Does anyone else read Flying Magazine? Martha Luken's article this month touched on the problem the declining interest in GA, specifically citing airport closures and the decline in student pilot starts, especially among young people. Most poignantly (to me), she writes of a student pilot: "Finally, he completes the test -- and then, what?"
Exactly. I'm 24 years old and just put my first BFR on my private license. I think it's interesting that the term "catch-22" has its roots in aviation, because that's exactly where one exists now. The cost of flying is exorbitant, and the best way to lower my costs would be, after crunching my numbers, to buy an experimental, and share the costs with a partner. This, for a new pilot, can't reasonably be done - almost every financier and insurer wants almost triple the hours I have. Renting might be viable, even comparable to the cost of payments and operating costs, except that money is put toward hours alone, not to a tangible asset from which capital may be eventually recouped. Flying professionally requires a commercial license which requires an instrument rating which requires 30-40 additional hours at most schools to even begin - another $6000-$8000 on top of the $8000 an IFR ticket will cost me. And all of this is on top of college debt. You need a huge amount of money up front to even get to the point where you might be able to fly for cheap!
Is it any wonder that interest in flying is waning? The future predicted pilot shortage isn't due to lack of desire, but lack of means. Martha Luken mentions cost as an afterthought to her blame on iPods, video games, Facebook, the parental coddling of my generation, and the rest of the played-out "damn kids these days!" rhetoric. I don't buy it - because the cost of aviation is making it so I can't buy anything. It's the money, honey.
Focus: how does a young pilot, hungry for hours, manage to build some? And more importantly, how do we revolutionize aviation costs so it doesn't have to be like this anymore?