Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

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Soccer-Jock
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby Soccer-Jock » Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:43 pm

Bad plan. A) I wouldn't finance a hobby/toy. B) I woudn't finance anything for longer than I was planning to use it.

100% agree!

Jack, et al., - I probably won't win any brownie points with this next statement, but...
The spin you are so strongly digging for is lipstick on a pig. Unless you can tax-deduct, or make a strong business justification for training and flying... then it is just a (relatively) expensive hobby. Spin it, dress it up, side step the direct questions with "buts"... and you still come up with the same training investment.

That doesn't make it un-saleable.
Apple makes market-comparatively expensive products... and still their market share steadily increases in a rough economy. (I well know!)
You can buy a Toyota that is identical to it's Lexus counterpart... yet Toyota still makes tons of money with their Lexus branding.

The HOBBY lacks "sizzle". There is little to no marketing done to the average population. Cessna, Piper, Diamond, etc. could do a far better job in this area. They advertise where people are already involved in or already interested in the sport. (eg, Sun-N-Fun, Flying Mag, etc.) When was the last time you saw a Cessna ad at Superbowl half-time? A Diamond DA-20 plastered across a billboard? A Piper with a big red bow on it outside of someone's hanger-home at Christmas time? The Budweiser babes invade a spring break beach in Maui... but when was the last time you saw a bikini-clad Jennifer Love-Hewitt drop down into a spring break festivity in her Sea Plane?

Somehow, 17-year-old kids find a way to put $3000 rims and a $1500 sound system into a $2500 1989 Geo Metro.

Stop and look at the TV ad's for the Army. Guys on exotic tours of duty, playing with really cool high-tech stuff, playing awesome games of basketball. Ask any recently recruited guy and he'll tell you it's considerably different.

It's no secret I'm a low-wing lover, but I have a beef with Piper aircraft: They never seem to show up at events at local FBOs. Cessna is there though. I asked our school's director why; he told me because Cessna subsidizes their insurance in return for being a Cessna pilot center and keeping their fleet 1/2 Cessna-based. It's no surprise you don't see Warriors as readily as you do Cessna's at flight schools. You reap what you sow.

My point in this rant is "sexy sells" regardless of what you're selling. Those that get hooked, find a way - cost doesn't stop them.
The logic then is to hook 'em. And set the hook good. The value comes later. It might be tangible (business) or it might be intangible (freedom, enjoyment, or thrill).

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rcigliano
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby rcigliano » Fri Dec 11, 2009 1:05 pm

Eric

You are so right. We are very good at advertising to the converted but not to the unconverted. You can have all the GA Serves America and Be A Pilot websites but if no one outside the aviation community sees them what good are they.

New companies like Remos and Icon are taking a different road. They are trying to sell to those outside of aviation. Icon is marketing its sexy A5 airplane to the watercraft sect as a "Jetski for the sky".

From Icon's website
ICON Aircraft’s sole purpose has been to bring the freedom, fun, and adventure of flying to all who have dreamed of flight. With these ground-breaking FAA rules solidified, ICON believes that consumer-focused sport aircraft can do for recreational flying what personal watercraft did for boating.

ICON’s sport aircraft are not only designed to deliver an amazing and safe flying experience, but also to inspire us the way great sports cars do.


Hopefully this works and the old guard like Cessna and Piper will follow.
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MerlinFAC
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby MerlinFAC » Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:28 pm

A guy in my CAP squadron who is an aerospace engineer said one time that one of the reasons why he liked hanging out with folks from the squadron is that we were all aviation enthusiasts even if we aren't all pilots. He said that he has worked at a lot of different airplane manufacturers and most of the other engineers and people that work there are not aviation enthusiasts. A structural engineer working on an airplane wing might be just as happy if it were a bridge instead. It's basically the same job. So, maybe the folks at the airplane manufacturers didn't offer people rides because most people that work there just didn't care.


I've found that to be the case as well. The first homebuilt manufacturer I worked at was a college work-study program, making fiberglass parts (ugh!). The owners were pilots and builders, but the guys I actually worked with on the shop floor certainly weren't. They thought I was nuts when I almost wet my pants when the one and only Fred Weick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fred_Weick) came by to visit with his family (this was about 6 months before he died). I saw a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a legendary aircraft designer... while my co-workers saw just another old geezer interrupting their lunchtime. BTW, Fred thought the whole idea of a molded composite fuselage and parts was really great and said he wished they had been available back when he was designing! I was forever marked as a "weirdo" after that amongst my co-workers there.

At the second homebuilt company I worked at, again it was a case of the owners/management being into planes while many (not all) of the workers weren't. I'll never forget the rude comments and ridicule heaped upon me by a couple of them (pilots no less) when I asked a simple question to one of the designers of our aircraft (another aviation legend, who shall remain nameless here as I don't want to appear to malign the company) about whether he'd ever seen anyone use a certain auto-conversion on his planes. (I wasn't given the chance to find out his answer.) I learned from that and other similar encounters how exclusionary certain interest groups within aviation can be, and how much some folks in those groups really look down upon those with different interests or ideas. I'd describe some of the attitudes and comments I heard concerning other interest groups as bordering on outright hatred. Personally, I just decided that I don't have time to worry about such narrow-minded twits, and just chalk it up to personal problems with those adopting such attitudes. But I wonder how many other people have been totally turned off to (ultralights, aerobatics, gliders, gyrocopters, powered parachutes... etc.) as a result of such encounters? The thought of GA losing potential pilots due to encountering such an attitude really torques my Dzus, but all we can do is try to offer the right attitude ourselves, and hope it offsets that damage.

Then there was the clown in the Northwest who was building a Gee Bee (just to sell it) and who actually told me outright that I was an idiot for liking Pietenpols, since "the only homebuilt worth even looking at is the Cuby because you won't be able to sell anything else". The concept of building a plane you like just for the fun and enjoyment of it was completely lost on him, the resale value was all that this poor guy could understand. I truly feel sorry for this guy, especially considering that he apparently had the skills to take on these projects. There's a lot of easier ways to make money!

I also know of an aerospace composites engineer who got disciplined by the management at one of the "big three" GA manufacturers. His offense? Talking about airplanes too much!! (He quickly found a better job after that...)

The fact that these experiences stick out as odd is why I love the small aviation movement so much. Despite these exceptions, it's full of (many folks who simply love aviation and want to be involved in it in any way possible. Even though pursuing an aviation career has driven me into the poorhouse (and, lately, unemployment) it's still what I love and what I hope to stay involved in. I just wish more of the bigger aviation companies would be more supportive of the enthusiasm that lies at the heart of their business, rather than fight it or at least only begrudgingly acknowledge it. For whatever flaws EAA has, they have indeed proven over time that supporting and fostering unbridled enthusiasm for aviation in any and all forms can be a very successful business model leading to many, many new opportunities for business. I might suggest that the best aviation companies will be the ones who step back from a bean-counter driven obsession over absolute dollars in and out and realize that a truly sustainable aviation business must be based in large part upon actively supporting ALL of aviation, not just the company's particular product line, and encouraging their employees and customers to be participants, not just drones on the production line. GA is already way too small to do otherwise... and it's shrinking yearly on top of that.

Sudden thought... all the aviation personalities and companies I really respect and admire never spend time disparaging their competitors or their products, nor do they want to see others fail. I've heard many of them actually praise other companies and products, even in the course of explaining why they believe their product is better for whatever purpose it's intended. I guess it goes down to an attitude of "we're all in this together" and a basic respect for the core mentality of personal aviation. In short, they "get it"! Think about it.

Mike The Long-Winded

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Soccer-Jock
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby Soccer-Jock » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:40 am

rcigliano wrote:New companies like Remos and Icon are taking a different road. They are trying to sell to those outside of aviation. Icon is marketing its sexy A5 airplane to the watercraft sect as a "Jetski for the sky".


RC, Amen brother! And some may baulk at the Icon, but they are taking a big step toward selling the "sexy" and the "Extreme sport" of flying. The aircraft looks hot! They have athletic people treating it like a cool extreme sport. Now we all know that you have to get licensed just like any other airplane, but they touch on that fact without dwelling on it... and go right back to showing you how sexy and cool the amphib is. Challenge isn't the obstacle, money isn't the obstacle... it's the "sexy" that needs to be in place.

As I write this dozens and dozens of Cigarette boats are screaming across the coast of Clearwater beach. These boats are EXPENSIVE to own, EXPENSIVE to operate, they aren't particularly practical as boats go... but man, you look hot pulling up to the dockside watering hole in it, and the ladies love laying across the deck. Not to paint a sexiest picture here, just a realistic one: the image conveys fun, affluence, vitality, thrill. These guys can't "afford" these boats! These things are financed up to the bow lines. But the marinas are selling them, and the "lifestyle" that goes with it. The cost of these things far EXCEEDS the cost of flight training + a basic pre-owned airplane.

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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby MerlinFAC » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:57 pm

As I write this dozens and dozens of Cigarette boats are screaming across the coast ... the marinas are selling them, and the "lifestyle" that goes with it. The cost of these things far EXCEEDS the cost of flight training + a basic pre-owned airplane.


Maybe we should start a marketing campaign: "Be a pilot: It's cheaper than a Cigarette boat, and harder to drown!"

The thing that's lost on the general public is "the aviation lifestyle". The "boating life" is familiar to many and frequently depicted (positively) on TV and in movies. Not so with personal aviation, most small planes shown on TV seem to be associated with being filthy rich or a criminal. (Wonder if the airline advertisers have anything to do with that?) Don't even get me going on the news and politicians.

Selling "glamor" is not really the key, because at heart, that is a very shallow notion, and utterly fails to convey the true value of aviation or the nature of the aviation community. There are aspects of the "aviation lifestyle" that are certainly appealing and marketable... the freedom to travel, the usefulness as a business tool, personal challenge, etc. but how do you convey the sense of community and unique character of aviation to someone who hasn't been immersed in it personally? I can count on one hand the media items I've ever seen that capture that aspect of it all very well... CBS Sunday morning did a good story on Oshkosh... One Six Right, of course... the very infrequent human-interest story... yet I bet most readers would agree that the community is at least as important as the rest of it, if not moreso.

I think we ultimately come back to where we were a few posts ago... aviators have to start bringing folks that they know into the fold, and doing so consistently and on a widespread basis. There are many folks in the aviation community who are not pilots, and some who don't even enjoy flying (that's hard for me to understand), but who still greatly enjoy the aviation community. Even if they don't fly, these folks are very important to us as well, as they vote and write editorials and own homes and pay taxes and go to work and know people.

Maybe this is worth a separate thread but... is the core of the new pilot problem the difficulty in merging the "mechanics" of aviation (costs, training, user aptitude, politics) with the "human" aspect (community)? Will getting users involved in one necessarily boost the other, or bring actual new pilots into the fold? How many folks got into aviation after becoming some part of the "community" rather than the other way around?

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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby champguy » Sat Dec 12, 2009 9:18 pm

Being a pilot is about integrety and personal responsibility.
Neither is much in fashion these days.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby PilotBillFromTexas » Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:48 am

MerlinFAC wrote:... is the core of the new pilot problem the difficulty in merging the "mechanics" of aviation (costs, training, user aptitude, politics) with the "human" aspect (community)? Will getting users involved in one necessarily boost the other, or bring actual new pilots into the fold? How many folks got into aviation after becoming some part of the "community" rather than the other way around?


This is a really good point. Look at the Harley community. How many middle aged guys get the urge to get tattoos and buy some black leather pants and a motorcycle? A lot. Why? There's this huge community and identity that people want to buy into. Golf and boating are similar.

If the foregone conclusion is to reach out beyond the choir then how?

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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby Dave Higdon » Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:42 pm

First -- fellow flyers, your discussions here are nothing short of amazing in their insights and passion for the topic; my hat's off to you all, no exceptions -- good stuff.

Second, between you all you've hit on all the the same salient points, many of which lots of us have quietly repeated again and again -- in my case, about 25 years...since I was "old" enough in the aviation world to have any relevant insights.

Getting outside the choir is crucial; lots of the industry and trade insiders recognize it, they've even helped spark and fund efforts to do that...but at the end of the cycle the efforts paid limited dividends...

And this hits on one of the reasons Jeb, Jack and I collect and combine our meager intellectual powers every week or so, to keep pumping up the idea and excitement and passion of flying, of exercising those privileges whether as a renter-pilot, owner-pilot or loaner-pilot participant.

You guys -- all of us -- taking a bit of our individual passions on a 180-degree turn and as much as possible flying them into the faces and minds of friends and co-workers and acquaintances and strangers we meet, that can generate a ripple that builds into another aviator...some of you flatter us by listening here are products of that very attitude -- if you talk it and walk it you'll spread it...

Keep it up, folks -- it's enormously gratifying to read and watch...and turn as much of it as you can outward toward our non-flying humans...

Meanwhile, we'll keep lobbying and flogging and suggesting and nudging the begrudging to act more in their own self interest and put into promoting aviation an effort equal to what they expect to profit...

Every little bit helps...

Thanks, friends...

Dave

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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby rcigliano » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:04 pm

Well it happened again. :x I heard from a student pilot that his instructor felt that the Sport Pilot license is a short cut to a pilot's license. Apparently, a person came in to the school looking to take flying lessons. He also wanted to buy his own plane and was interested in an LSA and wanted to check one out. The instructor said that he would talk the propesctive student out of the Sport Pilot license as soon as he could because it was a short cut a piolot's license.

How can we sell an activity that is considered expensive if those who should know better steer customers to more expensive options. This is not a good tactic to get more customers especially if the word gets out. And how can we promote LSAs and Sport Pilot if those in industry either don't support it, don't understand it or have a bias against it. This is becoming a continuing trend. I really believe the majority of the flight instructors and schools don't understand the Sport Pilot's license and don't care to learn about it. What a shame. The one really good thing that can help bring more student pilots in is not even supported by those can benefit by it.

I believe that AOPA, EAA, NAFI and other groups need to start a program to educate current flight instructors and schools so that they understand the Sport Pilot license and the benefits of it, as well as LSAs.
Rob
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Re: Episode 162: Go VFR at Seventeen-Five

Postby PilotBillFromTexas » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:16 pm

That really pisses me off.

That cute little sales maneuver is called a "bait and switch" btw, and is illegal.

I totally agree with what you said.


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