[Editor’s Note 06/11/12: It appears that a hacker busted into Patrick Smith’s “AskthePilot.com” site. I will keep an eye on the situation. For now, it might be best to avoid it just in case any nasty malware lives in the hacked site.
UPDATE 6/12/12: It looks like Patrick has booted the hacker from his site and is working to restore normal service.
UPDATE 7/25/12 – Looks like Ask The Pilot is off the ground. Congrats, Patrick, and good luck!]
If there's one thing the travel industry doesn't need, it's one less reasonable, intelligent voice.
But that's what we'll all have if Salon.com really does kill the long-running Ask the Pilot column. Patrick Smith, a 757/767 first officer, entertains and informs like few other aviators every time he publishes a new post.
Smith debunks myths. He thinks aloud about dismal destinations. He explains what really happens behind the scenes. He proves his enthusiasm for his lift aloft. He rakes the Transportation Security Theater Administration over the coals early and often.
Not good enough for Salon.com, apparently. Several readers have said that Smith has informed them of the column's imminent demise. Since he hasn't announced it himself, it makes me wonder if a strong enough Internet response can right the ship.
If not, maybe a better publication will lure Smith to continue. I never read Salon.com before discovering Ask the Pilot. I probably won't should he depart; I rarely see anything on Salon that I can't get elsewhere.
Every travel agent, airline and just about anyone in the travel industry should rise in Smith's favor. His reasonable discourses takes fear out of flying, for those that need it. It encourages curiosity and reminds us how cool it is that we can afford to fly all over the world. He's no travel industry apologist – he takes the industry to task, when warranted.
Ask the Pilot is exactly what the travel industry needs – to inform travelers and to improve itself. If the column does come to an end, we won't be better for it.
The semi-good news: You can still visit Patrick Smith at his Ask the Pilot website. Let’s hope his words land in a place where they’ll be well-read.
And if you’re eager for more writing from a pilot, check out Rand Peck: A Life Aloft.
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