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Important Notice - This site and COVID 19


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For me this forum is very valuable. I haven't found anything similar, so I use it even if I'm a rather long way from Australia. I would miss it, and I would like to help to keep it.

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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:

 

I too have been affected. I was meant to be flying with Emirates on the 21st May.to Edinburgh . It's been cancelled.. So I'm in limbo too.. I hope you can keep the site going.. Unfortunately the only radical solution could be self isolation for 2weeks.. But that's not viable.. Just keep washing your hands with soap .keep your distance. And I think we'll weather the storm.. Fingers crossed for a cure. Stay safe everyone..

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we are all hurting for the $$ right now and I class myself fortunate to be in a position that will not (in the short top med term be impacted). However, I am sure I have a small amount I can chip in to keep it alove. Perhaps a gofund me page? Or a premium membership (but what do I get for my $ that others don't get?). PLEASE PLEASE don't go with Facebook.. I have been part of other groups there and it goes to shit very very fast! Remember you introduce a whole new group of Admins (facebook bots and the ability for anyone with a sore thumb to report anything that hurts their feelings) this leads to a HUGE increase in the admin's efforts just to keep the page alive. What I dont have a lot of is time but perhaps others do and you can make a group of trusted admins to help reduce the workload..

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Ian perhaps consider going wider to the whole aviation community via a crowd funding organisation. Us members can help make that fund request "go viral" posting it to all the existing aviation media be it online FB, Instagram print media orgs etc and to flying organisations such as AOPA, SAAA, RAAus etc. That's a lot of people I am sure don't know about the site.

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With some of the funds place ads in aviation media to gain new members, site awareness benefits etc.

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Charge members an annual fee equal to a magazine subscription or part thereof. ($20?)

Offer a 3 month trial fee of $5.

 

4/

See if you can become a spot/ click fee agent for sales on all/any aviation shops, products (EFB memberships) /organisation and list links on your site. Don't know how hard this is to set up.

 

I am happy to contribute a membership fee or donation.

 

Keep your chin up and keep networking out to that big ocean of abundance, it usually bring rewards and support as you can see from this thread. .

 

Regards

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Would be very supportive of a subscription based system. However $10 up front and $1 per month sounds like a pittance to me.

Ian, you should not think of it as a contribution or donation, rather as a fee for service.

And please, forget the FB option.

Bob

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The Donation box has been reactivated. I believe through the help of everyone here that we can do it through these times and come out the other end.

 

I am also looking at ways that the First Class Member is done to the amount of donation and many other ideas that you good folk have suggested in this thread.

 

Ian perhaps consider going wider to the whole aviation community via a crowd funding organisation. Us members can help make that fund request "go viral" posting it to all the existing aviation media be it online FB, Instagram print media orgs etc and to flying organisations such as AOPA, SAAA, RAAus etc. That's a lot of people I am sure don't know about the site.

This is an important comment for the site in the long term and that is to try and get as many recreational aviators to come on to the site, post questions and comments, help each other out, get the word out there as this is the only thing that is going to kill any thought of going to Facebook which even I don't want...thanks

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I don't mind to "donating" as a first class member. I can afford the $50.00 as a pensioner, but , would be hard pressed to donate much more. I need to save to buy an aircraft and have flying lessons to have an RAAus certificate, to be able to fly the same aircraft.

 

I am not a computer genius but would distributed computing work? i mean, there are all these computer times of members that could be used for free?

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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.

Yes, How about a $10 a month subscription and the donation as a first class member with a "minimum" ???

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I don't mind to "donating" as a first class member. I can afford the $50.00 as a pensioner, but , would be hard pressed to donate much more. I need to save to buy an aircraft and have flying lessons to have an RAAus certificate, to be able to fly the same aircraft.

 

I am not a computer genius but would distributed computing work? i mean, there are all these computer times of members that could be used for free?

 

Joew49, I don't know how as a pensioner you can afford to save to buy an aircraft. As a pensioner myself I find it hard to save to buy toilet paper.

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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

1/

Ian perhaps consider going wider to the whole aviation community via a crowd funding organisation. Us members can help make that fund request "go viral" posting it to all the existing aviation media be it online FB, Instagram print media orgs etc and to flying organisations such as AOPA, SAAA, RAAus etc. That's a lot of people I am sure don't know about the site.

2/

With some of the funds place ads in aviation media to gain new members, site awareness benefits etc.

3/

Charge members an annual fee equal to a magazine subscription or part thereof. ($20?)

Offer a 3 month trial fee of $5.

 

4/

See if you can become a spot/ click fee agent for sales on all/any aviation shops, products (EFB memberships) /organisation and list links on your site. Don't know how hard this is to set up.

 

I am happy to contribute a membership fee or donation.

 

Keep your chin up and keep networking out to that big ocean of abundance, it usually bring rewards and support as you can see from this thread. .

 

Regards

""Charge members an annual fee equal to a magazine subscription or part thereof. ($20?)"" Unfortunately it needs to be more than that! I would envisage $10 per month, plus maintain the gold members! Those are people with spare cash the they can afford and which some of us struggle to.

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Joew49, I don't know how as a pensioner you can afford to save to buy an aircraft. As a pensioner myself I find it hard to save to buy toilet paper.

My Mum passed away in December and I stand to receive a small inheritance, which, with the few dollars that i have saved should be enough to do the things that I need. However, as the AU$Dollar is falling through the floor I may have to wait for better times, Mate!

JoeW

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The only reservations I have with a type of subscription is that the current users that don't care about the site will just go thus reducing the number of contributors.

 

Perhaps the site gets divided in half, just general forums for non subscribers and other forums for subscribers...have to be careful with this whole idea however I think it is possible

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To ensure transparency with donations, any suggestions on how to do this...like, do I list each donation and the amount but then maybe some will not want to have it displayed, I could just put "Anon" with initials for those that wish not to be listed...I also need to show the outgoings that use donated money (for example the date and amount hosting is paid etc) and keep a running balance.

 

Any thoughts

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No you dont Ian....if someone subscribes then thats their perogative..they dont need to know the details of where the money goes to. Maybe a list or who donated. I feel its not necessary as every other site I do this with only have a list of actual subscribers ...none show us where the money goes...we are all happy that the site is up and running thats all....try not to complicate it

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To ensure transparency with donations, any suggestions on how to do this...like, do I list each donation and the amount but then maybe some will not want to have it displayed, I could just put "Anon" with initials for those that wish not to be listed...I also need to show the outgoings that use donated money (for example the date and amount hosting is paid etc) and keep a running balance.

 

Any thoughts

Perhaps for donations under $50 just highlight in a colour as 'Member' similar to 'First Class Member' is now. All non donaters will show like now as 'New Member'.

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Ian, I've been on this site for a few years now. I've been helped with good advice (and still being helped), met some fliers, bought some parts, learned life-saving lessons, had lots of laughs, lots of political arguments, and it'd be the only website that I visit pretty much every day.

 

In all that time you've run the site, paid to keep it going, provided a hugely valuable service and haven't asked for a cent in return.

 

I think we can trust you to use the donations well.

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Ian,

I would be in favour of not displaying the "first class member" on the avatars,

I am certain that most, if not all, first class members contribute because they think the site is worthy of their support and not in order to display a gold star.

For me creating a hierarchy of members is not in the spirit that most users would subscribe to

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G’day Ian,

I think emotion has to be removed from this as it has come to a financial one and needs to be dealt with accordingly. Estimate how many members would be willing to pay an annual subscription and how much money you need to keep this service going. Devide the dollars by the amount of people and that’s what needs to be done. If you had 500 members willing to pay $50 per year, would that be enough? Just my thoughts as a business owner. I will make a donation today.

Dean.

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My opinion - don't go to a subscription only model, as "guests" won't be here long enough to realise how valuable the site is.

 

Keep the First Class Member as this gives users a cause to ask what it is and how can they donate. Let us then donate whatever we desire, whenever. I don't want to know where it went or tell others what I donated. If there is a deficiency then let us know.

 

Another forum I patronise, has a closed forum for "trusted" members where we discuss the issues affecting the running of the forum. Some things are done by the Moderators here, which we do there - removing trolls, suspending users. Mostly discussing the stance we will take on posts like politics, global warming, software enhancements, competitions (you get a badge), moving posts to appropriate forums or amalgamating topics (so all about an incident is on the one thread), changing titles to more accurately reflect content, splitting out thread drift, allocating unanswered threads to one of our "experts". Maybe our First Class Members could form a similar group - not all would participate, and I only participate in the "Defenders" to the level of my expertise.

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