There has been a lot of talk recently about the looming pilot shortage. The high cost of training and poor pay at many regional airlines are two potential causes. However I believe there is a serious contributing factor that has so far been completely overlooked – and it’s lurking in your child’s toy box. I am, of course, talking about the deplorable selection of airport playsets available to children today. You might be asking yourself, what on earth could be wrong with an airport playset? As it turns out, quite a lot.
Are you kidding me with this?
At first glance this airport playset seems harmless enough. The construction is durable and the runway placement looks OK. There’s a cafe located right next to the airfield with no perimeter fencing in sight, but I think we can let that slide. The real trouble comes when you take a closer look at the ATC tower. No, you aren’t imagining things, that’s a dog working air traffic control! What the… ! Seriously? Who is the Tower Supervisor here? Scooby Doo? And I don’t even want to think about what is going on over at Center! Is it any wonder that a child using this play set might look over at the family pooch and think, “Screw this! No way in hell am I going to be a pilot!”
This Is All Kinds of Wrong!
There are so many issues with this next playset that I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, the runway is on top of the airport. Really? Who on earth thought this was a good idea? Even more troubling is the fact that the runway begins/ends directly in front of the ATC tower. This, coupled with the absurdly short runway length, pretty much guarantees disaster. Either planes will tumble off the edge of the airport roof, or they’ll slam into the tower. I think the designers of this toy are hoping that we’ll be so excited that the air traffic controllers are actually human we’ll overlook the fact that the airport is a death trap. Yeah… I don’t think so! You might be able to fool a one year old with this set-up, but by the time the child learns to talk his/her first words are going to be: “Pilot? NO!!!”
Seriously, What the Heck!
By now you’re probably thinking that an uncontrolled airfield would make for a better playset. You don’t have to worry about Astro working approach and the risk of carnage is a bit lower. I mean, how hard can it be to design a realistic runway with no buildings or ATC towers to deal with? Apparently too hard. Allow me to introduce you to this airfield that appears to have been added to a train set as a random afterthought. The only building in the area is a helipad which is freakishly large in comparison to the runway. And once again the runway placement is questionable. Right next to a road? Really? And why is the road longer and wider than the runway? It’s almost as if toy designers are deliberately trying to scare off future pilots.
No, Just No!
I know what you’re thinking. These airport play sets seem a bit dated. Surely modern sets are better. I thought the same thing. And then this happened. Behold the Boeing airport set purchased just a few months ago. Notice anything peculiar? How about the fact that the ground equipment is completely GINORMOUS compared to the airplanes? I mean just look at how the stairs truck towers over the Dreamliner. Now you know I love a good stairs truck, but a monster stairs truck that’s capable of trampling a large airplane? OK fine, I still love it. Most kids, however, would likely be completely confused if not downright terrified.
So What Do We Do?
Think these are isolated examples? Think again! Next time you are bored, google airport play sets. I dare you! You think canines running ATC is bad? One play set has a truck handling air traffic control. Yes, you read that correctly. A truck! Do you think Charles Lindbergh or Amelia Earhart would have taken to the skies if they had been forced to play with these nightmares disguised as toys? I don’t think so! If we’re to cultivate the next generation of pilots, it’s time to stop the madness. Contact Hasbro, Mattel, Little Tykes, American Girl Doll, your representatives in Washington, and the Pope and let them know what is going on here. While you’re at it you might want to contact the SPCA too, just in case.