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Thread: Where Have All the EAB Aircraft Gone?

  1. #121

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    Thank you, everyone, for helping make a very interesting and well thought out thread!

    A few observations:

    First, I find it somewhat amusing that we're talking about electric airplanes with autonomous flight, considering that the most popular means of creating sparks for aircraft engines are magnetos (two, because just one and a single spark plug for each cylinder isn't reliable enough) and the standard method of achieving fuel/air mixture is a carburetor.

    Yes, yes, I know that it's effectiveness over efficiency, but one would think that both systems would have been relegated to nostalgia about thirty years ago.

    Second, the affordability question is a bit like the Interstate answer; we're spending money in ways we didn't before that cut into disposable income. One just didn't have a cable bill, an Internet bill, or cell phone bills - all of which are pretty much mandatory today. Yes, there was a phone bill, but so long as one didn't call long distance (!) it was dirt cheap. The baseline cost of living has gone up with the services we now consider critical for living.

    Third, the romance has gone out of flying to the general public. Then again, most of the more pedestrian pleasures of the past have been dismissed - the slow Sunday drive just to see the sights just doesn't happen, for example. Who wants to canoe down a lazy stream when one can zip along on a jet ski? Airplanes are great big things one complains about having to wait to get on with bad food (if there is any) and not worthy of dressing any better for than a three o'clock morning run to WalMart. Airbus was quite accurate in gauging the public's perceptions in naming the company.

    Small, personal aircraft in the General Public's view are only mentioned when there is a crash, and when they are portrayed in popular media almost always have problems. Even in shows where the intent is to display the positives, the negatives always get the spotlight (Flying Wild Alaska, Airplane Repo) at some point.

    So where does that leave us? I've said it before, but I think General Aviation is regressing back to the 1930's, where one was either very wealthy and buying cutting edge stuff off of the shelf or turning a wrench and doing it themselves. Except a lot of that wrench turning (and rivet making) has become pretty darned expensive with the demands for ease of building and a sense (and record) of safe, proven design.

    The problem is that today's generations* aren't keen on wrench turning. The narrative of computer design, automation, and component replacement versus repair has overwhelmed them. Most young people today can't drive a manual transmission - thinking they would change their own oil on their cars is asking too much of them. Yes, this is an unfair generalization, and there are loads of young folks who can roll up their sleeves and fix things, but in the main (especially with urbanization) it holds true.

    To think that they'd accept a bunch of papers with plans on them and start to cope tubing with goal of building a flying machine is simply asking too much of them. The blame lays with us for giving them everything we never had at the expense of our knowledge and experience of what we had.

    There is sunshine, though. In dealing with young people I'm finding that they're open to learning and while with a different approach, not adverse to adventure. I was talking to a 20-something the other day who asked what the point was to having an airplane that doesn't really go anywhere (having been taught that airplanes are just transportation), and I asked if they ever water skied. Yes, they had. "Did you go anywhere?" And a light bulb moment. When I told them that my pilot ticket cost me less than six grand and the aircraft less than fifteen, suddenly aviation didn't seem so outrageous.

    * Stutter implied.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  2. #122

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    The local chapter does a bunch of Young Eagles rides. But there doesn't seem to be any introduction to step two after the ride.
    The goal should be affordable aircraft ownership by whatever method, not to just be a commercial pilot or even a private pilot. Who would want a drivers license but no car?
    The Light Sport rule is rarely mentioned. But even a student pilot certificate is enough for a single seat aircraft or two seater flown solo. Don't need a six grand "ticket" to start. I restored a $1200 Aeronca Chief with my brother at age 19, I think. Flew it for years with only a student certificate.
    Last edited by Bill Berson; 09-08-2019 at 12:32 PM.

  3. #123

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    Frank, great post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    The problem is that today's generations* aren't keen on wrench turning. The narrative of computer design, automation, and component replacement versus repair has overwhelmed them. Most young people today can't drive a manual transmission - thinking they would change their own oil on their cars is asking too much of them. Yes, this is an unfair generalization, and there are loads of young folks who can roll up their sleeves and fix things, but in the main (especially with urbanization) it holds true.
    Component replacement vs repair is stupid. We live in a "newest, latest model" world, despite the newest or latest being insignificantly different than the prior most of the time. Our landfills are full of things that could have easily be fixed rather than tossed, and our bank accounts (or lack thereof) reflect the ongoing needless outpouring of money too, chasing all this. Bad economically, bad environmentally, but good for capitalist greed. I say that, and I am a capitalist. But dang, people take this way too far.

    That said... there is a point at which modular design and replace vs repair DOES make more sense. And it goes back to TIME. I can pay for a new transmission for my vehicle and cost me far less in time and money (if time is money) than it would be for me to bust out all the tools and do it myself, despite knowing how. We live in a very time starved society today. It's the most frustrating thing IMO. And I wont go into why I think this is happening, because it's borderline conspiracy theory kooky, but suffice it to say, it's due to our dollar not going anywhere near as far as it used to. This is because of corrupt banking and politicians, and citizens are nonethewiser. I'll leave it at that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Giger View Post
    To think that they'd accept a bunch of papers with plans on them and start to cope tubing with goal of building a flying machine is simply asking too much of them. The blame lays with us for giving them everything we never had at the expense of our knowledge and experience of what we had.
    I'm a huge fan of computer design, automation, and work ethic. Nothing wrong with getting computers to do things for you, but you better know the skill regardless. When I bought my first 3D printer, my kids wanted to print out a Fidget Spinner (fad at the time). So I said fine, design your own, don't just download a design. I sat them down to learn CAD for the first time. By the time they stuck a bearing in and spun their spinner, it was 100% their own making. THAT is appreciation for ones own work. And I did the same thing when working on some RC plane stuff with them - all their own CAD work. Now one of my boys is gearing up and excited about building his first airplane and fly before he's 16. We haven't decided yet if from a kit, or from plans. Either way is fine with me.

    Though society has gone south in terms of peoples interest in wrench turning, I do not think it is obsolete. I think it's more about proper parenting. Want a PBJ sandwich? Go make one. I'll show you how, but I ain't just gonna keep doing it for you.

  4. #124
    Airmutt's Avatar
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    Perhaps it is wrong to make assumptions based on EAB aircraft attendance. Paid attendance implies interest is still strong. Access to other sports such as watercraft, motorcycles, auto sports etc certainly compete and in many cases are far more accessible. Times change; not necessarily in ways we like.
    Dave Shaw
    EAA 67180 Lifetime
    Learn to Build, Build to Fly, Fly for Fun

  5. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Berson View Post
    The local chapter does a bunch of Young Eagles rides. But doesn't seem to be any introduction to step two after the ride.
    The goal should be affordable aircraft ownership by whatever method, not to just be a commercial pilot or even a private pilot. Who would want a drivers license but no car?
    GREAT point! After I got my Private Pilot cert. (at a young age), ownership never occurred to me, perceived as completely out of reach, and no plan on how to achieve such was ever suggested. The focus is all on commercial jobs, which is not what I wanted.

  6. #126

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    A couple more great points have been made! YE definitely needs a next step. Personally, I think that the YE age range goes way too low. Younger ones are there for the free ride, and that is it. No intention of further aviation. Maybe 12 and older? One can solo a glider at 14. I also think that EAA should push sailplane ratings, too … much, much cheaper … especially in a club.

    Parenting is another big one. My 3 siblings and I had access to (almost) anything we wanted to do (on our, earned money). I golfed (I was an aeronut from very, very early, but no EAA/airplanes in our smaller town. That was limited to books and an Uncle an hour away). Had to ride my bike to the golf course and pay for it myself … one quickly learned that an annual membership was a good deal I'm an EAA Lifer for the same reason.

    We also need to give the younger generations more credit AND ENCOURAGEMENT! Most of them are very surprised when they find out this old man (me) knows about Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

    Ron "My (eventual) retirement relies on the next generation" Blum

  7. #127

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    This is where I've been going with my previous posts.
    If we, as private pilot/aircraft owners, want to increase the pilot population, we can.
    I let a couple of young people use my airplane, (C-150) at my expense, to get their PPL. They paid the instructor and some of the fuel.
    I know for a fact there's lots of airplanes out there, sitting in hangars or on ramps that haven't been flown in years.
    Oh yeah, the ones I let use the airplane, paid to have their name put on the insurance. It was less than $100.00 for the year.

  8. #128

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    My friend and I learned to fly in a C-150 owned by a customer. We worked at the airport and did his maintenance and installed an O-320 and STOL upgrade. Got to fly it just for the gas. That plane was a hoot.

  9. #129

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    Quote Originally Posted by malexander View Post
    ...
    I let a couple of young people use my airplane, (C-150) at my expense, to get their PPL. They paid the instructor and some of the fuel.
    ...
    Oh yeah, the ones I let use the airplane, paid to have their name put on the insurance. It was less than $100.00 for the year.
    This is straight up awesome. Good on you!

  10. #130
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    I dunno. I got my first airplane ride (client of my father's at Transcaribean) way before I could consider starting flight lessons. I didn't sit in another light plane until college (the university had one professor who was trying to start a one plane flying club). I didn't actually start lessons until I graduated and had a job. Still that flight as a 10 or 11 year old was a pretty good hook.

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