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Thread: What should EAA look like?

  1. #1
    WeaverJ3Cub's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Dayton, OH

    What should EAA look like?

    So we've seen a lot of comments recently about the direction of EAA in general, the leadership (Rod Hightower in particular) and AirVenture. As Hal and other EAA web personnel have pointed out, much of this is a healthy thing and helps the organization understand its members better. It is a healthy organization/company that critiques itself, and that is what we have here…..

    But throughout all this, as a new EAA member, I've been very confused about what exactly the current EAA is being measured against. Is it a non-existent utopia? The EAA of 25 years ago? Remember, I wasn't even around back then. It took me awhile on these forums before I even knew who the "Paul and Tom" were who were continually being referred to. But I do understand homebuilding, the appeal and attraction of building one's own airplane, and the unique pursuit that bonds "EAAers" together. That's why you and I are members.

    So, I want to pose a question to anyone who cares to answer. If you could be in complete control of the Experimental Aircraft Association, what would your organization look like? Particularly, in these categories:

    • What would you change about the general focus of the organization?

    •*What would you change about SportAviation?

    •*What would you change about AirVenture?

    •*What (if anything) would you change about the Chapters and their relationship to "the mothership?"

    (As you respond, please realize that homebuilt/Experimental aircraft come in all shapes, sizes and prices, from Pietenpol to Lancair, and that the newest avionics and expensive upgrades, while certainly out of some people's reach, are a part of many people's homebuilding experience.)

    So—even though I may have worn out my welcome here—please give me and your fellow-members your thoughts. It will help me as I try to better understand the organization that I just joined, and I think it will help all of us come to more agreement and realize what we really have in common…..a love of aviation. Because after all, isn't that what this is about? If it were just about building a mechanical "device" for yourself, we could find a lot cheaper and faster ways to do that. But we all love to fly, and that's what makes us different.


    EAA# 1088648
    AOPA# 07075650
    IAC# 436315

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2012
    I have been flying since 2001 and an EAA member since 2008 or so, having joined just before my first AirVenture visit. I am also a COPA and AOPA member. And have recently discovered Forums (although I used to read the usenet stuff many years ago).

    If I were to create a mandate or vision for EAA it would be to support pilots, owners and builders (individuals and manufacturers) whose primary focus is flying for the sheer pleasure of it. So I would leave EAA pretty well the same as it is right now and leave COPA and AOPA to lobby government and represent the broader aviation industry.

    As for AirVenture, I find its a great mix of old and new but would probably try to dial down (not eliminate) its militaristic bent, but that may just be a Canadian POV. And leave the modern military acrobatics to other shows so as not to dilute the current show.


  3. #3
    danielfindling's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    S.E. Michigan
    I like this thread.

    EAA should look like an organization:
    1. Where the members share a passion for aviation;
    2. that focuses on limiting un-necessary governmental regulation of the industry by improving safety;
    3. that preserves the history of aviation;
    4. that promotes innovation in aviation;
    5. that lobbies for all aspects of general aviation - with a primary focus on innovation, homebuilts, warbirds and vintage airplanes and a secondary focus on light production aircraft, followed by Caravan types, small business jets etc.;
    6. that fosters and encourages participation in aviation;
    7. that nurtures an aviation community;
    8. that caters to all socio-economic levels without noticeable distinctions - e.g. an organization of apparent "inclusion";

    Airventure should look . . .
    1. Look less like a State fair; e.g. move the ferris wheel to Kidventure - Who's opening for 2013? The Thomson Twins or Vanilla Ice? Ice, Ice baby . . . (Oh wait, that was the State Fair)
    2. Move KidVenture to the main grounds; - more kids there anyway!
    3. Better highlight distinct areas (e.g. the Warbird area and Vintage areas were well defined, the trade show area seemed to spill everywhere and the Homebuilt area and others were a mess!)
    4. [IDEA] How about putting an innovative homebuilt airplane in the main square in lieu or in addition to a big jet?
    5. [THOUGHT] Develop, preserve and improve the culture of EAA. (Friendly, clean, fun, a yodel, camping under a wing . . .)
    6. A place to see things first or that you can't see anywhere else! (As an aside, the airshow needs improvement!)

    Last edited by danielfindling; 08-09-2012 at 05:45 PM.

  4. #4
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Central Illinois
    I have been reading old issues of Sport Aviation (starting from the beginning)

    Starting in some of the very early issues, this statement was included:

    "The EAA is a non-profit organization formed by interested individuals to promote homebuilding and the development of any type aircraft through experimentation and home engineering."

    I am a relatively new member & the statement above is precisely why I joined the organization, and where my aviation interests lie.

    I think some people, including current management would be well served to read these early publications.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Marietta, GA
    Worn out your welcome? Hardly.

    What i will say is that virtually every EAA'er has slightly different goals, wishes, and objectives. Talk to 100 people and you'll get 99 opinions.

    My belief is that the overall focus needs to move back towards supporting the mission of EAA, which is hands-on aviation dedicated to the construction, restoration, and operation of sport aircraft - experimentals, antiques, warbirds, etc. plus the encouragement of others to participate. It needs to move away from the overly commercial feel it has developed. Also, I will say that growth for the sake of growth is a mistake. You only grow if the growth fulfills the organization's intent, which (again) is hands-on aviation.

    The things which really gripe me are related to creeping commercialism. For instance, Sport Aviation used to be full of helpful information for builders and restorers. Now, a substantial portion of the content is "pay for play" advertorials, where it is apparent that some organization made an advertising deal with EAA that included a feature story or favorable product review on a quid-pro-quo basis. Also, SA has never been column driven. I don't care to read the opinions of the same people month after month - EAA is about its members, not the magazine editor, his opinion, or the opinions of a slate of columnists.

    Back to the commercialism. The chalets are an outstanding example. Prime display space was taken from the members and sold to the highest bidder.

    I understand that money makes the world go around, but there comes a point where the additonal revenue isn't worth what we're sacrificing. Put the chalets somewhere else - not *the* prime real-estate. Pimping products in the magazine that is supposed to be a benefit for the members *isn't* a member benefit, it is a sell-out.

    The chapter relationship to EAA is tenuous other than the "don't do" list. I vacillate on what I'd like to see happen there.

    As to the don't do list, EAA has really pulled its head into the shell on the flying front. Little or no support for regional fly-in's, chapters aren't allowed to form flying clubs, sport racing had the rug pulled out from under it (and later replaced). We fly little airplanes. EAA needs to embrace that instead of distancing itself.

    One other thing I'll say is that Airventure is a tremendous event. All of the "traditional" content is there, you may just have to walk away from show center to find it. My only real gripe with the event is the Chalets. Otherwise, I can't complain about the facilities, the food pricing, the camping pricing - any of it. Sure, it could be improved, but it is just fine the way it is.

    My $0.02.

  6. #6
    JimRice85's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    In a house with my laptop.....somewhere in Collierville, TN
    I'd like to see the Regional Fly-ins come back strong. The SWRFI in Texas was killed because of EAAs withdrawal and refusal to sponsor and insure. I knew the head folks and when EAA pulled the plug, so did they because without EAA sanctioning, it was financially impossible.

    I loved going to the old Tullahoma, TN EAA fly-in.

    I agree that the chase for the almighty dollar has changed the organization I grew up around. Attended my first Oshkosh in 1977 and went semi-regularly until 1994. Army and family life got in the way This year was my first time since 94 and in some ways I was very pleasantly surprised. The chalets were a real shock though. I couldn't fathom taking away display aircraft parking to provide for the high rollers.

    I think Sport Aviation really needs to get back to basics. There has been way too much fast glass and high dollar focus in years past and not enough "meat" for the average guy (and gal).
    Last edited by JimRice85; 08-09-2012 at 07:19 PM.
    Jim Rice
    Wolf River Airport (54M)
    Collierville, TN

    N4WJ 1994 Van's RV-4 (Flying)
    N3368K 1946 Globe GC-1B Swift (Flying)--For Sale
    N7155H 1946 Piper J-3C Cub (Flying)

  7. #7
    Christopher Ingram's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Glendive, MT
    I think the EAA should be about EXPERIMENTAL AVIATION, or they should change their name and quit misleading us.

    Sport Aviation should go back to the way it used to be, where we all couldn't wait to get home, open the mailbox then sit dowm and read cover to cover. There is very little in there anymore for a low budget homebuilder. Is anyone else tired of reading about glass panel installations in every aircraft? We get it already.

    Airventure- all I would change is the prices. It shouldn't cost a family hundreds of dollars just to get in the gate.

    Chapters- There should be more emphasis on new chapters and new members, there should be more activity among these chapters to promote homebuilding of ALL TYPES, I hear constantly about people attending meetings and being turned away because they aren't building the same type of airplane as the "core" group, and being talked down to about their choice of aircraft.

  8. #8
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Central Illinois
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Ingram View Post
    Chapters- There should be more emphasis on new chapters and new members, there should be more activity among these chapters to promote homebuilding of ALL TYPES, I hear constantly about people attending meetings and being turned away because they aren't building the same type of airplane as the "core" group, and being talked down to about their choice of aircraft.
    Some chapters don't even have ANY building to speak of. One of the reasons I'm not a chapter member is because the only one anywhere close with anyone building anything larger than a powered hang glider is over an hour's drive away. Anyone in the local chapter I have anything in common with is already a member of our flying club.

  9. #9
    Aaron Novak's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    Oshkosh, Wi
    I think what we are seeing is a perpetuating cycle. EAA reduces the exposure and support ( ill get to that ) of homebuilding to the aviation world, thus fewer people get motivated to actually homebuild. With fewer homebuilders, EAA does not see the need to devote a high percentage of its work towards that group, and so reduces the investment and exposure again.......just a downward cycle. I believe the original goal was to support, and grow homebuilding, pulling people into the hobby and growing that segment through its gaining popularity ( due to the exposure and support of the EAA at the time ). What I see now is not growing a segment anymore, but gravitating to a different larger segment that already exists. So what would I like to see?? Well honestly I would like to see the EAA revamp the homebuilt and workshops area, promote it, and help the volunteers inspire people to actually build again. What should ( in my mind) be a center of the convention ( not THE but A center ) has been neglected in lieu of fany exhibitor structures and the like. Much like Young Eagles is a tool to get people into aviation, the workshops/homebuilt area is a tool to get people into homebuilding.

  10. #10
    CarlOrton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    DFW Area
    Really like Daniel's take on it, above; no need to reiterate his content.

    Personally, I've only been a member since 2005, so I missed out on a lot of the legacy "spirit" that I've come to know only thru the postings here.

    I really don't know how to shape the future of EAA. What the long-timers want cannot be fulfilled anymore, IMHO. Take away the kit aircraft, and I think the current plans/scratchbuilders could fit in one forum pavillion. Not knocking kits - I've built one and am currently flying off my Phase I hours. Just saying that the hours available for family members to spend crafting individual parts has been overtaken by life's other priorities.

    It's not the money that keeps folks from homebuilding, it's time more than anything.

    The idea of chalets etc., didn't bother me at first. I considered it to be in the same vein as the other sponsorships. If I don't want to see 'em, I don't look at 'em, and also don't let them degrade my overall fun time at AV.

    However, I remember reading about the good old days where the "it" folks in aviation, whether it was the Rutans, Harrison Ford, or others, would just be strolling around the grounds. If they were noticed, they were left alone. We were all "one." Maybe they longed for some isolation even back then, but the number one reason they were there was to be enveloped by aviation - and that trumped their desire for isolation, in my rose-colored-glasses utopian view of things.

    I guess the bottom line of my post is that I really don't have much of a problem with the sponsorships and quest for cash; it's only that we will no longer have that which made it "special" or "different" from other large events. AirVenture has gone the way of 8-year old kids walking over to a friends house, 4 blocks away, in the dark. But it's still one heckuva place to be the last week in July.

    Carl Orton
    Sonex #1170 / Zenith 750 Cruzer

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