I just got May's issue of AOPA's Flight Training magazine which had an article titled Pilot Myths, citing some of the most common misconceptions non-aviation folks have regarding pilots and aviation. One of the myths highlighted was the "Jets are good, props are bad" myth:
In a Small Airplane Horror Story, the small airplane can be anything from a two-seat taildragger to a 70-seat turboprop commuter aircraft.
Speaking of propellers, to the public at large, the term "prop plane" bespeaks antiquity, technical inferiority, sloth, and decay. Never mind that a prop plane may be a cutting-edge turoprop design. Nor that the configuration may suit the mission better than any other propulsion system. In the layman's view, props are old, jets are new, and that's all anyone needs to know. Pilots are judged accordingly.
- Flight Training, May 2007 pg 45
Its a great article, one aviation myth they really didn't cover the was the unfortunately named "uncontrolled field." I get a lot of looks when I use this phrase in describing some of my flights to non-towered airports. I can literally see the astonished looks in non-aviation folks eyes as they imagine airplanes just arriving all willy-nilly from different directions at an airport in complete chaos without a higher authority guiding them in. How does everyone avoid crashing into each other? Well, same way millions of people each drive around highways and streets, by relying on system of widely understood rules and conventions designed to keep everyone safe.
After a few early mistakes I learned to use the phrase "non-towered", it doesn't sound scary as "uncontrolled."
Anyway its a great read, although the article was much better at highlighting the common myths and misconceptions, but it was a little light on providing advice on how to counter them. AOPA has a great website though on how to talk to the media, which every pilot should really pay attention too. The public already has some negative perceptions regarding aviation, its every pilot's responsibility to present aviation in a positive way.