HIT THE SKIES: How To Help Your Kids Develop Optimism

Published on March 1, 2017

By Captain Dave Funk
Clash Daily Contributor

One of the things I love about ClashDaily.com is its hard-hitting news, mixed in with articles on life. Last night’s address to a Joint Session of Congress by President Trump reminded me of how optimism in our lives can pave the way for our success. After forty-plus year as a pilot, I have met some interesting characters along the way; several of them have been what we in aviation call “Airport Bums”, every one of those Airport Bums has been an optimist.

Do you want to raise your kid’s to be optimistic, successful, and well-adjusted adults? When they grow up, kids that are able to deal with life’s ups and downs, make good decisions, and accept responsibility for those decisions? Then take them to the airport and get them flying lessons and let them meet and hopefully become friends with the local Airport Bums.

Airport Bums are the old pilots hanging around the airport in retirement; they are an important part of aviation’s culture that has been with us from its early days. Those men, and of late increasingly, women, like me have survived life in the skies, not just getting by in life, but actually living life, learning to make decisions that could have easily have killed them had they chosen poorly. Pilots have seen sunrises and sunsets on top of the clouds, viewed the earth from a few hundred feet up to tens of thousands of feet in the air; pilots became very methodical in how they approach not only flying, but life in general, planning each flight and the flying each plan.


Those Airport Bums might be like the old welder in Nebraska that survived a bail out in WWII during a raid on the Ploesti Oil Fields when his B24 was shot down, later escaping from a German POW Camp and eluding the German soldiers for thirteen months who were hunting for him. Or it might be the woman aerobatic champion now living and still flying in Florida, who shocked the world by being the first woman to beat all the men in multiple competitions. Perhaps it’s the old F4 Phantom pilot, who flew combat missions in Vietnam, and then went on to a long and successful career as a corporate pilot in Western Tennessee.

Those are just a few examples of the Airport Bums I have known. From 41,000 feet, it’s obvious to me that we should all be lucky enough to retire to the airport, getting to watch the next generation of young pilots learn to fly, growing up as optimistic adults, able to make good decisions while flying, and in life.

photo credit: Modified from The Library of Congress Lieutenant “Mike” Hunter, Army pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC) via photopin (license)

2nd photo: Author’s 1946 Stinson 108 airplane

dave-funkCaptain Dave Funk: Constitutionalist, hunter, dad and patriot, Dave has retired as both a US Army attack helicopter pilot and a Boeing 757 International Captain for Northwest Airlines; Dave has spent most of the last few years piloting US Department of Defense special mission aircraft in the “Sandbox”. With a unique perspective on the world that comes from thousands of hours at 41,000 feet, his ability to explain complex aviation question in simple terms has earned him guest commentator spots on most major TV and radio networks.

Share if you agree exposure to flying and pilots could provide helpful life lessons for our kids.