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No wonder sport aviation is dying

Posted By:
James Beischel
18
Posts
7
#1 Posted: 10/2/2010 07:59:38

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.

Regards,

Duffy



Jerry Rosie
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
482
Posts
101
#2 Posted: 10/2/2010 09:08:46

I was preparing a smart axx answer in my head but, thankfully, had time to think the better of it because you make some very good points. 

The shortage of instructors is a major factor and places a large hurdle in the way of many who want to fly.  It is a hurdle not easily overcome because the road to Instructing is a long, difficult and expensive one and not many instructors are able to recoup the expense once they start instructing.  This is not very attractive to many folks unless they are really committed to advancing aviation. 

Your discontent with your local EAA chapter is, however, understandable and much easier to fix.  A welcoming hand and the encouragement that might be available from the members of  a local chapter would certainly be helpful to you in overcoming the obstacles presented by the shortage of instructors.  The only thing I can suggest is to preserver and things will begin to fall into place for you.  Folks will welcome you into the fold, help you with your training and celebrate with you when you earn that coveted piece of paper that says you are a pilot.  If you want it enough, it will happen.  Folks in aviation do need to reach out to those who are interested.

To shed a bit of light on the other side of the coin - I have offered free rides to three different folks who said they were interested in flying and in joining our chapter.  After the ride, they were never heard from again.  Maybe flying was not what they thought it was, maybe other things jumped in to take precedence, maybe I scared the devil out of them (i tried not to) but I will continue to give free rides to folks who think they want to fly and see if it develops.  We can just do our best, keep plugging away and hope for the best.

Don't give up because of a couple of bad experiences.....



Cheers, Jerry NC22375 out of 07N
Donnie Moore
5
Posts
3
#3 Posted: 10/3/2010 13:51:46

I had similar experiences. There are three EAA chapters within 20 miles of me. I e-mail the contacts listed for each of the three chapters, and never got a response from any of them. Due to lack of availability of S-LSA I ended up training in 5 different aircraft before it was all said and done. It was discouraging at times. First I couldn't find any S-LSA's in my area so I started training in a 152 at a small grass strip airport 30 miles away. Then a S-LSA came available at the same airport so I started training in that until it started having engine problems and the owner couldn't afford to get it fixed right away. After about a month of no training I was itching to fly so I took a few lessons in a 172. Then I heard about an S-LSA available at an airport about 30 miles to the East of me so I started going there, but the quality of this plane soon turned me off. Luckily the instructor in this plane knew of another S-LSA available at the downtown airport and gave me the contact for them. This finally turned out to work out and on my 40th birthday I passed my sport pilot check ride.

 

That's the Reader's Digest version. The point is to not let the obstacles make you quit on your dream of flying. There were a lot of obstacles that could have turned me away from becoming a sport pilot. A lot of people who were supposedly there to help me that didn't. In the end though I knew if I quit it would only be myself who was responsible for me not achieving my goal to fly.

 

One thing that did help me was that when I was having trouble getting stick time in an appropriate LSA I could always go back to my original instructor and the faithful 152 and get off the ground. Maybe you could look into something like this as an option. You may not be able to find the perfect fit of aircraft and instructor for a little while, but if you look you can probably find a good fit that will help keep your dream alive.



Gregory Cardinal
Homebuilder or Craftsman
19
Posts
9
#4 Posted: 10/4/2010 09:41:29

Have your friend in Minneapolis contact me at:

 

gcardinal@comcast.net

 

There are several EAA chapters in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area, some are more active than others. It is possible he may have tried outdated contact info. I will get him in touch with the appropriate people.

 

Greg



Steve DiLullo
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
92
Posts
34
#5 Posted: 10/4/2010 09:50:13

Duffy,

 

If you're in the Cincinnati area one thing you might want to look into is gyro/rotorcraft flying. While it's not something I do personally, I know from meeting local gyro pilots at our EAA meetings and fly-ins that we have more gryo CFIs here than anywhere else in the country.

 

They've organized trips up to our EAA chapter meetings at Red Stewart Airfield in Waynesville a few times and it looks to be a very active organization.

 

http://gyronation.com/cincinnati_rotorcraft.htm 

http://www.stewartsaircraft.net/ 

http://eaa284.wordpress.com/ 



My flying/training adventures: amileofrunway.blogspot.com
James Beischel
18
Posts
7
#6 Posted: 10/4/2010 10:11:18

Thanks Steve, but my interests are really with the PPC and Trikes. I don't want to "bite-off" another aircraft right now. Maybe once I master the PPC and the Trike, it will be something to try. Right now, I need to stick with what I started.

Duffy



Steve DiLullo
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
92
Posts
34
#7 Posted: 10/6/2010 09:20:25

Duffy,

No problem at all, I understand.

 

I'd still venture that you might get something worthwhile out of talking with someone at the Cincy Rotocraft group - just a semi-educated guess, but I think they might be able to connect you with some PPC/Trike people.

 



My flying/training adventures: amileofrunway.blogspot.com
Dean Billing
104
Posts
26
#8 Posted: 10/6/2010 13:42:51

Duffy's post should be required reading for the staff of all of the aviation alphabet organizations.  Every stat about General Aviation is in decline, pilot numbers, FBO's closing, fuel sales declining, aircraft sales in the tank.  EAA chapters are in decline.  I have belonged to four chapters in two states over 40 years, in CA and OR.  All of them have been little more than Good Old Boy networks.  I am in two of them now in Central Oregon.  One is in steep decline because it is controlled by people that have built one type of airplane and they have no interest in other airplanes or projects anymore.  The other chapter is more active but shrinking and is mainly old men living the last war.  The few people on that airport building aircraft don't come to the meetings.  The airport is in decline with a large amount of unsold new hangar space that will probably go into foreclosure because some developers thought there was going to be an aviation boom back in 2005 - 2007.

So what is EAA's answer, hire J. Mac McClellan, who apparently was fired by Flying, to write articles in Sport Av about spam cans and biz-jets.



Eric Witherspoon
Homebuilder or Craftsman
29
Posts
3
#9 Posted: 10/7/2010 08:54:14

If the difficulties of people in the U.S. wanting to get into aviation weren't enough, check this out:

http://www.aopa.org/advocacy/articles/2010/101005easa.html

I haven't seen anything from the EAA on this, but maybe I've just missed it.  Worthy of a feature in SA, if you asked me.

If you don't want to click the link, what it says is the EU is about to vote to make U.S. licenses unacceptable in Europe.  So all those who come over here for training will have to do it all over again when they get back if they want a European pilot license.  If this passes, it's going to kill a huge chunk of the businesses in the U.S. that specialize in training people from outside the U.S., put a huge dent in local FBO's and flying clubs that have European members who are making the most of their time in the U.S. to get some training and flight experience, and really slam the door on GA aircraft production with the elimination of European customers.

This should also be getting some attention from U.S. politicians, as there is supposed to be some push from those in charge to improve the prospects of U.S. exports around the world.  Having pilots out there to buy U.S.-made aircraft would probably be a good thing to encourage, and if it helps flight schools and FBO's, so much the better.

 



Jay Fortner
Homebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
69
Posts
22
#10 Posted: 10/7/2010 19:17:40

Duffy,  I don't agree that GA is dying, but it is going through the same economic slump that the rest of the country is currently going through.  I've had the same experiences as you trying to get training in UL. I think the reason for bad attitudes is because they're so bummed about their own problems they can't think straight. I have to keep kicking myself in the(well, you know where) so as not to do it to others. What I,ve been doing is plenty of book reading and Wright brothers training. Keep shopping for your PPC and get one as quick as you're able. Fortunately for you, right now is a buyers market. Also there are PPC clubs all over the country and for a small membership fee will take you in. This will be the best spent money you will ever pay.

Hope you're flying soon,        J.



James Beischel
18
Posts
7
#11 Posted: 10/8/2010 05:45:38

Hi Jay,

Like you I have also been doing a lot of reading until I can get up in the air more. 

However, I do not think what I posted about the general decline of GA is necessarily related to the current economic situation. From what my trike instructor and the guy at the county airport said, the decline has been going on for close to 30 years. 

Even though my trike instructor recently lost his job as a commercial pilot, he really has an excellent attitude and is very excited about promoting flying. He loves to fly. But he has also witnessed where GA was 30 years ago and where he sees it today. 

Now from a selfish standpoint, not having a lot of small aircraft up while I am learning has given me a little more comfort while up in the trike. My instructor was always on me on my second trike lesson about looking before initiating my turns :-). Not having a lot of traffic in the air was probably a good thing for me.

Also Jay I have been looking for a local PPC club, Trike Club or general Ultralight Group in this area. It appears the only Ultralight group that was local has disappeared. If I could find others in Cincinnati who are interested, I would even try to take the time to help form a group.

BTW, to all those who may have read the note in e-Hotline about my original post. It notes that I am a PPC Pilot. I am not, that's one of the issues in that I cannot find a PPC CFI somewhat close to Cincinnati. 

Best Regards,

Duffy



Rob Stapleton
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or Craftsman
9
Posts
3
#12 Posted: 10/8/2010 13:13:23 Modified: 10/8/2010 13:14:50

James,

Don't give up you could be living here in Alaska where their is no PPC or WSC training avialable due to the recent LODA fiasco read this three part series. We not giving up we are kicking up dust where ever possible and will be visiting our Congressional delegation after the upcoming elections.

Read this there is a link at the bottom of the story to the next installment in the series:http://www.examiner.com/aviation-community-in-anchorage/sport-pilot-stalled-alaska-over-bureaucracy

I am dropping my AOPA membership and rejoined USUA to throw support to them who had a completely different LODA on the table than the FAA came up with.

Rob

 



Bob Meder
NAFI MemberAirVenture Volunteer
223
Posts
87
#13 Posted: 10/11/2010 22:52:39

Open memo to Rod Hightower:

As I mentioned in the "MacClellan" thread, I have some thoughts as to the problems we face in General Aviation, most specifically  "sport" or private aviation (as opposed to corporate). 

The bottom line is that,as a group, we are way too fractious.  Rod, you fly in the same area I do - three (used to be four until recently) different airports all within 10 minutes flying time of each other, 40 minutes driving time.  At all of the airports, the pilots are convinced that the pilots home-based at the other ones are inferior in some way or another.  Continuing this, we have the issue where the EAA, in this forum, is criticized for hiring the former editor of Flying magazine because that magazine focused on production and high-end airplanes, thinking he's somehow tainted.  And of course, there is the attitude by many homebuliders that "spam cans" are somehow not worthy of discussion.  Further, there is the attitude by many that the sport pilot certificate is inferior in some way.  In another example, at one airport you know, there are several "good old boys" that give female pilots a hard time, (and I've seen that elsewhere).  And we all know of EAA chapters where there is a very dog-in-the manger attitude.

Enough.

This is about flying and, more importantly, the wonderful friendships that we have the opportunity to enjoy, no matter what path we take.  Quite honestly, if we don't figure it out and present a united front to the public where we present a positive, welcoming atmosphere, we will lose out.  We don't need the internecine nonsense that distracts us from regulatory and public relations issues and we can't afford to turn away, either overtly or through apathy, anyone that wants to be part of the community.

Respectfully,

Bob Meder

 



Bob Meder "Anxiety is nature's way of telling you that you already goofed up."
Bob Gish
Homebuilder or Craftsman
68
Posts
14
#14 Posted: 10/12/2010 00:40:35

To add my two cents to what Bob Meder just stated;

I don't thing sport aviation is dying, but it is definitely changing. For example; Thirty years ago when I started going to Sun-N-Fun most folks who flew an experimental plane had designed and built it or built it from plans. They had spent thousands of very labor intensive hours on their projects doing everything but cutting down the very spruce trees they were made from or mining the iron ore their 4130 was made from.

Now we can build an RV-whatever from a very comprehensive kit. And this is great! I'm not slamming kits here. The evolution of kitplanes has made sport aviation safer and allowed thousands of people to fly experimental planes that might be otherwise standing on the sidelines.

That being said. I ask the question "How many RV-whatevers are flown today by the people who built them?"

So we also have a large number of folks flying experimental planes who have never built a plane. And this is great also! My point is where we used to be an organization of hard nosed builders now we are a more diverse mix of people, larger in number, and possibly as stated before, factionalizing........if thats a word.

When we grow as an organization we all benefit. Its hard not to sound like the grumpy old dude when I wax on about how crowded the campground is now, or how great it was in the good old days.

Bottom line is more members is more clout with government and the uninformed masses when it is time to stand up for the basic right to build and fly.



Bob Meder
NAFI MemberAirVenture Volunteer
223
Posts
87
#15 Posted: 10/12/2010 07:11:38

To add a postscript and clarification to what I wrote.  It's not just the EAA - when I say "we", I mean ALL of aviation.  We need to learn to stand united across the entire spectrum - and soon.



Bob Meder "Anxiety is nature's way of telling you that you already goofed up."
Joe LaMantia
Young Eagles Pilot or Volunteer
175
Posts
69
#16 Posted: 10/12/2010 14:21:36

This is another great discussion on a tough topic.  I think their are a lot of good thoughts and suggestions laid out here so I won't re-hash what has already been said.  Instead I will give you a positive story that may put a smile on a few faces.  

My flying club in cooperation with my local EAA chapter put on a "Young Eagles" day this past spring, May 15th to be precise.  We had a very nice turn out, great weather, and we flew over 20 kids with 2 aircraft and 3 pilots.  I have done this before but I never got so many cards, and thank you notes as I did on this years' event!  One 13 year old took a ride with CAP and I have taken him out several times since.  He is just aviation nuts, and some of us can relate to the dreams we had at that age.  He is fortunate enough to have parents who are supportive of his dreams.  He is "home schooled" and a very bright young man.  He is determined to make a career out of aviation.  He purchased the Sporty's on-line PPl video course and took his first flight lesson about 2 weeks ago.  At 13 he will not be taking a check ride for awhile, but I have kept in touch and taken him to several events as well as out in our club planes.  This doesn't cost me anything additional, since I usually fly around by myself.  I took him to the "Hartzell" event, which is a private air show held every other year by Hartzell Propeller in Piqua, Ohio.  He got Shaun Tucker's autograph in his log book and an autographed hat as well, which he wears all the time.  I brought this up at my last flying club meeting and the guys kicked in an old school metal "whiz" wheel flight computer and a stack of out of date sectionals from all over the country.  Now he can spend some cold winter nights planning flights and dreaming about future adventures.  

I plan on keeping in touch and taking him out and about as long as he is interested.  Who knows, he might become a pilot maybe even a great one.  My point is that we have all paid some dues in life and have had a few people who have reached out to provide a helping hand.  I'm just doing a little reaching out as pay back for what I've learned from the aviation community.  There are some great guys on this thread, and in EAA, I'm not looking for any special recognition this is what EAA is supposed to promote.    

Keep on plugging away and when opportunity knocks, answer the call.


Joe

>:\)


 



Jerry Williams
Young Eagles Pilot or VolunteerHomebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
16
Posts
3
#17 Posted: 10/12/2010 17:22:16 Modified: 10/12/2010 17:32:05

Dean,

Couldn't agree with you more.  My Chapter wants $80 per year for membership.  They say it is high because they don't want to do fundraisers, so I was fed up.  I can't afford it with divorce, alimony, child support, AOPA, EAA, Navy Chief's Mess, etc etc wanting dues and money out of me.  Not slamming the Chapter here-some are really good guys.

I have been in one really good Chapter.  That was 818 at Skagit Regional in WA.  Good bunch of guys.  Long way to drive.  They welcomed ANY type of aircraft.  There was the "click" for the aircraft I think you were talking about and they stuck to themselves.  That is sad to see.  I refer to them as the Harley's of aviation...you're just not in the "club" unles you have one, lol. 

I am just going to start hanging a sign out when i am working inviting the public to stop by.  Of course, the 7 minute rule will be in effect.  I will start that today.  See if i can get some interest going...

And, I agree with you about  the more expensive forms of aviation.   It is glorified way too much and the more inexpensive forms are not.  I will extend that a little farther...Maybe there should be an award for the best "basic" homebuilt aircraft at Oshkosh.  You know, the ones that are less than 20K?  Maybe no electrical?  Homebuilding was started for an inexpensive alternative.  It has turned into a race for the next expensive toy to brag about.  No wonder we can't recruit anyone.  And this is not meant to alienate anyone.  I love seeing the next cool thing, but let's try and tout the alternatives a little more too. 

Going back to basics,

Jerry

N6053V

 

 



Jim Rice
Vintage Aircraft Association Member
12
Posts
9
#18 Posted: 10/12/2010 18:07:29

I think part of the problem is there are just too many other things competing for everyone's money today.  Everyone has a second or third car, multiiple cellphones, internet and cable bills.  Housing expectations are higher too.  Bigger houses are more expensive to buy, heat/cool, maintain, etc.  Everyone needs a swimming pool today too.  Of course, all the school sponsored activities are no longer free (my school provided uniform/equipment when I was young).  Everything is competitive too.......you have to travel all weekend for junior's ballgames or Susie's cheer competition.  Of course, you have to save to put the kids through college too and the price of college has risen drastically over the years as demand has increased.

While aviation is expensive and that drives many folks out, so does lack of time.   I have one daughter in college and another in high school.  Until recently, my biggest challenge was competing demands on my time as much as money.

Of course, the economy is down right now which doesn't help. 

 

 

 



Jim Rice Collierville, TN Globe Swift N3368K Piper J-3 Cub N7155H
Jay Fortner
Homebuilder or CraftsmanAirVenture Volunteer
69
Posts
22
#19 Posted: 10/18/2010 17:36:42

When I was a kid my stepdad bought me a balsa wood glider, you know, the ones you could get at the local convenience store for 40 cents. He showed me how to breathe on the wings and tail and bend them to make it do tricks. When I wore that one out he got me a rubber band one. I could wind it up into double knots, set it on the ground and turn it loose and it would do a trick and land in almost the same spot it took off from. I had fun with those toy planes for days. They taught me basic airodynamics. These days our kids stay in the house playing blasted video games. So here's what I propose to do this holiday season. I'm going to buy every child that I know that is mechanicly curious a toy airplane and show them how to make it do tricks. The growth of GA has to start with our youth. Most people have already chosen other walks and trying to get them involved in aviation is a lot harder. Reruns of Bah-Bah Blacksheep wouldn't hurt either. (That was the only school night I was allowed to stay up late).

J.



Martin Wilson
16
Posts
4
#20 Posted: 10/18/2010 19:42:10

Interesting discussion.  I joined EAA 4 years ago after after taking a B17 flight in Denver, discovering the exciting world of homebuilding and got all fired up to build.  I'm not a rich guy so did my research and decided I could afford to build a Volksplane and it fitted my mission profile of "round the patch" on a sunny day.  Next step was to call up my local chapter president ( Canada west coast area) who laughed at my choice and in fact was very dismissive.  He went on to tell me to build a "real" airplane, needless to say his chapter did not gain another member.  Sport aviation certainly won't change until elitist atitudes do.

 

Martin Wilson



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