Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

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t0r0nad0
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby t0r0nad0 » Fri Nov 13, 2009 4:21 pm

Amen Mike and Rob! Sport Pilot really can become the savior of GA as we know it by introducing a whole new generation of pilots to the fold! We just need more people to buy into it, and sell it as an entry point to the market. So what if you can only fly a two-seat airplane? I can count on one hand the number of times I've had a third person in the 172's that I fly. So what if you can only go a max of 130kts? You're lucky if a 172 (or even a 182) will go that fast at normal cruise power, and good luck getting insurance on something faster for a somewhat reasonable rate with the ink still wet on your PPL. So what if you can only fly in VMC? I don't have an IR yet, so I fly the 172's in VMC only as well. So what if you can't fly at night? I haven't done a night flight since I was training for my PPL. So what if you need endorsements to fly into controlled airspace and the various levels of towered airports? You fly in there once or twice with an instructor and get the sign-off... then you're as free as a bird! While you're exercising that freedom, all of the hours you earn count toward the minimums to get higher certificates and ratings, if you want them. The only thing that won't count (now, thanks a lot, FAA) is if you received your dual instruction from a CFI-SP instead of a full CFI.

I try to sell SP as a means to an end to people who ask me about learning to fly all the time. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, the new King Schools CPC curriculum has you starting in the 162 and getting your SPL before transitioning to the 172 to finish your PPL - can anyone confirm or deny this? I know that like others, I'm preaching to the choir here, but if the choir gets together and collectively sings the praises of this method, we might be able to find our way out of this mess!
Last edited by t0r0nad0 on Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dave Higdon
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby Dave Higdon » Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:25 pm

Mike (Merlin Pilot) -- without putting thoughts into the heads of my cohorts (sign flashing "VACANCY" comes to mind sometimes for us all... ;) ) believe in the context of our discussion on auto engines it was the certificate stuff we were addressing...after all our years at Oshkosh and all our time and friendships involving EAA and EAA members, I'd hope, big time, that we wouldn't make any such blanket statements that tarred the Experimental community; late friend here in Wichita developed a Ford V-6 conversion that met with limited success...the AeroV engines, Corvairs, Subaru (flat piston and rotary), even the old-time Ford Model T engine, have, as you noted, all had their fans and aficionados...and there are indeed many a successful installation flying...but i say this without enduring the pain and discomfort of listening to us do #158 again...was there the first time and that's generally enough 8-)

Good points, man, good points.

Dave

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cphillips103
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby cphillips103 » Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:04 pm

I agree on the expense being related to where people train. The hourly rates set aside, when you are on a busy airport with jets you can
easily spend 30 minutes waiting to take off. That being said, training early in the day or late in the day and flying during the slow
season can really help with that.

The biggest cost of training in New York, Republic for me, is related to the "wet" costs. SheltAir lists 100LL today on Airnav at $6.52/gl.

9gl/hr in a Piper 140 would be $58.68. So the school is only keeping $49.32 per hour for the trainer. Anyone that says they can rent a $50/hr
trainer is probably doing it "dry", or losing money.

Now at Skyacres 44N fuel is listed at $4.25/gl for low lead. So flying somewhere that has cheaper fuel would make a big savings. Plus you might
be able to get more stick time instead of sitting behind other people waiting to take off.

As far as the airplane costs, the "dry" part of the hour, if the ultimate plan is to buy an airplane once you get a license then buying a plane to train in
and later fly for a few years could help to lower those related costs. However, it depends on the number of hours you train per month. If you only
get out a few hours per month, and you're not leasing back the plane to the school, it might costs you more to own than to rent.

Usually, most people are saying it doesn't pay to own unless you are 150+ hours per year in usage.

It would be great if three or more people that are all training get together to buy a trainer that everyone will use to spread the costs. But not everyone
knows other students that also want to buy into a partnership when they are first getting their license.

On related a note to getting more students, because of the fuel charges, the school loses money on $99 intro flights. (dry, fuel, plus CFI). However, schools that combine
training, renting, BFR's, pilot shop, ground school programs like intro to the G1000, can still manage to make money during the busy seasons.

-CP

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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby MerlinFAC » Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:40 pm

I'd hope, big time, that we wouldn't make any such blanket statements that tarred the Experimental community


Dave, I didn't take it that way at all. I think it was, at most, a case of slightly unclear context during an interesting discussion... I never thought for a minute that you guys were anti-experimental aircraft or any such thing!! :)

Here's a related true story I meant to put in my original post, but forgot, concerning the Sport Pilot and one of the hurdles it faces.

A certain previous chairman of Young Eagles was at a major aviation event a few years ago (SNF or OSH I think) and someone invited him to go for a ride in a very light aircraft, I think it was a 2-seat ultralight trainer (er, excuse me, it must have been for a "flight lesson"). His response, reported in the media, was shocking to me... he said something to the effect of, "No thanks, I don't really want to die today!" Now, I like the guy and I do think he did (and still does) an excellent job at promoting aviation and YE in general, but this statement REALLY irked me at the time, and I am disappointed that EAA didn't immediately make a concerted effort to persuade this gentleman to at least try an ultralight ride to dispel some of the damage of his comment. (Maybe they did, but I never heard anything about it). Not just because of the very awkward position this put EAA into, but because of the fundamental inaccuracy of the idea behind it. Which, sadly, is a VERY prevalent attitude in the aviation community despite the facts, and which is virtually always repeated by folks who have NO FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE in that arena. (I used to work for a manufacturer of experimental aerobatic aircraft and that community has more than it's share of folks who would rail on for a LONG TIME about how horrible the whole SP/LSA/UL world was! Some really great folks in acro too, don't get me wrong...) But when it's coming from a very famous celebrity/aviator, the damage these negative and uninformed opinions can do is magnified many times over.

If aviation wasn't struggling so badly, it wouldn't be all that big of a deal. But the fact is, as I and many others see it, is that getting folks into aviation via the lightest end of the spectrum is likely the key to the survival of ALL aviation. The fact that Sport Pilots can (and many will) eventually move up to PPL, IFR, multi-engine, etc. REALLY leaves the nay-sayers with NO excuse for being unsupportive. Think it's too limited? Fine, them promote it as the way to "start" and encourage folks to progress from there. But SP meets the flight needs and goals of a LOT of people, and PILOT NUMBERS are the only thing that will keep aviation going! Even AOPA has missed the boat here, I don't think they're "anti" SP but it's very much in their interest to promote the HELL out of it, which I feel they have failed to do. (I wonder too if starting out in "basic" airplanes might have instilled more of an appreciation of basic airmanship and stick-and-rudder skills in those pilots who have recently been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, and maybe have prevented some of those incidents? Who knows.)

Right now, a small part of the aviation world is singing the praises of LSA, but it seems that far more of it is wasting effort in putting it down, ignoring it, or even actively pretending it doesn't even exist or implying that it's just a passing fad. Given that, how can we ever expect to increase the numbers of pilots and thus ensure the survival of ALL non-military aviation? Bob Hoover didn't learn to fly in an F-86, he started in an LSA (Piper Cub). But to hear a lot of FBOs talk, anything less than a PPL earned in a full-IFR airplane isn't even "really" flying, or at best it's harder for them to squeeze tons of money out of SP students, so and it's obviously beneath them to even consider offering such things! In the coming years, I believe that those short-sighted operations, even the bigger ones, will be forced to either completely change their tune and promote Sport Pilot, or they'll be run out of business by the FBOs who do embrace Sport Pilot.

It's good that the aviation community is so conservative with newer ideas, but in this case, that attitude has become a real detriment at times.

In the end, the biggest visible difference I can see between the Pietenpol pilots and the guys flying Bonanzas is that the Piet guys occasionally end up with some bugs in their teeth when they smile at the line crew!


-Mike

robkrogh
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby robkrogh » Sat Nov 14, 2009 8:59 pm

I suppose if someone asked you how much it costs to learn to fly and your answer was "Well first you need to buy a plane...", that probably wouldn't go over so well. But, I had never thought about it from that angle. I wonder if as many people would drive cars these days if the "best" (or at least typical) way to drive was to rent a car for $150/day?

Let me preface the rest by saying that I am doing none of what I'm about to suggest so as not to come across as condescending.

I think that maybe the best way we could encourage participation in GA is to put our money and time where our mouths are. Young Eagles is a great example of this. Heck, the UCAP broadcast is a great example of this! But, what if our response to the cost question was, "Well, it's affordable enough that I'll pay for your first lesson!" I bought an introductory package for a friend once as a gift and included a simple note that encouraged him to "follow his dreams" or something to that effect. He ended up earning his private! If I had a plane and a CFI (maybe someday) I think I would gladly share my enthusiasm with interested friends at as low a cost as I could accommodate. Several of my first lessons were from a friend of my grandmother's in Pontiac, Illinois. He had partial ownership in a 172 there and his CFI. I was a teenager at the time. (1990's) He charged $45/hour. For the plane and his instruction! Thinking back, I wonder if he was violating the terms of the plane's insurance policy?

MerlinFAC
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby MerlinFAC » Sat Nov 14, 2009 11:27 pm

I think that maybe the best way we could encourage participation in GA is to put our money and time where our mouths are. Young Eagles is a great example of this. Heck, the UCAP broadcast is a great example of this! But, what if our response to the cost question was, "Well, it's affordable enough that I'll pay for your first lesson!"


I've always thought this was one of the biggest places where the aviation community is missing the boat. Many pilots out there rarely, if ever, actually bother to take interested folks for a flight. What if every flight school, for a period of 6 months, offered one free introductory flight lesson to all comers? Yes, I said that dirty, four-letter word: FREE. I've heard it costs schools between $75 to $120 to cover their costs for an intro flight. But I've never heard anyone discuss the REAL cost/benefit to such flights... will this person actually go any further and start training? Some will, more won't... but if they don't try it in the first place how will you ever know? Or more to the point, can the industry afford NOT to try to get as many potential future pilots started as possible, even if it costs them some money up-front?

The real question is, if a flight school actually committed to eat the cost of one flight, might the program pay for itself overall through getting more future pilots to actually try it out and get started? (That's aside from the harder-to-measure benefit of opening more people's eyes to aviation in general.) Sure, you might need to set some limits to prevent abuse... say, only make 5 free flights available per week or something. But I think that, like ANY activity, exposing as many folks as possible to it is a necessary part of building up the numbers of folks who actually continue to participate... and the numbers of new pilots are what will keep flight schools, and aviation in general, going in the long term. At the very worst, folks get a free plane ride and decide it's not for them... but the school still has created an opportunity for a positive interaction with the community, and it's likely that that person will suggest the school to a friend or family member who indicates an interest in aviation.

It's easy for me to say all this, not owning a plane or a flight school nor having to cover their bills! But most non-aviator friends I know believe that it's a very, very expensive activity to participate in, and that is a big problem that it's high time to find better solutions to.

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rcigliano
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby rcigliano » Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:54 pm

t0r0nad0, Amen! Right now I see my mission as a day VFR pilot carrying one or no passengers. I wish I new this before I started (if only someone at flight school could have told me) I might have started as a sport pilot.


CP, I too learned at Republic and I have had countless number of times sitting waiting for more than 20 minutes in line to be cleared for take-off or have had my downwind extended over the ocean or the sound. It really does eat up money. You point about fuel prices lends more fuel (pun intended) to learning in an LSA. Most will burn 4 - 5 gph and can use auto fuel (which is cheaper), thus saving money. Where I rent the Eaglet, they charge $20 per hour for the fuel.


MerlinFAC, as to your point about people putting down LSAs and Sport Pilots, I was talking to a CFI this weekend who told me that he did not like LSAs. He felt they were not durable enough to be used as a trainer since they were built in Europe where they are flown from grass strips. He also said LSAs were not practical because, again they were built for pilots in Europe who fly day VFR. He did say that he is waiting for the Skycatcher before he gets check out in one and consider them for training. WHy... because it will be built by Cessna and since Cessna is building them they must be durable.

I had conversation with another instructor a month ago, who was confusing LSA and Sport Pilot. He (and others I have talked to) think that the restrictions is on the plane (busy airspace, night flying, etc) instead of the certificate. I had to explain to him that a private pilot (like me) can fly an LSA into busy airspace or at night (assuming the plane is legal). If instructors who should be in the know talk like this or lack basic understanding, how can we sell Sport Pilot or LSAs.

If I knew then what I know know, I would have definitely trained in an LS and maybe as a Sport Pilot at an uncontrolled field. I know one thing, I would have saved buckets of money. This is why I am passionate about using LSAs and Sport Pilot as a way to make learning to fly cheaper and to get more people flying.
Rob
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MerlinFAC
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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby MerlinFAC » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:05 am

I believe the only way to change this is for all instructors to hear facts from the AOPA, EAA, etc. in a format that will make many if not most of them feel like it's crazy for them NOT to join in the Sport Pilot world. I know many instructors aren't involved with NAFI, SAFE, EAA, FAAST, etc. but enough of them probably are that they'd be the logical place to start. Again, if SP/LSA really has the potential that I and many others believe it does for reversing the bad trends in aviation, isn't it WORTH IT for the groups supposedly leading the aviation community to make a HUGE effort to get all the CFI's on board? And isn't it fair to assume that the real reason many CFI's haven't jumped at this is outright ignorance about what it REALLY means... more students, more pilots, and for many of those, more training later as they move up the ladder?

It's kind of like the flight training community sawed off the bottom two rungs of the ladder, and then sit there lamenting why so few people have made it up to the top where they want to live. It's a simple equation, folks... FLYING COSTS TOO MUCH FOR GENERAL AVIATION TO SURVIVE, AND THE FLIGHT TRAINING COMMUNITY IS PERPETUATING THE PROBLEM THROUGH WILLFUL IGNORANCE AND REFUSAL TO EMBRACE SPORT PILOT.

Frankly, I wouldn't WANT to learn to fly with a CFI like the one you described... if he believes that ignorant tripe, then what other old wives tales and highly flawed information does this guy accept as fact, and which one of those things is going to get him and a student killed someday? Not saying he's a bad guy or anything, but didn't it ever cross his mind that European students are just as hard on airplanes, that many of them don't fly off of grass, and that just maybe out of the thousands of European LSAs they just might have figured out how to build at least one good training aircraft? Sheesh.

So, at what point is this horse considered officially dead and beaten?

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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby t0r0nad0 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:49 am

Which requires a more rugged airplane? Flying on and off of rough, grass strips which shake the s**t out of an airplane, or flying on and off of a nice, smooth, paved runway? That CFI's argument doesn't hold water. :)
-PJ

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Re: Episode #158 "Mach Point Five Six"

Postby rcigliano » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:17 pm

Unfortunately the flight training industry is an industry where the trainers stop learning and promoting.

The "older" career CFI (like the one who does not like LSAs) does not like change and ignores it until it affects him adversely or is forced to change.

The CFI looking to build time doesn't care to learn about anything new because he won't be around long and he can build time with the status quo. This guy/gal is not really interested in promoting GA. He is only interested in promoting himself.

So what is the answer. New blood. But wait, the FAA is putting a stop to that with their interpretation that anyone training with a CFI-SP cannot use any of the duel time accumulated to be applied to their private pilot certificate. So someone like me, who is a big proponent of LSAs and Sport Pilot may never get the chance to promote it because flight schools might not hire someone like me with only a CFI-SP and not a "real" CFI.

As a side note. I work with a guy who is dying to learn to fly and would like to pursue a Sport Pilot license but cannot find any flight school nearby that offers it. So he sits and waits until he can find one. So here is another potential pilot that we might loose.
Rob
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