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Thread: Where were the 20's & 30's big round engine vintage aircraft?

  1. #1
    Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Sad Where were the 20's & 30's big round engine vintage aircraft?

    It is no secret that the attendance of pre-war non-warbird classic/antique aircraft at AirVenture 2011 was off dramatically. I was there and saw first hand the lack of representation. Sitting with my Waco I was asked "Where is everybody?" more than once by members of the public. We could have had a pick up football game in the empty rows of vintage parking normally filled with these grand old airplanes. I vigorously shared my opinions about this and was asked to join an ad hoc committee to examine this issue. I have some strong ideas on what I believe needs to happen to reverse this alarming trend and I am not going to share them here, yet. I do want to hear ideas from others on how to address this issue and turn this disturbing trend around. Thanks in advance for your input. The question; "How do we get the pre-war non-warbird classics back to AirVenture?"
    Jim Clark, Chairman National Biplane Fly In, www.nationalbiplaneflyin.com. Currently flying: 1929 Waco CSO, 1939 Waco EGC-8, 1946 Piper J-3, 1955 Piper PA22/20, 1956 Beech G35, 1984 Beech A36 & 2001 Vans RV9.
    You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman and there isn't any horse, nor any before nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others.
    - Ernest Hemingway

  2. #2
    DanChief's Avatar
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    Jim,

    I have a pre-war vintage and have yet to attend. Quite frankly I was very limited on vacation time in my previous position. Now that I have more time I will consider it, but have no interest in showing -- just showing up.

    ---------------------------------------------------
    Dan McCormack
    Smoketown, PA (S37)
    N24286, 1940 Aeronca Chief 65-LA (Lycoming O-145-B2)
    CFI
    http://flightmusings.blogspot.com/

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    I noticed the large unoccupied areas in the prime vintage area too.

    Is it possible that the vintage folks feel disinfranchised with the apparent direction of EAA to transform itself into AOPA Lite?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kyle Boatright View Post
    I noticed the large unoccupied areas in the prime vintage area too.

    Is it possible that the vintage folks feel disinfranchised with the apparent direction of EAA to transform itself into AOPA Lite?
    That's where I am with it,, plus the fact we owners who restore our own aircraft can't compete with the professionally restored aircraft. Here sets a Dr/Lawyer/ mister big bucks under the wing showing off their aircraft they bought three weeks prior.

  5. #5
    Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Question

    I appreciate the observations and concerns. I want to quickly turn this thread back to the original direction of ideas to fix this specific problem. Let's light some candles here instead of just cursing the darkness.
    Tom, are you saying you feel more of these aircraft would come if the judging criteria were split between owner restored and shop restored?

    Let me refocus the question:
    What should EAA do to get the big round engine pre-war non-warbird crowd to come back to AirVenture and fill the prime spots next to the Theater in the Woods with 20's and 30's aircraft that pilots and the public want to see?
    Jim Clark, Chairman National Biplane Fly In, www.nationalbiplaneflyin.com. Currently flying: 1929 Waco CSO, 1939 Waco EGC-8, 1946 Piper J-3, 1955 Piper PA22/20, 1956 Beech G35, 1984 Beech A36 & 2001 Vans RV9.
    You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman and there isn't any horse, nor any before nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others.
    - Ernest Hemingway

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark View Post

    Let me refocus the question:
    What should EAA do to get the big round engine pre-war non-warbird crowd to come back to AirVenture and fill the prime spots next to the Theater in the Woods with 20's and 30's aircraft that pilots and the public want to see?
    I think we need SA to feature those aircraft more frequently. I'd like to see 3-4 covers per year with Antiques, 3-4 with Experimentals, a couple with Warbirds, and the balance with classics or other topics of interest. Basically, I think the reduced antique focus in the magazine causes owners to feel less valued by the organization. When they feel less valued, they don't attend the show.

    Not that we can solve it, but demographics are becoming a problem. A lot of the older aircraft are owned by older folks who probably don't stray as far from home as they once did.

    Also, as Tom mentioned, owner restored aircraft need to be more prominent. Joe Schmoe's story of rebuilding a Cabin Waco in his basement/garage is infinitely more interesting and relatable than the story about the guy who sent a dataplate and a big check to a professional shop.
    Last edited by Kyle Boatright; 12-09-2011 at 09:57 PM.

  7. #7
    steveinindy's Avatar
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    The simple answer is economics: a lot of these birds lose my monthly income in oil alone when you start them up. Less disposable income = fewer planes showing up. It doesn't have to be complicated or conspiratorial to be a likely cause of the problem. It's not as interesting nor is it as fun in terms of the drama it causes on here but....

    Is it possible that the vintage folks feel disinfranchised with the apparent direction of EAA to transform itself into AOPA Lite?
    What's sad is that the very "vintage people" who have the money to maintain and fly one of the big pre-war radials are the very same folks who are likely to also have a Malibu or something similar "inappropriate" for Sport Aviation, etc. See the following comment to understand why I say this:
    Here sets a Dr/Lawyer/ mister big bucks under the wing showing off their aircraft they bought three weeks prior.
    I mean if I were one of those folks and came across this forum, I wouldn't want to attend Oshkosh either and bring my classic bird out for a bunch of people who spend the rest of the year deriding me to droll all over.

    plus the fact we owners who restore our own aircraft can't compete with the professionally restored aircraft.
    I thought this was supposed to be about a passion for the aircraft, not about winning a plaque? If you're proud of your work and have done an honestly good job, who cares if The Monopoly Guy rolls up in something a little shinier?

    I think we need SA to feature those aircraft more frequently. I'd like to see 3-4 covers per year with Antiques, 3-4 with Experimentals, a couple with Warbirds, and the balance with classics or other topics of interest. Basically, I think the reduced antique focus in the magazine causes owners to feel less valued by the organization. When they feel less valued, they don't attend the show.
    Now, that I can agree with.

    I want to quickly turn this thread back to the original direction of ideas to fix this specific problem.
    Good luck with that. There's blood in the water now because someone mentioned Sport Aviation's "problems". I give it another ten posts until they are calling for Chad to turn over Mac for crucifixion as he is- without a scintilla of doubt- absolutely, completely and single-handedly responsible for the downturn in these classics showing up. [/sarcasm]

    fill the prime spots next to the Theater in the Woods with 20's and 30's aircraft that pilots and the public want to see?
    At the risk of sounding excessively anal retentive, but has anyone bothered to track and see what areas get the most visitation? It would be interesting to actually have some hard data to judge what people are really visiting instead of relying on each little group's claims they are what the public is really there to see. I mean the warbirds guys think they are the heart of the show, the RV guys think they are, etc. It would be kind of neat to see who actually gets the most visitors in a given year.

    A lot of the older aircraft are owned by older folks who probably don't stray as far from home as they once did.
    That's a very good point.

    Joe Schmoe's story of rebuilding a Cabin Waco in his basement/garage is infinitely more interesting and relatable than the story about the guy who sent a dataplate and a big check to a professional shop.
    Like I said in the other thread about Sport Aviation, nothing makes me flip past an article faster than three pages of a five page article being some guy discussing his build unless it's giving technical information or ideas for something useful. I know that human interest stories are a cornerstone of journalism, but at the same time....it get's just as old for some of us as articles about glass cockpits get for the rest of you. I don't find a story about a guy building a Sonex, Pitts, or RV-12 something I can relate to because I can't ever see myself doing it.

  8. #8
    Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Shocked Be ready to enter 7500 on the transponder!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark View Post
    What should EAA do to get the big round engine pre-war non-warbird crowd to come back to AirVenture and fill the prime spots next to the Theater in the Woods with 20's and 30's aircraft that pilots and the public want to see?
    Thanks Kyle for some specific things to think about.

    Now I'll give this another try. If you're having trouble focusing your response here are a few suggestions on how you may start your comment:

    "To encourage AirVenture attendance of big round engine pre-war non-warbird vintage aircraft EAA should (enter suggestion here)."

    OR:

    "I would bring my big round engine pre-war non-warbird aircraft to AirVenture if EAA would (enter suggestion here)."
    Jim Clark, Chairman National Biplane Fly In, www.nationalbiplaneflyin.com. Currently flying: 1929 Waco CSO, 1939 Waco EGC-8, 1946 Piper J-3, 1955 Piper PA22/20, 1956 Beech G35, 1984 Beech A36 & 2001 Vans RV9.
    You love a lot of things if you live around them, but there isn't any woman and there isn't any horse, nor any before nor any after, that is as lovely as a great airplane, and men who love them are faithful to them even though they leave them for others.
    - Ernest Hemingway

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    EAA Staff Jeff Skiles's Avatar
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    I think we need to turn the question around. It's not about what the AirVenture should do for us, it's simply that if we want the AirVenture to be about antiques, we need to show up. The responsibilities on us. Jim brings his ship every year. I regret that I didn't this year. Let's all do it next year. AirVenture is fun whether your flying a WACO or an RV.

    It seems like everyone has a hangar tale about some inconsiderate attendee climbing on their airplane. Not that damage is not possible, but most of those stories are just that..stories. 99.9% of the attendees treat the aircraft with the respect they deserve and just want to look at them.

    Some antique types make an effort to show up in force. Look at the Cessna 195s for instance there are rows of them. We need to throw away the excuses, plan the time, fly to AirVenture, and have a good time. Jim does it, let's join him!

  10. #10

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    To encourage AirVenture attendance of big round engine pre-war non-warbird vintage aircraft EAA should offer the same perks to this group as it does to the Warbirds.

    While I don't own one of the above mentioned big round engined beasts, I do know a number of pilots who do. Almost without exception, most of them are now retired. As I can attest (being retired thrice over), retirement, while most enjoyable, usually results in a diminished income. Many of the operators of big round engine pre-war non-warbird vintage aircraft that I have known flew a lot more prior to their retirement (although its only a small sample) than they did after retirement. So it is possible that more of them might fly to Oshkosh if there was some method of decreasing the financial pain and making them feel very much appreciated. Of course the problem with this approach is deciding where you draw the line between those who qualify for the perks and those who don't. But I don't have to solve that since I'm a real scientist, not a practitioner of the social sciences.
    Bill

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