The state of our (dying) sport 2022

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Yellowhammer

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You guys are waaaaaay too negative. The pilot population has always been mostly old white guys. Like it or not, fair or not, PC or not, they have the money. Money makes airplanes fly.

Anyway, the feature photo is the RV-15 introduction, so we're looking at an audience of folks interested in spending $200K. How many kids do you expect?


Drop the mic Dan, you said it all!

-YH
 

J.L. Frusha

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I find it funny that the claim is being made that flying is for old white guys. The times I was in flight school, it was young guys and gals coming in to learn from middle-aged, or younger people. Mostly, the young would-be pilots were being funded by their parents and/or grandparents. My Son in Law is in his mid-20's and is taking flight lessons as he can afford them. Step into any flight school, you will likely see young men and women learning from older instructors, same as back in the day.
What can we, as enthusiasts, do to increase interest in aviation? How about donating books and magazine subscriptions to the local Junior High School...?
 

robertl

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Heath Springs, S.C. USA
Anecdotal evidence aside, if you look at the FAA's Pilot Demographics there are just as many pilots in the 30-40 age range, which I'm part of, as in the 40-50 and 50-60 ranges. 70+ starts dropping off because of age and 20-30 is lower because people are still figuring out other parts of their lives.

My interpretation of this is people only start to have enough disposable income in the 30-40 age range in order to have an active part in aviation. You guys don't see it because the kids can be annoying with their pop culture...but there's a small but vibrant aviation culture amongst the younger folks. So while aviation certainly isn't growing, it also certainly isn't dying.

I think a bigger problem is the racial and gender distribution of aviators: it's 90% white and mostly men.

I'm Asian and when I see another one of us, it's like seeing two unicorns at the same time. We make up less than 2% of the pilot population...and we still outnumber African Americans (1.6%) and Native Americans (0.2%)

It also amazes me that only 3.5% pilots are women....which means, if the gender distribution is equal amongst all races, there are about 50 female Native American pilots in the country and a pilot population of ~720,000

My point? Other than the bold and gee-whiz information....I'm not trying to make one. Be more involved with the community, inspire and spread the good word of aviation whomever you meet, I guess?
Just yesterday at my home base, KCDN, there is a military academy across the street and one of the mothers walked over to the terminal with her 13 year old son and asked about flight instruction. My friend and co owner of our Cessna 150 is a CFI and has a couple of other young men from the academy taking lessons already. The mother of the 13 y/o is a pilot for Delta, as well as a CFI and wants her son to learn to fly. She just doesn't have the time. This may be a rare case but there are several teenage boys, a 20 something girl and several older guys learing to fly at our airport. It could be that our small core group of guys that meet at the airport every Saturday morning, ages 30 to 92, are a welcoming and helpful group, eager to give direction, advice and free rides to anyone interested in aviation. Most of our group know the struggles of wanting to fly but having limited funds. The lifelong desire to be airborne is still strong among our group and I can't help but think that the spark still lives in at least a small fraction of the population.
Bob
 

Mark Z

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Granbury, Texas USA 0TX0
From another perspective; I grew up where the Aeroncas, Cubs, Tcrafts, Luscombs, etc. were the only possible grasp to fulfill my dreams. These simple airplanes are still available but certain new parts will need to be available for replacement (a difficult situation with FAA oversight).
Today’s generation it’s the Cherokees, 150s, and the oncoming experimentals that will be at their grasp.
What I’m finding is that the new (sub 50 year aircraft) have had poor to none maintenance fulfilled, and everything in sight is due an airframe overhaul. However these under-maintained flying boxes are retrofitted with huge dollars in avionics placed atop of a much needed electrical system overhaul, flush mounted circuit breakers for example with corroded buss strips holding them in place. (If one pops do you really want to put it back in?)
I think we need to concentrate on making pilots adept in reading the maintenance manuals and IPCs and have a better educated group altogether.

I’m pleased to say that we’ve got a young lady who’s desire is to be a chiropractor is returning to help us finish our Rans school project as a student mentor. She is our expert who had hand in building and inspecting both wing projects. These kids, of all sexes and ethnic backgrounds give me hope, in any phase of the aviation future.
 

Pops

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Start with something like this, around 1000 kilometers from you:



Put an electric motor and a small quickly replaceable battery on something like this, for the next level of training, to get interest built in our young. Seems like an ideal place to use small electric motors and batteries with today's available energy density?

When I was 12 years old I would have broke your leg to get to do something like that.
 

TFF

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Flying RC as a kid, I was one of two. The other just happened to be my best friend. It was always us two 12 year olds and a bunch of 50 year olds. The 50 year old that taught me is in his 90s now. He told me you will do this for a while, find girls, find cars, go to work, and then come back to it.

My dad taught me how to build models so I had a leg up. He built them as a kid. While waiting for me to be born, he bought a couple to build to do something. I still have what’s left of one. He was from that big generation that had models and trains and slot cars. Every kid might not have participated, but every kid knew about them.

Monogram models made 500,000 model kits in 1965. I believe the late 1950s was the peak for balsa models, but there were a lot of models being made. Something like 50,000 plastic kits are made by Revell/Monogram( one company) today, most are legacy kits from the 60s.

What is different is not as much as you think. I would give a model kit to a kid for a birthday present, when I was a kid, and I knew they didn’t know what to do with it instantly. I learned right away, the crowd was small. Occasionally you would find a dabbler who was semi successful. Go to the RC field today. One kid and 50 year old men. The background has definitely changed, the people who are there are the same. The kids are just doing different things from the manual playing that was the only option then. The group that finds the end game is about the same.

Go to a flight school and they have always been the same. Young smart people on a career path and a couple of old guys who finally have some money to try. Military flight program is almost impossible to get in or everyone would; these kids know that’s not a reliable option. It’s kind of funny, I met this kid randomly who was going to flight school and I could have guessed it. As a profession, the cocky kid at this level only has two choices. Doctor and pilot. Maybe Wall Street. Like clockwork. The kids in flight school are rolling the dice. They are spending a bunch of money, their collage money, very fast. They know there is a small window before life catches up and they have to pay for it. That’s why these kids are so focused. Go to a medical school where kids just spent three times as much, they are focused a little bit too. The old guys feel like old guys. They are spending money on a hobby and want to feel pampered or respected for being old. Airplanes only respect pilots. Aviation is as level a playing field as there is. It’s why the world has issues with it, they can’t figure away to placate it to the masses. You have to do and be a sort of personal champion. Darwin wins and the losers don’t like that. They would rather destroy than loose to it.


Sit in a crowd at Oshkosh and you realize you are in a crowd of peers, not the crazy guy at the airport who likes homebuilts. You can take it a couple of ways. You are wandering around with the elite. You are not doing the mansplaining in this crowd. Your luck you might be to the guy that did it. It’s a very alert crowd and they all have agendas for the week. You got one week to get your business done before it’s gone for 51 months. It’s a bunch of junkies. 100,000 airplane junkies. It’s like a bunch of worker bees.
 

DanH

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140
Taken last week at the HBC pavilion. The kid with the corn is a 20 yr old B-52 crew chief. I first took him to OSH when he was 14. His plan is to serve an enlistment to get the college benefits, then go back and apply for pilot training. I long ago promised him his grandfather's F-104 ejection spurs when he graduates UPT.

Quit bitching. Mentor someone.
 

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Pops

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Flying RC as a kid, I was one of two. The other just happened to be my best friend. It was always us two 12 year olds and a bunch of 50 year olds. The 50 year old that taught me is in his 90s now. He told me you will do this for a while, find girls, find cars, go to work, and then come back to it.

My dad taught me how to build models so I had a leg up. He built them as a kid. While waiting for me to be born, he bought a couple to build to do something. I still have what’s left of one. He was from that big generation that had models and trains and slot cars. Every kid might not have participated, but every kid knew about them.

Monogram models made 500,000 model kits in 1965. I believe the late 1950s was the peak for balsa models, but there were a lot of models being made. Something like 50,000 plastic kits are made by Revell/Monogram( one company) today, most are legacy kits from the 60s.

What is different is not as much as you think. I would give a model kit to a kid for a birthday present, when I was a kid, and I knew they didn’t know what to do with it instantly. I learned right away, the crowd was small. Occasionally you would find a dabbler who was semi successful. Go to the RC field today. One kid and 50 year old men. The background has definitely changed, the people who are there are the same. The kids are just doing different things from the manual playing that was the only option then. The group that finds the end game is about the same.

Go to a flight school and they have always been the same. Young smart people on a career path and a couple of old guys who finally have some money to try. Military flight program is almost impossible to get in or everyone would; these kids know that’s not a reliable option. It’s kind of funny, I met this kid randomly who was going to flight school and I could have guessed it. As a profession, the cocky kid at this level only has two choices. Doctor and pilot. Maybe Wall Street. Like clockwork. The kids in flight school are rolling the dice. They are spending a bunch of money, their collage money, very fast. They know there is a small window before life catches up and they have to pay for it. That’s why these kids are so focused. Go to a medical school where kids just spent three times as much, they are focused a little bit too. The old guys feel like old guys. They are spending money on a hobby and want to feel pampered or respected for being old. Airplanes only respect pilots. Aviation is as level a playing field as there is. It’s why the world has issues with it, they can’t figure away to placate it to the masses. You have to do and be a sort of personal champion. Darwin wins and the losers don’t like that. They would rather destroy than loose to it.


Sit in a crowd at Oshkosh and you realize you are in a crowd of peers, not the crazy guy at the airport who likes homebuilts. You can take it a couple of ways. You are wandering around with the elite. You are not doing the mansplaining in this crowd. Your luck you might be to the guy that did it. It’s a very alert crowd and they all have agendas for the week. You got one week to get your business done before it’s gone for 51 months. It’s a bunch of junkies. 100,000 airplane junkies. It’s like a bunch of worker bees.
Well said.
 

Bigshu

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How can you get a 20 year old keen to build a plane when he might be twice as old when it is finished?
Don't let it take that long. Maybe we need building clubs where you can fly finished aircraft you helped build with other club members while everyone chips in time to build yours. Maybe even have a tool crib where everyone shares club tools.....wait a minute, this sounds familiar!
 

Bigshu

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Percentually will be same amount of youngs interested in aviation like in past generations, however would be good to attract aviation as sport and interesting hobby again.
If we want people interested in flying or comfortable with the tools to build and maintain airplanes, we need to have those things available in school. The loss of industrial arts years ago is why we don't have kids who know how to sharpen a chisel or make things out of wood today. Not having drafting classes makes sense, since modeling programs are much better for the job, The bias against working with your hands is everywhere these days, mostly because people are ok with "investors" making lots of money but not mechanics. doing the same
 

Yellowhammer

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Born In Alabama, reside: Louisiana (unfortunately)
When I was 12 years old I would have broke your leg to get to do something like that.


Pops,

I would have worn that glider out when I was a kid. Imagine if there was an organization that had these available as Soaring clubs for youth all over the nation. I think it would do all Pilots good to become Glider rated before SEL rated. If and only if it didn't cost a leg to do so. lol

-Yellowhammer
 
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But we do have kids who can make things on a 3-D printer and a home CNC mill.


BJC
True, and some of them can come up with pretty elaborate designs using programs like Blender. But how useful is that ability in the real world of things that do something more than look pretty?

I'm currently 3D printing a bunch of parts for a battery pack for my tricycle's electric conversion. I consider the design and production of those bits to be little more than incidental to the overall project of building something useful.

My 3D printer is the best employee I've ever had. Does what I tell it, when I tell it, and very rarely messes up unless I gave it bad info. Works for about $0.02/hr (including materials/depreciation) and I have no paper work to file with the state/feds.

And as Pops noted how many of them can diagnose and fix a problem with the equipment that is more complex than a plugged printer nozzle or a broken carbide?
 

jedi

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Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA
“I have seen the enemy and he is us.”
Who said that before me? Pogo?

GA for the average Joe is EAA and HBA. FAA is the anchor.
Perhaps my down mood is down because I was not at KOSH all last week. Or perhaps it is because the anchor (FAA) I have is keeping me and other pilots and Wanabe pilots out of the air both as we speak and well into the future. I don’t have all the answers but I do have a question.

How many cars could we get off the road if you needed to have a pilot certificate to drive one and you needed to build the car in order to have one to drive? Oh, and you can’t take the car home. You need to pay $500 per month to keep it at the Park and Ride whenever it is not being used.

Don’t forget, you need to have your drivers license with you when you are flying.

PS - I really enjoyed the corn photo of post #67. Just last evening I had an ear like that (only much better as it was customized) that reminded me of good times passed at AirVenture. I was happy to be home but it was good while it lasted.

Times change. Accept it. I don’t miss the horse and buggy but I am looking forward to the future of aviation and an aircraft in every driveway or garage. I wish I had one or two energetic young ones to mentor on how to get it built.
 

Yellowhammer

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If we want people interested in flying or comfortable with the tools to build and maintain airplanes, we need to have those things available in school. The loss of industrial arts years ago is why we don't have kids who know how to sharpen a chisel or make things out of wood today. Not having drafting classes makes sense, since modeling programs are much better for the job, The bias against working with your hands is everywhere these days, mostly because people are ok with "investors" making lots of money but not mechanics. doing the same


Bigshu,

I have been saying the same thing for years. I am going into my 16th year as an educator as we report back to the classroom tomorrow morning. Of all the graduating seniors this year, just 12% will go to a four year university. Of that 12%,, just 6% will go on to graduate.

That leaves 94% of all graduating seniors across the U.S. left for the skilled trade occupations. The system I am employed in and any other system where I have worked cram the ACT test down these kids throats. One would think that if only 6% of the graduating seniors are benefiting from the free AACT tests and the free ACT test prep courses they accommodate the kids with that there would be more four year graduates.

All of our resources go to the ACT test. They have sold a lie to our students telling that they have to go to a four year college to make it in life, which is complete B.S.

I cannot for the life of me understand why we don't have metal lathes, press brakes, CNC machines, and the like in our shop classes since the overwhelming majority of kids are going into those career fields is beyond me.

The high school I am currently teaching at and have taught there going on 7 years now, has had the same welding , carpentry, and agriculture teachers in place. All the welding classes do and I kid you not, is take a scrap piece of steel and practice running beads. That is it.

The carpentry department is not much better. All they do is let the kids make a name plate out of a wood blank using a router and stencils. Makes me sick.

I don't know why the ag classes can't grow food and let the harvest supplement the lunches they feed these kids. The lunches are so bad even though everybody eats for free these days, that I would not feed my dog this food. It is that bad.

I suggested to the carpentry teacher that they should purchase a Wood Mizer re-saw machine that allows you to take a log and turn it into dimensional lumber but I guess since it wasn't their idea they just made every excuse for not doing it. They have money in that department too.

I am writing a grant as we speak for free fruit trees. I want to plant Satsuma, pear, plum, fig, lemon, and any other fruit tree that will survive here in the south all around campus so that when they mature and start to produce fruit, the kids can get a healthy snack right on campus.

The trades department has more money to work with than any other department. The problem is our shop teachers have gotten complacent and they want to avoid doing there job of teaching kids skills and how to survive.

It is very disheartening to say the least.

-Yellowhammer
 

BJC

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But how useful is that ability in the real world of things that do something more than look pretty?
What that skill demonstrates is their ability to learn, and apply what they have learned.
And as Pops noted how many of them can diagnose and fix a problem with the equipment that is more complex than a plugged printer nozzle or a broken carbide?
Plenty can. There always have been inept kids as well as adults. It seems as if each generation is unable to see and appreciate the capabilities of younger generations.

If GA / sport aviation dies, it will be because of the government, not because of a lack of skills, desire or capabilities of younger generations.


BJC
 

Pops

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To me it seems that a larger percentage of the population needs step by step instructions on everything they do. If the next step is missing, they don't know what to do, so they just stop and give up. Very, very little problem solving skills.
 
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Plenty can.
Depends on the definition of 'plenty'? Yes there are still some very bright and capable young'uns. But my observation is that the gap between them and the next tranche is widening and the bell curve is looking more and more lopsided........partially because we have reached a standard of living that allows this process to take place.

Translation = The ratio of 'WalMartians' to simple shoppers has been increasing. :rolleyes: 😊
 

TerryM76

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Bigshu,

I have been saying the same thing for years. I am going into my 16th year as an educator as we report back to the classroom tomorrow morning. Of all the graduating seniors this year, just 12% will go to a four year university. Of that 12%,, just 6% will go on to graduate.

That leaves 94% of all graduating seniors across the U.S. left for the skilled trade occupations. The system I am employed in and any other system where I have worked cram the ACT test down these kids throats. One would think that if only 6% of the graduating seniors are benefiting from the free AACT tests and the free ACT test prep courses they accommodate the kids with that there would be more four year graduates.

All of our resources go to the ACT test. They have sold a lie to our students telling that they have to go to a four year college to make it in life, which is complete B.S.

I cannot for the life of me understand why we don't have metal lathes, press brakes, CNC machines, and the like in our shop classes since the overwhelming majority of kids are going into those career fields is beyond me.

The high school I am currently teaching at and have taught there going on 7 years now, has had the same welding , carpentry, and agriculture teachers in place. All the welding classes do and I kid you not, is take a scrap piece of steel and practice running beads. That is it.

The carpentry department is not much better. All they do is let the kids make a name plate out of a wood blank using a router and stencils. Makes me sick.

I don't know why the ag classes can't grow food and let the harvest supplement the lunches they feed these kids. The lunches are so bad even though everybody eats for free these days, that I would not feed my dog this food. It is that bad.

I suggested to the carpentry teacher that they should purchase a Wood Mizer re-saw machine that allows you to take a log and turn it into dimensional lumber but I guess since it wasn't their idea they just made every excuse for not doing it. They have money in that department too.

I am writing a grant as we speak for free fruit trees. I want to plant Satsuma, pear, plum, fig, lemon, and any other fruit tree that will survive here in the south all around campus so that when they mature and start to produce fruit, the kids can get a healthy snack right on campus.

The trades department has more money to work with than any other department. The problem is our shop teachers have gotten complacent and they want to avoid doing there job of teaching kids skills and how to survive.

It is very disheartening to say the least.

-Yellowhammer
I’m continuing in my 11th year of teaching HS tomorrow. I’m fortunate in that I’ve been in a Career & Technical Education program since I started there. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is an A&P program, I wouldn’t want to be teaching in today‘s environment. We face many challenges and probably the biggest hurdle is getting and retaining qualified teaching staff. I get a good salary for what I do but industry offers much better opportunities for those that have no further education than an A&P certification. We currently have a need for two full time and 1 part time instructors for our evening adult program. The entire adult staff quit at the end of the past semester with no one to backfill those positions. two of our HS teachers and I stepped up and will be teaching both adult class and HS classes for the reminder of the calendar year. We’ve cycled through several HS teachers these past two years….some of them realized how challenging the job was before stepping foot in the classroom and quit right after they started. Other than myself, no one there has any GA experience or airline. They only have military experience and struggle tremendously with the curriculum…..they are pretty good at following rules and thinking inside the box though. We have other programs at our campus that includes Machining, Law & Public Safety, Coding and a recently created Drone program that resulted from a canceled Avionics program. the Machining program is dead in the water and has been for a year because our previous instructor quit to work full time at his own business. The instructor that was hired months ago and has been preparing to start tomorrow quit two weeks ago to go and work as a machinist at American Airlines at PHX Sky harbor. From what I am seeing, we are getting a poor return on the investment for some of these programs. From our last crop of A&P students, I’ve only issued one Temporary Airman certificate for Airframe but then again, I’ve been wrapped up in teaching the adult program students. I will probably be testing again later in September as I manage to catch my breath and things settle down. For what it’s worth, I’m planning on this being my last year of teaching full time but would accept a part time schedule so that I can get back to working on my own airplane projects and do a little flying when posssible.
 
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