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Is flying dying due to cost or enthusiasm


metalman
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I've just been looking at another forum and there's the usual talk of GA dying due to cost ,so I had a look at the stats on wages very briefly to see the difference between today and 1969( why that year, I happened to see some old receipts from RVAC ),

 

2014 average wage approx $1100 gross approx rental of a 172/pa28 $200-220ph

 

1969 average wage approx $75 gross ,approx rental of a 172/pa28 $29ph

 

To rent an aircraft in 69 would be 38% of a weekly wage whereas it comes in at 20% of today's wage! now the 1969 figure is from memory ( I looked through an old logbook a few years ago and found a receipt in the back so I may have the figures wrong) but even if it's off by a lot it still works out cheaper as a stand alone figure to the past costs. So, is flying dearer? Is all the other parts of our life dearer leaving less for flying pursuits? Or is there other factors?

 

One thing that I believe is killing aviation is the mundaneness of it in the eyes of the general public, when you can jump on a plane as if a bus and flit up to Sydney or Brisbane for $100 ( or less!!!) flying has become a lot less exciting in the public perception, is that a reason, it's just not as exciting as it once was?

 

Something I've watched at my field is one of the guys there is always giving rides to people,,,always ! If you stand still long enough he'll offer to take you for a lap of the valley, is that's what's missing, this guy has 23000 hours as an ATPL and yet his enthusiasm is amazing, do we need to become more willing to take people up( legal ramifications are also a concern) ?

 

Opinions???

 

 

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Flying was once regarded with awe by the now-older generation, but for most of the younger generation these days it's just a way of getting around. Ask the average FIFO worker whether he/she would be interested in learning to fly a 40 year old Cessna. Besides, learning to fly takes effort, study and commitment as well as money over an extended period, and you're competing with all the other quick reward distractions that are available today. What we need is someone willing to teach them to fly spaceships. That would get them interested.

 

rgmwa

 

 

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I guess it's a question, not of average income, but of disposable income; and that generally makes recreational aviation a "grey power" activity. It's also a question of one's priorities for that disposable income. If one has been bitten by the aviation bug, it's high on your list of priorities; but it seems less people are being infected nowadays. Flying airline in a widebody jet does not cause people to be bitten by the bug - more likely, repelled. Your fellow who gives free rides is far more likely to generate interest - but his targets are people who are already at the field anyway.

 

So the question comes down to what has happened to the "kid on the airfield fence"? - and the answer is, he's playing computer games. He doesn't have a pushbike, because his parents know it's too dangerous in to-day's traffic; and the airport's too far away to walk, and it's a lot easier to turn on the computer. TV made personal flying something "they" do, not something normal people do. A small minority get bored with computer games later in life, and discover that "they" is actually "we", but a fair number of them get turned off by aircraft that are not as good as they appear, too costly to maintain, etc; and the category rules set by the relevant authorities don't do much to fix that.

 

Gliding used to be a "self-help" activity that was readily affordable, and one found all sorts of people involved, from all walks of life. It tended to take a full day to get just one flight; but that didn't matter if you were an integral part of the club activity. However, that "simply messing about in aircraft" hard-core style faded out as people started to want a turn-key activity that they could walk up to, fly, and walk away. So gliding became an elitist sport. Grass-roots ultralighting took over, but it has also gone away from the "minimum cost fun" activity. This seems to be a general pattern; I watched it with small sail boats, it started with the VJ class, with cotton sails, and developed from there.

 

These things seem to have a "half life" of about 20 years; then they split into one or more minor groups that stay with their particular activity, e.g. Gyros or Trikes, whilst the majority move to something else. I don't yet see what the something else will be for the present bulk of RAA, but the overall pattern is there, just the same.

 

People seem to fall into two classes as far as aviation is concerned - there is a majority, who drift into it for a year or two, and then drift out again, to try skiing or whatever; and a small minority, for whom it is a lifetime activity. The "casual" participants aren't prepared to put in the effort it takes to get more than a superficial involvement; the "serious" ones find it a subject that one can never finish learning about, and get enormous satisfaction from it. If you gave your kids a hammer when they were four or so, rather than a TV set, they are more likely to develop an interest in aviation; but not all kids are interested in making things.

 

 

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Is it really dying or in fact changing.

 

There has been the continual whinging and dying statements since before I commenced flying in 1979.

 

There is also the cost argument. In fact as pointed out by metalman to it is cheaper as a percentage of income(it has always been expensive).

 

The media, including social media, reporting the EXTREME danger of small aeroplanes always crashing. If I took any notice of 'some' people here, and this is a flying forum, I would only travel RPT.

 

There has always been people who spend money to get a licence, put it on their dressing table, and then only talk about actually flying - become an armchair expert, but that is just life.

 

I suspect changing would be a better description. I see a lot more people owning and flying small aircraft then years ago. The change to flying RAA type aircraft, albeit many coming from GA (myself included), has caused a lot of aero clubs to shut/restructure - owners don't Xhire much. Adding to this the small charter business has suffered with the times. A lot of small CHTR has disappeared like - cattle buyers travelling to stations, Power line inspection methods, the FIFO system of the mines using million dollar aircraft, improved roads, and it goes on.

 

The change in the number of people in the RAA/AUF area to buy and fly from build and fly or Xhire is in itself really only a change.

 

I see private flying as being pretty healthy, amongst all the doomsday predictions.

 

 

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Cost is only an issue if you own a plane or want to fly regularly.

 

A while back Paul Bertorelli wrote in one of his Avweb columns that muzzling the bigots at your local flying club would help attract members. That made me chuckle.

 

The big issue is that most young people are lefties and most old people are conservative. And most young people don't have the job security to consider big financial commitments, the entry level jobs that the boomers walked into after school have mostly disappeared thanks to the global economy and throw away consumer items.

 

And you can buy a used motorbike for $5k.

 

 

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How many flying hours in a weeks wages , is a good basis for cost comparisons. I would suggest it is cheaper than it was in the past.

 

Wanting an aeroplane is one thing. The reality of owning it is another. Doing the right thing by it is another step again . I doubt many people know how to look after a plane.

 

Bang for your buck....... With all the hassles IF you aren't in a compatible group, it could be a bit lonely. You need others to relate to with your hobby, exchange ideas and get your batteries charged up (motivation). Having people in the peer group who set a good example is magic, the converse is a disaster. Flying doesn't forgive sloppy work, or mistakes. You need a "safety first" mindset to survive or an uncanny amount of luck..

 

For a "hands on" person who can feel the plane as an extension of themselves, flying can be an experience that is difficult to equal. If you are doing it by numbers and feel "what am I doing up here?" often... you won't keep it up. Nev

 

 

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The middle class has been hollowed out over the last 40 years, the average wage is distorted because the very wealthy have increased their wealth markedly since the 1980s and the middle class has shrunken thanks to off shore manufacturing and consolidation of agribusiness.

 

Flying is no more dangerous than riding a motorbike, look how many people manage to survive Jabiru engine failures without injury.

 

 

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Certainly don't think that it's dying - just changing. People, generally due to a very limited amount of thought, often point to the reduction in the number of flying schools as an indicator of General Aviation dying. They never seem to consider the impact of the growth of the aviation academy, cadetships or university flying courses.

 

The schools and some clubs have indeed been closing but this can be pretty much 100% attributed to the growth in the large "Academy" and the movement of almost all commercial training to these places. The schools used to all have a backbone of guys doing commercial courses and simply building hours but this is all done through an airline academy or university nowadays. Basically i think we've seen a big split in the industry so the small schools and aero clubs are seeming a little more lonely without the commercial hour builders.

 

This has however allowed many schools and clubs to refocus on flying purely for fun. I think this will allow for a gradual growth in those interested in flying purely for fun over the next decade or so.

 

 

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I think FT might be a closet "leftie"

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Fact hunter is on the money , for me the social side is as important as the flying, just tooling around by yourself gets a bit boring, but the $100([email protected] prices?) hamburger scenario makes it an enjoyable social event.

 

I do see in my sons the computer game thing, they tend to live vicariously through the little man on the screen rather than make the effort to do it for real, having said that ,there is a few young ones learning at Coldstream but unless mum n dad are pitching in there's a lot of after school work needed to pay for aeroplanes.

 

Cost wise I couldn't afford to own my own plane if it was certified, the maintenance would tip it over the line for me, experimental category and RAA have really done a lot to bring it into the grasp of the average person.

 

 

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To rent an aircraft in 69 would be 38% of a weekly wage whereas it comes in at 20% of today's wage!

I kept hearing how much better off I was getting in over 30 years working in Oz with such statistics, but all I ever saw was my bank and credit card debit growing and always feeling more pressure to keep up with the payments.

 

When I bought my first car in the 70's, a Datsun 1000, I took a loan from a Credit Company WITH MY 20% DEPOSIT and there was no missing payments, one day late and they were on the phone giving you an earful expecting you in that afternoon or else - now if you're late it's "Can we give you more or restructure all your loans into one?" crap. Very irresponsible and it just makes everything harder so I don't agree that things are cheaper relative, it's just another burden.

 

and you're competing with all the other quick reward distractions that are available today. What we need is someone willing to teach them to fly spaceships. That would get them interested.

Indeed, not that flyings a poor alternate, just on a "Cost per Buzz" scale it has certainly been diminished. Lower the cost or increase the buzz.

 

 

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The big issue is that most young people are lefties and most old people are conservative.

That's a pretty big generalisation!

Most older people vehemently support Medicare. That's not a very "conservative" thing to do, but they tend to be "socially" conservative. Young people are often socially liberal ("leftie"), but the same young people are happy to hurl verbal abuse at someone who looks like an immigrant (even if the "immigrant-looking person" is actually born & bred here), which is most definitely not a socially liberal thing to do. People wax and wane in their political views depending on what is convenient for them at the time, not what is a logical to believe.

 

Back on topic.....the cost of living in Australia has markedly increased, not decreased over the years. While we're generally paid pretty well, we also pay some of the highest prices for everyday items on the planet. Flying is an expensive hobby. So with all the other expenses in ordinary life, something takes a hit.

 

 

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Re catching the Kids' interest, I've been wondering (on the odd occasion I've been driving somewhere, in lieu of listening to the radio) whether there would be any merit in carting the dead Blanik I purchased for spares, along to the local primary school, and maybe showing the kids a video; I've noticed at places like the Paris air show, that there's no substitute for a piece of real hardware that people can walk around (and touch, if there's an attendant there to stop them pinching bits). You forget pictures as soon as you walk to the next exhibit, but you remember hardware, if it grabs you.

 

My wife, who was a schoolteacher, thinks this would be a waste of time and effort; but I notice a lot of aeronautical engineering uni courses are now building kit aircraft as part of the coursework.

 

 

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I was asked to give a talk a while back to a group of primary school age kids about flying generally, and took along the tail fin and rudder of my partly built plane to show them. It was an interesting experience. Most were very attentive and asked some good questions, a few were bored and showed it, but they all clapped politely at the end, so I took that as a good sign. No dents in the aluminium either, so that was a relief.

 

rgmwa

 

 

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i think a lot is the public perception through the news is that Light aircraft are dangerous, the only exposure they get is through news reports, whereas, in the USA where GA is doing well, there are Airshows everywhere, aircraft flyovers at sporting events, a good example was the record RV flyover of a big football game in the US recently, and now the red bull air races at motorsport events, basically, getting general aviation in the public eye, and not through over sensationalised crash reports on the nightly news. a aircraft incident, makes the national headlines, whereas a crash in the USA would be lucky to make the local newspaper.... just today, reading about a beachgoer reporting a near miss at coolangatta yesterday between a QF and Virgin aircraft, even with footage from flight radar, it just that no one mentioned the 1500 ft vertical separation........ an aviation non event, spread all over the news... in a negative light...

 

 

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Young people now live in a different world, by young I mean anyone that was 12 when the internet came to Australia 1994 is now 32, the internet and cheap flights has made the world more accessible.

 

My friends that live and work in Toowoomba that work in agriculture now rarely if ever need to go in the field, they do their work via the internet thanks to remote sensors and satellites. 30 years ago these guys would have to go into the field all the time and would have benefited from aviation.

 

 

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Australia is a funny place, cost of items can confusing. As a example, I was reading a few days ago about the new Suzuki Vstrom 1000. It cost new $15 549 in 2002, now the new model costs exactly the same and the new model has a lot more electronic goodies like ABS.

 

Then, we get ripped off with fuel prices, vehicle prices etc.

 

 

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Ultralights.....The comparison you make is valid re the coverage... I don't know how we can change the adverse commentary. There has been a steady stream of accidents, unfortunately. Younger people are needed, as in just about everything I do these days they are notable by their absence... If you think about it, the cost of your own plane is quite high. Who builds in wood these days? Nature's composite they say. Building is not the scene with the RAAus. Perhaps it is something that needs to be worked on. Nev

 

 

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Japanese bikes have come down in price because the parts are now made in china.Nev, who build anything in wood these days? Almost always MDF or some other wood composite

Yup, even KTM have a factory in India for the little bikes.

 

 

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Interesting, I had a look at the Cessna 172 as an example ,cost in 1969 was $12500 usd and in 2013 was $274900 , it works out that in 1969 it would take 166 weeks pay but now it's 249, odd that it's was cheaper to buy than rent years ago but the opposite nowadays.

 

They had a women in aviation day at our field last year and had a really big turn out, maybe the open day thing is a consideration, I've often thought if a school ran a competition on the radio for a few free TIFs in conjunction with an open day kind of thing it might build a bit of exposure. A lot has to do with the school aswell , YLIL is generally pretty busy but the school at YCEM doesn't do anywhere the hours ,not sure why though,

 

 

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