AVmail: October 8, 2012
Letter of the Week: Going Clubbing
Regarding the "Question of the Week": I am a firm believer in flying clubs. I started flying in the early '70s [and] belonged to an active flying club in South Africa, and it was a marvelous and supportive experience aviation related. I emigrated. The club scene there continues to flourish, but here in the States there is little if any such involvement, and I think it is a great pity. Flying overseas is far more expensive than in U.S.A., but there is more enthusiasm and activity [abroad], and that proves the point.
Dr. Peter Foox
I participate in these questions almost every time they come up. And this is a good question, no doubt. Being a member of a flying club can have its benefits, but it is not necessarily going to help very much as the costs are getting out of control. At my airport, for example, they charge $100 per hour for a Cessna 150. If you are a club member, you get that same airplane for $90 per hour. Fuel costs are around $30 per hour.
General maintenance of aircraft has not gone up as much as the basic operating cost of fuel and oil. A mere eight years ago, aviation fuel cost about $1.60 per gallon. At my airport in Southern California, it has topped $6. Sometime soon, if these costs are not brought to a manageable level, we will lose general aviation, and flying clubs will be a thing of the past.
Yes, flying clubs would be great. At most airports in my area, there are no airplanes to rent after one gets his or her private pilot certificate. That deters many from making the initial investment in flight training. Flying needs to be happening at all airports, not just the bigger ones with controlled airspace. Flying clubs would help more people take lessons and fly without having to buy an airplane as sole owner.
A Tragedy in All Ways
Regarding the crash of the de Havilland Dragon: I observed this aircraft on several occasions during its rebuild and attended its unveiling. It was beyond a restoration. It was a truly magnificent work of art. Never have I seen such a truly beautiful restoration in over 40 years in aviation.
The owners were lovely people dedicated to preserving a historic plane. It's a tragic loss of six people and the destruction of a masterpiece of workmanship.
It would have had pride of place in any aircraft museum in the world on the quality of the workmanship. Two brothers spent several years painstakingly restoring it to what anyone would consider as close to perfection as any plane has ever been. The fact that six friends died in it made it a truly tragic loss.
AVweb has agreed to withhold the letter writer's name for personal reasons.