# oh, no! eaa membership expiring!

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#### lurker

##### Well-Known Member
today i got my re-up invite, and if i sign on for 3 years, i save 3 whole dollars! and if that's not enough, they'll GIVE me a FREE flashlight!

but seriously, i'm not sure i've gotten much out of my membership. don't get me wrong, i like pictures of p51s and b17s as much as the next guy, and the guys at the local fly-in are very nice. but i'm most interested just now in ultralights, and the eaa seems more interested in very pretty, very expensive plastic speedsters or heavy metal. so i'm thinking of letting my membership lapse. is there an organization more suited to my interests? what would you all do?

#### orion

##### Well-Known Member
Well, you're not the only one to notice a shift in the EAA's focus and who is dissatisfied with the direction the organization is taking. I've actually been thinking along the same lines - I hardly read the magazine any more - most of it is pretty much the same as the offerings from the AOPA or Flying rags and less and less seems to be directed at experimental or even homebuilding.

A few years back I came upon a conversation of several well known folks in the EAA and airshow crowd who were considering starting up a new organization that was focused more on the experimental sector, with an emphasis on the technology of the build and of the design. One idea they had (which I thought was excellent) was to make the publication "Contact" the official magazine.

But i don't know what came of that. Most seemed to be very serious at the time but these things do tend to fade away if someone does not step forward and make the concentrated effort.

#### Dana

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Lots of discussion on this recently over on the EAA forums lately, too. I've been an intermittent EAA member since about 30 years ago, am not now, I dropped it when they Experimenter became Sport Pilot.

-Dana

Money does not buy happiness. But poverty really sucks.

#### SVSUSteve

##### Well-Known Member
Over on the EAA forums, there seems to be an uneasy bias towards the light and retro side of homebuilding. They keep crowing about starting a new organization or walking away but honestly, I don't think it will ever come to pass. The apparent problem is that a lot of the folks over there griping are in the late sixties to early seventies so the issue is mostly generational interest than anything else. It's the aviation version of an angry old man standing on the lawn waving his fist and shouting "You **** kids! Get off of my lawn!".

The up and coming generation of homebuilders are just not that attracted to Cub clones and Volksplanes like their parents and grandparents generations were. To most young folks with the sense enough to actually build (let alone design), they see that sort of thing as a stepping stone and part of our heritage but it's not what a lot of us are attracted to about aviation. The EAA recognizes this and rather than trying to focus their efforts on solely maintaining the undying loyalty of a dying generation, they are adapting to maintain sufficient numbers to represent homebuilt aircraft of all ilks, speeds and constructions.

That said, I would like fewer gee-whiz articles and more technical information. However, if it were to be all tube, wood and rag construction like a lot of the folks on the EAA Forums seem to think it should be "because that's what Paul started out this organization with!" then I'd pay full price for my Oshkosh admission and go donate my EAA membership money to the AOPA so I can have a reasonable chance of continuing to fly for the rest of my life.

#### Monty

##### Well-Known Member
I let my membership lapse when the editor of the magazine stated he wanted all the articles written for a 6th grade reading level. It had pretty much become "better planes and pilots" anyway. How much worse could it get?

AOPA is better in my book.

As far as experimental aviation, sites like this one and smaller local flyins are the replacement for EAA.

The EAA is all about the airshow: Jet Trucks, Ginsew knives, Ford autos, and John Deere tractors. The ticket book is mostly wall mart shoppers, and that is reflected in the focus of the organization.

If I never have to use a port-a-potty, a shower trailer, and eat a horrible bratwurst again.....I'll be OK.

Rick

#### Monty

##### Well-Known Member
Terror-fug-lia
:roll::roll::roll:

now THAT was funny.

I bailed many years ago, so I can't even comment on the current state of affairs.

RE: 6th grade reading level....yeah I know, training materials and such. I'm sure this is what they teach them in college. I would be happy if most of my students could write at a competent 6th grade level. This is all part of a very annoying societal trend. Dumb down everything so that nobody has to feel inadequate. Heaven forbid we write at a higher level and the reader has to look up a word, or examine an equation....you know.....learn something new. No, that would be too difficult. What we must have is easily digestible pablum.

The trans-formative experience for me was when I stayed at a friends house who had all the old EAA mags. Go read through them sometime and get back to me. There was.....GASP.....MATH!!! Think of the feelings of inadequacy that could cause.

mixing epoxy....pfffft.

I can't really blame the people at the EAA or even the editor of the magazine. They are simply responding to what the majority want. I don't want it....so I'm not a member anymore. The local chapter was the only thing that I really miss, but realistically, I never had time to go the meetings anyway.

I do like what they have done with their technical online content lately. That really does make more sense than magazine articles.

Of course I think they just canned a bunch of those people........

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#### Topaz

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
Over on the EAA forums, there seems to be an uneasy bias towards the light and retro side of homebuilding. They keep crowing about starting a new organization or walking away but honestly, I don't think it will ever come to pass. The apparent problem is that a lot of the folks over there griping are in the late sixties to early seventies so the issue is mostly generational interest than anything else. It's the aviation version of an angry old man standing on the lawn waving his fist and shouting "You **** kids! Get off of my lawn!".

The up and coming generation of homebuilders are just not that attracted to Cub clones and Volksplanes like their parents and grandparents generations were. To most young folks with the sense enough to actually build (let alone design), they see that sort of thing as a stepping stone and part of our heritage but it's not what a lot of us are attracted to about aviation. The EAA recognizes this and rather than trying to focus their efforts on solely maintaining the undying loyalty of a dying generation, they are adapting to maintain sufficient numbers to represent homebuilt aircraft of all ilks, speeds and constructions.

That said, I would like fewer gee-whiz articles and more technical information. However, if it were to be all tube, wood and rag construction like a lot of the folks on the EAA Forums seem to think it should be "because that's what Paul started out this organization with!" then I'd pay full price for my Oshkosh admission and go donate my EAA membership money to the AOPA so I can have a reasonable chance of continuing to fly for the rest of my life.
While I agree with you that tube-and-rag shouldn't be the entire focus - and has been too much so at times in the past - we shoudn't discount it, either. There are a large number of homebuilders who want to build such aircraft. What's entirely missing is anything in the middle, between the Cub-alikes and the latest snap-together glass.

There was a time, in the mid-70's through about 1993 or so, when homebuilding (and Sport Aviation) was a-bubble with new original designs, with a handful appearing at nearly every major airshow. You saw tube-and-rag. You saw all-wood. You saw metal. You saw hand-laid composites. You saw molded composites. Everything under the sun. Some of them were garbage, others were great little airplanes built by people who had no business sense to sell them, and others were great little airplanes that launched companies we still hear about today. Sport Aviation was about homebuilding, cover-to-cover, every month. The late Anthony Bingelis' books are compilations of articles he published almost every month in Sport Aviation. The John Roncz design spreadsheets we still have here today are from the series of monthly articles he wrote on early-phase design using computers, which were then-new to the community at large. Articles about construction techniques and methods were main articles, not scraps shoved to the back before the classifieds. There were pages of discussion on hand-layup composites, properly building aluminum aircraft, etc. It was an exciting time - and I'm not just being rose-lensed about it: I have quite a few copies of the magazines I received from those days. As Monty says, leafing through those is a snapshot of what homebuilding could be today: New designs all the time, ranging from Cub-alikes through new hand-laid glass and metal, through new kits. Real homebuilding again, no matter what material is used.

In the mid-90's, the EAA and Sport Aviation changed their emphasis to "move upscale". First came the ongoing series of "where to fly" articles, highlighting at first interesting airports, and later ever-more-expensive resort destinations. Then the coverage of aircraft started emphasizing much more expensive kits, and the first non-homebuilt aircraft reviews crept in. I remember all of this happening when I was still an EAA member. Finally, when three months went by without even a single article on homebuilding, and one of those issues reviewed a business jet, I cancelled my membership and my subscription. Occasionally I've poked my nose into copies of Sport Aviation that members bring to the soaring club coffee table, and I see that nothing has changed. They've put some token scraps of homebuilding information back near the classified section again, but the meat of the magazine hasn't changed. If you took off the cover and yanked that one- or two-page "hombuilder's tip" article from the back of an average example of Sport Aviation, you'd be genuinely hard-pressed to tell if you were reading that magazine or Flying. It's rather like when the SyFy channel said that wrestling should be the major focus of their content, since it's "imaginative entertainment". I suppose a Beech business jet (which was actually a review article in Sport Aviation once!) could be "sport aviation" to someone, but it sure isn't homebuilding.

With all due respect to CJensen, Sport Aviation, in its current form, is not a magazine I have any interest in reading. Nor, in its current form, is EAA an organization in which I have any interest in being a member. The EAA was founded and grew on homebuilding. Period. When the market changed in the 80's-'90s, it was right for the magazine to expand coverage into the kit world, because that was part of building an airplane at home. But the organization should've been doing more to promote scratch-building in the vacuum left behind by the kit builders, instead of blindly following trends. The magazine's job is to follow trends - the organization's job is to create them.

EAA lost sight of that truth, and then they lost sight of their mandate altogether, instead chasing financial returns and "new markets". Right now, looking from the outside through the lens of Sport Aviation and their general-public online presence, EAA is a clone of the AOPA. Nothing more. Until the main focus returns to homebuilding, I won't be a member or a reader. Count on it.

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#### Topaz

Staff member
Log Member
November of last year was a turning point for me. A $2.5M Socata made interesting reading, but totally in the wrong mag. Somebody must have got a hefty check for what I consider blasphemy to the original intent of the organization. Rick That's a perfect example, Rick. A review of that Socata belongs in Flying, or AOPA Pilot. It doesn't belong in the magazine of the Experimental Aircraft Association. If EAA had any loyalty to their mandate, Sport Aviation would be filled cover-to-cover on the stuff we discuss here in HBA: Design methods, construction techniques, tools and tool use, builder-completions, safe first-flight protocols, etc. Yes, that would mean the organization might not take in as much money. And yes, some of the top-tier execs wouldn't get such hefty salaries or be able to write off a trip to the Bahamas as "research" for a "Where-to-Fly" article. But the organization would actually mean something again, and it might just do what it was always intended to do: Promote aircraft homebuilding! #### Monty ##### Well-Known Member And yes, some of the top-tier execs wouldn't get such hefty salaries or be able to write off a trip to the Bahamas as "research" for a "Where-to-Fly" article. But the organization would actually mean something again, and it might just do what it was always intended to do: Promote aircraft homebuilding! I'm afraid what we have is a perfect example of organizational capture. Eventually all organizations are captured by the bureaucracy and run for the sole interest of the bureaucracy. What they have done is perfectly understandable from a marketing standpoint. Find richer clientele, your mailing list is more valuable. Home-builders are a bunch of cheap skate hayseeds, and there aren't very many of us. John Deere and a shinny new biz jet don't interest us, and nobody except for a few material and tool suppliers give a rats behind about us. Plus how big of an executive salary would we agree to pay? The advocacy problem can be handled by another organization. How much longer do you think EAA will represent our interests anyway....Sport Pilot???? The inexpensive way to fly??? No, what this will result in, especially if this$#\$%# user fee thing becomes a reality, is a two tiered system. One of them for fly around the patch, and one of them for Sky King to travel hither and yon without us annoying surfs getting in the way......neither system will be affordable. Most GA aircraft will become worthless piles of half century old junk, and you will have a very limited number of slow, limited payload/range/utility no IFR SP aircraft that cost a fortune to acquire and operate.

What a joke.

At least with the EAA, unlike the FAA, I can choose not to send them any more money.

#### SVSUSteve

##### Well-Known Member
While I agree with you that tube-and-rag shouldn't be the entire focus - and has been too much so at times in the past - we shoudn't discount it, either. There are a large number of homebuilders who want to build such aircraft. What'sentirely missing is anything in the middle, between the Cub-alikes and the latest snap-together glass.
Agreed. I actually have some interest in the tube-and-rag designs, stemming from my love for the WWII era L-birds. One of the one-off ideas I've been kicking around is trying to develop a basic idea for my LSA where it could be easily built from several different materials through modifications of the same basic design. The cockpit structure and seats would remain the same (since those are being designed implicitly for safety) but if you wanted to make it a metal or composite aircraft, it could be done.

There was a time, in the mid-70's through about 1993 or so, when homebuilding (and Sport Aviation) was a-bubble with new original designs, with a handful appearing at nearly every major airshow. You saw tube-and-rag. You saw all-wood. You saw metal. You saw hand-laid composites. You saw molded composites. Everything under the sun. Some of them were garbage, others were great little airplanes built by people who had no business sense to sell them, and others were great little airplanes that launched companies we still hear about today. Sport Aviation was about homebuilding, cover-to-cover, every month. The late Anthony Bingelis' books are compilations of articles he published almost every month inSport Aviation. The John Roncz design spreadsheets we still have here today are from the series of monthly articles he wrote on early-phase design using computers, which were then-new to the community at large. Articles about construction techniques and methods were main articles, not scraps shoved to the back before the classifieds. There were pages of discussion on hand-layup composites, properly building aluminum aircraft, etc. It was an exciting time - and I'm not just being rose-lensed about it: I have quite a few copies of the magazines I received from those days. As Monty says, leafing through those is a snapshot of what homebuilding could be today: New designs all the time, ranging from Cub-alikes through new hand-laid glass and metal, through new kits. Real homebuilding again, no matter what material is used.
I want to see it where it is a technical magazine again as well.

#### Vigilant1

##### Well-Known Member
I'm going to renew my membership for another year, but primarily for (legitimate) online access to the good, practical info in the older magazines. There's precious little in the new editions concerning design, hands on construction, testing, etc. I'll probably let my membership lapse if the course stays the same--I'll retain my AOPA membership and help their lobbying arm to work the political issues.