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Has Recreational Aviation collapsed?


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Granted we have been in a pandemic this year however has the writing been on the wall for recreational aviation for some time now and the pandemic has just been another nail in the coffin? Years ago we had many different aircraft avialable to buy and now there is only a handful of distributors and those are mostly plastic fantastics. The number of flying schools seems to have decreased and the costs have dramatically increased. Has this all come about since RAAus became a business and thus the demise of the Association of members, the social aspects of recreational aviation.

 

Or, is it thriving and the pandemic has allowed it to thrive in bubbles ready to break back out.

 

What do you think...is recreational aviation declining or thriving and if so why?

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Is it a generational thing? Are those "middle aged farts" tinkering in their sheds being replaced by "digital-age dynamos"? Remember back to your twenties when an RC plane was balsa with an IC engine

Contrary to what we expected this year, the interest in learning to fly is highest I've seen in 15 years. Especially so as we now have a better view of the future of international travel and the devel

Or lack of finances , which by the way is why the AUF was formed in the first place,,,,but thats all forgotten now as the ga boys have taken over........raa is fucked ,  

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Our club is going strong and we are looking to increase our fleet to 5 and one extra on line. Here in SA we were treated as adults and never stopped flying during COVID.
Regarding aircraft sales; nobody can travel freely to view any potential purchase and others may be in financial strife and unable to be an owner right now. I read that confidence is increasing generally so fingers crossed

I will be putting an aircraft up for sale as soon as all the boarders are open so as to appeal to a wider market.

Ken

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Speaking with the CFI of a South Coast (NSW) flying school a couple of months ago, they were doing a roaring trade. I was having trouble booking a BFR because it was so busy. Those not in the tourism sector, and had money, were using it to pursue life long desires rather than going overseas as they would normally have done. Also, there were a number of people who had dipped into their super funds and gone flying. They were his thoughts.

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I had Conversations with two different engine and airframe agents recently. Both said, without any prompting from me, that sales were excellent - better than normal. One put it down to the pandemic - intending builders who now had time on their hands and the money to pursue their flying dream.

 

‘’Anyone asked RAA how busy they are? New pilots? New aircraft?

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My view is that recreational aviation is going along pretty well ... but it has shifted from where it was 30 years ago and is more aligned to where GA was 25 years ago - not just commercial GA but the whole of what was commercial GA + GA clubs + SAAA homebuild - with the add on of low mass high performance airframes that were not available 25 years ago.

 

What has changed is operations becoming centralised (bigger clubs/schools but fewer and much further between) and ultralights are effectively dead in terms of new airframes being replaced with much higher performance and much higher cost aircraft.

 

I am personally saddened to see this as I preferred the SAAA/AUF scene as it was 25+ years ago when I started but I am only 1 person and so long as I can continue to tinker in my shed with my homebuilts without crushing costs and oversight I am just likely to continue on my path of becoming a middle aged fart seen by many as mr ultralight bar humbug.

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Is it a generational thing? Are those "middle aged farts" tinkering in their sheds being replaced by "digital-age dynamos"? Remember back to your twenties when an RC plane was balsa with an IC engine and 4-channel 27 Meg radio? Then you got into ultralights which were not much further advanced in design and performance than pre-WWI "kites". What have these "digital-age dynamos" got? Fast, composite airframes with electronics that didn't exist 25 years ago except in top secret military aircraft.  Cabins with all the comforts of their ANCAP rated cars. And a need for speed.

 

Is it a hangarage cost thing? Renting a space in a hangar, or paying for a tie-down outside is dead money. Have a look around where you live and see all the big boats, which probably cost as much as a, RAAus plane, sitting on trailers in peoples' yards. They don't pay mooring fees. If recreational aircraft could be brought home and stored in the backyard, would that increase interest?

 

The last thing to look at is simply the joy of flying. How many of our flights are long A to B flights where the airplane is a substitute for a car or train? (Who travels long distance by train now?)  Recreational flying is for the joy of it. Getting to 1500 ft and pottering along looking at the world below is something to be promoted to the young. It's a way to divorce yourself from the worries and woes of life on the ground; to let the mind refresh itself, and to see that Life has a wider vista.

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Not sure the simple JOY of flying does it for the new generation. Maybe for a short time and then they will move on because it's really not a lot of bang for the buck. and there's so much Bull$#1t attached to it. and it's not very  social or "with it." (meaningful for them). Nev

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Why crawl around the sky in a slow, flimsy anachronism when you can sit in the "comfort" of your own darkened bed room by the glowing screen of your gaming PC and fly an ultra-modern attack aircraft, shooting and bombing,

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Even the OLDER farts are still Doddering in their sheds.

The Bureaucrats have killed off our (OLD FARTS) flying and if recreational flying goes under the RAA wing, IT too will be annihilated.

Their empire building will be at odds to flying for FUN !.

spacesailor 

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Didn't anyone read the posts above where people actually visiting airfields and talking to real people flying aircraft in several different parts of Australia gave very positive stories.

 

If you look for misery you'll find it, but if you really think its the end of Recreational Flying, check the RAA Numbers out; my bet is tey are not collaspsing.

 

Better to have a positive thread.

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1 minute ago, old man emu said:

Is the negativity we are expressing a symptom of COVID-itis? 

The first part could be anything, but after people started to say it isn't dead it's people not reading or understanding what they are saying. 

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Last 2 months, our little club has fielded 4 requests for hangars and more requests for people wanting to fly (we don't have a school, just 18 hangars and 35 members).  That's more than we got all last year.

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Look, Im saying way before 2020.

RAA was pushing for GA aircraft getting on their register.

BIGGER & MORE EXPENSIVE. 

Use more fuel, great for that 10% tax, the government will not mind. 

Higher training, good for those schools that last the move to "GA Recreation ".

spacesailor

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How have the bureaucrats killed off our old farts flying. I still fly and there are a few others fly from the same strip. There are clubs within 50 or so miles from us in 3 directions. The fourth direction is too wet.

People who want to fly can do so and probably as easily as they have eve been able to. It is not bureaucrats, but rather a lack of interest that is reducing flying.

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Well that's progress for you. When I started sailing, sails were cotton, the ropes hemp. You were always cold and damp because nothing was waterproof including the deck. It was still expensive although you could swap a few bottles for a fresh cray. Maximum speed maybe 6 knots.

 

These days warm dry breathable goretex, carbon fibre, spectra, titanium , autopilots, powered winches and GPS. 20 knots surfing on occasion. I know which I prefer but we still have some beautifully restored antiques for perfect weather use only.

 

I built a quicksilver hang glider from plans circa 1974 and almost killed myself before I sold it. I like a Tiger Moth on a sunny day.

 

However now I will take all the technology I can get.

 

What is happening is that the Seventy (?) year old model of what we used to regard as GA is facing disruptive technology; new engines, GPS, EFIS, carbon and kevlar composite, etc. The gap betweenn sports plane and GA performance is slowly narrowing. Yes, I know they are not certified, but as time progresses that will matter less and less until one day a sports aircraft becomes the better choice.

 

As for utility, it depends. Some destinations are eight hours by road and two hours by air. Sydney is about the same time by commercial and sports aircraft once you factor three to four hours of airport BS into it.

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Flying as we do can be an anti social thing to an extent and requires a fair bit of commitment and a considerable expense. to just BE there. Just getting the kite out and going for a bit if a beetle around has never really cut it for me. If I was where Franco is It would be a different matter. To be motivated to do it properly I need to  be instructing, building, fixing, testing or going somewhere. Doing the odd "fly" at one aerodrome is a recipe for getting stale.. Instructing for me was ideal It made me keep up with everything and I met people and flew different planes and kept learning.. Perfect. but I keep getting to the bang for the buck issue. Same with big Caravans and Boats. They just SIT and deteriorate mostly, in driveways. and I can't stand GOLF.  The odd SAIL is OK. You Can hire something often.  Most pilot s worthy of the name can sail.. Nev  

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I can't speak for all of W.A., but in my little corner, the flying school at the airfield I use, and whose aircraft I use, has 49 hours booked according to this weekend's roster (subject to rain), and is in the 40 hours a weekend regularly. Up a lot on previous years. This is all under the auspices of RAAus.

Just taken delivery of their 4th Jab 170, with a 230 on cross-hire also. 

I know a gyro instructor at another location who is very busy most weekends with TIFs and lessons.

 

It appears many people, who aren't/can't travel might be realising a long held dream to learn.

Additionally, many teenagers, hoping to make a career of it, start by attaining their RPC, with a couple of endorsements, at less than half the rate at a GA flying school at Jandakot. Converting RPC to RPL then PPL, is relatively simple.

So the evidence here is that things, for an RAAus school, are pretty busy.

As for the aircraft....Walrus and his tale of improvements on the water is a good analogy.

I first became aware of this type of flying back about 1990, the days off the AUF.
Back when a Steak Shadow, Quicksilver, not to mention Drifter, was enough to give me a rise in my Levis!!!!!

 

But now, for around $30,000 I can get a side-by-side, (I'm told many wives don't like being "alone" in a tandem set-up. Mine won't even look at a Drifter) Zenair 601. Relatively fast, capable. The smaller Jabirus abound in this price range.

So as much as I like flying, and the notion of a Tyro, Sapphire and similar is appealing, getting a so-called plastic fantastic is attractive as it provides options. 

Getting aloft relatively cheaply, taking a passenger, travelling about the place at a degree of pace, and a payload that is attactive.

 

In my early 60s, retirement beckons. So I can/will only buy one aircraft, just waiting for the one that fits the bill.
I came very close to buying a 601 this week. Except for the fact that with a side hinged canopy, I could hardly fold myself into it. Getting out provided no end of amusement for the bystanders!!!!

 

Just my two bobs worth.



 

 

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I'll add my positive notes to the early posts. Training at South Grafton is pretty busy with a mix of older and young pilots. I believe that the Aero Club school at Coffs Harbour is also busy. Our club has more flying members than last year only 4 months in. There were fewer visitors from March to now but they are beginning to appear again. I still hear plenty of chatter on the CTAF & fly at least once a week. A few owners fly regularly and a few more occasionally between fortnightly & monthly. I just recently did a BFR and had to book 2 weeks in advance for a time. I include GA singles with my comments other than training which is all RA.

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Plenty of positive talk; flying for fun seems to have a secure future.


As one of the lucky ones, I went for my weekly fly this morning. Out of bed at 6, leisurely breakfast, plane out of hangar and airborne by 7:30. This time, forty minutes of flying along some creeks and rocky escarpments frequented by the Old People for ages past.

 

Then back to airport for our club’s monthly breakfast gathering, which is helping a whole lot of isolated, mostly old rural farts stave off the Black Dog.
Lucky? Yes, enjoying the fruits of all those years of working towards this.

 

 

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