AVmail: November 5, 2012
Letter of the Week: Plenty of Advice For Pelton
Regarding your "Question of the Week": I am a longtime, active EAA member, a technical counselor, a flight advisor, and a member of Chapter 691 (The Green Chile Chapter) here in New Mexico. I have flown my homebuilt to Oshkosh several times.
I have been hearing a fair amount of negative feedback from EAA members about EAA losing its way. I also sensed a mood change this year at AirVenture that wasn't good. Many feel that EAA has forgotten its roots.
I also sensed a mood at the show this year that's hard to express, but it seemed as though folks who flew their own homebuilt aircraft to the show were sort of taken for granted. There seemed to be a reduced level of enthusiasm from homebuilders. Some got the message that EAA did not really care about "little guys."
I have to admit, though, that the mood in the ultralight area was much more positive. I see that EAA recently took the step of reinvigorating the Homebuilders Aircraft Council; maybe this is a step in the right direction. The resigning of Hightower could also be a step in the right direction if a suitable person replaces him. Moving Jeff Skiles to a VP position seems positive to me. I also think the Hints for Homebuilders is an excellent educational program.
I have a few suggestions:
- The EAA should consider making its organizational structure more transparent and making sure that homebuilders have a voice as well as direct representation on the board.
- EAA should seek feedback and listen to its chapters in a more comprehensive way. I haven't ever seen anyone from headquarters visit our chapter. EAA should consider naming a few ambassadors from headquarters to visit every chapter every three years. If this is cost-prohibitive, then video conference or do a conference call.
- The feedback from chapters should be published, and EAA should publish its response to it.
- I think EAA should do away with the exclusive chalet concept.
- I think Sport Aviation should be about that — sport aviation, not about which GA manufacturer holds the record for the fastest business jet. Get [editor] Mac McClelland working on a homebuilt project so he has something more relevant for most of EAA members to write about.
- EAA should consider waiving camping fees for homebuilders who fly their own aircraft to AirVenture. Amateur-built aircraft are part of the attraction at AirVenture, and a homebuilder who spends all his money building an aircraft and then several hundred dollars in fuel and lodging to take it to Oshkosh to be part of the show should get some kind of break that makes him or her feel special. They do this at small fly-ins all across the country that don't have near the income or resources that EAA has. Waiving camping fees seems pretty reasonable.
- Promote and sponsor a contest with the goal of demonstrating how to build an LSA type aircraft for under $30,000. LSAs that cost more than $100,000 just aren't going to get the pilot ranks growing.
Refocus on the homebuilder, kit, and scratch. Homebuilders are innovators going where certifieds can't afford to go until the ground has already been broken and plowed.
Go back to concentrating on experimental aircraft. We need more building articles and less of the mancave B.S. Get rid of all the touchy-feely columnists and replace them with tech-based writers.
One thing I would do is stop the morph of the EAA magazine Sport Aircraft into one that looks like it is put out by the AOPA. The idea that the EAA should be a broad-based organization to serve the whole aviation world is not viable and is leading to failure.
Merge EAA and AOPA.
Don't do what Fuller did at AOPA. It seems that Fuller wants AOPA to be a millionaires' club. Every time I receive a message, Craig wants money from me.
BBB: Bring Back Boyer.
So remember all the "little guys" who make up the lion's share of EAA's membership, and don't alienate them by pricing them out of the organization.
Instructor as Real Person
Wow! Redbird is going to treat CFIs like real employees! Maybe the rest of the industry will come on board instead of treating CFIs like flight-time whores. Too much to ask.
A Tale of Two Staggerwings
Regarding the NBAA photo gallery: Your caption for the Staggerwing is incorrect. While Mid Continent may very well own a beauty, this is not their aircraft.
Jim Hawkes of Jupiter, Florida owns Staggerwing NC67555 and attended NBAA as a representative of the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, Tennessee.
For more information, visit BeechcraftHeritageMuseum.org or phone (931) 455-1974.
Mid Continent also has a Staggerwing with a very similar paint scheme. The easy way to tell the difference is the logo on the side.
I saw Mid Continent's at AOPA in Palm Springs (right) and got them confused. Thanks for setting us straight.