Truth and flying

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Once, after reading about the different passions which most achievers, artists and leaders have, I asked my wife what my passion was. She immediately replied: the truth.

I think she is right, but I hadn't thought of such a simple -- but, I believe, accurate -- observation.

Be it my experience in sports, education, business, government or my many years in the media business, it's the search for the truth and information to understand it that drives or upsets me. I hope and believe I've passed that on to my children.


I've used the above reflection to point out that I am devoting more time to another passion of mine: flying.

I've been flying single-engine airplanes for more than 40 years, stopping at one point when I couldn't afford it.

Sam Walton (Wal-Mart founder) flew his twin-engine Baron airplane extensively to reach all of his growing chain of stores. That impressed me: how you could manage multiple properties by limited visits with good local management.

I need to begin flying more to our many other newspapers, so I have been doing more training and studying to become a better pilot, now that I'm not involved with daily management. I flew my second trip to Oshkosh, Wis., for the 560,000-plus attended air show in late July. There were more than 300 educational seminars, the air museum and exhibits to check out plus videos, equipment and airplane avionics. It was fun and educational.

On Aug. 12 Wendy and I flew to Wichita, Kan., for me to participate in a three-day recurrent simulator school (I did a five-day initial course a year ago) training program at FlightSafety International. The program is intense as you sit in a Bonanza simulator with the same controls and aviation panel as in the airplane I fly, a G36 Bonanza.

The instructor has you load flight plans and fly the realistic airplane simulator in conditions he can alter -- and does: 200-foot ceilings, strong cross winds, turbulence, engine out, fire in the cockpit, avionic panels going blank with electrical failure, missed approaches when the ceiling is too low, holding patterns.

Then there is further ground school, requiring nighttime studies, to better understand the mechanical and electrical components of the airplane itself. This is not my passion nor interest, but it is important enough if you want to be a good pilot.


In late September Wendy and I flew to Denver to an Inland Press Association newspaper executives meeting. We stopped over in Kansas City on the return flight to look at the new Kansas City Star newspaper building and the economic development in downtown Kansas City.

We took a short drive to Powell Gardens, about 40 miles east of Kansas City, to see the gardens and buildings designed by the architect of our home, Maurice Jennings.

Only the flexibility and time savings of flying made these stops possible. Besides, I enjoy flying.

Speaking of flying, I enjoyed the open house Sunday of the Southeast Missouri Modelers Association. The enthusiasts have built an attractive facility with a 450-foot runway northeast of Cape Girardeau at the old landfill. It's a learned skill to fly these models in acrobatics.


The Tour of Missouri is a success by any standard: "Two months after cycling's latest rash of doping scandals, the Tour of Missouri played to huge, enthusiastic throngs last week."

That quote is not from a local paper trying to make Governor Blunt look good. It is from Sports Illustrated, which has no Missouri political bias that we know of. In fact, a quick Google search shows hundreds of positive mentions in newspapers like the New York Times, cycling blogs and sports magazines.

While the very few vocal critics can't seem to stomach any Missouri success under a governor they personally hate, the truth is that Missouri's leadership made all the right moves to bring a blockbuster event to our state. The wise combination of state tourism effort combined with incredible support from private corporations allowed the event to get off the ground. The cooperation between the state, from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to the highway department and the tour organizers helped make it run smoothly.

Someone will eventually add up all the financial benefits the tour brought to Missouri, and we have no doubt they will be significant. But financial success was not the only benefit. Missouri stands better today in the eyes of thousands of cycling competitors, workers and fans. We had our turn on the world stage, and received a standing ovation.

-- (Columbia, Mo.) Daily Tribune blog


State releases September 2007 general revenue report: Commissioner of administration Mike Keathley announced recently that 2008 fiscal year-to-date net general revenue collections compared to 2007 have increased by 3.8 percent, from $1.84 billion to $1.91 billion.

Net general revenue collections for September 2007 increased by 5.8 percent compared to those for September 2006, from $741.2 million to $784.1 million.

Keathley noted that collections thus far are ahead of the pace needed to ensure available funds for the current budget. The strength of the first quarter is due in part to a healthy increase in individual income tax revenue, reflecting the growth in Missouri's job market and the results of pro-jobs policies. However, the national economy is clouded by uncertainty resulting from the struggles of the housing and financial markets the last several weeks. Should these difficulties spill over into the broader economy, Missouri's revenue growth may begin to reflect these general market conditions.

-- From a news release


Blunt's Missouri accountability portal reaches millionth milestone: Gov. Matt Blunt has lauded the overwhelming response to the Missouri Accountability Portal created to shine the light on state spending.

Since launching the new Internet site on July 10, there have been over a million visits on the site. MAP averages over 21,000 hits per day as of Sept. 4.

"The initial response to the Missouri Accountability Portal has been outstanding," Blunt said. "Missourians deserve to know where their money goes and how state government is spending their tax dollars. That is why my administration has been committed to making your state government more efficient and accountable."

The Missouri Accountability Portal is one of the first comprehensive databases of financial records based on real-time data in the nation. The MAP site is updated at the close of each business day to provide up-to-date access to information about state spending. Users can search the MAP site by budget category, vendor or contract. Links to other public information maintained by the state are also available on the MAP site.

The MAP Internet site is being constantly updated to provide even more information to taxpayers. Information on state tax credits issued by the Department of Economic Development will be online next month. Additionally, state employees' salaries will be available in a user-friendly database beginning Jan. 1.

You can visit the MAP site at mapyourtaxes.mo.gov.

-- From a news release

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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