There is another topic about what killed gen av"?
This is only two factors, but they are big ones and pilots are so used to it that many may not think of how good things once were.
Back in the 60's and 70's there were many less restrictions on student and private pilots, and also there was a GI Bill that offered money for education and training for vets, including flight training. A very poisitve result was that there were hundreds of flight schools all over the country, AND THEY WERE AT VIRTUALLY EVERY MAJOR AIRPORT, not just out in the boonies at Duct Tape FBO.
Places like Houston Hobby, Denver Stapelton, Dallas Love Field, etc, had flight schools, maybe more than one and some had aircraft dealers also, with showrooms of the latest Cessnas or Pipers or Beechs, etc. Student and instructor pilots shared these airports with airline trafftic, just like cars share the road with trucks. And of course there were many small airports as well.
Of course where money is involved, someone is not going to want to share, and some airlines did not. AOPA and others tried to suggest something like climb and descent corridors for the jet airlines, but to no avail. They wanted the whole 360 degree to themsleves. This became the TCA, now called Class B airspace.
And in Sept, 1978, the airlines got the ammo they needed to exclude a large chunk of gen aviation from the larger airports, the ones the airlines mostly used.
In San Diego there was a fatal crash between a PSA jet airliner, (might have been a DC-9< not sure) and a Cessna 182. The 182 was based at Montgomery Field in the northeast part of San Diego and was doing a practice instrument approach at Lindbergh Field ( named since the Linbergh plane was built there) on the west side of the city. The 182 had and instructor and a student pilot, and was cleared to fly the approach. It was heading west over midtown, may have already done one approach. The PSA plane came down the coast from L A( I think) , and turned east into the middle of the city, sort of a right downwind befoer turning onto final to the west to land on Rnwy 27. The 182 was ahead of PSA, going west. PSA was given the 182 traffic by ATC ,and called traffic in sight. However, PSA somehow lost sight of the 182 and simply ran over it from behind. Both planes crashed, with the lost of perhaps 150 people. There was of course an investigation, and some talk of a 3rd plane like that PSA might have been looking at instead of the 182, but that theory like the 2nd gunman in Dallas did not pan out.
I am pretty sure that what happened was simply that, PSA was looking into the sun and just lost sight of the 182 ahead of them.
In any event, much was made of the fact the "A STUDENT PILOT", was flying the 182 under the hood, of course with a CFI. No matter that the 182 was cleared to fly by approach, and had the right of way over the overtaking PSA plane, THE RESULT WAS TCAs AT MAJOR AIRPORTS,WHICH WE NOW KNOW AS CLASS B AIRSPACE.
ONE BIG FACTOR IN CLASS B, IS NO STUDENT PILOT SOLOS ALLOWED, ( without a special sign off).
So if you have a flight school, it would be pretty impractical to have your school in B where students can't even solo.
The result, along with other financial factors like high rents, is that flight schools moved out of the large airports, some closing down, or going to a smaller area.
So in many of the major population centers, there are no flight schools,no student pilots, right where a large majority of the population lives. So nowadays, many people in big cities, don't even see small gen av training flights, "out of sight, out of minds", and aren't really aware of them, much less have them conveniently available nearby.
There are still some flight schools in the suburbs of some cities, but in many areas like Denver or Washington, DC, or even Austin, a student has to go way out of town the get to fly. What if you had to drive 20 miles to play golf, or see a high school football game or get a beer or Bar B Q or a burrito?
That, and economic factors like less govt funding like the GI bill have really hurt gen av.
That, along with the economic factors have hurt gen av.