I really got fired up this year to get a sport pilot's certificate after attending my second AirVenture in July. I also took a buddy with me and he also got fired up at his first AirVenture. We made an agreement that both of us would have our sport pilot cert by the 2011 AirVenture.
The road to getting involved in aviation has been rather interesting. Initially I wanted to try Powered Parachute flying. It looked like a lot of fun after watching the PPCs at Oshkosh. However, it has been almost impossible to find a PPC CFI in this area. The closest person I could locate, in Louisville, Kentucky (abotu 2 hours away) can no longer instruct since the aircraft he was using can no longer be used starting this year because of rule changes by the FAA and he cannot afford to buy a new SLSA PPC to instruct in. I cannot buy a PPC yet so I don't have anything to use either.
Finally I found a guy in Tennessee who has a PPC, but that is about a 4 1/2 hour drive so that is going to be quite a challenge to have to travel back and forth with work, family, etc.
So I thought I would try trikes. I found a great local instructor - guy in incredible - but he does not have a trike and we have to rely on finding people willing to let us use theirs and that has been quite a challenge. I have almost 3 hours in the trike, but now have not been able to train for 2 weeks and who know the next availability.
Then my buddy and I are trying to join the local EAA chapter. I am in Cincinnati and he lives in Minneapolis. My local chapter says to just come to the next meeting. I did, but the chapter moved the location to a member's house to see his project plane. No notice on the door of the usual meeting spot and no notice on the website. I even emailed the chapter president prior to the meeting to confirm the meeting date, time and location, but no response until after the meeting and not even a apology. There were also four other people who showed up at the usual meeting site.
I sent a note to the webmaster for the chapter site who now lives out of the area, and he offered an apology because he was not able to get the notice on the website in time. The president emailed me a few days later and said he was out of town. The webmaster said he would have me added to their email announcement list, but I still have not received any notices of activities so I am hesitate to waste another day or evening going to something noted on the website for fear of another change.
My buddy in Minneapolis has tried contacting his local chapter and has not received a response.
Where does this bring me. Well on my last trike instruction, we flew into a county airport. My instructor and the local airport manager were telling me how years ago the place was loaded with planes and activity - especially on the weekends. The place looked like a ghost town now. Nice facility, but only a couple of planes and no activity except my instructor and me.
Kind of gave me the opinion that I was trying to get into an activity that is dying. But I have not given up, but I do have reduced enthusiasm and wonder if I can meet our goal of finishing by next July.
I think EAA is an excellent organization and marvel at how well the AirVenture is managed and run. But I have a suggestion. If general aviation is to grow, EAA needs to focus on supporting and growing sport pilot training. I looked at for a city of our size, there are not many choices, availability and access for much of anything beyond training for a Private Pilot Cert.
Second, if we want people to get interested and grow that interest, EAA chapters have to be more responsive and organized. Not sure how other chapters are run across the country, but the two that my buddy and I have had exposure to have not given us much cause for feeling welcomed.