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Dan Thomas

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I’m just starting to learn about aviation. I was always under the impression you have to be rich to fly, which I’m not. But in the last year or so I’m learning about ultralight planes and ultralight pilot licence. Maybe I could fly one day.
Of all the world's people, you are in the most likely group to be able to fly someday. It's not cheap, and most of the rest of the world can only dream about it.
 

Bigshu

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Of all the world's people, you are in the most likely group to be able to fly someday. It's not cheap, and most of the rest of the world can only dream about it.
There are some very capable ultra lights out there, not all funny looking collections of tubes and wire...add in powered parachutes and the low cost end of the flying spectrum is really accessible.
 

Dan Thomas

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There are some very capable ultra lights out there, not all funny looking collections of tubes and wire...add in powered parachutes and the low cost end of the flying spectrum is really accessible.
Yup. Years ago a larger percentage of the population had a pilot's license. Now it's around one-fifth of one percent that has a license or permit or rating of any sort, from ultralight up to air transport. The cost holds some back, but in my experience the biggest obstacle is the reluctance of a person to do the studying and practicing needed to achieve that ticket. The obstacle is usually within you. Most choose to spend their time and money on other stuff, stuff that offers more instant gratification. You have to want to fly pretty bad to get that license. A big percentage of flight students start and never finish. The rest never start. So we end up seeing that in a random group of 500 people, only one has a license.
 

Bigshu

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The obstacle is usually within you. Most choose to spend their time and money on other stuff, stuff that offers more instant gratification. You have to want to fly pretty bad to get that license. A big percentage of flight students start and never finish. The rest never start. So we end up seeing that in a random group of 500 people, only one has a license.
I think the limitation is the layers of bureaucracy and lack of protection from litigation that limits aviation. Thousands of immature kids drive two ton vehicles in close proximity to other such vehicles at flying speeds every day, with what is apparently an acceptable incident rate. Millions of people drive millions of miles a year. What did it cost them to learn? I was taught in driver's ed in school, so my parents' tax dollars at work. Most learn with a parent or older sibling (who have no more required qualification to teach driving than a valid license of their own) . No medical cert., no database to register on, just a few hoops to jump through with your local LE officials. Granting every difficulty that comes from three dimensions of freedom, and how unforgiving of mistakes or mechanical issues flying is, day VFR flying shouldn't cost anywhere near what it does to get started. If we think back to when flying got going, and recall all the stories of barnstormers giving rides and lessons out of farmers' fields, it's obvious what the problem is: all the rules and regulations telling us what we must do to fly. Any flight school or independent CFI can teach you to fly pretty quickly. We know that, since most people solo in a dozen hours of training including the decision making on weather, and establishing personal minimums for winds and such, and IMSAFE self review before every flight. A dozen hours of training is probably what a student driver gets before they take their test. Most pass that and off they go, no "license to learn", just go drive.
 

Dan Thomas

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Granting every difficulty that comes from three dimensions of freedom, and how unforgiving of mistakes or mechanical issues flying is, day VFR flying shouldn't cost anywhere near what it does to get started. If we think back to when flying got going, and recall all the stories of barnstormers giving rides and lessons out of farmers' fields, it's obvious what the problem is: all the rules and regulations telling us what we must do to fly. Any flight school or independent CFI can teach you to fly pretty quickly. We know that, since most people solo in a dozen hours of training including the decision making on weather, and establishing personal minimums for winds and such, and IMSAFE self review before every flight. A dozen hours of training is probably what a student driver gets before they take their test. Most pass that and off they go, no "license to learn", just go drive.
We keep seeing comparisons between cars and airplanes, whether it's the cost or the maintenance or the complexity, or the operation thereof. It's a mistake to do that. Always. Adding a third dimension to travel doesn't add 50% more risk; it increases it exponentially.

When a pilot goes off on a cross-country and gets lost or his engine quits for whatever reason, he doesn't coast to the side of the road. He goes down and ends up in whatever spot he picks, if he's lucky. Some guys will try to stretch the glide and stall. Some will try desperately to restart the engine and lose altitude or control and crash.

In any case, finding this guy that didn't come home (and cleaning up the mess, if they can find it) becomes the taxpayer's responsibility, and if he didn't file a flight plan or flight itinerary, or didn't own and maintain a good ELT, or wandered way off his planned route, the taxpayer gets to pay for the search, which can cost millions. Or the guy crashes into a house. Most of us feel safe if we don't live next to the freeway; none of us can feel safe from an incompetent pilot.

Good pilots aren't comfortable around low-time pilots that think they know it all already; they do stupid stuff. Midairs happen that way. Runway incursions and crashes, too. The public outcry over any accident that they see just makes the lawmakers come up with more rules, rules that the foolish will ignore anyway, and so we all suffer more restrictions because all too often the training is totally inadequate. Too easy, too brief. The most common cause of engine failure is carb ice, a completely understandable and manageable phenomenon, and yet pilots keep crashing because of it. Accelerated stalls are another common killer, and they were covered--or should have been covered--in groundschool. VFR pilots fly into IFR conditions even though they were warned about doing so. And crash. Or they run out of fuel for no good reason.

Like I said, ignorance kills. No, we don't need less training. We need more and better training. When I moved from a PPL to a CPL I had to study a lot of extra stuff and I realized just how much I didn't know. It was a lot. There was stuff that should have been, IMHO, in the PPL syllabus. Then I did the IFR training and learned a whole lot more that I hadn't known, including a lot on weather. More stuff that PPLs should have some handle on. Then I took the instructor training and learned so much about learning and learning factors, the types of personalities and their problems, the hazardous attitudes, and a lot more. When I became an AME (Canadian A&P/IA equivalent) I learned stuff I had never suspected, and more stuff about risky human behavior (such as The Dirty Dozen human factors). I never went any further in flight training than a CPL and instructor; if I had pursued an ATPL I would have had to study stuff that even now I have little clue about.

When one sees foolish PPL behavior at low level (like I once did) and witnesses the instantly fatal crash (ditto), one realizes that the training is not nearly robust enough.
 

Bigshu

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We keep seeing comparisons between cars and airplanes, whether it's the cost or the maintenance or the complexity, or the operation thereof. It's a mistake to do that. Always. Adding a third dimension to travel doesn't add 50% more risk; it increases it exponentially.
Yeah, I hear that argument all the time, but the numbers don't bear it out. According to the National Safety Council, in 2019, there were 1220 accidents involving GA. All aircraft types, all pilot experience levels. 1220 total. Now for automobiles, they can't even come up with a total accident number. It would be huge...they do say that the death rate per 100 million passenger miles is .45. So, half a death per 100 million miles. the GA death rate is 1.069 per 100 thousand flight hours. At 200 mph, that's 20 million miles, so 5.34 deaths per 100 million miles. Even though its an apples and oranges comparison on their site, it points out that while aviation accident/fatality rates are not zero, they aren't exponentially worse than driving. So with all the low time, not serious about training, thrill seeking, past their prime pilots out there, they seem to get from point A to point B without falling from the sky or into your house most days. Bear in mind that aviation accidents get way more coverage, even really minor incidents, than car crashes. It has to be pretty bad to get more than 20 seconds on the news if it's a car crash. I agree that training needs to be robust, but considering how many more car accidents there are, why is there no regulatory push for medical certs, or only certified mechanics can work on cars, or pre-drive inspections and passenger briefings? Say what you want about how difficult flying is. Every time there's a war, tens of thousands of teenage pilots get cranked out to fly high performance aircraft in a couple of months. Their failure rate and accident rate and non-combat death rates are higher than GA, but you can teach someone to fly safely and land competently in a short time. That's what should be inexpensive. Navigation is only complex because of the regulations. Pilots got around by looking for landmarks long before Capt. Jeppesen came up with useful aeronautical maps. Follow a road, or a train track or a river, and you'll get to someplace with a place to land safely. The issue isn't getting places, it's airspace violations, and failure to contact ATC, that gets the FAA on your case. Don't get me started on "incursions". When I learned to fly, you contacted ground control and stated your intensions, they told you what taxi traffic to follow, and contact tower on this freq. This was at a decent size airport with 3 long runways. You looked around and followed the taxiway to the run up area, called the tower and reported ready for takeoff and what departure direction you wanted and they sequenced you with the traffic. No signs or arrows or hold short lines. Simple, and safe enough it seems because I survived, and I'm no paragon as a pilot.
 

Vigilant1

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Yeah, I hear that argument all the time, but the numbers don't bear it out. According to the National Safety Council, in 2019, there were 1220 accidents involving GA. All aircraft types, all pilot experience levels. 1220 total. Now for automobiles, they can't even come up with a total accident number. It would be huge...they do say that the death rate per 100 million passenger miles is .45. So, half a death per 100 million miles. the GA death rate is 1.069 per 100 thousand flight hours. At 200 mph, that's 20 million miles, so 5.34 deaths per 100 million miles. Even though its an apples and oranges comparison on their site, it points out that while aviation accident/fatality rates are not zero, they aren't exponentially worse than driving.
Hmmm...not to quibble, but it seems improbable that the average speed during GA flight is 200 mph. Let's say 150 mph, and I'm pretty sure that's still well above average for all hours of all flights. Now, our GA fatality rate would by 6.67 per 100 million miles, compared to the driving fatality rate of 0.45 for that same distance.
In 2019, GA flying in the U.S. was 14.8 times as deadly per mile as driving.
Is that "exponentially" more? Who knows, in common use it no longer carries its formal mathematical meaning. But it is a heck of a lot more.
 
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Bigshu

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Hmmm...not to quibble, but it seems improbable that the average speed during GA flight is 200 mph. Let's say 150 mph, and I'm pretty sure that's still well above average for all hours of all flights. Now, our GA fatality rate would by 6.67 per 100 million miles, compared to the driving fatality rate of 0.45 for that same distance.
GA flying is 14.8 times as deadly per mile as driving.
Is that "exponentially" more?
I'm with you, I think 200 is high too, so dropping it down even further is likely more correct. That way, the rate would get even higher, but still I think, below what most people would think of when they hear "exponentially". At any rate, I'm not against training and competency, just regulation and litigation driven costs.
 

dog

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Since we know the absolute fatality rates for
both flying and driving,a second possible absolute could be fuel consumed,and a third
would be insurance costs and payouts.
Distance per fatality is a huge ,extra huge job,
and then so complicated as to be open to dispute.
And in any case this an example of the saftey police useing "danger ,danger, danger" as a pretext to control other people .
SAFTEY THIRD.
Get the bumper sticker.
 

dog

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Good idea. And I'll just keep my driver's license handy, because I'll be showing it often. :)
"Three mph over the speed limit?'
" Another burned out taillight?"
My bumper is a hyroglyphic for ,what? its paid for,but My favorite is "dont laugh,your daughter
may be in here"
Never get pulled over,but then its very rural so they can just save time and hand out tickets at the grocery store parking lot or put em in the mail box.Mostly the police are way too busy with the bad stuff to go after trivial stuff.
 

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Vigilant1

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Never get pulled over,but then its very rural so they can just save time and hand out tickets at the grocery store parking lot or put em in the mail box.
Yes, in my experience rural law enforcement officers can be very friendly, especially if a driver has out if state/province plates. One local traffic enforcement officer offered to let me pay my speeding ticket right there with him curbside. You can't get more accommodating than that! 😊
 

Marc W

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One local traffic enforcement officer offered to let me pay my speeding ticket right there with him curbside.
Been there before! Nebraska State Trooper. Cost me $10 in 1979 to go 10 mph over the speed limit on I-80. Sitting in his patrol car, put it in an envelope addressed to the Franklin County Court. My bet is it went back to the restaurant I just left.
 

Pops

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Been there before! Nebraska State Trooper. Cost me $10 in 1979 to go 10 mph over the speed limit on I-80. Sitting in his patrol car, put it in an envelope addressed to the Franklin County Court. My bet is it went back to the restaurant I just left.
I live in a county of 5808 people without a stop light. We used to have county state police but no serious crime so they had nothing to do. Catching someone 1 mph over the speed limit made their day. Finally, the powers decided that we didn't need any state police and if any is needed a phone call to a neighbor county will bring one over.
Like I said, I don't live in heaven, but on a clear day, you can see it from here.
BTW-- There is an acre of ground with a 40'x40' hanger on the 3150' grass runway for sale. Someone told me $40K. Airport 2WV3.
Good place to retire.
 
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Marc W

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I couldn't live there! Those little hills and hollers give me claustrophobia. Not to mention all that green creeping foliage gives me the willies. Give me the arid west. I can see the San Juan mountains over 60 miles away almost anytime I care to look.
 

Pops

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I couldn't live there! Those little hills and hollers give me claustrophobia. Not to mention all that green creeping foliage gives me the willies. Give me the arid west. I can see the San Juan mountains over 60 miles away almost anytime I care to look.
There is professional help for many problems. :)

IF WV was spread out flat, it would be bigger than TX. Its a win-win when buying land. The land survey is done by GPS on a flat. You get more land because of the angle of the land . :)
 

Dan Thomas

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IF WV was spread out flat, it would be bigger than TX. Its a win-win when buying land. The land survey is done by GPS on a flat. You get more land because of the angle of the land . :)
BC is even worse. Vertical real estate, we used to call it. Shortly after I got my PPL (in BC) I took some friends for a ride and we climbed up to over 9000 feet. My passengers were astounded at the endless mountains stretching off in all directions. You can't see them from down in the valleys where the lower foothills obscure the view.

1625942133382.png

You go down in that, without a good, functional ELT, and they will have trouble finding you. Plenty have never been found.
 

Pops

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28 airplanes have been down and never found in this state. I remember the very snowy winter day with mod to severe icing. Cessna 421 from VA dropped people off at an airport and took off for the return trip. Came up missing. 20 years later a man retired and started researching the history of the trip. He flew a powered parachute and spend one summer looking for the wreckage. Next summer he searched again. This time he searched another area and seen a refection from something down in the forest. Him and his brother took 1.5 days to hike in the very rough terrain and camped overnight at the sight where he thought he saw the reflection and found nothing. Another 1.5 days hiking out to the nearest road. On another flight he saw the reflection again . They hiked back in and found the wreckage 100' from where they camped before. Part of the tail was leaning against a tree. The Laural and under brush was so thick at times they had to crawl. The engines were mostly buried and covered up with deep leaves from the 20 years. The aircraft had burnt, but they found a piece of cloth from the pilots tie that they identified from a picture taken before the flight. Also some human bones scattered in the area.

I have flown over the same area countless times at 12K and you can look 360 degs and not find anywhere to land except tree tops and huge rocks in mountain streams. IF you survive the crash into the forest. Your chance of making it out is not good. Any roads are covered with a canopy of trees.
Know of another crash of a homebuilt Tailwind. Crashed in the forest on the top of a mountain and the pilot was trapped in the fuselage in the tree tops and froze to death the first night. From the wreckage he could have seen some houses down in the valley.

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Dana

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I couldn't live there! Those little hills and hollers give me claustrophobia. Not to mention all that green creeping foliage gives me the willies. Give me the arid west. I can see the San Juan mountains over 60 miles away almost anytime I care to look.
I could. The western scenery can be spectacular, but I'll take the cool green hollows, and Pops' part of WV looks just like the hills of southern NY where I grew up (no, most of NY state is nothing like NY City). But I'm not ready to retire and move quite yet...
Crashed in the forest on the top of a mountain and the pilot was trapped in the fuselage in the tree tops and froze to death the first night. From the wreckage he could have seen some houses down in the valley.
My Dad and I found a wreck some years back while flying around in a rental Cherokee. Student pilot with his own plane, took off into bad weather, freezing rain, and disappeared. Biggest air/land search in NY history, we spotted it by accident a week later. He hit a ridge after apparently turning back, and survived the crash with a broken leg but was trapped in the wreckage. Investigators concluded he lit a fire to get warm a couple of days after the crash and died of smoke inhalation, less than a mile from houses, but on the opposite side of the ridge.
 

Pops

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Dana-- I'm ready to go to Rhinebeck again. Once is not enough.

 
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