Solution to GA dying?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by saracelica, Oct 5, 2011.

  1. bluee

    bluee Line Up and Wait

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    I had no problem with old aircraft until the crappy flight school tried to blame me and other students for their maintenance problems. One of their airplanes, the mechanic told me the engine was so corroded the airplane should not have been flying. I ended up hating the flight school where I did my PPL. They only seemed to care about how much money they could squeeze out of me. The last straw was when I finally realized they dragged everything out to get as much money as possible. I don't like people lying to my face and screwing me over for money. I still have a passion for flying, but I go to another airport now.
     
  2. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    I'm mildly obsessed with flying and in the back of my mind I have always wanted to learn to fly. That said, what actually made me decide to get my license, back in February of this year? Well, I got married recently and my wife is very close to her family, but they happen to live over 2 hours away by car. In addition to that, all of her best friends live in Austin, which is nearly 8 hours by car. Couple that information with these facts:

    • There is no direct flight to Austin from our nearest airport with commercial services (and the nearest commercial airport is a 45 minute drive)
    • 5 hours of driving in a car all of the time to see my wife's relatives didn't seem appealing to me
    • 16 hours of driving for long weekends in Austin didn't seem appealing to me
    • I live about 4 minutes from a GA airport, with no rentals, but available, cheap, hangar space
    All of these things added up to a simple solution. I'll buy a small airplane, get my license and dramatically cut our traveling time down for our frequent trips and I'll also find the experience enjoyable.

    General Aviation has been a real blessing to me, but I will readily admit that it takes a certain situation for GA to make any sense (beyond basic enjoyment), it just so happens that my needs coincided very well with the benefits of GA.
     
  3. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    Very good post Gearhardt with many good points. I can't, however, buy the fact that the IPad and Foreflight sales indicate an excess of money available to fly. An IPad only costs several hours of flight time. It is the latest and most justifiable gadget in flying, so right now the Apple, Foreflight and other similar vendors are enjoying a land office business.
     
  4. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter Management Council Member

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    I don't think this is a recent problem. I didn't know anyone else who was a pilot before I started lessons in the mid-1970s. It's always been relatively unusual and relatively expensive. I only spent a short time as a full-time CFI in the 1980s but during that time I noticed that the main reason people tended to drop out was that it took more study and effort than they thought it would. It also takes a certain amount of self-confidence.

    Aviation is also highly regulated. But even more than that it is a very procedurally-oriented activity. In some ways it needs to be that way but I think it's hard for some people to view this type of regimentation as "fun".
     
  5. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    The real answer to this question is the same as:

    "Why aren't you interested in (insert something you aren't interested in), and why aren't you helping to keep it alive?"
     
  6. Challenged

    Challenged Pattern Altitude

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    This is a very good point. When a pilot can describe flying in a single word, I think often they would use the word "freedom" to describe it, but in some senses there's a huge amount of "This is the way it needs to be done" in aviation, and there's relatively little freedom.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  7. MachFly

    MachFly En-Route

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    If you make it any lower people would just start ignoring them.
     
  8. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    You make a good point. You have to be just a little geeky to be a pilot. I've talked to several people over the years that show interest, but when you get into all the technical details, their eyes glaze over.
     
  9. MBDiagMan

    MBDiagMan En-Route

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    To further what you're saying, in "The Killing Zone" book they point out the danger of "freedom" for a new pilot.
     
  10. MadseasoN

    MadseasoN Line Up and Wait

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    We need more flying clubs. That is the only way to make it affordable for some people.
     
  11. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I spent $200 and $50 a month on my smartphone.

    I spent $1000 to join a club, pay $60 a month and rent a 30 year old warrior for $100 an hour. Not to mention it cost $5k to get my license, then you have headsets and flight bags and charts and e6b's and ....

    priceless
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  12. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    All true, but many of us including myself see managing the procedures, and regs, as a challenge, and in a way "fun". Maybe "fun" is not the right word, maybe rewarding is better. Yeah, guess we're geeks.

    Anyway, I can still go up to my hangar, pull out the Tiger and point the nose anywhere I want, and go. I don't even have to "let anyone know I'm coming". :D

    At least for now. :(
     
  13. p1l0t

    p1l0t Line Up and Wait

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    We are geeks, and it is regulated.. but I have no problem with admitting its fun! Come on guys, we fly airplanes! We try pretty hard to make it look routine...

    <---<^>--->
     
  14. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes, the flying part is fun for sure, but sometimes the regs, and restrictions are byzantine.

    But it's still fun! :cheerswine:
     
  15. n20junkie

    n20junkie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I love flying.

    I love flying my own c150.

    I love flying fast new jets for a living.

    It took 15 years of hard work before things became profitable (in big boy amounts) and easy.

    There are things, like racing cars, that don't have every law enforcement organization frothing at the to harass you, and don't require metric tons of money to obtain a license, and even more to maintain that license.

    In short, flying for the average person:

    1. Costs too much
    2. Has too many ways to get into trouble legally
    3. Costs too much
     
  16. n12365

    n12365 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    :yeahthat:
     
  17. Richard

    Richard Final Approach

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    Ack...city life
    Compare aviation costs to marine activities. A guy spends upwards of $100K (bank loan) on a common go fast boat. He floats it maybe 4 or 5 times a year. It gets at best 2 mpg. Factor in storage (if trailered) or slip fees plus maintenance and winterization (even in SoCal). Don't forget the ins yada yada yada.

    The bottom line as mentioned by ClimbnSink is very few persons have the desire to be active in aviation.
     
  18. Bayou Boy

    Bayou Boy Filing Flight Plan

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    But that guy doesn't need a year of training to drive that boat. He just buys it and jumps in. That's the major difference.
     
  19. p1l0t

    p1l0t Line Up and Wait

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    Well that's the bad news.. but the good news is I'm halfway there! The race car is good point. I think racing is generally even more expensive than flying... Well unless your running go-karts or strictly stock classes. People still do it though. I guess you have to have money to burn and passion to fuel the fire. There is much less liability in racing on a closed course than flying just anywhere. I have friends that have just bought boats after a 2 day course. Of course for the money they spent on the boat they could bought enough flight training to get through all the certificates/ratings up to CFI and then some. Apples to apples though, even just buying a plane for fun versus buying a boat.. yeah the real difference is flying is hard and takes work [although I think it is still fun] to learn.

    <---<^>--->
     
  20. Sportsman

    Sportsman Pre-Flight

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    That's not a fair comparison. The guy who drops 100K on a boat is equivalent to the guy who buys a Bonanza or above to start and agree on the post about training. I've owned a boat and yes, it is expensive but no comparison. $11k for a 18' Center Console with 150HP Outboard, maybe $200/yr insurance. $100 bucks a DAY in gas. That boat provided cruising on the intercoastal, bay or marsh fishing (Louisiana/Florida).

    I'm trying to save $10k just for flight training. Money is definitely #1 obstacle.

    As to folks not being interested, the high cost limits exposure. I grew up in South Louisiana. Everyone has at least one boat. Little boys drive the smaller ones by 10-12 if not sooner. $1,000 will get you a jonboat with a 9.8hp Merc and you're a boater. No way aviation gets that kind of mass exposure to the general public.
     
  21. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    ^^^^^^^^

    This. Great post.
     
  22. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    I suppose you could put the high cost and many of the other issues discussed under a single umbrella and call them "barriers to entry". So the solution to GA dying would be to reduce the barriers to entry (but not to the point it sacrifices safety, of course).
     
  23. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I think it is more than money, regulations, time for training, etc. I think it is CULTURAL. We as a culture just do not value this type of pursuit. The risk/reward is just not there for most people.

    Look at the change in attitudes for many things people now consider "dangerous". Much of the fear is irrational perception, but people still believe it. It is an overall waning in people's own self belief.
     
  24. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    People are losing interest in recreational activities that the number one goal is not to kill oneself doing them. Other than perhaps, SCUBA diving. ;)
     
  25. Everskyward

    Everskyward Experimenter Management Council Member

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    I think there is still a segment of the population which likes adventure sports and somewhat risky activities. However many of these activities do not require the study nor are they as regimented. Maybe the set of people which flying appeals to is small since it needs to be a subset of people who are both interested in adventurous activity but are also not put off by a fair amount of bookwork. Then there's the financial part.
     
  26. p1l0t

    p1l0t Line Up and Wait

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    People with balls AND brains AND money... I guess we are a rare breed ;)

    <---<^>--->
     
  27. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I agree with Anthony. Aircraft are so strange and exotic, most people simply don't see themselves flying them. Add to that the tremendous barriers in resources needed to enter aviation, and it gets worse. Couple the lack of utility, and it gets worse still. Remember, an airplane gets you to a destination, a boat is a destination.

    I disagree that racing is that expensive, it doesn't need to be. It can certainly get there.
     
  28. Carolina Pilot

    Carolina Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    I've been lurking here since last December when I began working on my private pilot certificate. This is my first post because this issue is currently hitting home with me.

    The service I've experienced since I began flying has been some of the worst I've experienced in my life. Very amateurish. I have no complaints with my CFI. He's a good teacher and a nice guy.

    Dealing with the flight school as been a pain. I always have to doublecheck my invoice, because they get it wrong half the time. They had me complete a ton of paperwork when I began flying. Not a problem - until they lost it all and made me do it again.

    They almost never fuel the plane, which irritates me to no end. I don't mind getting fuel if I'm flying shortly after someone else. But if it's the first flight of the day or there's a two hour gap between the last flight and mine, they should fuel the plane. They're only taking money out of their own pockets. If I have two hours blocked and I spend 15 minutes getting fuel, I fly for a shorter time and pay them less money.

    I fly a Remos and there's an issue with the radio not working properly. There's not enough juice for it to work right when the engine is idling. They're aware of it and just won't fix it. After my flight yesterday, the guy at the counter asked me how my flight was. I said, "Okay, but that radio's killing me." His reply was a casual "Oh really?" Then he changed the subject and proceeded getting his money from me.

    Then there's the FBO. This is another reason it irritates me when the flight school doesn't fuel the plane. I have to go deal with the crew at the FBO and they're jerks. I'm a very easy guy to get along with, but the old guy who brings the fuel came close to getting a boot up his butt for his arrogant, condescending behavior the first time I met him. There was a new guy yesterday. Also rude.

    The school has been under new ownership for the last few months and when they took over there was a lot of talk about how much better they were going to do things, but I haven't seen it.

    I'm really enjoying flying and it's something I hope to be doing for the rest of my life. But if I were just slightly less interested or slightly less determined, I probably wouldn't have stuck with it this long. When I go to a fast food joint and order a burger, I know the odds of getting great service are pretty slim. But when I spend ten grand or so in ten months for training, I expect decent service. Is that unreasonable?
     
  29. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah, you are just one of those complainers, not really committed to the art and apparently not ready to pay your dues :wink2: .





    I wish I hadn't heard this story before, like a 100 times.
     
  30. Carolina Pilot

    Carolina Pilot Filing Flight Plan

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    It's pretty weird to me that this seems to be so common in general aviation. The people I've met since I've been flying have for the most part been a great group of people. Intelligent, friendly and successful.

    The people who own my flight school are pilots and own other local businesses that have been around for a long time and have solid reputations. I'm not sure why that doesn't translate to excellent service at the flight school
     
  31. bluee

    bluee Line Up and Wait

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    Carolina pilot, you pretty much described my experience also. Except their airplanes were crap and frequently broke down. Broken instruments wouldn't be replaced for months, etc, etc. Vote with your wallet and go elsewhere. I did, and I'm so glad I found a much better airport.
     
  32. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A lot of this is founded in the lack of competition. For some reason, airport authorities abhor competition, gawd forbid someone could provide a service with better quality than the chosen few. The 'go somewhere else' option is often significantly less convenient which unless the student is persistent often leads to the end of the flying career early on.
     
  33. Anthony

    Anthony Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It seems to be a right of passage for many of us, and adds to the fact that you REALLY need to be passionate about getting the ticket. I am sure many drop out just because of experiences like this one.

    The real tragedy is when people actually get the ticket, they quickly realize that unless they buy a plane or part of a plane, they usually can't use the cert to go anywhere due to the rental situation. Pretty awful.
     
  34. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I dunno, airplanes are now cheaper than they've ever been. If one really wants to fly, one should enter the owner population.
     
  35. p1l0t

    p1l0t Line Up and Wait

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    Not really, yeah you can buy a used airplane cheap but for the cost of maintaining your almost better off with a loan. Maybe if you can pay cash.. even so $10k annual and one year till an overhaul maybe all your 'saving'

    <---<^>--->
     
  36. jmcsherry

    jmcsherry Pre-Flight

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    "Most..." ? ? Can you provide actual data to support that claim? I have dealt with numerous flight schools in the past five years or so; some were engaging and friendly, a few were almost dismissive (too busy to help), but none were intimidating.
    "..tend to milk students." Again, if there are data to support that as a widespread phenomenon, I have not seen them. Sure there will be an occasional CFI who pushes an extra hour on a student or even pads out the time routinely. I think they won't last very long. And of the schools I have dealt with directly, they are more inclined to push students along so that they can (a) rent to them and (b) brag about their success rate. It is far more profitable to have a paying customer who will come and go on his own schedule, and not need a CFI to rent your equipment; and as a bonus some of them will become airplane buyers!
     
  37. jmcsherry

    jmcsherry Pre-Flight

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    Have you not noticed the astounding increase in skydiving activity? Or is that only happening in this part of the country?
    Every time I turn around, they are dropping people out of the sky from some new location. And yes, folks do die.
     
  38. p1l0t

    p1l0t Line Up and Wait

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    I fly every other day (CFI as a part-time job) and I hear more skydivers away on the radio then ever before. (Connecticut)
     
  39. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Private, recreational aviation is a commitment. It's very similar to selective "clubs" I've been in where there's wariness with any newcomer.

    Is this woman from the FAA? Is she going to talk me ear off? Can I get away without reciting all the safety statistics? Is this guy gonna eat into my flying time by boring me with stories from his 22.3 logged hours?

    We all have limited time. The airport is an escape, and we usually want to squeeze as much aviation out of each trip as we can (which might include hangar flying, oil changing, or just polishing).

    I've done plenty of intro flights, walk arounds, talks with folks hanging by the gate, etc. If I see a Dad or Mom with kids just watching airplanes I always go over and offer a close up look.

    But this takes effort and time. Not everyone is glib with strangers, not everyone has the time, and, quite frankly, not everyone wants to make the effort.

    That's OK. I think some of the barriers are tests -- do you really want this? If so, you won't be discouraged by some initial coldness.
     
  40. dmccormack

    dmccormack Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah -- lots of tandem, one-timers.

    Not exactly an industry trend.