As the State of Illinois debates selling advertising on license plates (Seriously, they are. Like, "The Land of Lincoln, Lincoln, Better Carpeting for Less.") I would like to establish a campaign of my own. A campaign against drivers advertising they're dorks via their license plates. You've seen them. The vanity plates you love to hate. Some are funny. Others simply display how an innocent attempt at cool can go terribly wrong.
The ones I love to hate the most are the ones about flying. Here's a photo my husband sent me the other day. It ranks right up there with the license plate holder that says, "I'd Rather Be Flying" or the bumper sticker that says "My Other Car is an Airplane." Nothing screams "loser" much louder. Do these people really think anyone out there cares they're really a pilot, but today they're just disguised as a Camry driver, slumming it up on the Kennedy with the rest of us lowly earthbound folks? These are the dorks that give the rest of us flying dorks a bad name. I'll bet they still actually use those flight instrument coasters. (Okay, self-disclosure. Yes, I have them, too. But they were a gift. I haven't used them in 20 years. And I gave that Cessna piston ashtray to my brother-in-law.)
I'm reminded of a Captain who got vanity plates for his wife. They said, "CZI." And she never knew what hit her. That, I thought, is funny. Funny and cool. Cool, because only a real pilot would get it and for anyone else who saw the license plate, a pretty benign message. "Perhaps they're her initials?" an observer might think. To explain to the non-pilots out there, navigation aids called VOR's are given three letter identifiers. For example, "ORD" is the identifier for the VOR at O'Hare, "AVE "is the identifier of the Avenal VOR, over Avenal, California and CZI is the identifier for a VOR in Wyoming called, "Crazy Woman."
So if you want to advertise you're a flying dork, put "IFLYDUU" on your license plate and whip out your runway beach towel at Oak Street this summer. The rest of us will try hard not to roll our eyes too obviously, the way everyone in surrounding states like Wisconsin and Iowa surely will if they see us driving through with our Illinois Peace license plates advertising Dove soap.