonology during the pandemic. Owner-pilot Suraj Nagaraj has created an amazing home simulator that has recreated his G1000 Meridian cockpit. He did it using X-Plane 11 flight simulator, three 50-inch HDTVs, a computer with a fast processor and good video card, and RealSimGear G1000 hardware. Carenado offers software expansion packs that cover a wide variety of airframes. According to Suraj, it is a great way to retain currency and keep from going bonkers during the pandemic.
Aviation events are turned upside down, too. It was heartbreaking but not surprising when AirVenture Oshkosh was canceled, followed by AOPA, NBAA, and others. MMOPA, the organization I helm, had postponed its spring convention in Tucson until September. That was before a mushroom cloud of COVID formed over Arizona, leading us to cancel the event.
But with adversity comes opportunity. Every organization and company is re-inventing how we can connect, communicate and share knowledge. EAA held a virtual Oshkosh that featured a virtual expo and a robust schedule of streamed and on-demand content. MMOPA also is planning a virtual event called MMOPA 2020 LIVE to replace the in-person convention. The event will be live-streamed with hosts broadcasting real-time and a wide variety of presentations, inspirational talks, roundtable discussions and virtual happy hours. While it’s not exactly the same as being there, the event will allow a larger number of members to participate, including a large international contingent. In fact, this may be our best attended convention ever, although it will forever have an asterisk next to it.
One thing for sure, much of this is uncharted territory. Life may never be the way it was. It will be different – maybe not worse, maybe not better. Just different. And those of us game for adapting and not fighting the turbulence are bound to come out the other side in good shape. Just as in flying, sometimes you have to deviate.
As Hamilton put it (as interpreted by Lin Manual-Miranda), “See you on the other side of the war.”