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    « Free New Learn to Fly ebook | Main | Zeppelins, US Air 1549, TV News & WAAS--what a day! »

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    Mark Richards

    I read this post and I couldn't help but laugh. Optimistic? About what?

    1. Most of the GA fleet are planes built 30 years ago based on designs from 40 years ago.

    2. An airplane use to be about 4 times the average cost of a car. Now it's 10 times. It's great that the FAA watches over everything- unfortunately it makes everything far more expensive than it should be. Does it make planes safer? Probably- but I suspect the difference is marginal. The whole process of building and certifying aircraft has to become easier and less costly.

    3. We're still using leaded gas. It's 2009- we stopped using leaded gas in our cars more than 25 years ago.

    4. We're still using carburetted engines- despite the incredible reliability of fuel injection and the obviously superior fuel economy, simplicity and immunity to icing.

    5. We run our gasoline engines at high output almost all the time which is terrible for them- but we've been extremely slow in certifying and producing diesel engines which thrive under exactly those same conditions.

    6. Cessna may have bought Columbia- but the Mooney Type S is a faster plane with a lower fuel burn than the Columbia 400. Is the C400 a nice plane? Sure- but why would you choose it over the faster, more efficient and less expensive Mooney? Fixed gear? Did they do a great job integrating the company? Sure. Was it a good idea? That I'm not so sure about.

    7. Pilot instruction has not kept up with the faster pace of modern society. People don't have a year to spend learning to fly- we need to lower the barrier to entry. The sport pilot license is a joke- it's 90% of the work for 10% of the benefits. A lot of people need to feel like they are making more progress more quickly or they get discouraged and walk away. Those are the people we need to get back.

    In fact- some of the things I think need to change on the flight school front:

    We could start with better resources for people to use to decide on a flight school. Customer reviews and ratings on a recognized site like AOPA's would help a great deal. Why isn't that there now? I know it would have helped me a lot. The first flight school I went to ended up being a big mistake. It turned me off flying for quite a while.

    Flying scenarios also need to be a lot more engaging from the start. People want to know how to fly an airplane- to them that means taking off, going somewhere and then landing. Too many flight instructors put off landing practice and cross country flying for flight test flying- i.e. practicing turns and stalls. Is that important? Sure- but you can learn the same stuff while actually flying somewhere and while actually learning how to land. Learning stall characteristics early on isn't that important when the instructor is sitting next to you- and most people would have an easier time learning those skills if they'd been engaged in real flying from the start.

    Your flight instruction Gammy is in the right direction, but we need to go a lot further.

    Max Trescott

    Mark, the Gammy award post was designed to recognize what's good in General Aviation. You've offered the other side, which might be called the Whammy awards. Sure, I agree there's a lot which isn't right in GA or in the world. Let me respond to your comments.
    1. True, the average age of the GA fleet is old, but my post was about what's new in GA.

    2. True, new airplanes are very expensive. Health care and college education costs are probably rising even faster. Flying isn't cheap, but it's still a lot of fun.

    3. True. This is a ticking time bomb and needs lots of attention before it gets resolved!

    4. I disagree. The overwhelming majority of new planes ship with fuel injection. I guess you're talking about the fleet as whole, which of course is not going to change immediately.

    5. True. Engine technology advances have been slow to almost nonexistant. Some of diesels out there have been a disaster. I feel bad for all of the DA42 owners who are facing a huge expense replacing their diesel engines.

    6. Huh? We gave a GAMMY for the "most successful acquisition at a bargain price" to Cessna for their purchase of Columbia. Their net cost for two type certificates was only about 2 million dollars, which is a bargain compared to what it would have cost them to develop their own version of the C350 and C400. That has nothing to do with whether the Mooney is better or faster.

    7. True. An FAA friend of mine said "we haven't changed the way we teach flying in 50 years." I think the jury is still out over how effective the Sport Pilot certificate will turn out to be. Certainly, there's been a lot of development of lower cost LSA aircraft which is encouraging. mark, you have lots of good ideas about flight instruction. If you're not already a CFI, I hope that you get your rating someday and put some of those good ideas in practice!

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