From the comments on our series about the declining pilot population, there is no question that a lot of people think that the cost of flying is driving old people away and scaring away new people. I said that I though cost was an excuse, not a reason, and some of you took issue with that. Having been an active pilot and observer of the scene since 1951, I will try to put some of this in context.
In addition to the hundreds of comments, we received some thoughtful letters to the editor about our recent Special Report on the declining pilot population. We’ve published a few of them here, and we invite your comments.
Last week, we launched a special report called Mayday! The declining pilot population. Five authors shared their thoughts on how things got so bad and how to turn them around, each with a unique perspective and interesting suggestions. As always at Air Facts, our readers really drive the conversation, and over 300 comments were written during the week.
It’s time for a radical re-thinking of what general aviation means and who it appeals to. But so much of the talk these days is disappointing. It’s as if the right engine has quit, the vacuum pump has failed and there’s smoke in the cockpit, but we’re running the checklist for a burned out landing light.
Aviation has lost none of its ability to provide incredible, life-enhancing experiences. It’s safer than ever before, and there are millions of people out there with the time and money to fly. We also have an incredibly strong community. Aviation seems to have an uncanny way of attracting some of the finest people in the world, and in this work ahead of us, they are probably our most important asset of all.
Problem? What problem? We’ve been wildly successful in flight training. We’ve been successful despite ourselves. We’ve done a fantastic job of recruiting new customers and maintaining the pilot population at its current level, having essentially only one product to offer.
Modern educational theories have a lot to say about the importance of meaningful experience, personal relevance (aspiration), and “scaffolding” to support and strengthen the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills. I can’t help but think – or at least hope – that a flight training program that uses these principles for training and post-training support could do a lot to get ‘em flying … and keep ‘em flying, too.
The dwindling number of pilots in the U.S.A. has the attention of a lot of people. There are currently far more questions than answers and it is unlikely that those answers will come from one source. To that end Air Facts is working to get a dialogue going.
They were ragged and starving, these kids who had gathered, amid the ruins, to watch airplanes bring food to Berlin. It was mid-July 1948. Twenty-seven-year-old Lt. Gail Halvorsen had been on the airlift for two weeks, flying an exhausting three round trips each day.
Air Facts is proud to announce the latest Speed Record. George Nelson of California set the record for the 186-235hp class, from San Francisco to Los Angeles and back, flying his Cessna 182. Read the full details of his trip and learn you how can submit your own Speed Record.
I’ve been a pilot for over 40 years now, and I’ve done some stupid things. I’ve managed to stay out of serious trouble though…up to now. I was surprised and shocked to read about a friend and colleague of mine who wasn’t so lucky.
After reading Dr. Stephen Gray’s article about his trans-Pacific flight in a Beech Duchess, I had one of those old deja vu all over again feelings. In the first years that I worked for Air Facts, starting in 1958, we reported on a number of long distance flights. Some were flown by Air Facts contributors who then wrote about their flights in our magazine.
The weather isn’t pretty today, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks as a charter pilot. Your job tonight is to fly from Rockland, ME (KRKD) to Providence, RI (KPVD) to get those packages where they need to be. It’s time for a weather briefing, then you decide if you would fly the flight or cancel.
Have you “flown your logbook” lately? You know, sat down to read each entry and relive the flights in your head? It had been years since I’d done it, but an insurance renewal form sent me digging through my logbooks recently, and 20 minutes soon became three hours. I relived some great flights that I had nearly forgotten.
Our Vice President of Engineering at Cessna during my time there in the Golden 1950s was sort of a contrary guy. He was absolutely sure that wind tunnel tests were a waste of time. But after heartfelt discussion, he reluctantly agreed to let us do it on the proposed Cessna 620.
Fly along with new contributor Adrian Ryan, as he shares the story of his first solo, at a busy airline airport in Cyprus. To top things off, the flight was just a few days before his 69th birthday. Do you remember the thrill of your first solo? Share your story.
The FAA seems to think all these iPad apps are a threat to their paper chart business, and are thus making noises about charging for the charting data that has been free for the past decade. Is the FAA’s plan a necessary reaction to a changing market or a new and unneeded user fee that will hurt a vibrant industry?
The mission was to fly my aircraft 6000 miles from my home in Auckland, New Zealand to its new home in California. What an opportunity! Over 40 hours of flying over the ocean to places you could only dream about. After all, how many private pilots have Pago Pago (PPG) and Christmas Island (CXI) in their log books?
I’ve been to plenty of funerals in my life, but never for an airport. But that’s the only way to describe what happened last week, when I joined a group of 13 other pilots and six airplanes to make the short flight to Blue Ash Airport (ISZ) and land on runway 24 one last time.
In 1935 I was six years old, and we were living in Ponca City, Oklahoma. One day a Ford Tri-motor flew into our grass airfield and offered rides, at a price, to our “city’s” inhabitants. I was completely hooked on aviation from that moment on, and determined that I wanted to be part of it.