What is happening to us?

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Jay Honeck, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. dresbackg

    dresbackg Filing Flight Plan

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    I have been at airports all over this area, and I can recall that there was a lot more activity at all of them prior to 2008-9. About that time (not coincidentally the start of the economic problems) the number of hours being flown, and the number of people at the airport, began to drop first gradually, then quickly. I haven't seen it come back yet.

    My belief from what i've seen:

    1) The aging pilot population and the stupid medical requirements are a big reason part of the decline;

    but

    2) The biggest reason is that there's much less disposable income out there. A lot of the people at the airport are financially strapped, and just hanging on for times to get better, when they can go back to what they liked doing… circa 2005-6.
     
  2. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    You could be right. However, I would guess that this phenomenon is the result of everything in aviation being so damn expensive! If they answered every call they got from clueless looky loos and tire kickers, I'm sure they'd go crazy and end up in the news by shooting people!

    Very few people do their homework and research things before picking up the phone and asking questions. You know, "How much does it cost to...?" followed by- "WHAT! I could buy a car for that!" Endless strings of these calls and emails have likely resulted in most giving up on customer communications.

    I have experienced this dead silence from aviation businesses too. I was shocked how many avionics shops never responded to my emails or calls when I was shopping for someone to do my panel. I was planning on spending 10s of thousands of dollars (in the end, about $25,000) and only one was actually responsive and they actually got my business. They have gotten repeat business from me as well. I plan to return in the future.

    They were probably hurting for money I'm guessing, because the industry standard seems to be, "Prove to us you're serious before we actually consider quoting you, or communicating with you." :rolleyes2:
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
  3. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Same here. When I redid my panel, I went with the place that everyone recommended as the one responsive place in the biz. Ended up giving them $11K, and they were great.
     
  4. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I hear ya. Jay seems like he's helping carry the torch by keeping with the aviation theme. Bummer I never ran across the place every time I was down there for the Harvest Moon Regatta. Maybe on the next one!

    Right on, Señor Tmcdavitt! You're an aviator and a scholar!
     
  5. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Maybe there's no money in it, but if that's what you do for a living, then a paying customer is a paying customer.

    Plus, I'm already a pilot, I just need to get current again! EASY MONEY!
     
  6. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    It must be #2, and (as I've recently heard), CFI's are all independently wealthy! LOL!
     
  7. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Tire-kicking is growing because the internet exists and folks are conditioned to research everything via Google. If any aviation business wants some free advice from me, it would be...

    Post all the relevant info on a Web site so tire-kickers can run through it and either move on or bite the bullet and call.

    Being adverse to getting phone calls and servicing clients not only costs immediate prospective business, but referral business.

    Yeah, stuff costs a lot, but it always has and always will. But customer service that results in word-of-mouth also pays dividends in the long-run. Always has, always will. That's where many of these businesses fall flat on their faces.

    The companies that respond to customers end up with the business, just as y'all have mentioned.
     
  8. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    In the last week I've had talked to quite a few people learning to fly. Two of them in particular both wasted about a hour of my time each on the phone answering their questions and they have yet to schedule a intro flight. Both of them asked me how much it would cost to buy a fighter jet and learn to fly it. Sigh.
     
  9. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    You don't have a jet lead-in program with fixed costs and guaranteed outcome?
     
  10. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    First post...

    Welcome to POA..

    :cheers::cheers:
     
  11. dresbackg

    dresbackg Filing Flight Plan

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    Why thank you! It's been interesting reading all this, people have been talking about this as long as I've been in flying!
     
  12. dresbackg

    dresbackg Filing Flight Plan

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    I still think it's 2 major issues, the stupid medical, and money. The congressional bill to fix (end) the 3rd class and the gas prices falling are both things that will help a lot in that!

    Of course lower gas prices would help the economy tremendously in both the short and long term, hopefully the Russians and the Saudis don't come to any agreement anytime soon! :goofy:

    I do recall car gas being under $1 per gallon in only 2004, and avgas being less than $2. Lots of flying was going on at our airport then! :yes:
     
  13. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Final Approach

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    Personally?

    I think I went into flying in 1975 with these mental images:

    [​IMG]

    And maybe this:

    [​IMG]

    Started my lessons at Opa Locka, itself under what was then a TCA, and was faced with the reality:

    [​IMG]

    And...

    [​IMG]

    And...

    [​IMG]

    And even this...

    [​IMG]

    Quite the contrast. Freedom of flight versus all the minutiae that's needed to enjoy that freedom.

    Not sure that given today's environment I would not have been discouraged early on by all the crap surrounding what should be such a simple pleasure.
     
  14. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Do you have a Web site that you can refer prospective clients to so they can kick tires on that all day? The link in your signature (Lincoln Nebraska Flight Instruction) is currently showing "Database Error."

    Most folks use the Web to do a lot of this research, and it's a good thing because it should keep them off your back until they're ready to bite - or at least until they're ready to make a phone call to further feel out the situation.

    If you're letting them keep you on the phone for an hour, that's way too long, even if it's to schedule a flight.

    If your site has a form that they can fill out with their information and any questions, you can compile all that you receive daily and weed out a lot of flak and/or send a canned response that answers the question without a lot of excess (other than "Click Here to sign up for an intro flight" or "Schedule your xxxxx today," etc.)
     
  15. RoscoeT

    RoscoeT Cleared for Takeoff

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    True for the airplanes 90% of pilots fly. I'd have little interest in flying if the only airplanes out there were what you see tied down on a GA ramp. But I still love flying my airplane.
     
  16. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    Now that is the ultimate in IRONY....:yes:.....:D
     
  17. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Oops, well, that website isn't given to anyone other than in my signature on this forum and has been updated to the appropriate website.

    I've played with answering lots of questions on the website but eventually withdrew from doing so once I figured out that what I really want is for them to call me because it's with the phone call that I absolutely walk all over the competition. The majority of the "leads" I get come from word of mouth, business cards in FBO(s) and Facebook advertisements. The people who come from Facebook advertisements are certainly less likely to be a real student and ask lots of ridiculous questions but I have converted some of them.

    When I talk to someone on the phone I explain what it means to get a private pilot certificate, what they could do with it, and how I'll walk them down that path.

    I also explain who the competition is, what their phone numbers are, what they charge, and the differences between the competition and our operation. I'm incredibly transparent about it and I find that if I can get someone on the phone they will choose to do business with me every time. I've never had a phone call with someone that then chose the competition. I also return every single phone call and respond to every single e-mail and text message.

    Money is likely the biggest problem why someone chooses NOT to learn to fly once I talk with them. After we take the discovery flight the next obstacle that's absolutely devastating is the medical.

    In the last month I've generated maybe 10 good leads. Converted 4 of them into discovery flights (these are the people of the 10 that could afford it) and of those 4 none of them could get issued a medical on the spot by an AME. I suspect maybe 1 of them will follow through on my advice to work through their issue with Dr Bruce.

    The medical problems of the four:

    1.) Young and received a minor in possession of alcohol standing outside of his apartment. About six months before he turned 21. We'll likely work past this.

    2.) Young and sees a shrink regularly and is on an anti-depressant. Not interested in jumping through any hoops and just decided they didn't want to fly when they learned there would be significant challenges getting issued a medical.

    3.) Young and was "diagnosed" with ADHD at a young age and was given prescription pills that he took for quite a long time but no longer does. He threw in the towel when he found out there would be significant hoops to jump through.

    4.) In his 50s, a few DUIs years back but none for many years. When he found out that he may have to get some paperwork together for the Feds he was basically like F the Feds I'll just buy a new motorcycle instead.

    Usually I don't have this many issues with medicals but I've just been on a streak with medical related problems and new students lately.
     
  18. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Closing the deal via phone, especially if it's a word-of-mouth referral, could definitely help convert but, at the same time, being able to do personal research and gather as much information as needed to make an informed decision before calling helps both parties save time.

    Texting and Web surfing on iPads and mobile devices is outstripping voice calls pretty heavily in the current crop. If I can study up on what to expect before I call, I'll feel more informed and confident when discussing whatever comes up on the phone. If you're talking about how you're better than the competition (you obviously wouldn't say that the competition is better), it won't carry much weight - and may hinder your efforts because I'm on the phone with you, not your competition.

    Regarding the medical stuff... having that info laid out where it can be found by someone looking up flight training, and including encouraging solutions, will likely get someone on the fence to make a call one way or the other - saving you both time.

    The money thing may be in an issue, but an introductory flight (in many instances) costs less than heading to the stadium for a football game, a hotdog, and a beer. Focusing on all the negatives will scare all but the most determined away.

    "You'll need to fly at least 2 or 3 times a week if you want to get your PPL." should be "If you want to fast track it, then 2 or 3 times a week will get you there, but, we can proceed at whatever pace you're comfortable with - and you'll still get your PPL."

    If I hear 2-3 times a week and it's going to cost me $170/hr dual, my brain is saying it's a $2000/mo habit - just to train. That's quite a load for even the established middle class.

    Another thing is that flight schools like to publish 150/152 rates, and that's what a lot of folks will use in their cost calculations. Once they hear that it's going to have to be a 172 because of weight issues, they realize it's another $40-$50/hr and feel like they were just taken to the cleaners. I wouldn't even publish or advertise a 150/152 for flight training but, once a student was soloing, if it was offered, and they could get checked out in one, they'd realize they would be saving that $40-$50/hr during their solo adventures or for time-building.
     
  19. Paul Hamilton

    Paul Hamilton Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This matches my experience. I started reading general aviation magazines as a child in the 1950s and can recall being surprized at how prevalent themes like this were. Fortunately, my early years were shaped by a trove of 1930s and 1940s aviation books and magazine fragments in which it was the norm to be "airminded" and the downer stuff had not yet appeared. I got to grow up in the 1950s and 1960s as something of a 1940s kid.

    I think the myth of "the good old days" in aviation started in the early 1950s. That was about when most of the public stopped being fascinated with airplanes, which may have been a causal factor in the genesis of the myth. It is significant that the so-called "aviation golden age" is about a generation earlier (in the 1920s).
     
  20. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    Wow....
    I had no idea that medical and arrest issues could complicate getting a pilots certificate so much......

    :redface:
     
  21. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Why not? It also complicates keepingvor getting a drivers license, getting a job, etc. pretty sensible restrictions.
     
  22. Jimmy cooper

    Jimmy cooper En-Route

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    Aviation was very exciting in the late 50s and cheap. An aeronca champ was 7 bucks an hour wet. Most instructors has thousands of hours from being in WW2 and knew their stalls,spins, cross winds etc. down pat. Entirely different circumstances. Glad I didn't miss it. Today many instructors have very few hours, not many more than a recent PPL pilot. Prices for 60 year old ramp rats are absurd! As is fuel.
     
  23. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    That's pretty much my story too. Only I went on to make my hobby my career so I more or less accepted all the procedural/legal stuff that goes along with it. But it might be different if I was paying for it vs. getting paid to do it.
     
  24. JimNtexas

    JimNtexas Pattern Altitude

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    Amen to that!

    Our flying club is going to vote on adding a GTN-650 to our Warrior this week.

    Knowing how aviation businesses feel about 'tire-kickers', I flew our Warrior to a local avionics dealer and asked for just a 'ballpark-won't hold you to guestimate installed price'.

    The person who seemed to be in charge said, 'Oh yes, we've done business with you guys before'. That's a true statement.

    'But only the owner can give estimates, I'll have him call you'.

    That was two weeks ago. No call yet.

    I know a Warrior is just a little ****-ant in the big scheme of aviation things, so if we're too tiny to bother with fine. Why not just say so?

    Of course all of us GA pilots are rich beyond the dreams of avarice, so I suppose even someone who shows up in an airplane to ask for an estimate is probably really a penniless tire-kicker who isn't worth the time it takes to make phone call. :mad2:
     
  25. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    On the other hand, as long as you're outside of Bravo, it's still like this:

    Funny how flying was so expensive even back then. I agree that there weren't any of these stupid TFRs though.
     
  26. zaitcev

    zaitcev En-Route

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    If that's the case, why cannot they fly under Sport Pilot privileges? I understand that you cannot fly in furtherance of a business etc., but surely an astute marketer like you could spin it in a positive way. Any of that typical old-school disdain for plastic airplanes and their pilots? Or what?
     
  27. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    I don't do sport pilot training. Not likely to buy an airplane to do it in either as most people have very limited interest when I explain the differences in privileges.

    Our competitor does have a sport pilot airplane but they charge as much for it as we do a 172. It costs more to do a sport pilot certificate with them then it does a private with us.

    If I absolutely can't get past the medical issue with them I try to shove them in their direction to do sport pilot but I've yet to see a single person do it. They're just not willing to pay more to get less privileges. At that point they're so annoyed by all the rules they just spend the money on something else.
     
  28. RJM62

    RJM62 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It's a testimony to your character that you have your prospects consider those issues right from the get-go, before they've invested thousands of dollars in something that will never happen and/or disqualified themselves from SP by walking uninformed into an AME's office.

    Rich
     
  29. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    And who was that, pray-tell? Because I really don't have time to screw with places not calling me back. Might as well help the free market kill them.
     
  30. FlyingIsGood

    FlyingIsGood Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That sucks. If everyone is so busy that they don't need any more money or work, then aviation must be booming and this thread is completely off-base!

    Seems like there is no concept of long-term customer retention. It's MUCH cheaper to market to current customers than to get new ones.
     
  31. Flying Viking

    Flying Viking Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Then again, the passengers on PSA Flight 182 would probably have appreciated some crap surrounding the two guys in the Cessna enjoying the simple pleasure...
     
  32. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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  33. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 En-Route

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    It'd have to be in a steam gage,non-BRS airplane for sure... otherwise it'd feel like a video game...;)
     
  34. ClimbnSink

    ClimbnSink Ejection Handle Pulled

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    A cub, biplane, something cool. Heck a weight shift trike would be immeasurably better then anything from the vanilla GA fleet.
     
  35. Tristar

    Tristar Pattern Altitude

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    If it wasn't for the fact I fly for a living, I question how much I'd be in to aviation anymore. I love flying but I don't have friends to fly with. Even though aviation is a common ground, a 29 year old female still feels out of place at EAA meetings full of 60 year old pilots, many whom don't fly anymore. Even my coworkers are just that, people I work with. If I hadn't majored in aviation, I still would have gone to college and working through paying that off. Aviation is still too expensive for me outside a rare occasion that I take a curious friend or family member for a ride. I fly skydivers on occasion just so I don't forget how to fly one. Many larger FBOs aren't set up for people to come hang out and drink coffee either. Aviation can be tough to get into and stay in but we all knew that. I can't say I agree with letting an airplane sit in a hanger very long though.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  36. txflyer

    txflyer En-Route

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    Fly it like you STOL it ♦
    Part of it may have to do with kids nowadays not knowing how to work on their own cars, much less an airplane.

    Heck, I can't even work on these new cars anymore. You can't even see the spark plugs. No carbs to rebuild, no points, no condensers or coils.

    The engines now look like a big plastic chunk of a mass of plumbing that you have to plug into with a computer. Back in the day, if you wanted to go to town, you had to tweak on the old Chevy.
     
  37. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Stein Air in Minnesota.
     
  38. Dav8or

    Dav8or Final Approach

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    I don't think that's it. Only a tiny percentage of aircraft owners actually work on their planes. Most drop them off for service just like their cars. This has always been the case.
     
  39. Bill Jennings

    Bill Jennings Final Approach

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    It all probably boils down to ROI. Not traditional ROI, but the enjoyment/excitement to cost/PITA ratio. For most folks, it just isn't worth the studying, training, ,hassle, and cost.

    Joe Blow can buy a boat, RV, motorcycle today and be on the water/road tomorrow. No tests, no medicals, just pay your money and have fun.
     
  40. Jay Honeck

    Jay Honeck Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Argh! Man, you nailed that, right on the money.

    I belong to quite a few aviation groups. One of them, in particular, pokes gentle fun at "kewees" -- flightless birds -- yet most of the members haven't flown in years. Some haven't flown in decades.

    I literally stopped attending meetings when I learned that their annual gathering at EAA Oshkosh was being held off-site and was therefore inaccessible for pilots who flew in -- like me.

    When I brought this up, all I got were blank looks. It honestly never dawned on them that any members of their pilot's group might have actually flown into Oshkosh! They offered to arrange transportation, but that wasn't my POINT.

    I get SO frustrated with these groups. Many were created to perpetuate and grow aviation, yet they've become gatherings of frustrated old guys that turn off young pilots like you, and female pilots don't have much representation at all.

    As the spouse of a female pilot, it's amazing how casually people diss her. It takes real guts to be a girl pilot, and I tip my hat to you.

    What can we do to change this?