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A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 2

This is a continuation of my article on the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend. To see Part 1, click here.

We moved over to a beautiful little Cessna 172L Skyhawk, and chatted with its owner Keith Mountain. Keith, a native Australian, stateside for 35 years now, still has a strong hint of an accent that sets him apart from the Kentucky twangers (like myself at times). He explained that he has owned this Skyhawk for about three years – he sought it out for the 180hp constant speed prop conversion, plus the fact that both windows open. The latter was important for him since he does a lot of aerial photography.

Keith grew up with flying, as the farms where he worked frequently used cropdusters in the fields. When we joined the Australian army, he worked with C130s, Bell 212s and Caribous. He got all his ratings 25 years ago when he was considering a career in aviation.

Finally, we chatted with Jerry Depew from Knoxville, and his son Jeremy Hunt. They flew in with their Bonanza 35 C-model V-tail – Jerry joked that they were both "built in the same year – 1951". His Bonanza still has the original 185/205 hp engine, and has only replaced the glass and cylinders – other than a major overhaul, it’s a stock airplane. He’s owned it the same amount of time he’s been married – 17 years. "I asked her permission and she waivered. I thought about it, but kept her anyway!"

When I asked about what got him interested in flying, it was a family affair for him as well. "My father had an airplane, so when I was first flying I couldn’t see out of the windows! I could only see the ground when he turned left base or left for final."

Jerry also shared how he got his first job in aviation. "I just got my driver’s license – since I loved aviation, my first drive was to the airport. The pilots that hung out there asked if I was there to apply for the job. ‘What job?’ was my reply. They needed a lineman, and I asked what they do. So I spoke with the man in charge and got the job. I wound up endorsing my paychecks over to a flight instructor and got my license that year."

Jerry, the editor of the Knoxville EAA newletter, also enjoys collecting aviation stories like me, and shared a gem he heard from Peter Koza in Louisville. "Flying is NOT expensive. The cost of therapy and anti-depressants ARE expensive! Besides, if you take anti-depressants, you have no medical to fly, no libido, no sex, and then you are REALLY depressed!"

Enjoy these additional photos from the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend!

A Feast for the Eyes: EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, Part 1

The weather was perfect this weekend for a countryside drive from Louisville to the Falls of Rough. There, at Rough River State Park’s airport (2I3) was the 39th annual Kentucky EAA Sport Aviation Weekend, where pilots and aviation enthusiasts from Kentucky and surrounding areas to get together for the weekend. Activities, beyond the typical aircraft sightseeing and meeting old friends (or making new ones), included a poker run, spot landing contest, a Friday night hospitality room, and a Saturday evening banquet.

When my wife and I arrived, the poker run was underway, so many pilots were in the air. But there was still about 30 aircraft of many varieties hanging around, with their pilots grabbing from brats, burgers and potato salad, and sharing their experiences. We wondered around, snapping photos and talking to a few until the batteries on my camera faded away.

Nathan Robertson was minding his parent’s 1950 Cessna 195 when I wondered over – they were off chatting with some friends. His wife was changing their baby’s diaper in the back seat, which made me wonder if a car seat in an aircraft is still called a "carseat".

While his parents, Phillip and Tia, are career commercial pilots, Nathan only recently got his license. "Growing up around aviation, I took it for granted – if I wanted to go flying, I’d just ask them to take me up. When my friends wanted to go flying, and mentioned that they wanted to be adopted by my parents so they could be taken up like that, I began to realize this was something I wanted as well. I got my license in January, plan to get all my ratings, and possibly make a career out of it myself."

We also discussed the difficulty the younger generation faces when pursuing their licenses – Nathan had an approach to consider to fast-track it. "Get books and DVDs, study and get the written exam out of the way first. That way you can just do 20-25 hours flying to save expenses. Most people, like myself, focus on flying first because it’s more fun, but that can stretch out your training time and cost. However, if you decide to make a career out of it, in the grand scheme of things it’s really not that expensive!"

Part 2 of this article can be found here. In the meantime, enjoy these additional photos!

Youth Aviation Adventure – Igniting Interest in Aviation Careers

I took some time at Oshkosh this year with Steve Wathen, Co-founder and Chairman of Youth Aviation Adventure, to learn about their program. "YAA is a fast-paced, ½-day program for youth ages 12-18 to foster interest in aviation. More than 300 pilots and aviation enthusiasts’ nationwide, using curriculum developed with and endorsed by the Ohio State University Department of Education, train in aviation fields such as aircraft instrumentation, aerodynamics, pre-flight routine, airport operations and careers in aviation and more."

According to the FAA, the number of student pilot certificates issued in 2009 was approximately 72,000, a 23% decline from 2000, and the forecast shows continued decline. In the next 20 years, the demand for aviation professionals will exceed supply, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This shortage will include commercial pilots, aviation engineers and aircraft maintenance personnel.

YAA, through their Partner Programs (currently 27 nationwide, in 17 states total) offers a unique experience. The 20-minute station sessions include time for Q&A with the pilots and aviation professionals. A typical program hosts 25 to several hundred youth at each event, presented by at least seven volunteers. While the majority of participants are Boy and Girl Scouts (fulfills requirements for the Aviation Merit Badge), the program is open to any young person interested in learning more about aviation.

The Youth Aviation Adventure’s primary goals are growth and awareness. They are currently seeking installing their Large Group Program (LGP) in 50 cities nationwide by 2017, reaching an average of 30,000 kids per year. YAA has also is developing a new Small Group Program (SGP) for a dozen or fewer youth at any given time. This project timeline calls for modifying the curriculum and beta testing the program in 250 locations starting in January of 2014, with full national rollout by the end of the year.

During the first ten years of its existence, YAA operated solely in Columbus, OH. By 2007, they has expended to Cincinnati, OH. In its time, more than 8,000 youth have been exposed to aviation by the YAA, and nearly 2,000 adults accompanying youth at their events have gone through the YAA program. Financial support comes from individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations, including the AOPA, the Aviation Electronics Association, Boeing, Jeppesen, the Professional Pilots Association, the Sporty’s Foundation and the Wolf Aviation Fund.

At this year’s EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh (YAA’s 5th year in attendance), the YAA spoke with over 20 potential Partner Programs, so interest is continuing to grow. Partner Programs are asked for a minimum of an annual program (some do it as often as twice a year). To reach their goals, additional Partner Programs are essential, so the search for more volunteers is constant.

In addition to awareness, the Youth Aviation Adventure is also a finalist in the Lightspeed Aviation Foundation’s Pilots Choice Awards, in which the top five non-profit vote-getters in each of two divisions will receive grants to assist in program growth.

We Have a Winner for Airventure 2013 Drawing!

GlobalAir would like to extend our thanks to everyone that stopped by our booth last week at EAA AirVenture! Our new Mobile ARC (Airport Resource Center) was VERY well received, and we made many new friends (as one always does in Oshkosh)! You can check it out from your mobile device right now!

We would also like to extend a congratulations to Jim Corbin from Winona, MS – he was the lucky winner in our drawing for a $100 gift certificate to Aircraft Tool Supply. His name was drawn from over 450 entries!

Jim brought his daughter to the show for a few days, flying in his 1953 Pacer, and had a wonderful adventure. Congratulations, Jim!

The Future of Aviation in the U.S.

By: Brent Owens
Owner/Publisher: iflyblog.com

future of aviationWhen the group was deciding on a theme for this month’s Blogging in Formation series (#blogformation), we agreed to anchor it around July 4th (U.S. Independence Day). We settled on The Future of Aviation in the U.S., but we encouraged each other to explore the edges, good or bad, as we saw fit.

We Are The Future of Aviation In The United States

 
Aviation in the U.S. is at an interesting crossroads. We have enjoyed large populations of pilots and a commensurate number of airplanes through the bulk of the last century. Now with Baby Boomers aging and economies melting, the population of aviators has reached historically low levels. Couple that with the cost to fly at unprecedentedly high levels, things aren’t looking good. Also, we have more regulation, more oversight, more scrutiny, and our safety record, although good, is not good enough in the eyes of regulators. Combine all this with our modern distractions and it is very tough to recruit young men and women into our ranks, especially as a career. Flying for fun, or for a living, in the U.S. has proved to be a very difficult proposition in recent decades.

So with all this as the backdrop you would think that aviation here has gone the way of CB radios or Disco, but you’d be wrong. The group that has remained in this new era is more vibrate, engaged, and resourceful than ever. If you have been to Oshkosh, you know what I mean. It is truly amazing to be in the presence of such an awesome group of dedicated people.

The passion from those of us left is infectious. We are constantly looking for alternative ways to continue to do what we love and spread the gospel of flying. The organizations that represent us, are as strong as ever and are working hard to make sure we don’t give up any more of our freedoms to bureaucracy and security theatre.

Since we are in the eve of Independence Day in the United States, it is more than appropriate to celebrate our successes and put behind us our losses. Looking forward is the only way to get where we want to be in the future. It is incumbent on us to be leaders in our small family and do our part to light the way for future generations.

In a related article I wrote about how the EAA is working on a program to bridge the gap between Young Eagles prospects and future pilots (to be announced at Oshkosh 2013). This endeavor, will tap into a great deal of grassroots energy and it is bound to succeed. With it, we may come away with our own version of a “pilot boom” that hasn’t been seen since the Baby Boomers took up wings.

New pilot starts is really an important concept, because this is what will fuel the industry into the future. If we don’t have this, our ranks will keep dwindling away and soon we will have no voice to counter opposition and no economy of scale. If that occurs it’s only a matter of time before flying will be completely inaccessible to the average American. Several organizations have recognized this decades ago and started working on plans to stave off the bleeding, but it hasn’t been enough. Our current economic climate hasn’t helped either.

My plan is to do my part to support all these new (and old) efforts, because I know the greater good is the end goal. That also means; giving rides to people who are interested in flying; getting involved in local and national organizations that support us; writing my politician when our freedoms are under attack; volunteering at events; flying for charity, if possible; speaking at functions about aviation; (add your ideas here). See related article here.

We all have a choice to make, fly and be free or accept a fate of mediocrity. WE are the future of aviation in the United States and with that comes an awesome responsibility. What are your intentions?

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