It Never Hurts to Ask

Paul Bowers

Often, there’s an inverse relationship between age and curiosity. Kids have a million and one questions. They continually ask Why? How? and What if?. Adults typically say, “That’s just the way it is,” and move on without additional thought or discussion. 

But not always.

Last month, I attended the Airfield Operations Technology Summit at Hawthorne Municipal Airport, hosted by Team Eagle. Many of the speakers were from other industries, and they discussed solutions such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality that could potentially be applied to aviation. Based on the Q&A at the end of each session, it sounded as if elementary school students were in the audience. The questions were endless. And fruitful! Clearly, the presenters had pulled back the curtain and opened a window of possibilities. Attendees wanted more. 

Many label the airport industry as “risk-averse.” There’s a lot of following and duplicating taking place, and that’s understandable given the safety implications involved. But to be fair, there’s also some pretty significant innovation happening that would make any inquisitive third grader proud. 

Charleston International deserves kudos for being the first U.S. airport to install new technology that locates gunshots fired in the public side of the terminal. Ontario International deserves credit for looking past the immediacy of a lounge RFP to also find a solution for parking. And then there’s Milwaukee Mitchell International, my home airport, taking a chance on people who get few breaks and becoming the first in the industry to partner with Goodwill Industries on an internship program. These three projects, plus others worth emulating, are all in this issue. I hope you enjoy them.

Innovative airport programs deserve to be congratulated and shared. We all owe a hearty Thank You to the people who have enough curiosity to ask questions and make them realities. 


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