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No Wonder Kids Don't Want to Fly

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Following last weekend’s debut of Planes and my conversation with some kids who had just seen it,  I was vicariously imagining what it would take to inspire them to become pilots by remembering what inspired me. This isn’t difficult, because I can pin it down to about the year, if not the day. It wasn’t a movie, or books or tales told by my World War II-bomber-navigator uncle, but an airplane. A real one.

I was five or six and my mother drove us to Amarillo Airport—English Field—in a two-door, chrome-green 1953 Oldsmobile to pick up my dad, who was returning from a business trip. In those days—it seems like a different eon—we didn’t have to put up with the airside security bulls*&t we suffer today. When you met arriving airplanes, you walked out to the ramp fence, with its open gate, and the airplanes taxied right up close enough to feel and smell. No one yelled at you if you walked through the gate, especially if you were six years old.

For me, the memory remains vivid, although I could be mistaken on the airplane. I recall it being a DC-3 whose skin was so brightly polished that the taxiway stripes and concrete seams reflected off its belly. The engine nacelles were streaked with oil and when it shutdown, I got a whiff of leaded exhaust. (Not wimpy 100LL either, but the good green stuff…100/130. Probably tanked my IQ 10 points right on the spot, which explains why I became a journalist instead of surgeon.)

When the engines farted to a stop, the pilot opened his window and placed a little Texas flag in the mount airplanes had in those days. He waved at me and I was instantly enthralled. Given the Texas flag, I think the line must have been Trans-Texas Airways. They also flew Convair 240s, so it’s possible that’s the type I was looking at. Not that it mattered to me.

Six-year-olds are too easily distracted to make solemn vows about anything other than insisting on a visit to the airport ice cream shop, but the image of that airplane stayed with me and does to this day. I can’t honestly say I decided to become a pilot that day, but 13 years later, I was one.

A hundred years later, airlines and air terminals remain the most meaningful contact young people have with aviation. Contrast my innocent experience with the sterile if not frightening process of just getting to the airplane today. You have to strip your shoes off, stand in line and walk through some strange machine with your arms held high in surrender. TSA “associates” who’ve undergone brainscans to excise the words “please” and “thank you,” from their vocabularies poke, prod, hiss and otherwise do their best to make a hemorrhoidectomy more appealing than an airline trip. To pass through security is to experience Constitutional inversion: you’re guilty until proven innocent.

The closest you get to seeing an actual airplane up close is through inch-thick terminal glass with the airplane half obscured by the very same jetway that will direct you antiseptically into a conveyance whose soulless plastic interior might just as well be a minivan. At least the minivan has cup holders and a civilized seat pitch.

You can further insulate yourself from the reality of flight by carrying along your own in a computer, a DVD player or an iPod. Nicely dressed ladies used to bring food and drinks, now it’s a bag of stale pretzels—First Class only—and on a short flight, they might as well stuff a funnel in your mouth and pressure feed your Diet Coke. That would save scooping up the “cabin service items” before you’ve taken the first sip.

If your seatmate is clothed in something other than a ripped t-shirt, gym shorts and flip flops, you’re not on a domestic airliner; you’ve been time-warped to a Greyhound Bus, when travelers from Des Moines to Moline packed their own suitcases and made sure they brought along their dignity.

Someone meeting your flight or the reverse? The litter-strewn cellphone lot out there near the freight hangars and the fuel farm will loom large in your plans, followed by a harrowing dash to the arrivals lane where former Marine drill instructors recovering from road rage will be there to direct traffic, never missing a chance to send you around the loop again just as your passenger struggles through the terminal doors.

No wonder kids don’t want to learn to fly. But at least the pilots still wave.

Join the conversation.  Read others' comments and add your own.

Comments (34)

"A hundred years later, airlines and air terminals remain the most meaningful contact young people have with aviation."

Not so at KPYM in Plymouth Mass, Paul. Every day we pull a plane up to our parking spot in front of the "terminal" building that contains airport ops, the restaurant and our flight school (Pilgrim Aviation). As soon as we see a fence hanging kid, we walk out with a balsa wood glider and offer to let them sit in a real airplane. Most accept, though when they get up close and personal, a few have second thoughts and run to Mommy. I even have them pull back on the yoke while I push down on the tail a bit.

When I was a teenager I would use my free Sunday afternoons to take the PS bus down to Newark Airport and spend hours watching planes come and go. It took a while (35 years) for me to act on the love of aviation those trips instilled in me, but I never forgot the Connies and 707s I could see from the observation deck below the old tower. One of the most emotional flying days in my life was the first time I landed at EWR after getting my ticket.

Kids aren't all that different today than we were. You just have to get them away from the TV.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | August 13, 2013 8:33 AM    Report this comment

The old radials spat, belched, chugged, roared, farted, threw oil, blew clouds of smoke and smelled of fire and brimstone; all the stuff kids love. Jets just whine and moan and have the sticky sweet smell of a kerosene heater.

Posted by: Richard Montague | August 13, 2013 8:54 AM    Report this comment

I searched my memory for years in an attempt to determine how I started down the path of one of the worst cases of aviation addiction that I know of. Here is my conclusion:

When I was about 7 years old my older brother gave me a sophisticated balsa wood glider. The wings rotated and folded back along the fuselage and were returned to the inflight position with a small rubber band. It was made by A J Walker I believe. One folded the wings back and catapulted the glider into the air with a large rubber band looped onto a short stick. When the glider slowed a bit up in the air the wings would unfold and begin a most glorious glide back to earth. The possibility of personally participating in such a glorious ride was overwhelming. Over 50 years later at the age of 80 with thousands of both military and civilian flight hours, an ATP rating, an A&P rating, a Masters Degree in Aeronautical Engineering, and a plane that I built that I fly frequently I am not a bit closer to being cured of, or escaping from, this addiction.

Posted by: Owen C Baker | August 14, 2013 7:04 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I don't think that whiff of green 100/130 high octane avgas kept you from being a brain surgeon; but that's OK because you're still a great aviation journalist. I know what you're saying, though. I flew T-28's and S-2's in the Navy. They burned the 115/145 purple stuff in the Wright R-1820's. Loved the smell of those airplanes. Love the sound of radial engines. I fly bizjets today. I hate the ear piercing noise of APU's, don't like to hear the whine of jet engines, and detest the smell of jet fuel. I'm looking forward to retiring and just flying my Stinson, and leaving the jets behind. I had a favorite T-shirt when I was in the Navy which I wore until it was a rag with holes. It was blue, with gold Navy wings on the front, and a gold biplane on the back. Under the biplane, JETS ARE FOR KIDS. I agree.

I was hooked on airplanes when my Dad took me, age 6, and my brother, age 9, on a flight to from Raleigh, NC. to Toccoa, GA to visit my GrandDad. It was rougher than heck, and my brother and I both got airsick(thankfully Dad brought some bags for that). I was hooked from that day on; my brother, not so much. The kids today are of the high tech video generation. Most of us older guys when growing up built plastic model airplanes, flew line control and RC airplanes, and had our hands on wrenches fixing our cars; and in my case, helping my Dad work on that same Stinson 10A that I had my first ride in 10 years earlier. Different times now; different generation. Some of today's kids may end up programming the automatic flight of a drone airliner taking folks from A to B. You won't see me on board.

Posted by: Unknown | August 14, 2013 8:53 AM    Report this comment

We just keep selling to ourselves, mostly a bunch of grumbling old white guys (I can say that because I am one). We're still selling the same old REME stuff we've been trying to hustle for decades. For you acronym enthusiasts, that's "romantic, elitist, macho, enthusiast." For every pilot, there are 600 non-pilots in America. For the most part, they don't give a crap about any of that REME stuff. If we were creative, we'd sell general aviation for what it does best: on-demand transportation. That's the only reason I have a GA airplane. It's appalling that we can't reach the dissatisfied first class passengers that would like to use GA but are turned off by the REME experience they're typically greeted with, not to mention the safety record. The training system needs to change and is beginning to. The Cirrus is a mini-airliner. Let's train pilots to fly it like one. There is a lot we can learn from the airline safety record and how they manage risk. We can get there without new regulations. The bottom line for me is that the "enthusiasts" are killing general aviation by trying to propel us back to the (early) 20th century.

Posted by: Robert Wright | August 14, 2013 11:54 AM    Report this comment

My "inspiration (gotcha)" was in 1948 when I was 12 years old and lived a few miles south of the main runway at Truax Field in Madison, WI...the air guard flew P51's and they often would come over our 40 acres. One day, a P51 was climbing out to the south, the Merlin purring (nothing else like it) got my attention and then the plane did a slow roll...I was hooked. I finally got a 'private license' when I was 25; started flying for a living at the age of 43...and after 31 years as a charter/corporate pilot, parked a Sabre65 in Monterrey, MX, thereafter retired.

Posted by: Richardc Cox | August 14, 2013 12:46 PM    Report this comment

I was inspired initially by being a Civil Air Patrol cadet during the 50's, when my first airplane ride was in the back of a Hayward National Guard C-119 wearing a parachute at age 14. Then there was inspiration again by the close air support I received while in Viet Nam during the 60's. It seemed to me that flying was much more desirable than sitting in the mud watching the entertainment.

I saved almost every penny earned in the 18 months I spent competing in the South East Asia war games in order to have the $3800 (really) I needed to earn Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multi-Engine and CFI (in that order). Luckily, GI Bill eligibility for flying became available towards the end of my Private course. I eventually retired from the airlines as a 747 Check Captain, so I guess it was a good investment. Sure don't know what else I would have done, being too lazy to work and too nervous to steal.

Like you so aptly said, back in the day a kid had access to the sounds, smell and drama of flight. These days the action is remote and sterile, with no respect, passion or admiration for the profession and those who participate in it. General aviation is the key, but the days of a pocket full of tickets for $800 has come and gone along with doing ground reference maneuvers in the Livermore and San Ramon valleys.

I passed the flying passion along to my son who is an ex-bush pilot and now a corporate pilot flying Gulfstreams. I'm presently working on the six year old granddaughter, but she is still reluctant to ride in the 185. There is still hope, though.

Posted by: Manny Puerta | August 14, 2013 3:40 PM    Report this comment

Hey, Manny, quite a career summary there. Ya done good!

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 14, 2013 6:05 PM    Report this comment

I grew up in the 80s in Orange County, CA. At the time there was a regular service to Catalina and as a kid I would frequently look up and see DC-3s. Of course, they looked and sounded very different from the usual 80s air traffic. Just seeing those airplanes, marveling at how something so old could still be useful, and listening to that beautiful sound never left my mind when decades later I learned to fly.

Posted by: Seth Blumenthal | August 14, 2013 6:37 PM    Report this comment

I've loved aviation for as long as I can remember. I finally got my license last year at 38 years old. I took my 2 1/2 year old son to see Planes last Saturday (his first time at the movies) and followed it up with his first ride in a small plane on Sunday. Kept it to three laps in the pattern, but it's a start.

Posted by: Daniel Vorlander | August 14, 2013 7:00 PM    Report this comment

Well, that's a rather cynical comment on air travel that is a disappointing irrelevance to the teaser headline that dragged me off the AVWEB FLASH.

I was interested in flying and becoming a pilot long before I ever set foot on an airliner. Sure I remember my first commercial air flight, but it was a bit underwhelming to me. What was far more enchanting to me was my first ride in a Skyhawk courtesy of a TransCarribean Airways turned American flight engineer. After the first flight with my father In the right seat (he was an attorney representing these pilots) and me and my brother in the back and then a flight with my mom and sisters, I finally got my shot at the right seat. I'll never forget it.

My nephew is a Disney "Cars" junkie. He has all the merchandise and lives that and NASCAR now (at the age of four he can identify all the drivers and car numbers and can read any sign that happens to be the same as some driver's name). I'm hoping he'll get similarly infatuated with Planes.

Posted by: Ron Natalie | August 15, 2013 6:48 AM    Report this comment

Normally I would have something to say, add or just be a devils advocate... This time, silence, you nailed it.

Posted by: Chuck West | August 15, 2013 8:32 AM    Report this comment

Oops, I can add something. I have a certificate from AA dated 13 July 1956, I was 1 month old making me a member of the Sky Cradle Club, signed by the Captain, 1st Officer and Flight Engineer (remember those) and "Stewardesses", flying from LA to Nashville with a drawing of a baby bareback on a DC4 I believe. I send it with my other certificates on resumes...

Posted by: Chuck West | August 15, 2013 8:41 AM    Report this comment

Flying for the airlines was what I wanted to do since Day One. I got started a little late for an airline career (PPL at age 27) but was a f/t CFI in 2001 hoping to get on with a regional and get a flying career going. A slowing economy and major terrorist incident that year required a change of plans, so I ended up working in operations at a regional airport and flew charters p/t to keep my hand in it. Now my 2 year old twins have inherited the airplane bug (they point whenever a plane flies over) and if they stay interested, Dad will teach them to fly when they're old enough.

Posted by: Will Alibrandi | August 15, 2013 10:01 AM    Report this comment

Kerry Plant: The folding wing model was the "Army Interceptor", designed by the legendary Jim Walker, and sold by his American Junior Aircraft company. The military bought them by the thousands for gunnery practice - see www.americanjuniorclassics.com/interceptor/militarylauncher.htm.

Posted by: Rush Strong | August 15, 2013 10:35 AM    Report this comment

Oops, that s/b "Jerry Plante" - sorry about that.

Posted by: Rush Strong | August 15, 2013 10:36 AM    Report this comment

Romanticism, like any fanciful human ideal, will change with the consciousness of the times just like practicality or necessity does. You old romantics (sometimes me too) who enjoy inhaling exhaust and burning oil are being replaced, it's as assured as the resultant changes from the Industrial Revolution were.

What makes this generation of youth dramatically different from others is their natural, fluid adaptability to change and indifference to past status quo. The world of electrons has clarified values for them, and given them such creative abilities in any and every field of interest that they're able to much more closely - and quickly - match effort with result than we could even dream about in our day.

Gone for them are romantic attatchments to nostalgic innocence. Where we had to rely on weather, aircraft fitness, a compatible instructor, drive to the airport, and a host of dependencies on others to eventually manifest our goal, they are enjoying a personal reliance and power to their values and pursuits that we were complete slaves to in our day.

My high school senior son has four online classes out of six courses. He goes to school for a few hours a day and comes home and works at his time and leisure on the other courses. The work-from-home-teachers seem always online and available, the students check in on their clock and their schedule. They take virtual trips around the world together and into the biology or chemistry of the smallest worlds. They do not pine in the slightest for the feel of the 'brick' flip phones or the smell of the classroom at 7am.

Contemplate a few moments on the explosion of personal, creative freedom they are experiencing today versus our slave-like dependency we had on others to accomplish our goals. The post WW2 can-do attitude was great and very productive, but it's gone and is being replaced by individual freedom and control that to me, a PPL just can't compete with. I'm just observing, not comparing to my values or commenting as such here.

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 15, 2013 3:14 PM    Report this comment

"What makes this generation of youth dramatically different from others is their natural, fluid adaptability to change and indifference to past status quo."

I'm of the 80s, so the 60s obviously predates me. However, at least the history that I've read would seem to indicate that they were just as "indifferent to [the] past status quo" as today's youth are. And youth of all generations pretty much by definition have a "natural, fluid adaptability to change".

Where I feel today's youth differs is that there seems to be a greater focus on the virtual over the real (and this applies to society in general); "doing" seems to take a backseat to "imagining". This can be good in certain circumstances, but the virtual can never replace the real, since someone has to actually make or do real tasks for anything to happen.

I think society in general also accepts a greater lack of discipline than in the past, and learning to fly certainly takes a good deal of discipline. We can access a ton of information from our fingertips, but a famous quote that I believe is truer today than ever before sums it up: "A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention".

But I also think that all hope is not lost, as long as we who are already in general aviation don't give up on today's youth. Aviation still offers up a whole new world that really has to be experienced in person to understand. It just takes more creative thinking to get others excited in it.

Posted by: Gary Baluha | August 15, 2013 3:55 PM    Report this comment

Back in the 1950s, I grew up around airplanes. They seemed like a natural part of life. Airplanes and pilots were readily accessible, too - unlike today's world of the TSA and chain-link fences. Last summer, I taught an "Aviation Careers" class (2 sections, actually) to high school boys at a community college. They enjoyed the field trips, but had no use at all for any of the associated learning exercises.

Not one of 40 kids knew what a spark plug is - nor did more than a few of them care. An airscrew? An engine? Same reaction. Many of today's kids have no interest in getting a driver's license, much less a pilot's certificate. These same kids often have traveled many thousands of miles on modern airliners. They'd just as soon have Scotty beam them down to grandma's place.

After we toured the maintenance hangar, few showed any interest in turning wrenches; they'd rather play video games. Their trip up to the cab of the control tower held their interest - for about 5 minutes - owing principally to the view from the lofty altitude of 70 feet AGL, and to the array of switches and displays. That, plus the cab was air-conditioned; it was over 100 degrees on the ramp below.

The F-15 was cool, but only because it had guns and missiles (like in their video games). We did a 20-minute walkaround; the next day in class, only two kids could tell me how many engines an Eagle has. The cockpit orientation was fun, but few could remember how many seats were in our example F-15 (one).

They were fascinated by the phonetic alphabet, though. They asked me what a foxtrot is. They knew what a kilo (of coke) is. One of them knew about a tango, from "Dancing with the Stars."

Most of these kids would rather sit next to each other and TEXT each other, rather than actually talk with each other. Seriously. I caught them doing it.

What thrilled us, bores them. Our species continues to evolve...

Posted by: Thomas Yarsley | August 15, 2013 4:32 PM    Report this comment

Back when aviation was popular our nation fixed its eyes skyward as we represented humanity in challenging outer space with the national goal of getting a man on the moon. There seemed to be news daily on this. Then President Kennedy led the charge. Today our space program has all but been dismantled and one hardly ever gets any news of anything aerospace related except when there is a crash. On the way to today, in the 1980's the light aircraft industry almost went extinct because WE just about sued it to death because we failed to accept responsibility for our own fuel planning. Juries with only a sense for deep pockets apparently agreed.

Now our national attention has become an obsession with entitlements, instant gratification, and the best ways to cheat the system. Our President makes his hallmark one of the largest entitlement programs in history and sends USMC osprey aircraft at 10,000 an hour to fetch his dog. And nobody notices. It is now all about the self aggrandizement and narcissism of posting your life online instead of going out and living it. It's all about extreme thrill seeking and not about science or engineering. Putting a man on the moon has been replaced by putting your butt on someone's cell phone.

Posted by: FILL CEE | August 16, 2013 7:38 AM    Report this comment

Paul This brings back lots of memories for me. I used to be a lineman, and I can remember a hot windless summer day sitting on the wing of aDC 6, refueling (green stuff)with a good old fashioned nozzle. As the vapors came out of the tank and I breathed them in, I could feel a tingling sensation go from my lungs gradually down to my toes. I gained an instant lesson in the speed of the circulatory system.

Around 1960 or so my dad would take my brother and I to a joint use international airport where he was a weekend warrior at the Natuional Guard base located there. While he was out flying a T bird, my brother and I sat at the edge of the active runway to catch all the action. No one ever came out to bother us. (Even back then, I can't imagine how this could have been allowed). In the early 70's, I flew to another major airport to visit the tower. I was instructed to park at the end of a terminal, where I could walk through a door and go right up to the tower. I mostly miss twin beeches, and the lack of computers which necessitated all of those freight trips for the auto companies. One of my first rides was in a twin Beech, at night, and the fire coming out of the exhaust stack is what hooked me I think.

Posted by: Donald Druga | August 16, 2013 10:36 AM    Report this comment

Part of the problem could be the changes in technology, or rather, the lack of same. When I was a little kid, the 707 was like the Starship Enterprise, and the promise was that, within a decade, we'd be flying on SSTs that would make the 707 look like a DC-3. But, with the exception of the Concorde, which only served a very niche market, today's planes are no faster than that 707, and, to the extent aviation technology has improved, it is in ways that are generally invisible to the public, like GPS or glass cockpits. So the thrill of rapidly changing technology that kids love so much is largely missing in aviation, and so they gravitate to things like smartphones and iPads, which are new and constantly improving.

Posted by: Unknown | August 17, 2013 11:42 AM    Report this comment

I got hooked by two events. The first was the midnight flights on the old DC-8 I used to go on for trips to visit my sister, Miami to Cincy. I remember going to bed at 7 pm, so I could get up at 11pm to be on a flight with my parents at 1am. I thought the hot chocolate and the seats with the lighting over the shoulder were really neat. The second event was reading a book at 13 by Frank Kingston Smith called, Weekend Pilot. After that I was hooked and read his other two books, finally realizing my dream of flight as a freshman in college at Ohio State. That was thirty five years ago and I am still at it.

Posted by: Richard Mutzman | August 17, 2013 7:23 PM    Report this comment

Who cares if kids don't like airplanes? Who cares if kids don't interact except through cell phones? Who cares if they are content sit and stare at there little glowing screen? Why do we feel the need to expect others to do or enjoy what we do? I fly almost 7 days a week. If I am not cruising at Mach .72, you will most likely find me cruising at 80 kts in my Piper. I love airplanes and aviation! ...but I don't expect others to love what I love. Here's a simple example: I can't stand any type of spectator sport.. BORING! Yet, many will question why I don't want to watch the football game with them. So, quit suck whining y'all and accept the younger generation for who they are and what they enjoy.

Posted by: Jim Skibinski | August 17, 2013 11:22 PM    Report this comment

Suck whining can't be all bad. It's a blog. Though it's the first I've heard of it - kinda jet-engine like, no?

'Who cares if kids don't like airplanes? Who cares if kids don't interact except through cell phones? Who cares if they are content sit and stare at there little glowing screen? Why do we feel the need to expect others to do or enjoy what we do?'

Two entirely different concepts offered there. The last sentence is supported here by posters who talk like someone did above about aviation offering 'new worlds and just has to be experienced to understand it'. Along with the acronym REME offered by another poster, yes, aviation has an element of people who say (as ANY other chosen field could say, because life is an individual flight), 'you know, if you only could experience what I experience...' air of exclusiveness that only limits aviation's influence, instead of expanding it.

But I'm concerned that if the upcoming generations cannot keep the line between slavery and mastery clear from the obsession with electronic toys, that they will not be able to discipline any time free to clear their minds for quiet and contemplation for a few minutes each day for not only personal health, but also to allow space to consider something like aviation and keep GA viable for you and me and others down the road.

Shouldn't that be a concern for someone who flies 7 days a week?

Posted by: Dave Miller | August 18, 2013 2:22 PM    Report this comment

"Who cares if kids don't like airplanes?"

I do, actually. The new customers have to come from somewhere, no? And we do want new customers.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | August 19, 2013 7:02 AM    Report this comment

I was given a ride in an Aeronca Champ in 1951 and I loved it. Flying in helicopters as an infantryman in Viet Nam cinched it and in 1967 I became a pilot. The best and most fulfilling endeavor in my life. It has been an eternal passion, I love it. (Almost as much as I love my dear wife.)

With gratefulness for all I received I now find the time and resources to educate and pass the passion to the young. The next generation of pilots needs us to show them the way, the response has been positive, kids want to fly.

Go to the Coachella Valley Youth Aviation Education Program in facebook. A successful free youth summer camp.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | August 19, 2013 10:25 AM    Report this comment

I believe that kids should do what they are interested in,, that's all. As a side note, I believe I am doing my part for youth and adults interested in aviation. I have flown many "Young Eagles", introduced Cub and Boy Scouts to flight, Instructed my wife in earning her dispatchers license, instructed my oldest son in aircraft mx (he earned his A&P), instructed and soloed my youngest son, donated my personal time to help a friend restore a Luscombe and fly the aircraft (he is working on his Sport Pilot ticket) and I also volunteer at our local Civil Air Patrol for our Cadets. So, I have done my part for aviation. I still believe for those that aren't interested,, let them be,,, even if it includes a smart phone.

Posted by: Jim Skibinski | August 19, 2013 5:41 PM    Report this comment

What hooked me was a ride in a green and white Aeronca Champ. I can still recall the smell of dope and fabric and 80/87. That and about a million other things like reading about Lindbergh's flight and WWI aviators did it for me.

Posted by: A Richie | August 21, 2013 5:25 PM    Report this comment

I'm a mentor/instructor for our local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, in Newburgh, NY, and we basically do a once-a-week private pilot ground school for our class of 18 kids, some of them disadvantaged minority youth. We also have a Skyhawk, we have a couple of instructors (members or ex-members of the NYANG 105th Air Lift Wing here at SWF) and we offer FREE flight instruction to our more advanced students in our class of 18 kids from ages 12 to 18. You know how many takes us up on it? Maybe two.

I have no idea why, but I do know they're much more interested in their smartphones, and yes, even disadvantaged inner-city kids have smartphones...

Posted by: Stephan Wilkinson | August 26, 2013 6:21 PM    Report this comment

I'm a mentor/instructor for our local chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, in Newburgh, NY, and we basically do a once-a-week private pilot ground school for our class of 18 kids, some of them disadvantaged minority youth. We also have a Skyhawk, we have a couple of instructors (members or ex-members of the NYANG 105th Air Lift Wing here at SWF) and we offer FREE flight instruction to our more advanced students in our class of 18 kids from ages 12 to 18. You know how many takes us up on it? Maybe two.

I have no idea why, but I do know they're much more interested in their smartphones, and yes, even disadvantaged inner-city kids have smartphones...

Posted by: Stephan Wilkinson | August 26, 2013 6:21 PM    Report this comment

I am convinced there is a pilot shortage. New starts are less than in 1970, 1980, 2003 and yesterday. In 2012 there were about 7 pilots per CFI where in 1970 the average number of pilots per CFI was over 20. The cost of flying is 5 times greater than in 1980. It is more complicated and extensive with more hours required to qualify as an ATP or private pilot. All this means more time in preparing for a career in aviation or pleasure flying and again the greater the expense. New starts is the first emphasis - we best pay attention to this - the cost of flying is not going down but the understanding that there is a need from OLD PILOTS brings enthusiasm to the young and money helping augment the new start ranks. Simple aviation summer camps work. Go to facebook.com/cvyaep a successful small aviation education program.

Posted by: Rafael Sierra | September 2, 2013 1:05 PM    Report this comment

KGNV (Gainesville, FL) used to load/unload passengers right on the ramp and walk less than 10 meters to the terminal. But they gave into big airport envy and installed jetways. This now adds a few minutes to every arrival to position the tube and avoids the simplicity and charm of just using the stairs to walk on the ramp. An accordion style collapsible walkway could be used for the few times the weather is bad. I wonder about the expense to purchase, install, and maintain this equipment and how much the parking fees reflect this. This was just a few years ago.

Posted by: Bradley Spatz | September 24, 2013 9:06 PM    Report this comment

KGNV (Gainesville, FL) used to load/unload passengers right on the ramp and walk less than 10 meters to the terminal. But they gave into big airport envy and installed jetways. This now adds a few minutes to every arrival to position the tube and avoids the simplicity and charm of just using the stairs to walk on the ramp. An accordion style collapsible walkway could be used for the few times the weather is bad. I wonder about the expense to purchase, install, and maintain this equipment and how much the parking fees reflect this. This was just a few years ago.

Posted by: Bradley Spatz | September 24, 2013 9:06 PM    Report this comment

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