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Golden age of accessible aviation content?

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:16 pm
by gmarshall
I think aviation 'media' has gone through some ups and downs over the years. I'll put down some stuff, sorta chronologically how I see it, and would love to get corrected if I'm off base.

1) Myths and legends. Icarus and such. Strictly realm of imagination.
2) Newspaper reporting of pioneers. Mongolfiere brothers, to Lilienthal through Cayley and Curtis and Wrights, through Alcock and Brown and Lindbergh
3) Newsreels in theatres, and wartime feature movies: WW1 and WW2
4) Golden age of aviation magazines -1950s and 60s: Aviation Week and Flight and Flying and a myriad of others
5) TV shows and movies - 1950s on - Sky King, Blue Angels, Baa Baa Black Sheep

...then a bit of a decline. I would say the death of a bunch of aviation magazines tracked the decline of personal aviation through the 70s onwards.

Certainly there's been some big budget military movies since then, especially with the help of military money. Think Top Gun and it's bretheren, but I don't think those spark the imagination of people to get into general aviation. I think of them as more recruiting tools.

Recently though, with the lower barrier to entry of modern technology and 'new media' production, there's been an explosion of interesting aviation content available.

I'm talking about, of course, stuff like UCAP which was at the forefront of 'new media' aviation, IMO. There's an embarrassment of fascinating, entertaining, small production content out there. There's podcasts like UCAP, Airplane Geeks, Plane Crazy Down Under etc etc. There's Youtubers like Trent Palmer, Flight Chops, FliteTest, Captain Joe and so on. There's also all sorts of aviation forums of every stripe where you can interact, ask advice from honest to god experts in very specific fields and so on.

So after my long preamble my question is this:

Does the easy availability of all this great content drive meaningful engagement? Will it lead to more pilots?

I'm not talking anecdotally. I suspect many people who credit the online world with motivating them to get involved in aviation would have simply driven out to an airport at some point instead. I also suspect that there's people who 'scratch the itch' by consuming online content, and never get motivated to get the ball rolling on getting their own license. IE: People who play flight sims instead of going to get their license.

Obviously cost will always be a factor, and I'm still hoping that we'll realize savings from modern construction techniques, electronics and power sources to make aviation more accessible. Imagine an plastic LSA with a limited number of parts, simple electronic package and an inexpensive electric powerplant (once electric cars make batteries cheap). We *should* be able to make aviation much easier to get into, both safety and cost wise, than when Skyhawks first started rolling off the line in 1956.

Re: Golden age of accessible aviation content?

Posted: Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:33 am
by jackhodgson
gmarshall wrote:So after my long preamble my question is this:

Does the easy availability of all this great content drive meaningful engagement? Will it lead to more pilots?

I'm not talking anecdotally.

I don't have any hard data on this. I'd love to hear if anyone HAS looked, in a scientific way, into any possible connection.

But I think you're dismissing the anecdotal evidence too quickly.

If there were only one or two stories of people getting into flying after hearing a podcast, I'd agree that we should take that with a grain of salt. But the fact is we've been hearing this story from many people for the entire decade of our podcast's life: People who started, or resumed, their flight training, and completed it, after being energized by some online experience.

I'm pretty certain that yes, things like podcasts (and definitely not just UCAP, there's lots of great ones) and youtube channels, that present GA as interesting and approachable, have had a positive effect on pilot completions.

Sadly, there are also a great many things that are leading to pilot "retirements". The net-net is discouraging sometimes.

// Jack

Re: Golden age of accessible aviation content?

Posted: Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:17 am
by C5Guy
I’m a single data point, but UCAP “energized” me into buying an airplane and entering the world of GA. I was already an Air Force and airline pilot, but UCAP turned me into a F.L.A.P. (F’n Little Airplane Pilot).