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Thread: What is the purpose of EAA?

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
    I appreciate both of your comments and agree completely that the organization has to evolve over time. What concerns me most is that homebuilding has disappeared entirely from the 2013 articles. That seems very problematic for an organization that still calls itself the Experimental Aircraft Association. EAA can join other organizations like AOPA in promoting general aviation broadly (though that's not why I belong to EAA) but those other organizations do not focus on homebuilding. If EAA does not focus on promoting homebuilding as its primary mission, who will?
    To answer your direct question, no one! EAA really is the only organization that people can turn to for home building.

    What I really think you are asking is if EAA's primary focus should be home building? It is clear from my time working at HQ that it's an internal struggle as well. How does the organization balance what it used to be vs. what it is.

    More so, is EAA an airshow or is it an organization? It's a difficult question to ask and answer because everyone has their own opinions but the facts pretty clearly state that the organization is driven by the revenue of AirVenture. That's not to say that members don't see benefits in home building ad education because of it, but without that economic engine I wonder if EAA would be little more than a bunch of old guys grabbing coffee in a hangar every weekend.

    All of the industry numbers are terribly concerning, and while everyone wants to point at costs being a deterrent to being a pilot and owner of a plane it's clear that awareness and education are the bigger issues.

    I could riff on this for days. It's amazing to zoom out and see just how much it has grown – on the foundation of inclusion, a key belief of Paul's. It would be more accurate to describe EAA as a loose group of niche aviation communities.

    But, for an organization rooted in home building and experimental it's sad to see that it hasn't necessarily driven that thinking forward. The Founder's Innovation Prize is an attempt, but where is the truly big thinking? What about a set of plans for a truly affordable aircraft that could be driven by the partnership from kit companies? Something that anyone could build in months vs. years?

    Or what about embracing what experimental means in alternative fuel (electric), drones, or technology that disrupts the industry? I just don't think you are going to see that from an organization that is more focused on being a care taker of the brand / mission vs. pushing it forward.

    It's not easy to manage and balance what might have been with what might be. But for too long the organization has meandered between both and now finds itself somewhere between pockets of excellence in the organization and daily mediocrity. It's sad to see...

    While the yearly financial success of AirVenture is something to be proud of and point to, if you were to judge EAA's success on the statements of purpose (from the original charter in 53 or now) I think it would score pretty low.
    Dennis Jenders, EAA #300475

  2. #12
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
    OK, I'll bite, please explain the porpoise joke.
    Note the wording of the title of this thread. "What is the porpoise of EAA?"

    Quote Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
    And I think that's a dolphin.
    It's an EAB porpoise, without a TC, it can't be called a dolphin.

    Ron "Everybody's a critic" Wanttaja

  3. #13
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    I think, basically, what we're looking at is the type of evolution that accompanies any sort of social activity initially designed for a special interest group.

    You take a bunch of folks vaguely interested in, say, medieval times. One year, they go out and set up a couple of tents and camp like the goode olde days. Next year, a group of them decide to include a combat tournament. More people get interested and show up. The year after THAT, they realize that a couple of open pits for cooking aren't enough, so in come food vendors. Girfriends/Boyfriends of the participants, not being THAT into the medieval stuff, complain about Trees #1 through #3 and using hay sheaves for TP, so the organizers contract with a porta-potty company. Geeze, we need someone to plan parking, too....

    Ten years later, "Arthur's Magic Weekend" has evolved to "Renfair Londunium," with jousts, tournaments, bar-be-que stands, showers, and a bunch of vendors that sell self-coiling hoses, car floor mats, and magic chamois.

    And in the middle of it stands one old guy in an ill-sewed jerkin, chain mail made of pop-tops, pointy shoes, and wearing a sad frown, remembering the good 'ol days when they just camped and had fun. He probably even posted a picture of a dolphin wearing a knight's helmet....

    We've seen the same thing with EAA. The problem is (if one can really describe it as a problem), EAA over-reached itself. It added additional features and programs that got to depend on the annual income from AirVenture, and now, it's hooked. It *can't* scale back to a "homebuilders organization" without eliminating a lot of these features and programs...and, for the most part, we don't really want them to. Sport Pilot and BasicMed took a lot of lobbying, and the kind of staff and support EAA needed for those just wouldn't have been supportable with a hobby organization.

    EAA started out operating solely with volunteers, but that sort of thing can only be taken so far. Now, it's in the Red Queen's Race; it takes all the running they can do just to stay in the same place. Homebuilders are the first child; they think they're special until Pater and Mater crank out another half-dozen or so kids. They're still loved, but can't help wondering if some of the emphasis is gone....

    Ron "Yoiks, and away!" Wanttaja

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    EAA started out operating solely with volunteers, but that sort of thing can only be taken so far. Now, it's in the Red Queen's Race; it takes all the running they can do just to stay in the same place. Homebuilders are the first child; they think they're special until Pater and Mater crank out another half-dozen or so kids. They're still loved, but can't help wondering if some of the emphasis is gone....
    Agree with your well worded story!

    The volunteer picture is extremely scary. There is no way the organization survives without an influx of young volunteers in the next 5 years. You can't have 60 year olds out there every spring and summer getting the site ready. And if you transitioned to paid workers, the sheer amount of people needed immediately breaks the financial model.
    Dennis Jenders, EAA #300475

  5. #15

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    Ron, in the words of the great American philosopher, Junior Samples, you just spit up a bib full. Perhaps the best description of the evolution of a special interest group that I've seen in a while
    Sam Buchanan
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  6. #16
    DaleB's Avatar
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    I hereby nominate Ron's post for "Most Awesome Post of the Day".
    Measure twice, cut once...
    scratch head, shrug, shim to fit.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    Ten years later, "Arthur's Magic Weekend" has evolved to "Renfair Londunium," with jousts, tournaments, bar-be-que stands, showers, and a bunch of vendors that sell self-coiling hoses, car floor mats, and magic chamois.Ron "Yoiks, and away!" Wanttaja
    Hey Sir Lancelot, you forgot ye ole mattresses and recliners.

  8. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by djenders View Post
    The volunteer picture is extremely scary. There is no way the organization survives without an influx of young volunteers in the next 5 years. You can't have 60 year olds out there every spring and summer getting the site ready. And if you transitioned to paid workers, the sheer amount of people needed immediately breaks the financial model.
    No, it's not scary at all. Yes, Oshkosh needs volunteers, lots of them. My info is that people are lined up a 1000 deep to volunteer. Yes, you can have 60 year olds(and much older) out there every spring and summer because every few years there's a whole new crop of 60 year olds to replace the predecessors.

    It's the like having birthdays. Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest.(Larry Lorenzoni)

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Floatsflyer View Post
    No, it's not scary at all. Yes, Oshkosh needs volunteers, lots of them. My info is that people are lined up a 1000 deep to volunteer. Yes, you can have 60 year olds(and much older) out there every spring and summer because every few years there's a whole new crop of 60 year olds to replace the predecessors.

    It's the like having birthdays. Statistics show that people who have the most live the longest.(Larry Lorenzoni)
    I very much disagree with you, and have seen the numbers. The average age of our members is way too high. And we don't have a younger crop to replace them. Hence the efforts by HR to drive college-aged volunteerism. In any given year you are talking about thousands of volunteers to make AirVenture happen between weekend work parties and everything during the week of the convention.

    If there is anything that can single handedly bring the organization to its knees, I would say it's this. AirVenture would immediately become unviable.
    Dennis Jenders, EAA #300475

  10. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by djenders View Post
    I very much disagree with you, and have seen the numbers. The average age of our members is way too high. And we don't have a younger crop to replace them. Hence the efforts by HR to drive college-aged volunteerism. In any given year you are talking about thousands of volunteers to make AirVenture happen between weekend work parties and everything during the week of the convention.

    If there is anything that can single handedly bring the organization to its knees, I would say it's this. AirVenture would immediately become unviable.
    If at some time in the near or distant future, EAA Inc feels as you do and believes Oshkosh could be jeopardized by a paucity of volunteers, all they have to do is eliminate the requirement of being a member to volunteer and place a full page ad in the Oshkosh Times(or whatever it's called) and other surrounding city papers calling for volunteers. The relationship between EAA and the people of Wisconsin is so positive, the response would be beyond overwhelming.

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