Hi guys, interesting topic. I would agree with Russ on taking too much from Google trends. The News is a business first and foremost and big headlines get a lot of attention which sells a lot of "toothpaste". In the good old days, newspapers made a lot of $ off "Lucky Lindy" and just about anything to do with flying. In those days plane crashes were common and the equipment was not very reliable. Covering aircraft crashes became an easy source of revenue and part of the news culture. The only thing that has changed is everybody flies via the airlines today and there is no story in going out to any major airport (class C or B) and interview the passengers on their flight experience. That only happens if something goes wrong...like holding a plane load of people on the ramp for many hours, or a shoe bomber incident. Death, destruction, and sex still bring the big audience, the internet hasn't changed that set of facts.
Aviation as a community has been dealing with this issue since day one, we can and should continue to "advertise" the positive thru human interest stories like the "Douglas World Cruiser" or somebody's garage project. Maybe some of you homebuilders can get your wives or girl friends into a bikini or less and have them pose in front of your new homebuilt. That might put the story on the front page if your married to Paris Hilton!
The only thing I can say to John is that the world has changed considerably, maybe the kids in China will be running out to their local airports. We are seeing a shirking of the middle class in this country and there is nothing going on in our culture that is going to turn that around. I watched a TV program called "Digital Nation" the other night and it looks like the new Air Force will be flying drones using "pilots" from the video arcades. I don't know if thats good or bad, it's just different.