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AirVenture Fall Out

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Following up my wrap blog of earlier this week: Every year, after AirVenture, into my inbox comes a trickle of e-mail—and it usually is a trickle—decrying how EAA has gone further to hell than it already was. This year, given that AirVenture attendance was down 6 percent, there's more ammunition to blame the organization and show organizers for something they did or failed to do.

While I can find things to complain about, I also realize one thing: AirVenture is no longer the friendly little experimental fly-in of its roots and it hasn't been that for what…25 years now? Still, those elements of the show are still there. Type clubs have tents and meets, homebuilders have forums and brat roasts, the camping in the North 40 is as good as ever and may even be better given the improved facilities on the field. The FAA usually shows up and tries to at least explain itself at what is, after all, the most important airshow in the world.

When EAA changed the name from the Fly-in and Convention to AirVenture—a righteous shift, in my view—it made a market statement of sorts and the event continues to evolve. It nibbles at different edges of the GA, business and even airline markets every year. In reality, the AirVenture label simply recognized what the show had already become. To me, that's as it should be. Big shows like this constantly change and change they must. If it gets bigger in the process, so much the better. They didn't have flightline Chalets in 1986. They do now. If you're pining for the days of a quaint fly-in, they're gone for good.

As for the larger question of where EAA goes from here, I opined on this before. Some have complained in this forum that Rod Hightower and the board are taking the association in the wrong direction—away from its experimenter roots and toward a larger, broader-based GA organization similar to AOPA. Apply the AirVenture logic above. If EAA hopes to grow the organization—again, a good thing—it's not going to find much growth in the experimental segment. By necessity, it will have to appeal to a broader base. As I've mentioned before, Sport Aviation already reflects this decision, even if the association hasn't plainly said as much. Again, these strike me as legitimate business decisions. In any business you hope to grow, you pick a path and carry on. EAA seems to be doing that, frankly. If that includes a profitable airshow, so be it.

If the strategy alienates too many long-time members, they'll say so and/or leave or form a competitive association more to their liking in the manner of the new Aircraft Kit Industry Association that just formed. If the overall business strategy tanks the membership or it becomes stagnant, the board will presumably replace Rod Hightower with someone who can fulfill its wishes, whatever they may be.

All of this is to say that any move EAA makes at AirVenture is going to annoy some people who think it should go back to being the way it was 30 years ago. That's not going to happen. So the best plan might be to attend AirVenture with the idea of taking in the things you like and avoiding those you don't. There's plenty there for everyone.

Now if I could just get an invite to one of those chalets…

Comments (53)

Why is it axiomatic that GROWTH is always good? Is big always better? We all know that is not true. There are countless examples of this in all fields of endeavor, so I won't bother to list them.

Posted by: Thom Riddle | August 2, 2012 6:34 AM    Report this comment

Paul, the problem is crystallized by you above: "these strike me as legitimate BUSINESS decisions". I'd agree with you if EAA was a business... but it's not - it's organized as an ASSOCIATTION... eaA(!). And therein lies the problem. The longer you folks in the media let Hightower & the rest get along with running our "club" as their "business", the worse it's going to get. A luggage store on the flight line? Really???

Posted by: Dave Nelson | August 2, 2012 6:45 AM    Report this comment

Been a member 53 years, not opposed to change. But, Sport Aviation has turned into a bad version of Flying, while Flying has turned into a very bad version of... Flying.

No more experiments? Only ex-Flying writers? Ummm, maybe not the right direction. Ought to be more experimental articles, maybe a little less family touchy-feely.

Posted by: Robert Cumberford | August 2, 2012 6:57 AM    Report this comment

I love AirVenture, all of it. What I think upsets most of the membership, me included, is the move toward the "haves" and the "have-nots." One of the things I love about EAA is the feeling that we lowly aviators can mingle with the aviation elite at AirVenture. It has been sort of a great equalizer with awesome access to everyone and everything aviation. Lowly homebuilders mingling with Burt Rutan or a student pilot chatting with Sean D. Tucker has been the norm for AirVenture. Now, the chalets on the flight line are the equivalent of the 8 foot, barbed-wire-topped fences that surround our local airports. It says "you are not welcome here." To paraphrase a famous President; "Mr. Hightower, tear down this wall."

Posted by: Lindy Kirkland | August 2, 2012 7:05 AM    Report this comment

Us folks in the media? What are *we* letting them get away with? If you as a member are unhappy, who have you complained to? Has anyone responded? What is the nature of the "club" versus the business.

As I said, the association hasn't been an intimate little club for many years. It will be less so in the coming years. As for growth, I think it's better than the alternative. I've been in aviation publishing for 22 years and in aviation for 40.

In each advancing year, there have been fewer airplanes, fewer pilots and fewer hours flown. Also fewer readers for our publications. I'm having trouble seeing why this is good. These days, you have to grow just to hold the status quo.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 2, 2012 7:12 AM    Report this comment

I think EAA is to be commended for navigating the unbelievably challenging GA industry and staying relevant at all. Putting on an event as complex as AirVenture and having it turn out well year after year (with all the unpredictability of upper-Midwest weather) is nothing short of amazing.

You can argue that perhaps that isn't EAA's original role, but you can't lay the blame at Hightower's feet. The guy at the helm during 95% of this transition was named Poberezny.

Posted by: Brad Koehn | August 2, 2012 7:20 AM    Report this comment

The luggage shop on the flightline? Great. The air conditioning was frigid. Remowa sponsored a historic airplane, one of the few that was not U.S. built. We need family-friendly activities. GA needs to attract new participants. Eventually all us old guys will fly west. Give Hightower a lot of credit. He achieved a 6% shrink of attendance while Long Beach airport saw a 24% decrease in the same period.

Posted by: Robert Hadow | August 2, 2012 7:31 AM    Report this comment

I believe EAA, Mr Hightower,and airventure needs to get ready to operate AirVenture on a purely commercial venture. Volenteer...ism is heading for colaspe. Operating units are getting just like the Chalets on the flight line. Except the call it clicks in volenteer circles which turn into the haves and the have nots. Some areas recieve very nice perks, seem to be well managed and others really get tred on. This year the trams were not managed well. The change in staff were not at all prepared. Volenteer leadership were not well sellected or trained and though they tried very hard, they struggled to get organized, resulting in confusion and lack of satisfied operators resulting in shutting down trams when services were needed. I hope it is not all school busses next year, but it looks like it is heading that way. Another area is the congestion produced by auto trafic in the display area streets, including those model A fords getting in a lineup and hauling special guest around. Ford spends a bundle, most of which is enjoyed by most people, but keep the cars in the "car show" out of the trafic.

Posted by: Robert Unternaehrer | August 2, 2012 7:31 AM    Report this comment

I believe EAA, Mr Hightower,and airventure needs to get ready to operate AirVenture on a purely commercial venture. Volenteer...ism is heading for colaspe. Operating units are getting just like the Chalets on the flight line. Except the call it clicks in volenteer circles which turn into the haves and the have nots. Some areas recieve very nice perks, seem to be well managed and others really get tred on. This year the trams were not managed well. The change in staff were not at all prepared. Volenteer leadership were not well sellected or trained and though they tried very hard, they struggled to get organized, resulting in confusion and lack of satisfied operators resulting in shutting down trams when services were needed. I hope it is not all school busses next year, but it looks like it is heading that way. Another area is the congestion produced by auto trafic in the display area streets, including those model A fords getting in a lineup and hauling special guest around. Ford spends a bundle, most of which is enjoyed by most people, but keep the cars in the "car show" out of the trafic.

Posted by: Robert Unternaehrer | August 2, 2012 7:31 AM    Report this comment

After being assaulted by a hard-core commercial fundraiser for the AOPA Safety Foundation, I complained and was told by AOPA that using commercial fundraisers "was the most effective method of fundraising" for the organization. I reminded the AOPA official that "what was best for AOPA was not necessarily in the best interest of its members!" The same principle applies to the EAA.

Posted by: John Austin | August 2, 2012 7:42 AM    Report this comment

EAA has always been an organization for homebuilders (its heart and soul) and others, for instance antique/vintage, warbirds, ULs, acro, etc. What is different now is the purging of the EAA staff of people who actually build and fly airplanes, public statements from Hightower that "homebuilding is no longer a focus of the EAA" an "we're aligning the EAA with the AOPA". Ask any EAA chapter leader if they agree - most disagree strongly. But chapters are no longer important to headquarters. Hightower claimed there are nearly 1000 chapters worldwide - in reality only around 250 are active and many of these are in decline. Since chapters supply the volunteers without whose generous help AirVenture, Young Eagles and other programs would not last one day, it will be interesting to see how the EAA deals with the mass defections of volunteers that has already started.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | August 2, 2012 8:05 AM    Report this comment

Two of the bright spots of AirVenture were the meetings from the new AKIA kit manufacturer organization and the re-emergence of Paul Poberezny's Sport Aviation Association, led by noted homebuilder Ed Fisher. Did you attend the annual meeting, Paul? EAA old-timers told me the meeting used to be attended only by Board members and a handful others. This time several hundred people showed up, many in their dark blue 'Volunteer' T-shirts. A respectable proxy effort was organized by RV owners, despite headquarters throwing roadblocks at them. The Board re-elected the existing members, a slap in the face to candidate Dave Morss, perhaps the most important test pilot for light aircraft we have. Given the recent FAA report on homebuilt accidents, Morss would have made an important addition to the Board. As long as Mr. Hightower and his yes-men on the Board remain in control, I see no future in the EAA - long live the Sport Aviation Association. As president of one of the EAA's largest chapters, it pains me to admit this, but I am surely not the only one who has come to this conclusion.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | August 2, 2012 8:05 AM    Report this comment

Two of the bright spots of AirVenture were the meetings from the new AKIA kit manufacturer organization and the re-emergence of Paul Poberezny's Sport Aviation Association, led by noted homebuilder Ed Fisher. Did you attend the annual meeting, Paul? EAA old-timers told me the meeting used to be attended only by Board members and a handful others. This time several hundred people showed up, many in their dark blue 'Volunteer' T-shirts. A respectable proxy effort was organized by RV owners, despite headquarters throwing roadblocks at them. The Board re-elected the existing members, a slap in the face to candidate Dave Morss, perhaps the most important test pilot for light aircraft we have. Given the recent FAA report on homebuilt accidents, Morss would have made an important addition to the Board. As long as Mr. Hightower and his yes-men on the Board remain in control, I see no future in the EAA - long live the Sport Aviation Association. As president of one of the EAA's largest chapters, it pains me to admit this, but I am surely not the only one who has come to this conclusion.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | August 2, 2012 8:06 AM    Report this comment

Personally I'd like to see Mac McClellan write up a detailed review in Sport Aviation of the new RV-14. :-)

Posted by: Craig Maiman | August 2, 2012 8:21 AM    Report this comment

Don't get me wrong, I love "Oshkosh" (sorry, I'll never come to terms with "airventure")it is the greatest aviation event going. Nevertheless, the fact is, Corporate America has highjacked the EAA. Oshkosh has not become a bad thing, it just isn't our thing anymore. It's a long way from the original mission, vision and values which built the organization and is no longer what most members joined for. So most chapters do their thing and try to ignore headquarters and headquarters does their thing and ignores the chapters. I really think the chapters should be the EAA and Airventure Inc. should sell stock to the Chinese, do Oshkosh, take over AOPA and pay huge bonuses.

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 2, 2012 8:54 AM    Report this comment

"long live the Sport Aviation Association."

There's your competing association, Kent. If EAA doesn't provide and the need exists--as it appears to--the right organization will form.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 2, 2012 9:06 AM    Report this comment

Paul, it is not my organization. The SAA was founded by Paul Poberezny and his friends many years ago. Paul has turned things over to homebuilder Ed Fisher of Gilbert, SC. The SAA will focus on homebuilding, I suspect, since that was Paul's original intent. When the EAA finally announces the formal merger with the AOPA (they're pretty much there now), homebuilders will have a place to go that resembles the EAA in the early years.

Posted by: Kent Misegades | August 2, 2012 9:14 AM    Report this comment

I've been to "Oshkosh" in the past (ask any aviator, and most will just say "Oshkosh" to describe this great event). I haven't been for probably 4 years, but the last time I went, I could find something for everyone...forums to help you build, rub shoulders with greats like Bud Anderson and Bob Hoover, go for a nice cool afternoon at the seaplane base, eat a brat, and chat with your fellow campers about what they fly/build.

I'm the YE coordinator for my local chapter and I think the programs outweigh the "business" side of EAA.

As I said in a post a while ago, if EAA and AOPA are going to essentially head the same way (which if you saw the AOPA Live piece with Rod and Craig Fuller it was nothing but stroking each others ego) then let them. Oshkosh will still happen, even if it happens as a seperate organization.

Look at what Sun-n-fun did when EAA pulled out...the show stayed the same. It's a little smaller than Oshkosh, but essentially you can still find everything that you want to find out about.

So to everyone who is whining about Oshkosh becoming a "business" and less of a "club"...please take a hard look at the cost of Aviation these days and ask are you willing to "donate" 200 gallons of 100LL (at $6/gal) to keep the airshow acts in the air?

Posted by: R. Doe | August 2, 2012 9:22 AM    Report this comment

I understand the complaints about EAA and its direction, but at this point I think any organization that is trying to promote and grow/save GA should be commended. The general aviation industry is on life support right now. It's primary base is getting older, and my perception is the younger crowd isn't coming in numbers sufficient to replace the old guys going out. If the organization needs to change its focus a little in order to promote and grow the industry as a whole, I'm all for it. The EAA and AOPA are the primary groups out there trying to get, and keep, people involved in GA. Given the significant expense involved in our little hobby (and the fact it has only gotten more expensive over the years), we cannot expect the organizations to simply do the same things they were doing in the 70s, 80s, or even 90s. Flexibility and fluidity is key in being able to adapt to the new reality and to be able to continue to keep our industry afloat. We are all in this together, and we need to accept that change may be necessary for survival.

Posted by: Brad Gardner | August 2, 2012 9:23 AM    Report this comment

As a kid who grew up in Oshkosh and knows the view of Paul Poberezny's P-51 better from the bottom than from the front, I have a few thoughts. I remember 1985 when the Concorde did a touch-and-go. As a nine-year-old kid I had flight line passes because my Dad's restaurant catered meals for the 45 minute sightseeing flights. Things were different back then, but not as much as some make it sound. You had to have flight line passes to see the airshow from the rope and a big checkbook to buy a ride on the Concorde. This doesn't sound much different than VIP access to the flight line chalet with a donation to the Young Eagles. A quaint little organization does not have access to Concordes dropping in or Harrier jets damaging little ears. This has been a massive organization and undertaking with different levels of access for many years. The EAA, to me, is an organization of many people that make of it what they will. You can fly in your Lancair and camp under the wing or taxi your Citation jet over to Basler and rent a house. You can drive in with the masses for the experience or come in for a day of business aviation meetings. You can learn how to survive off-airport landings, recover wings, integrate ADS-B into your cockpit, or buy an airplane. There is only one place where this is all possible in one week or even one day. EAA and AirVenture are what you make of them. Make the most of it and enjoy. I'm still smiling from my visit.

Posted by: Dylan Tribbey | August 2, 2012 9:25 AM    Report this comment

I find the notion of EAA and AOPA merging a funny one. I keep hearing from a lot of people who say "the two should just merge and get it over with", and yet they're the first people to complain when they don't like the direction an organization is going (and I'm referring mostly to people who don't comment here). I'm not sure if that's just so they have something to complain about, or to give them a reason to join some other organization/association.

As I get more involved with aviation, I'm running in to more and more complaining by people, but little action. And when someone else steps up with slightly different views than the complainer, it just adds fuel to their fires. I don't think things are as hopeless as most people make them out to be.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 2, 2012 9:31 AM    Report this comment

"If EAA hopes to grow the organization—again, a good thing—it's not going to find much growth in the experimental segment."

Another words, EAA has deviated from its mission.

Posted by: Amy Zucco | August 2, 2012 9:54 AM    Report this comment

I don't get it. To quote, "AirVenture is no longer the friendly little experimental fly-in of its roots and it hasn't been that for what…25 years now?" if the numbers in the pilot population are smaller, why is the feeling of a friendly little experimental fly-in disappearing?? Who are the bad apples that are spoiling the party??? Perhaps EAA and the pilot population might start growing again if we understand who the bad apples are!

Posted by: Art Ahrens | August 2, 2012 10:03 AM    Report this comment

I've been flying for 40 years, now. I never knew the Good Ol' Days of Oshkosh because, as a kid, I couldn't afford to go. My parents, while supportive, weren't particularly interested in attending and the guys who flew out of the grass strip at which I learned to fly usually went up with full airplanes. My first experience was 1998 and I thought it was fantastic. I still do. There is nowhere else on earth where we can experience the history and forums and workshops, where we can meet the stars of aviation past and present or rub elbows with so many others who love flying. Oshkosh (OK! OK! AirVenture) is a wonderful, almost transcendent, experience

If you really want a very different but equally wonderful experience with a special group of pilots and owners, absent the commercial vendors, commercial support and airshow hoopla, go to the AAA Fly-In in Blakesburg, IA. Only AAA members (I'm one) can attend and all airplanes are welcome. There are almost no commercial presence nor has there ever been. There's no significant FAA presence and no ATC. There are no chalets and no special, pay-for-access areas, no jets and no turbines. If it can't land on grass, it doesn't come. You either camp under your wing, or find your own accommodations in some small burg nearby. It's delightfully small and cozy and you'll have a lot of new freinds by the end. It is absolutely nothing like AirVenture and absolutely wonderful. It's simply wonderful in a different way.

Posted by: Kim Elmore | August 2, 2012 10:33 AM    Report this comment

Art, there aren't any bad appples in this, just differing opinions. What EAA is becoming is not a bad thing, it's a good thing but different. The organzation is evolving in a different direction than a lot of us would like but it's still a great thing for aviation as a whole. I will still go to OSH and support the oganization, but if the Sport Aviation Assoc. gains traction I will gladly support it as well. It's not an either or situation. There's room for both and a purpose for both.

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 2, 2012 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Let's face it people, the GA community is in decline. The next local GA meeting/gathering you go to, just count the number of attendees who aren't white men with at least some gray hair. As our numbers decline, so too goes our economic and political presence and influence and threats to our community increase. Our community splintering will also have the same negative impact.

That the EAA has recognized this and is trying to balance the needs of their “traditional” members who are homebuilders while trying to increase appeal to a broader population is both necessary to GA’s existence and difficult to achieve. It is an ongoing balancing act that is going to continue to be adjusted.

Every single member (or potential member) of this community is critical to its survival.

All of EAA, AOPA and our OWN actions need to be evaluated using two criteria: 1. Does it maintain and or increase the GA community or not? 2. Does it maintain/increase or potentially decrease GA community cohesion?

Posted by: Rick Bennett | August 2, 2012 11:00 AM    Report this comment

If you're looking for "quaint, personal fly-ins" there are many around the county. I am personally associated with SERFI and it is just that.

If Airventure and Sun 'n Fun are to survive they must not be $$$ losers. They must at least break even or make money. I don't like all of it but overall it like it.

Posted by: Stanley Tew | August 2, 2012 11:08 AM    Report this comment

Just returned from 37 consecutive attending Oshkosh 80% flying in when weather was VFR.

I have volunteered for two years in the Welcome Wagon which allows meeting many 'homebuilders' while hauling their luggage to or from their aircraft.

The forums and visiting friends fill the spare time. I have said that if there were no aircraft at Oshkosh, I would still go to visit with my friends.

I do not like the 'chalets' and their picket fences so just avoid them. This intrusion started when the original fence only allowed pilots on the flight line. Many do not bring their beautiful 'homebuilt' in fear it will be marred by kids and lawn chairs.

We do not know if Oshkosh will survive without homebuilders but we may find out soon...

My dorm room is reserved for 2013.

Posted by: Earl Schroeder | August 2, 2012 11:14 AM    Report this comment

I didn't attend Oshkosh this year. I've only missed three times since 1980, but $6 gas, hot weather, and the general hassle of Oshkosh kept me away. In the years since I first attended Oshkosh (I'll never call it Airventure), I've seen a massive improvement in facilities and accommodations for attendees. I didn't get to see the flight line chalets, but I'm certain those chalets produce more revenue than 1,000 Bill Kights arriving in a 32 year-old Bonanza. It's a fact of life that corporate money makes a massive show like Oshkosh happen. Those entities require more than a lawn chair and umbrella to court their prospects.

Posted by: William Kight | August 2, 2012 11:40 AM    Report this comment

Dear Anon--

I value you contributions but, like the rest of us, you need to put a name on them. Forum rules. Sorry.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 2, 2012 1:55 PM    Report this comment

So, has anyone here actually watched the five part interview of Hightower by (gasp!) Jim Campbell on Aero-News.net? He does a pretty good job of addressing many of the issues raised above.

Posted by: Ken Finney | August 2, 2012 2:11 PM    Report this comment

In 1980 there were 810,000 active pilots in the USA, now there are 600,000. Where is the customer base going for publications, clubs, aicraft and pilot organizations? Down, down, down. We need to generate more pilots so that you and I and other aviation related businesses can remain open for business. EAA and AOPA are aware of this and promoting new starts as well as renewd interest in presently certified pilots but not active.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 2, 2012 2:25 PM    Report this comment

I've been attending for about 20 years. I, too, felt that the show was evolutionary, not revolutionary this year--some years just seem to have a lot of new announcements, and some don't. This year, there was fewer excitement about LSAs, certified airplanes, and I-pads (though there WERE some good Cessna announcements. I write articles for regional aviation magazines, and wondered what slant I would put on it.

I decided to take a fresh look at the show through the eyes of some non-flying friends that attended with us for 4 days, rather than my own jaded views. It was literally an eye-opener for me. They raved about the size of the show--the variety of airplanes, how neat the grounds were, how friendly the volunteers were, the superb museum, the history of the warbirds and the pioneer airport, excitement of the airshows,the serenity of the seaplane base.

In short, they were excited about the very same things that we were excited about years ago--and I'm excited that they had a good experience. Let's look at it through the eyes of others--the experience is still good!

Posted by: jim hanson | August 2, 2012 2:31 PM    Report this comment

I'm Just nosey

Posted by: Bruce Savage | August 2, 2012 3:15 PM    Report this comment

As aviation is shrinking, aviation organizations need to band together, not get torn apart! I've already seen this with NAFI, the flight instructor organization. There were disagreements at the Board level, and instead of resolving their differences, a new organization was formed. I'd be curious if the combined memberships of the two organizations equals the membership of the pre-split NAFI.

Personally, I think Airventure is wonderful. I like the big new stuff as much as the quiet, older stuff.

Posted by: John O'Shaughnessy | August 2, 2012 3:32 PM    Report this comment

John O.: The funny thing was, NAFI decided to go without a booth this year (but did have a networking breakfast on Thrs), while the new-NAFI (I forget their name) did have a booth. I don't know how big their membership is, but as a new flight instructor, NAFI seemed to be the one for me to join. I'm willing to bet that the two combined has fewer members than the pre-split NAFI; splits tend to do that.

I think the path AOPA is taking with Summit, and including family/non-pilot events is the way to go, if we want to get more people involved with aviation. Some people have no interest at all, and never will, which is fine. But if they have something to do at these big aviation conventions (Summit, AirVenture/Oshkosh, etc), they just may allow their significant others to attend them and become more active pilots. The ferris wheel Ford set up at AirVenture seemed to me like a positive thing if it means pilots can make a family day trip out of these conventions (as it appeared many were indeed doing).

Now, if they could just make some of the pricing more transparent ($37 for 4 days of parking, $3 seaplane base return trip?)...

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 2, 2012 3:50 PM    Report this comment

The viewpoint Jim Hanson offered is excellent. The ability to get outside oneself, however, is very difficult for many, and this thread splitting in half sadly, also reflects the national split in our modern society. If this appeared to be resolving itself I wouldn't be so concerned, but it seems to get more divided thru time.

One of the hardest things to do is to convince someone that victimhood is a choice. Jim's and other's posts help to shine light on the bigger picture and that we as pilots need to learn how to integrate our own, personal viewpoints of aviation with the broader world so we can all benefit.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 2, 2012 4:24 PM    Report this comment

I always enjoy Airventure even though my interest is low cost aviation. But the content of Sport Aviation magazine is another matter and has drifted away from affordable aviation... the true purpose of EAA. The new director of publications (Mac) has admitted twice in his EAA blog that he ALWAYS files IFR on EVERY flight.! Folks, IFR flight is not sport aviation. I am still waiting to see a sport aviation article from Mac.

The future airplane owners will start at bottom (not with jets). I train RC pilots, some will move to ultralights or build or restore a plane as I have. I cannot recommend Sport Aviation to these new people I meet. Bill Berson

Posted by: Bill Berson | August 2, 2012 8:12 PM    Report this comment

Never been to the Oskosh event but would love to go someday. If not for the EAA and AOPA I would not have been able to purchase and restore a vintage aircraft In 2004 nor flown close to the 800 hours since then that I now have in my logbook. I'm a sport pilot. Thank you to both organizations.

Posted by: Jay | August 2, 2012 8:15 PM    Report this comment

While I understand the views of the home builders, GA needs all the organization it can get in order to survive. I joined the EAA prior to attending Sun' n ' Fun in 2010. With the addition of two of the best parts of FLYING, SPORT AVIATION is the best magazine out there in the opinion of this Cherokee Six pilot. Unfortunately, staying exclusively with home builders won't give the EAA enough clout to keep GA from dying altogether.

Posted by: John Worsley | August 2, 2012 8:25 PM    Report this comment

I attended AirVenture this year, flying in and camping for the week. It was fantastic: a well-organized event with an incredible array of activities and wonderful fellowship. It was one of the highlights of my 25+ years in general aviation.

Posted by: Kenneth Katz | August 2, 2012 8:46 PM    Report this comment

I don't think I understand the arguments that EAA is drifting from affordable aviation. Unless you're building all but the most basic of aircraft, all the kit planes I've looked at (which admittedly is only a small fraction of the total) all end up costing about as much as a good, used certified aircraft costs. Granted, many of them have performance characteristics far exceeding their equivalent-priced certifieds, but they still aren't cheap. And even restoring a classic is going to cost a good amount of money (and time).

The true "spirit" I get from EAA is that it's about doing as many things yourself as you can, trying new things, and having fun. Sure, the FARs limit how much we can work on our certified aircraft, but the other two aspects still apply, so why not include the rest of GA?

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 3, 2012 8:32 AM    Report this comment

Gary B. Your comment that the "true spirit EAA" is doing as many things yourself is exactly right on. That is why working on and restoring factory airplanes or warbirds is included in the EAA spirit. Anything to do with the working on your private airplane should be in Sport Aviation. But the magazine has drifted to commercial aviation now. Just this month in SA is an article by Mac about a commercial turboprop crop duster. Yes the article was interesting, but why doesn't MAC write about sport aircraft? GA pilots usually don't work on their airplanes and have plenty of other magazines for their interest in GA (FLYING, AOPA PILOT, etc). Sport Aviation and EAA was the one source for the mechanic/builder do it- your selfer, but now very little is included in the mostly marketing content. And the government advocacy of homebuilders is sidelined while EAA promotes turboprops. Bill Berson

Posted by: Bill Berson | August 3, 2012 10:13 AM    Report this comment

Bill, it seems you're splitting hairs about things that may or may not be true. EAA works well for us imo on advocacy and homebuilding with the videos available for free and the example of the 3rd class medical issue, among others. EAA's profile allows them to be easily used as a whipping boy precisely because they are so hands-on and involved in so many facets of flying.

Like Paul mentioned in the first related blog, he sensed a sea change happening at AV. I sense that with society, too, maybe it's even broader. We should try and ride the crest of the changing tide's waves and not the trough where we can't see ahead, by supporting our passion for flight and write, call or email your concerns and not fall into the trap of hopelessness.

I'll always feel people have more power than gold does - but we don't use it!! It's maddening sometimes to watch energy being misplaced into complaining instead of creative influence.

That being said, I'm sure Paul will spin on his heels when he see's the inscription above the chalets from Dante's Inferno and stay with us.......right?

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 3, 2012 2:24 PM    Report this comment

Dave, My advocacy concern with EAA is mostly to do with what happened with the two seat ultralights. Thousands of two seat ultralights were built (both kit or fully factory finished) in the years between 1982 and 2004. These two-seat ultralights could be somewhat heavier and more powerful and safer than a one-seat ultralight and could be used for instruction. Very little FAA rules applied. They could be manufactured in the U.S. and flown with an EAA exemption for instruction. The industry thrived then, but has since collapsed with the LSA rule and the end of the exemption. If EAA truly focused on the light end of aviation (entry level) then EAA would now work to restore the EAA two-seat ultralight exemption, in my opinion.

Posted by: Bill Berson | August 3, 2012 3:20 PM    Report this comment

Members4Members is a member-led movement among members of EAA seeking direct elections of the Board of Directors. Today, EAA members effectively have no vote and therefore the Board has no accountability to the membership.

Facebook (500 members and growing): facebook.com/groups/Members4Members

Twitter: @Members4Members

Posted by: Tim Lewis | August 4, 2012 7:40 AM    Report this comment

Sorry Tim, I don't do facebook or twit.

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 4, 2012 10:42 AM    Report this comment

...or twit.>

lol Richard

in the beginning of my still limited knowledge I actually thought lol meant lots of luck......so don't give up, you may tweet yet!

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 4, 2012 2:19 PM    Report this comment

Factions and Fractions--that is what will be the end of General Aviation.

Why NOT a show that showcases every aspect of aviation? Yes, EAA started out as people building airplanes from plans in their garage--but it didn't STAY that way. The completion rate was low on these plans-built airplanes--so kits evolved. The "plans-plane" guys looked down on them--"that isn't REAL homebuilding." The market proved them wrong--not only did they sell tons of kits, but those kits got BUILT.

As far as "affordable aviation" is concerned--anything cheaper than the factory-built offerings is "affordable"--witness the number of high-end kitplanes built. Homebuilding isn't for everyone--and for someone looking to buy an inexpensive airplane, Oshkosh serves a purpose by letting prospective buyers view almost every type of aircraft produced in the last 80 years. There's an affordable example there for almost anyone.

Posted by: jim hanson | August 4, 2012 3:43 PM    Report this comment

The homebuilders didn't like it when EAA incorporated Warbirds and Vintage airplanes--but they are some of the most popular parts of aviation. There were complaints about inclusion of ultralights and LSAs--but they have their proponents, too. There are those that don't like having the military on center stage--but that is a big attraction for many. There are those that don't like Ford or John Deere for their participation--but without these corporate underwriters, the ticket cost would be far higher. (actually, my first-time Oshkosher's LIKED the Ford presence!) Same goes for the large commercial vendors.

The point is--aviation is small enough individually that we NEED the "big tent"--including all aspects. There is something at Oshkosh for everybody--and that's part of the attraction. There is far too much of the "I'm the ONE TRUE BROTHER" in aviation--private pilots looking down on student pilots, commercial pilots looking down on private pilots, jet pilots looking down on piston pilots--has anybody ever noticed that the areas where aviation is still flourishing is the FUN FLYING--gliders, LSAs, balloons, seaplanes, etc.?

Let's just enjoy it all!È

Posted by: jim hanson | August 4, 2012 3:44 PM    Report this comment

Dont get too excited about the chalets... I was fortunate to get a 30 minute invite to the Chinese one on Thursday.... All the carpet was wet from days before and STUNK, the electrics were down so no fridges, air conditioning, nothing... if I paid all that money i would be pi**ed about the state of the chalets. So dont worry, you didnt miss anything and you would have been happier outside anyway ! If the EAA can sell these for whatever price, i say its a good thing ! The more they get from the chalets, the more people they can employ and the less chance you have of your membership going up next year. To look at it in reality, the 'income' from the chalets only really pays for 6 to 8 EAA wages for the year so that's really not too bad in my opinion.

Posted by: Michael Coates | August 4, 2012 4:25 PM    Report this comment

Paul,

The show had a different "feel" this year. Attendance was definately down. It just wasn't as crowded and there were even some empty spots in the vendor's areas. I think one thing that might have contributed to the smaller crowds was the lack of a "big draw" such as an A380, B787 etc. and maybe even a change in leadership had some effect.

Posted by: Rick Larson | August 7, 2012 1:09 PM    Report this comment

I have been going to Oshkosh for no more than six or seven years, so I am still a kid in a candy store when I get there. I did think attendance was down this year, but my "gut' was that this reflected economic conditions rather than discontent with AirVenture. As far as EAA goes, well, I can see where longtime members are coming from, but the organization doesn't really have any choice. The reality is that far more people have become jaded about AOPA.

Posted by: Jerry Fraser | August 10, 2012 9:50 AM    Report this comment

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