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Important Notice - This site and COVID 19


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Important Notice - This site and COVID 19

It may sound silly but this great site, and the ClearProp Pilot Supplies shop, has what you could say been infected by the Coronavirus and thus many drastic steps must be taken. The easy thing is to just close the site, but I would like to take this opportunity to get your all-important feedback on the issues that this site is now and about to experience. COVID 19 is effecting the site's existence in a form of accumulated risk i.e. the Swiss Cheese risk model

 

The important thing to remember is that we will most likely feel the effects of COVID 19 for the next 1.5 years

 

What we know today and assume of tomorrow

The Australian Government has closed its doors and many people will be working from home. Internet services have been strengthened by the major carriers which is a good thing for the site. The Australian dollar has been falling faster than an engine failure on take-off with it today now close to 56c. All reports are saying that the dollar will go below the 50c mark. Unemployment is increasing and that we need to be prepared for a worldwide recession which could last till the end of next year...that's for over 1.5 years from today.

 

Aviation

We all know through the media that commercial aviation is severely impacted by the virus but what is not being said in the media is that recreational aviation is hit just as bad. That's probably because it is, after all, a recreational activity and not newsworthy but what about the people in it, the industry. Stimulus packages are released for people to spend more but the retirees, the bulk of those that make up our industry and fuels the existence of our industry which also includes commercial concerns, what about them? Interest rates are also dropping faster than an EFTO so how can retirees afford to continue to fly? How can they afford to even buy Pilot Supplies when they don't have any surplus money and because of the dollar prices are going through the roof? Those commercial concerns such as Pilot Supplies stores will struggle, flying schools will struggle and pilots will be forced to sell their aircraft because of hangarage, maintenance and parts costs and these aircraft will be sold for a lot less than their real worth.

 

The end results

I know all of the above spells doom and gloom and even my daughter came to me yesterday and simply said "The sky is falling Dad" (Chicken Little) which in knowing my daughter I can say that even at 22 years of age, she is extremely concerned.

 

BUT, we will all come through this...WE WILL, there is no question about it. Things will be different, but we will come out the other end. What we do today will determine how we will come out the other end.

 

Recreational Flying (.com) is now infected by COVID 19

Recreational Flying (.com) and ClearProp (.com.au) can no longer continue as it is due to the effects of COVID 19 so one would say that the site is now infected and requires immediate intervention. As you continue to read I would like you to always consider that one option is to close down because even though I could do everything I could to save it, it may still result in its closure at an even greater cost trying to save it.

 

For around 18 years I have put my heart and soul into this site, everything that I have, everything that I am and yes I have made some absolutely bad decisions over those years, decisions that I so deeply regret and cannot apologise enough for but also I have made some good decisions that has helped many recreational aviators to learn more in flying safer, better and more proper maintenance of their aircraft and greatly improved the flying skills of so many. I take solace in knowing that there are many mum and dad recreational aviators out there that are alive today because of something they have gained from interactions with other recreational aviators right here on Recreational Flying. In fact there are probably many that don't even know that this great resource has helped keep them safe over its 18 years because they have learnt something which has changed something, even a very small thing that they unknowingly changed, that could have resulted in a completely different outcome for them years later.

 

However, I am 60 years old now and have been unemployed for almost a year now. In my line of work (Project, Program and PMO Management), the opportunities are now far and few even though I have 40 years of experience. In fact I have seen young people with far less experience cost organisations millions of dollars in mistakes that an experienced person, who probably made the same mistakes many years ago, would know not to do because of that experience, you can't buy experience but it can save you everything...but I digress. To put it simply, I no longer have the money to keep the site going through these turbulent COVID 19 times. In fact, I only have enough spare cash for 2 more house payments and with the unemployment rate expected to rise to at least 10% the chances of that changing are minimal.

 

The site is hosted on a dedicated server in Los Angeles. The cost for just the server is $150USD. A payment is due today and at around only 56c exchange rate that has now leaped to $270AUD. This will most probably increase further and future costs will pass $300AUD a month and beyond.

 

The server is extremely optimised for performance in its specs and configuration to not only Australian users but for the whole world. An option is to bring the hosting back to Australia. A server of the same specs would cost around $350AUD a month so the server would have to be of much lower specs at a cost of about $225 a month but with less performance. This will also need a one-off cost of around $200AUD for its configuration OR $400AUD to configure the server to get its best performance. The result is an initial one-off high cost, a lower performing server, targeting mostly to just Australian users but still a high cost through these times.

 

Small development and enhancements to the site I do however any extra development can only be done by overseas resources. This means that the site cannot be developed further as for not only the initial cost, but the exchange rate would make it completely cost prohibitive. So, the site could only be maintained as it is now and nothing new or provide more to try and entice an increase in its userbase to help others. The site will continue to decline due to the virus and the site's capability to provide a great environment to help all recreational aviators. The impact of the virus will see less newcomers to the industry plus many existing recreational aviators leaving the industry.

 

ClearProp will decline rapidly as the cost of aviation products will sharply increase. The increase of prices with less potential customers will also severely impact the small contribution Clear Prop makes to assist in the costs of providing Recreational Flying (.com). The management of prices due to the exchange rate variations will make it extremely hard to manage accurate price listings as ClearProp prides itself of providing products to recreational aviators with such small margins. A product with say a $5 margin would become a loss in just over night. So ClearProp is not viable in its current form.

 

Donations from First Class Members have also helped towards site costs however not only will that number of donations decrease but the real value of the donation decreases as well especially to any overseas costs like hosting, software licensing fees, maintenance fees etc due to exchange rates.

 

So...

There is a lot more to consider than what I have listed here but I liken it to a person getting infected by COVID 19, the medical help that is needed to try and overcome the impacts of the virus on that person and the chance that the intervention that is undertaken may still result in a deadly outcome. The impacts on the site are very infectious as a negative impact on just one component of the site can rapidly spread throughout the site resulting in many negatively infected areas.

 

Do we close the site and go to Facebook...it's free but extremely limited?

 

Do we go on a drive for funds...financial donations will only provide a short term solution but will not be sustainable for the long term and most importantly, when I started the site all those years ago I said it will not cost anyone anything, what kind of person would you be if you charged a friend to help them, we are all friends in our common interest of recreational flying?

 

Do we close the site and come back another day...maybe?

 

Do we try and sell the site...wouldn't get much, if anything and kind of site would it end up and what could happen to the overall reason why I started the site, this great resource all those years ago?

 

What could we do with ClearProp...make it email only on current price, list prices as "cost" + $5 as an example i.e. the cost (obtained by email) plus a stated margin value...just a thought?

 

Do we think outside the box...are there any weird or completely out of this world ideas that just may be an answer worth trying?

 

Please...come on...your thoughts and ideas, however strange they may be, on how this great resource can beat its COVID 19 infection...TODAY

 

(please this is so important that we MUST stay on topic) :smile:

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Guest Machtuk

Should you feel the need to close down we would understand, your own sanity and health is far more important than a forum! Thanks for what you have done thus far, take care, you you first!?

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Should you feel the need to close down we would understand, your own sanity and health is far more important than a forum! Thanks for what you have done thus far, take care, you you first!?

Thanks [uSER=12274]@Machtuk[/uSER] but one thing to note is that my labour costs nothing in real terms so consider that as being available for the site, without question, in any ideas that anyone has to get the site through the next 1.5 years financially

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Send me your bank details and I can get the ball rolling.

Thanks @Yenn whilst the thought is so greatly appreciated, I think we need some overall long term solutions. I am sure money will form some part of that but should we try and create some form of an overall plan covering everything which will define to what extent money plays a part.

 

I mean it could be said:

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom

"Reduce costs whilst minimising the reduction of service"

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I have turned off the donations button on the site till we can collectively figure out a way forward, a lasting way forward through these upcoming times (or until I can get a job again that is, perfect solution...anyone know a company that needs a contract PM or PMO Manager).

 

Does anyone know of anyone that is a high level web server admin person that can configure a server to get the best out of it and is willing to donate some time?

 

Does anyone know of anyone that has a high performance server that is under utilised and is willing to donate some server space and data traffic etc?

 

Does anyone have any ideas on what we could do with ClearProp...in other words how can we turn the current situation into an opportunity...think outside the box?

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I just want to say.

THANK YOU FOR ALL !.that has gone before and hopefully will last a while longer .

So that we, stuck here at home have a place to " gripes ", onto.

spacesailor

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This is sad news indeed Ian. Two body blows in one morning. I went to the Men's Shed this morning so I could use the fast computer to upload a couple more profiles to the Showcase, only to find it has been suspended until at least April 13 due to the virus. They will review the situation to see if it re-opens or remains suspended. Most members are in the critical over 65 category, so they cannot take any risks. The co-ordinator said he sent a group text to members and my name was on the list, but I never received it.

 

Then I come home and log on to find this. Until this is settled, there is probably not much point in adding more aircraft. I trust what has been uploaded will be secured in some way. There is a hell of a lot of work researching these. While I rely a lot on Wikipedia, I do have to search other database/websites for information not available on wiki. Then there's the locating of suitable photos and preparing them to our specs. What am I going to do now? I'll have to go out and weed the garden, damn it.

 

If I could win the Powerball jackpot tonight I'd buy the site from you and pay you to run it, but curses, I can't afford a ticket.

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We all know that when you can't find something that you always do know where it is...you know, it is in the place that you haven't looked yet...we just haven't looked in the right place yet for the solution...no matter how silly that place may first sound

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.................... I'm listening Ian - I hope you pull a big rabbit out of the hat

 

with everyone gone to facebook - kinda makes this site unique - is that a pro for survival ?

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FB will kill the interaction of the site with everyone. I am a memer of many facebook groups and some are woefull..some are ok but its limited to a "feed" not a sectionalised way of content...and this area we choose to play in needs sectionalised content

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Facebook has its problems. In friend terms its shallow. Forums have depth. As you’ve stated it’s probably saved lives.

 

I’d suggest leaving the server in USA for another month then review. Give it a month to see how things settle down. It’s all unchartered territory.

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I am thinking Facebook might be the way to go, everyone else has gone their

Quite a few of us will never will join Facebook or any of the others.

 

This site is a lifeline for lots of people, so it's worth paying for. If everyone chipped in a few bob a week (less than we spend on beer or coffee) it might make all the difference.

 

It amazes me that Recreationalflying, of world importance, is built and paid for by one person of very limited means. Perhaps it's time to fundamentally change the ownership structure to make it financially viable and allow Ian a bit of breathing space to look after his own interests a bit better.

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Put the Donate button or first class thing back up again..I will throw some money at it and I am sure a lot of others will....maybe also its time to think about a subscription arrangement...setup a paypal for say 10 bucks a year with the recurring feature or something like that for everyone. I donate to a few via patreon and thats US$1.00 per month via paypal and that works well for them to keep content coming

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I have a FB account but can't stand the place. Full of sh!t, trolls and adverts for dodgy crap. I'd sooner pay a fee to stay here away from that diabolical piece of unadulterated crap. If every member became a first class member there should be enough cash to keep running although perhaps not enough to keep Ian fed.

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Our common interested that brings us together on this awesome site and we do tend to take things for granted, the thought of losing that comraderie is a bloody sad thought.

 

It's a bugger your doing it tough Ian and I thank you for this great site but understand if u need to shut it down.

 

I'm also happy to make a donation like Mark kyle said, and agree facebook doesn't have that interaction that this site has.

 

 

This site was such a big help to me when i built my Savannah with information of pasted builders being able to help me out when I hit a brickwall and being able to do the same, also getting to meet some great people in person thru this site.

Edited by Guy s
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Ian, I've been thinking for some time about this. Can I still kick in and become a "first class" member?

 

Mark's idea is good too. Times will be a bit tougher for everyone but I reckon you'll find people would go for an annual subscription if it helps keep the site afloat.

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As someone who is new to the scene and therefore does not understand the system, why can't RAA provide some server space? The annual membership used to provide a hard copy magazine did it not? Then digital, now nothing. Surely they could see the value?

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Understand where you are coming from @Cooko but unfortunately RAAus has had issues with this site which go way back for 18 years. This site gives what were previously members of an Association of happy like minded people and now just clients in a RAAus corporate monopoly, a voice which RAAus has never liked and even at times have gone out of their way to try and close the site down...unfortunately. At one stage a then RAAus President tried to kick me out of RAAus, I have had numerous legal threat letters from RAAus executives and another time this site created a rally of members that forced a special meeting of members when the then RAAus Board of Representatives were destroying our beloved Association.

 

This site represents the collective of recreational aviators who have many differing views but still, and most importantly, an opportunity for them to have those views, be independent and be free to voice them in hopefully a professional and decent manner.

 

So to put it simply, RAAus would say "When hell freezes over"...which I have always considered to be a real pity that desire for "control" overrides the great potential of people who have a common interest working and helping each other for an even greater outcome...together!

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Guest Machtuk

Ian when you have a governing body such as the RAAus there will always be control freaks that infiltrate such organisations, fact of life the human species can be very vindictive and single minded focused on revenge! This is a great forum but in these uncertain times we each are faced with challenges and a clouded crystal ball. Again look after YOU first and foremost?

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I am surprised at the amount of support that is being shown and I am extremely grateful but please understand that I am so very reluctant to take donations if that level of support, forever reason, can not be maintained...I would feel a fraud and especially to those that are struggling themselves now or will be in the near future as we go through these turbulent times.

 

I think the best solution is if I can find a contract job in the Project, Program, Portfolio and PMO Management area for some corporate anywhere in Australia, or even overseas and if I can, then I can be responsible for ensuring the site continues without any risk to its valued users. So please, if you are working in a corporate (or Fed, State or Local Gov) anywhere and there may be an opportunity then please let me know and I can send you my CV. I have project managed small and large business and ICT programs, established many PMOs (Project Management Office), bring with me a proven PM framework, governance and methodology that I developed, and Ernst & Young endorsed, and have uplifted PM maturity in Gov and corporate entities using the world renowned P3M3 standards. Naturally I can also project manage simple small projects and have controlled projects/programs from $200k to $253m, I can work as a hands on 1 man band to many direct reports, largest was a program where I had 55 people reporting directly to me.

 

So please, ask around and if you know of any opportunity that could benefit from my skills then ask me for a copy of my CV. I would feel far more comfortable doing this than to ask for any kind of handout to ensure this great resource continues for all recreational aviators...thanks

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If only.... Don't blame Cooko.. He is not aware of the history of all this. I'm sure Ian is not alone in wondering about the future. Beware of depression setting in. Currently answers don't come easily for the form of the future of many things. This is going to be an almighty shake up for a lot of people. Nev

Edited by facthunter
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A Patreon support style of allowing members to contribute is really what this site needs. Not just for now but for the rest of life of this site. Patreon is made to support Artists & Creators, Ian definately fits right into this description and deserves payment for his service to us members.

If Ian required the support & guidance that Patreon provides then paying their 8 - 12% commission is warranted, otherwise, probably etter idea is to setup a similar system in clearprop that encourages members to join in supporting this site.

I myself have in the past donated to this site and purchased goods from clearprop, albeit I fear way too infrequently to give just reward for what is gained from this site.

An option is for monthly donations that are direct debited, that way we do not forget to pay our dues. If every current member could give an initial $10 with $1/month ongoing it would do 2 things, firstly the $10 capitalises the site to an acceptable level and relieves much of Ian’s stress, we can looks at this payment as past dues. Ie what should have already been donated. The $1/month pays the running costs, including payment to Ian for his input, and possibly enough to allow for a succession plan for the site rather than letting it die when Ian wishes to retire.

Now I know you cannot force all members to contribute, but it would be nice if they did, maybe a rewards system could also be setup in clearprop as an enticement. where donating members earn points (RecPoints) that can be used to redeem on goods through clearprop. Would be much better than trying to generate sales by having very low margins on items. This way we are effectively buying ourselves presents in advance but more importantly providing the capital required to run this site.

If more funds are generated over time than Ian feels comfortable with, can always give extra points back to supporters. Consistent gold supporters from the past maybe should be rewarded to a slightly higher level than the rest of us if Ian did decide to follow this route.

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