Interest in a magazine or site focused on affordable flying?

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by cluttonfred, Aug 13, 2015.

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  1. Aug 13, 2015 #1

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

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    Today, I can consider doing and owning things that I could only dream of when I first started flying as a young teacher more than 20 years ago. I am certainly not rich, but spending a lot of time in developing countries helps remind me how fortunate my family and I really are.

    Still, the "stuff" that catches my eye has character, and often history, not necessarily great value. I'd rather have an old stepside pickup or a Citrõen 2CV in the garage than a new Corvette or a fancy Mercedes. If I had money to burn then I'd want an old Mini and maybe a Corvair to keep the 2CV company. ;-)

    The pair of Icon A5s (almost $200,000 each) on the cover of the latest issue of Sport Aviation reminded me that what really interests me in aviation is affordable flying. Whether factory-built, homebuilt, antique, microlight or ultralight, the planes that catch my eye spark the imagination in part because they are accessible to more people, not just a very select few.

    Defining "affordable" is tough. One definition might index the against the price of a modest new car. Google tells me that the Ford Focus and Toyota Corolla are the most popular cars in the world. In the USA, the real world price for one of those cars brand new including delivery and typical options is anything from $18,000-$30,000. So let's say a used factory-built GA airplane, a ready-to-fly ultralight, or a homebuilt from a kit or plans including engine, prop and basic instruments for under $25,000 (preferably less!) is "affordable" in aviation terms.

    Would folks be interested in a paper magazine, an e-zine like EAA's "Experimenter," or a web site devoted to a mix of aircraft types but united around the theme of affordable flying?
     
  2. Aug 13, 2015 #2

    TFF

    TFF

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    Would it be great? YES. Can you do it? There is not a big enough paying base to say yes. In the RC world, everything with content has died. Everything that has survived is just large glossy ad. A few legacy survive, but every up start E or paper has died with lots of mistrust and hate for the people involved. I would run away. It would be much better to submit articles to the Experimenter or Kitplanes and build a following that way.
     
  3. Aug 13, 2015 #3

    bmcj

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    I think it's a great idea, but as TFF points out, it might be hard to make it pay for itself. Remember, your target audience are, by definition and necessity, "cheap bastards". :gig:
     
  4. Aug 13, 2015 #4

    Toobuilder

    Toobuilder

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    Defining "affordable" is going to be tough as well. I think tying the price of an airplane to the price of a low end car is historically unreasonable. Back in the Cub days, they cost more than the average car, didn't they? Airplanes are luxury items and should be judged as such. The "typical" Motorhome is well north of $100K, a new speed boat about the same, and heck, even a couple of off road motorcycles (AND the 35 foot toybox trailer AND the new truck to tow it all) will set you back $100K. Using that benchmark, $100K is a reasonable figure for a luxury/pleasure item and will buy you a LOT of homebuilt performance.

    That said, there are PLENTY of sub $30k airplanes out there. So "affordable flying" is attainable - but I don't think you are going to find "affordable" and "new" in the same sentence.
     
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  5. Aug 13, 2015 #5

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

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    Don't worry guys, I'll still be able to put food on the table with my day job, I was just wondering about what interest there might be in a publication of some kind blending different sorts of aircraft united by the theme of affordability.

    While I agree that a new factory-built aircraft is something of a luxury item, I don't think indexing a used/ultralight/homebuilt plane to the price of a common new car is far off. In fact, the price of a new aircraft has skyrocketed in proportion to the price of a new car. A new factory-built aircraft today is at least ten times the price of the most popular new cars.

    In 1970, a new Cessna 150 cost less than $12,000 while the then most popular car in America, the Chevy Impala, cost under $4,000. According to the Consumer Price Index, that $12,000 in 1970 was equivalent to about $74,000 today. How many people would jump a a new Cessna for that price? Relative to that period, the cost of an aircraft has tripled, and I suspect that going back to previous decades the change would be even more significant.

    And, I would argue, light aviation is a special case. People often buy luxury items to impress their friends, and that might be true for a business jet, but for most of us, light aviation is a passion that has nothing to do with impressing anyone else.
     
  6. Aug 13, 2015 #6

    Wayne

    Wayne

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    I, for one, would love to see something like this. Matthew - it seems you provide a lot of content already here on HBA and that you get enjoyment from researching and sharing that with people. If this is the case a website or e-zine would be a cost effective way to do that more. Maybe you make some money, maybe you don't but if it's something you love to do then perhaps that's all you need.

    You certainly have no shortage of contributing authors. I'll provide a piece on the Cessna 150 which meets your criteria and is what I'm flying while building the Zenith Cruzer. I love that thing and it cost it's owner less than $20k.
     
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  7. Aug 13, 2015 #7

    djschwartz

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    If it actually had real, verified, and useful information, not just a bunch of whining about high cost, "vapor ware" wishful thinking, rumors, and overblown hype I would be interested. Otherwise I wouldn't waste my time, much less my money.
     
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  8. Aug 13, 2015 #8

    spduffee

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    Have you seen a copy of Pat Panzer's "Contact" magazine? He charges $20/ano ad I think there are 9 issues, or maybe 6. Anyway, it is "low budget", full of great info and cheap. As stated above, you contribute a lot to this forum and you have some unique insight that would make me want to subscribe, for sure. You take PayPal?
     
  9. Aug 13, 2015 #9

    BJC

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    I would encourage you to focus your efforts toward a monthly or bi-monthly column or article in Kitplanes. You would reach a much wider readership.


    BJC
     
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  10. Aug 13, 2015 #10

    FritzW

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    If it was a paper magazine I'd subscribe, even if it started out as just a couple of sheets of paper stapled together. There's already sooo much stuff on the interweb that the good stuff gets diluted and hard to find.

    ...besides, I need something good to read when I'm sitting in my "happy place" :gig:
     
  11. Aug 13, 2015 #11

    Toobuilder

    Toobuilder

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    I strongly second this. They are always looking for content and would likely welcome the input. I just wrote an article myself, in fact. Contact the Editor in Chief (Paul Dye) directly. He's a moderator on the VAF forum and pretty easy to find (Screen name: Ironflight)
     
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  12. Aug 13, 2015 #12

    Victor Bravo

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    The horrible and misguided "focus shift" in the EAA magazine should answer this question far more eloquently than any of us pundits and peanut-gallery smart-alecks could. Once upon a time, when I had more hair and less chins, the EAA magazine WAS all about affordable flying. It WAS about how you could scratch-build your little Baby Ace or Volksplane in your garage for a couple of thousand bucks.

    EAA started "dumbing down" the magazine, and started putting P-51's on the cover, and started selling ads to Raytheon and Cirrus and probably Tiffany Jewelers. Then a couple of years ago they dumbed it down a lot in one big step. Then they hired editors and writers who specialized in describing the latest $5M turboprop corporate airplane, which just happened to be advertised on the next page. Along the way, they managed to squeeze the homebuilding stuff, the affordable flying stuff, and the scratchbuilding stuff into smaller and smaller corners of the magazine, or separate offshoot magazines and websites.

    Some people put all the blame on Tom Poberezny. Some put the blame on Rod Hightower. Some put the blame on Mac McClellan. But I'm afraid that the truth is that the blame needs to be spread around a little further than that. We could spend 100 posts in this thread assigning that blame, and lamenting the changes that have happened in aviation and in our society.

    IMHO the bottom line is that a magazine needs to pay its expenses, and that means they need advertisers, and the advertisers willing to pay more money to advertise are the ones selling more expensive products with higher profits, which leads in precisely the opposite direction of a magazine offering tips on how to spend less money and do it yourself cheaper.

    All this is obvious "Basic Capitalist Economics 101" stuff. Where I'm disappointed and heartbroken is that the EAA should have known to keep themselves AWAY from this slippery slope, because this long-standing profitability stuff that Tom and Rod learned in business school is in complete conflict with the founding purpose of the organization, in conflict with the desires and interests of its membership, and the organization's loyalty to the needs of its core "rank and file" membership is what kept Sport Aviation on higher moral and spiritual ground than any of the other aviation magazines.

    What happened AFTER they "sold out" is a separate problem, and is to be expected. What I do have trouble forgiving is that meeting between Tom and the Devil at that dusty "Crossroads" of Highway 61 and Highway 49, where EAA became more profitable at the cost of its soul. Paul Poberezny knew this, fought like ...hell... to keep EAA focused on the basics, and the resulting battle ruined the relationship between Paul (who wanted to keep EAA as a member-centric organization as it was intended) and Tom (who had a vision to grow EAA into a larger and far more powerful economic and political force). Some of you might remember the "Sport Aviation Association".

    So after all this long-winded oratory... I think there is a place for a magazine dedicated to affordability in flying, but I also know that you probably won't be able to make it highly profitable, because like another poster said... we're cheap bast**ds and sooner or later your advertisers would see that.
     
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  13. Aug 13, 2015 #13

    cluttonfred

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    Thanks, again, all for the input. I have no intention of trying to compete with Sport Aviation or any other magazine. The column idea is a good one, and I have approached a couple about articles on topics that interest me, but reception has been mixed and honestly I haven't had the time in recent months.

    I have run the little Clutton FRED site for five years now, for which I get zero income, though I did get in to Oshkosh for free as press. No shenanigans, I just wrote and said here's the site I run, I'd like to come to Oshkosh and post items of interest for my readers. The Tumblr platform is free so it only costs me $12 a year for the domain name. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment from it, made connections with people all over the world, and now I've even been inspired to buy my own FRED.

    So I was not actually sounding folks out for a real commercial project, just trying to gauge interest in the topic and thinking about how to unify my own interests under a common theme. And I've already got a job. I could see putting together a nice-looking blog, posting articles from me and others, relevant news items and tidbits, and using the modest revenue from Google ads in the margin to make it self-sustaining. Subscriptions would be nothing more than free e-mail announcements of new articles posted. Maybe it would work, maybe it wouldn't. Regardless, i really do appreciate the kind words about my contributions to HBA.
     
  14. Aug 13, 2015 #14

    oriol

    oriol

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    Somehow HBA does what Matthew is suggesting.

    Here we discuss everything from garage level to fancy sophistication, without having to pay for a membership and without ads!



    Oriol
     
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  15. Aug 13, 2015 #15

    BJC

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    Well said, VB.

    After posting an editorial in my EAA chapter's newsletter some years ago, expressing, much less elegantly than you just did, my dismay with the direction of the EAA and the magazine, I received a personal letter from Paul in which he agreed. It must have been painful for him.


    BJC
     
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  16. Aug 13, 2015 #16

    Victor Bravo

    Victor Bravo

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    Case in point: The moment that Paul passed away, I posted an idea on the EAA discussion forum that EAA should print up thousands of small stickers, with the ORIGINAL EAA logo, and only the words "Thank you, Paul". It seemed to me that almost every homebuilt airplane owner in the world would run one of those stickers on his/her airplane, and about half of all the classic and antique owners too. Those stickers would likely be on airplanes and hangar walls and tool boxes and rivet guns and band saws around the world.

    In subsequent postings, I laid out a strong case for why they needed to use the original logo, why they should not put anything other than "Thank you, Paul" on the sticker, why the sticker should be FREE for the taking, and why anything other than that would disrespect Paul's legacy and P**S OFF about four hundred thousand EAA members. I warned that this should NOT be looked at as a marketing or branding opportunity, but simply as a classy thing to do because it was justified.

    The response to my initial post was 1000% positive from the participants on that thread, which included some mid-level EAA staff. They immediately "ran it up the hill" to the bosses, and everyone expected a thumbs up at the highest level. But as soon as I posted the follow-up messages, to try and prevent anyone from changing or modifying the idea, everything went quiet as far as I know. I have no idea who was or wasn't happy with my making such a strong case for it being so simple, but it felt to me like if they couldn't P*** on it and make it about the "new" EAA, or if the stickers didn't generate some revenue perhaps, they didn't feel it was worthwhile.

    So it is my understanding that at Oshkosh later that year, EAA did all sorts of lovely tributes and speeches and fluff, but they did not have these simple free stickers printed that would allow the rank and file EAA'ers to show ongoing respect to the founder.

    If anyone inside or outside of EAA can shed some more light on this, I would very much want to know. If I'm wrong, and there was some good reason the stickers didn't happen (or happen the way I envisioned them), I will offer a sincere apology for calling their motives or respectfulness into question.
     
  17. Aug 13, 2015 #17

    steveair2

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  18. Aug 13, 2015 #18

    Hot Wings

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    I don't know what it would take to get permission to use the original EAA logo for stickers like this. It might even be considered a "fair use"? A quick google indicates this kind of a project wouldn't cost too much. 5000 2 inch round vinyl stickers would cost a dime or less each. With volunteer labor to stuff and mail 4 stickers/1$ would be close to the break even point.

    I'd by a few just to paste over any Airventure logo I ran across - as long as it wouldn't be considered vandalism.
     
  19. Aug 13, 2015 #19

    Victor Bravo

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    In fairness, I have to say that I DO AGREE with the expansion of EAA into new "markets" for members. I DO want EAA to become the leader and go-to association for Bonanza owners, Cirrus owners, $250K European LSA owners, aerobatic owners, warbird owners,and antique Beech Staggerwing owners. I WANT EAA to be the huge power base and political action committee for all of aviation.

    BUT.... they need to NOT move the scratchbuilders and Pietenpol'ers and 1/4" square spruce stick crowd out by the dumpster to make room for the others. Not showing ongoing and un-mitigated respect for the demographic who built the EAA up from nothing is dead wrong.

    Any business that got too big for its britches and turned its back on their core founding customer has probably gone bankrupt.
     
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  20. Aug 14, 2015 #20

    cluttonfred

    cluttonfred

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    Not to belabor the point, but I went to Oshkosh in 2012 with high hopes and was pretty disappointed. I met at least one person that I had had admired from afar for his articles in a homebuilding magazine and he was kind of a jerk, more concerned with who sits where on the flightline than talking airplanes. Among low-cost, simple aircraft and items that I thought might interest FRED fans were John Steere's one-off 1/2 VW-powered ultralight Bodacious covered in Oratex fabric, the Pegasus O-100 engine, news from the Franklin Engine folks that they were going to make the 2A-120 available again (didn't happen that I know of) and some low-cost GPS items. Mostly, other than the Sonex folks and a few other commercial stands, I had wander around far from the action to find scratch-built and relatively low-cost homebuilts at all. You can still see those posts on the site, just visit Clutton FRED: Archive and skip down to July 2012.

    I would very much like to see a change in EAA, a move back to a grassroots organization, a much smaller Oshkosh Fly-In (no more "Airventure"), and EAA playing a role again in making aviation more affordable. When is the last time EAA ran a design context? Do they even give out "Best New Design" awards anymore? Why not leverage their commercial relationships with some of the big manufacturers to encourage the development of engines at the low end of the price/power spectrum. What about a nationwide media campaign to encourage young people interested in aviation to seek out their local EAA chapter, and support for the chapters in how to integrate young people into their activities? But I am not holding my breath.

    I mentioned the the Icon A5s on the cover of the most recent Sport Aviation issue at the beginning of this thread. In the same month, the UK's Light Aviation, which I like much better even though an overseas membership is expensive, featured three scratch-built Dan Rihn One Design aerobatic planes including a first-hand accounts of how one of those is used by the owner to compete successfully in aerobatic competitions against much more expensive mounts. That is the spirit that has been lost at EAA HQ.
     

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