Is General Aviation Dying in the USA?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Tarheel Pilot, Apr 28, 2011.

  1. Mopauly

    Mopauly Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I can't argue that point, ultimately it's up to the aircraft manufacturers to solve that problem. However there are many many cheaper options out there for the regular Joe...the largest expense I had with flying was the time to get my certificate.

    In some countries they pay as much a gallon for their automobile fuel as we do for aircraft. All said I still think we have it pretty good.
     
  2. Tmpendergrass

    Tmpendergrass Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Ok let's say I'm a middle class joe who wants to get into fly. I figure instead of buying that new Honda, I can get a Cessna 152 for $25k.

    At my home field (KSNA) you can get a tie down for about $100 bucks. Annual inspections will be $1500 per year. Insurance will, say $2 grand for a student/ low time pilot, and let's throw in $500/ for extra maintinace, etc.

    Now I'm spending $5200 per year or $433 per month just to say I own an aircraft.

    Now let's talk about flight costs. The 152 will burn 5-6 gph. 100ll at my airport is currently $6.84. That means brining $35 in gas every hour you fly. Add to that $25 per hour for an overhaul fund and we are at $50/hr variable and $450 per month.

    Also, unlike hobbies like boating, golf, or skiing, flying really requires you full attention and you have to be at the top of your game.

    I ski a few times per year and feel proficient in the first few minutes (even if I haven't skied in 8 months). On the other hand, I feel I lose a lot of proficiency if I don't fly every week. For this reason I really think aviation shouldn't be looked at as a "hobby" but more as a "lifestyle".

    Unfortunately, for someone new to aviation, the expense on there money and time just doesn't make sense for most people when you can buy and operate a new BMW for less than an old 152.


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  3. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    Your overall point isn't wrong, but you are exaggerating the numbers here.

    Most places aren't paying $6.84 for 100LL. We pay $4.20 here and that's in a major metro area (DC).

    You don't need anywhere near $25 an hour for a C152 overhaul fund either.

    The simple answer is, like I said pages ago, that you do not have to buy a plane. $300 will get most people all the flying they care to do in a month in most places. Or join a club.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
  4. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That doesn't take into account if you financed the $25K purchase cost, or an opprtunity cost of not having that money to invest. I'd add another $100 month for lost oppurtunity cost. So you are up to $533/month fixed costs.

    All that for a plane that isn't a travelling machine, but just something to fly on burger runs.
     
  5. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator En-Route

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    Just to be clear, my stance on GA being too expensive isn't so much on the rental/burger run side. It's on the ownership side, especially when it comes to relatively new aircraft. It simply isn't feasible for most middle class people to drop $300K+ on a an SR22 or similar. We can't just keep buying into the idea that the entire industry can survive on the current pool of 40+yr old aircraft. Eventually you will run into parts that are unobtainium (some parts already are), and aircraft that cost more to keep airworthy than they are worth (many early aircraft are already there).

    Maybe some market-shifting disruption will occur; something akin to greatly-relaxed liability/certification regulations or production process improvements. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. The flying clubs are a good solution to lack of financial resources and utilization of aircraft, so I'm sure that's what GA will look like in the coming decades. It just doesn't address the high cost of aircraft and certification.
     
  6. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Flying isn't as compelling, or romantic, as it was a few decades back. Getting a PPL is a pain, and so are the Fed (and state) bureaucracies.

    There are way, way too many people involved in aviation who believe safety is the most important consideration. And a lot of them are pilots. And that overlays the effort to fly with some very low-value hassles that sound good, but aren't justifiable based on metrics - Like some of the NextGen stuff, 3rd Class medicals, etc.

    There is a wealth of other diversions available to those with disposable income sufficient to fly regularly - flying has competition it probably didn't have before.

    Maybe LSA, Sport Pilot will help, eventually.
     
  7. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    There is an underlying assumption there that any of the current certified manufacturers actually want to solve that problem. I've seen no evidence that they do.


    I think you need to multiply that by two. $300 a month after club dues won't get you three hours in a Skyhawk around here. Maybe in a Gobosh.

    42 hours a year (assuming 3 hours from $300 which we've already said isn't accurate) isn't really great numbers to stay current with. We've all had years like that, but it isn't good.

    You sure aren't going to be traveling anywhere regularly with that number. It'll be local flights and recurrency.

    You could fly something certified and slower for that which again means not going anywhere, or something Light Sport and equal speed as a spamcan and maybe taking it a few places. Not many.

    I think realistically you're looking at $500/mo budgeted to fly trainers places. More if you want to get there faster.

    And the problem of the fleet aging really shows if you decide to fly say, a Cirrus. Slowest oldest panel Cirrus around here rents for $210/hr wet. Fastest newest one is $310/hr DRY. And there are 14 of them to choose from at all prices inbetween.

    We aren't a lightly equipped rental market and there is an entire club devoted to only Cirri that offer 8 of them. Somewhere there are only a couple, prices may be worse.
     
  8. Bonchie

    Bonchie Cleared for Takeoff

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    You can read my post again.

    I stand by it. $300 (2.5ish hours) of rental is as much as most pilots will fly a month anyway.

    When I was in a club we had guys who didn't even fly that much. And the glut of 20 hour a year owners out there speak to this as well.

    You may want to fly on vacation and do 5+ hours a month, but that's just not the reality for most. If GA is simply a hobby vs. a frequent mode of long range transportation there's no reason to buy. Just go fly a few hours a month for fun.
     
  9. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    I think possibly you have " lost perspective". Airplanes today are OLD. They've had the crap flown out of them and many many have had very poor care. To keep them in safe operating condition requires ( if done properly) many hours of 100 dollar labor and then one may have a hack work on the plane and not know it. Very dicey when your flying fifty year old airplanes, especially at night , worth under twenty five grand? not me!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
  10. Bob Noel

    Bob Noel Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I understand the math of a rental vs owning, but instead of dealing with all the rental nonsense, having your airplane available anytime you want is priceless. I don't regret the expense of having my own cherokee for 18+ years.

    I do regret all the TSA/DHS bullcrap that we have to deal with now. And the flawed ADS-B crap was the final straw wrt aircraft ownership.
     
  11. denverpilot

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    Why would one have a hack work on their airplane and not know it?

    Why would anything you own have "very poor care" or would their age have anything to do with anything if you're paying those "many hours of 100 dollar labor"?

    You prebuy it, spend some money getting it mechanically right, and keep it that way. Or you're a "hack" owner.

    It isn't that hard.

    Sure the rental fleet is going to get banged up and keep disappearing slowly, but we aren't out of decent older airframes yet.

    Really the hard decision is panel upgrades. If you need the stuff, you buy. If you don't or have a weak mission for new stuff, you sit and watch a while. The ADS-B boondoggle will force some out altogether and some will fork over the beans and keep on trucking.

    But there's still a pretty good number older airframes with less than 3000 hours on them that are 35 years old and have been hangared their whole life. Those same airframes are pushing 30,000 hours in flight schools before they're hung out to dry as parts and scrap.

    The real kick in the butt in certified that's coming is the $8-$12K you'll spend going from non-GPS to IFR GPS+ADS-B. And even that number is absolutely nothing at all, compared to buying a new certified aircraft.
     
  12. Blueangel

    Blueangel Line Up and Wait

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    Agree here

    In my case I put down a deposit on the plane I liked then have in prebuy with agreement from seller to fix major airworthy issues. It needs TLC but I knew that going into it and budgeted for engine and avionics. Still a lot cheaper than either a new LSA or newer Cessna and goes much faster!
     
  13. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You guys are nuts.

    Tonight, after dinner, we realized that it was actually possible for us to get away for the next three days. This is some sort of a miracle, in August, so we don't question it when it happens.

    20 minutes later, we were at the hangar. 42 minutes later, we landed at Stinson Field in San Antonio. 20 minutes after that, we were checking into the Menger Hotel, a hotel built in 1859, right across from the Alamo.

    Ten minutes after that, we were drinking an excellent German beer on the Riverwalk.

    So, let's sum up. An hour and a half (plus 2 minutes) after inception, we were at our destination, drinking a beer. None of this would be possible without GA.

    NONE OF IT.

    If you own a small business, you fully appreciate what a freaking miracle this is. The rest of you will just have to take my word for it.

    GA has made our life possible. Period. End of story.
     
    paflyer likes this.
  14. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Ahhh. Now I fully understand your reply on the other chat channel after I sent that scanner info. Heh. :)

    Have fun!
     
  15. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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    By "none", do you mean the travel time only?

    Google maps says you saved an hour of driving vs taking your airplane. That's very cool! I love that feature too... but I question the "NONE OF IT" part. It all seems very possible, just would take you a little longer, but you'd have saved money.

    I think what you mean is; "If your time is more valuable than money, you couldn't accomplish what I just did in a car".

    For a lot of people without very much money (like myself, I'm not complaining, I'm just in a different place than some, but I'm very happy with life), I look at that, and think "OK, travel time in one direction is an extra hour, but I save hundreds... OK I'm driving".

    I'm sorry, I don't want to kill GA, I love it too... I'm just saying all of this seems possible to me...? Unless I'm misunderstanding, and truly you meant "not possible on this timetable". Then I agree; you'd have to bust the speed limit pretty badly to make that kind of time in a car/motorcycle. Then it's possible, but really not recommended. It'd be way dangerous.
     
  16. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    We wouldn't have bothered driving, which would have taken nearly 3 hours. The traffic, with all the newbies flooding into Texas, has made driving in San Antonio fairly terrifying and always frustrating.

    Also, at the point we made the "go" decision, it was too late in the day to drive. We simply wouldn't have done it, without GA.

    As for saving money, the RV-8 gets better mileage than any of my road vehicles, burns car gas, and the taxi cab ride to the hotel was cheaper than the hotel's parking fee. We actually saved money by flying, versus driving.
    :)

    GA rocks. But then, I suspect I'm preaching to the choir. lol
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  17. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    I'm in an ownership "club", in the Washington DC area, which is a high-cost area by any American city definition; we charge ourselves about $71 per tach hour, wet. Plus $90 a month dues (GPS updates, charts, tie-down, etc.)

    2.5 Tach is roughly 3.0 Hobbs. Plus the $90 per month = $303. But I think $500 per month for more regular flying is more realistic. And the occasional x-country will double that a couple times a year.
     
  18. StevieTimes

    StevieTimes Line Up and Wait

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    Sooooo... possible then, but less desirable. You didn't want to drive, but you could have. You "wouldn't" have, but "could" have.

    Saved money? I'll end up ahead at the end of the year if I buy a plane? Or if you just look at fuel?

    GA is awesome, but not cheaper than a car. I really wish it was.
     
  19. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    What are you flying and how old is it.?? It's also important to remember that mechanics are not the caliber they used to be with the steady decline in business. I had a real respected AI work on both my Stearman and my 195 until I arrived unexpectedly and found his drug addicted son was actually doing the work . ( he later committed suicide.) it's wise to really be sure who will be working on what you fly and their qualifications.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  20. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Obviously it is a "save money" issue only if you already own the airplane. The operational cost of us flying to San Antonio was lower than if we had driven -- and we would not have driven, so late in the day.

    GA is a real Godsend to any small business owner. We often don't know for sure if we can get away until the very last minute. Without GA, our lives would be very much more constrained.
     
  21. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Absentee owner. Drop off the airplane and not know who's working on it? And not take a look around the shop and see how things are going and who's working on things? No. Never.

    Letting the druggie mess with your airplane is no one's fault but your own, if you ask me.
     
  22. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    :yeahthat::yeahthat::yeahthat::yeahthat::yeahthat::yeahthat:
     
  23. FormerHangie

    FormerHangie Pattern Altitude

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    I think you are just about right. I figure that $6000 would get me around 40 hours in a 35 year old 172, plus tax, renter's insurance, and "club" dues, at one of the local flight schools. That's paying the prepaid rate, which is the lowest of the three rates they offer.

    I'm in north metro Atlanta, and there are five airports I would consider to be somewhat convenient, KRYY is closest, KPDK and KFTY are a little farther. and KPUJ and KCNI are kind of a stretch. KLZU is a little out of range, it's kind of far and the traffic is pretty tough much of the time. Of these five, it appears that there are rental aircraft at KRYY and KPDK, but not the other three. There may be some clubs in the area, but I'm not aware of them.
     
  24. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator En-Route

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    You guys kidding me? The guy says he dropped off his aircraft to be worked on and shows up with some hack working on it? How does that make him absentee?! Should he walk in every day to see the mechanic's schedules and try and force his will on the shop owner? That sounds like an excellent way to have your aircraft given back to you without the repairs being completed and an invitation to take a hike!

    Do you drop your car off at the mechanic and then start walking around the shop to inspect everything and specify which guys can and can't work on your car? Get real. He made an unscheduled visit, discovered the error, and had it rectified. Hardly absentee . . .
     
  25. Dav8or

    Dav8or En-Route

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    No kidding. Just a lame display of internet know it all one upsmanship. Unless you sit and watch the whole time, or do the work yourself, you have no idea who worked on your plane. Mechanics aren't required to log anything so there is no record after the fact.

    You could demand that a specific person only work on your plane, but unless you watch, or set up a hidden cam, they could go get some guys from in front of Home Depot to come and work on your plane and you would never know. The bigger concern is the IA. How much inspecting does he really do? How involved in the repair is he?

    In the case of the IA with the drug addict son, basically that tells me that the Jimmy didn't really have faith in his IA. He assumed that a known drug addict must be high all the time, or not care about his work. Was the son and A&P? He assumed that the IA wasn't really watching over and inspecting the work.

    If you had a son that was a drug addict, going off the rails and could provide him with steady employment, wouldn't you try to help him get his life together with a good job? Likely this troubled kid had been around airplanes and the repair shop nearly all his life. My guess is he knew his way around a pair of safety wire pliers. By turning your back on the IA, seems a little like you're kicking him when he's down.

    If anybody takes their plane to a shop that has multiple people working on planes, you are foolish to believe that the IA will be doing all the work on your plane. In fact they often times do very little work on your plane. That's a good part of why they got the IA in the first place. Not only is the pay better, but you don't have to bust your knuckles and wrench on planes as much. It's a move up the food chain and an easier life in the shop. You get to pick and choose what you want to work on.

    A good indicator of the quality of the IA might be- is he willing to do the test flight, or ride along after the repair?
     
  26. Sundancer

    Sundancer Pattern Altitude

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    Hi,
    A 172N, STEC 20, Garmin 530W, JPI, Aera (for NexRad), PowerFlow. Engine pretty new (less than 300 hours?). New interior coming this winter. I think we've found AOPA is close to the mark, in that a 172 (in general) can be operated for about $85 per hour Hobbs (private owner, of course).
     
  27. Jimmy cooper

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    Stupid comment. I worked for a living and had no time to baby sit a mechanic. The father had a decent reputation and was known for good work. Know what your commenting on before engaging big mouth.
     
  28. wsuffa

    wsuffa Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The administrative burden alone is problematic. Look at what it takes to get a 333 authorization for a small (light weight - under 55 pound) drone to operate under 200' away from an airport. The time and cost of the paperwork and regs is more than the cost of the equipment. You even need to apply for aircraft registration.... For a 50 pound or less drone.

    Multiply that by many times for GA planes/operations.

    Is it any wonder that some folks try to 'get away with it', especially for a one or two time operation? And that creates even more risk for all of us....
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Both the airplane and cars only go to shops where I know the owner personally or I watch the entire process, yes. The only time I didn't watch in the last ten years was the breakdown on the way to OSH this year because it was a $30 cab ride away. My wife can attest that I was prepared to go over there anyway if the unknown shop sounded like a pack of morons. They left a wrench under my hood.

    Unknown maintenance shops hire some real idiots these days. Aviation is better than average, but I'm very picky about who touches my toys. If I can't do it myself I'd better know the person doing it.

    Make fun all you like. I know who dented the airplane with a cart at one shop and I don't have any worries that "druggies" about to commit suicide are jacking with my aircraft and my life.
     
  30. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    Jimmy upholding the PoA Code of Conduct again, I see.
     
  31. SoonerAviator

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    Well, agree to disagree. I rarely have my truck worked on by a 3rd party, but when I do, I use a shop with a good reputation and let it go. I'm not going to try and get to know the owner personally just for a rare repair that goes beyond my mechanical abilities. I can understand wanting to invest more time if you've got a unique aircraft (like a Stearman/Staggerwing/warbird/etc), but a C/P/B/M product? Do your due diligence and let the shop do their job.
     
  32. FloridaPilot

    FloridaPilot Pattern Altitude

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    I also agree with this!

    Because at the end of the day, YOU are responsible for your passengers, yourself and your airplane. Why not do whatever is necessary to make sure everything is working like it's supposed to? Even if you don't know airplane mechanics, Your mechanic should be open to showing you some of the basics. I love to learn so it works for me!

    It's like going to a Tax advisor who does everything for you. If you get audited who does the IRS look for? Who is going to jail? YOU! The same with airplanes. If I ever have an accident, (I hope not) I want to make sure I did everything possible to avoid it......so should you!
     
  33. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    I knew the AI for over twenty years. Excellent reputation as both a pilot, FBO and mechanic. He let his sons work under him and was trying to teach them. He apparently had no idea they were into drugs and booze, or not to the extent they were. If this guy was unaware, then how about YOU?!! Your statements in this day in age are naive at best.
     
  34. denverpilot

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    He wasn't unaware. He was trying to keep them out of jail. "In this day and age" dads are no different than previous millennia.

    Kids hanging around daddy's shop is always a red flag for enablement.

    Got enablers and drunks in the family. I can give you tips on how to easily spot them. Druggies are sometimes easier depending on their drug of choice.

    My original assertion was that you didn't meet the mechanic.

    I'm going to take a guess here... Dad plays front man and always says the kids are busy working when you ask to meet them. When you picked up the plane, the kid wasn't the one who walked through what he did on it, and what he found. And during the work when they called, it wasn't the kid calling to get authorization to continue.

    Am I on target so far?

    I'll add a few more tell-tales for "family" shops. Dad didn't brag about how the kids were better at it that he was. Dad didn't mention the kids loved working on airplanes. Dad didn't brag on how they'd been turning wrenches on airplanes since they were three and show off the kid's photos of the custom jobs they'd done because they loved doing it.

    Dad hung his head a little and changed the subject when you joked that he couldn't find any better qualified help. Or when you met the kid, he hung his head a bit, instead of saying he could kick the old man's ass and do it faster than dad and better.

    You ALWAYS want to meet the kids whenever dad says he hired them. Always. Nepotism is as old as the day is long and that's the most likely reason they were hired, always. Not because they were the best qualified person available to do the work.

    The signs of drug or alcohol abuse are not that subtle, and five minutes with dad and the kid will give volumes of hints about why the kid is there.

    I can't think of another scenario in business where I know that the boss will put the employee above my needs as a customer than a "family business". Families cover for each other. That's what they do.

    You really want to see a hypercritical dad taking the kids to task and holding them to a higher (even unfairly so) standard in their shop whenever you hear, "my kid works here". Because when the rubber hits the road, dad will side with the kid.

    I can't think of a time when my feelers wouldn't be fully extended so to speak, if dad told me his kid worked on my airplane.

    Dad may be your friend but don't buy that garbage that he didn't know. He knew. And his kids are above you in his priorities list, no doubt.
     
  35. David Flynn

    David Flynn Filing Flight Plan

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    David Flynn
    The romance of general aviation is struggling to stay alive. With an ongoing airline pilot shortage, disinterest from younger generation pilots, a lack of real connection and communication between pilots, and the decrease in overall interest are just a few of the challenges general aviation is facing.

    One of the best ways to counteract these problems is to develop a better sense of community at our airports by using Hangaround.

    While facilitating the growth and development of airports around the United States, Hangaround is empowering airport members and managers with the necessary tools and platforms to build a stronger community.

    Check out my website and let me know what you think and what you think is missing! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  36. paflyer

    paflyer Final Approach

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    PAFlyer
    Shameless plug! ;)
     
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  37. jhausch

    jhausch Cleared for Takeoff

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    jhausch
  38. mcdewey

    mcdewey Pre-Flight

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  39. Brad Smith

    Brad Smith Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Brad Smith
    I remember in the mid 1970's a coupon that was available in the different flying magazines that offered a introductory flight at a Cessna Pilot Center for only $5. I took it to the local airport (Meadowlark in HB, CA) and they gladly honored it. I was 17 years old and it was my first time in a light plane. It led to my earning a PPL certificate and A&P licenses and working in the aerospace field for the next 30 years. All of this happened because a little $5 coupon redeemed at the local field.
    I think that General Aviation operates in a vacuum today and if one wants to learn to fly he has to step forward and be very proactive. Aviation is not going to come to his doorstep, mailbox or email address and introduce itself and offer a flight in an airplane for a reasonable price. Also, in the days of Lindbergh nearly every young boy (and a lot of girls!) has a burning desire to become a pilot, something that we just don't see in our current crop of youth. If enough interest in flying is generated the problem of General Aviation surviving will solve itself.
     
  40. Ronnie Godfrey

    Ronnie Godfrey Pre-Flight

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    Ronnie Godfrey
    I’d say GA is alive and well. I’m 27 and co-own a plane. My partner is just over 40, and I have 4 buddies my age who either already fly or have concrete plans for getting it done. One of them owns his plane, and another is about to look at buying. There is one who is about to start training after going on a flight with me.

    Yes, it’s expensive, but co-ownership helps with that. Two people owning an airplane is a great deal because it lowers costs and increases utilization of the plane. We are seeing more of that around here due to a lack of quality rentals and ownership generally costing less than renting after only a few hours of flying per month.

    Aviation is attainable if you want it. A lot of people don’t know they want it until they try flying. And I don’t mean riding along. I mean flying the airplane themselves. There are no rules to prohibit a PPL from letting a non-pilot try some basic flying, and that’s how they get hooked. It really is no more expensive than horses, off-roading, boating, or hard-core hunting, provided you choose an economical airframe and don’t mind turning some wrenches. Like everything else, it comes down to priorities.

    Maybe I run with a different crowd, but that’s my experience so far. And my wife, myself and my partner in the plane are all school teachers for what it’s worth.