Drop in Pilots

From 1980 to 2006, the number of certified pilots has dropped over 27 percent (from 827,000 to 597,109). What do you think about the future of flying, especially with rising fuel prises?

On another note, Cirrus and Cessna have introduced light sport aircraft to bring people into their companies, raise the amount of pilots, and try to get those pilots to move up in the line to bigger (and more profitable) planes.

I think the fantasy of flight will always live on. As long as birds continue to fly, mankind will continue to look up to them.

There is no question about it, flying is expensive, and will continue to be so, however I am of a believer, if you have to ask the price, you cannot afford it.

Flying is no different, if I really sat down and tallied up all my expenses between my training, and money put into my Sundowner, fuel, maintenance cost and so on, I probably could have come close to buying a Cirrus had I waited :smiley: Soooo, I continue to be in denial and not ask the cost.

If I waited, I probably would have dribbled the money into some other mundane hobby like coin or stamp collecting and still not be where I am today in my very short flying career, so no regrets here.

Live for today BAAAABY as I can’t take my earnings six feet under and know whether I will enjoy it or not.

I think the intent of the light sports planes is not necessarily to get people to move up, but to get in on the action.

Probably more then what you wanted to know, but hey, you asked!


Flying, Specifically GA flying is something that is in the realm of Doctors, Lawyers, etc…i.e. “Successful” People, who have a large disposable income…again, i.e. People who make around to over $100k a year…

Lessons are expensive, and Aircraft aren’t cheap…even “cheap” aircraft are expensive…

It’s alot like Motorsports…“Cheap” entry level Racing is still gonna cost you about $25,000 just to get started…

I’ve posted, hell my post might even be on the 1st page still, about getting a PPL for next to nothing…and I think, what would I do if I Could find someone to teach for free and I could get it with the Absolute Bare minimum of costs…Then what??..The Cheapest Plane to rent in my area goes for $90 an Hour Wet…So for a fun filled day of flying your looking at a Full Days pay(assuming I actually had a job)…

When I Was at Indiana State I looked into an Aviation Minor of some type(I was a History Major), They had them and could be tailored to a persons needs, so they asked me what I Wanted, Business, Technology, Administration…I told them I Wanted a PPL program…they responded with a “So you want the Pilot Program, What is your ultimate goal then? CFI or Commerical Pilto Ratings”…I said “No, I just want a PPL, and Maybe an Insturment Rating if time permits”…They looked at me like I was insane, “Why would you want just a PPL for?” was the question they asked me…I dunno what that has to do with this Thread, but I thought I’d post it anyways… :wink:

anyways, what my Whole post boils down to is, Flying is Expensive…Fuel prices or no, most planes around here are Wet Leases, but still…it’s not affordable to go after a PPL, unless you’re using it as a stepping stone to a Commercial Career…or are independantly “wealthy”…

It seems like you never have both the time and the money to fly GA much until you retire from a reasonably successful career. When you are a college or grad student, you usually have some free time, but not a lot of disposable money. When you start working in a job that pays enough to fly, you get busy and don’t have time to fly as mush as you’d like. Etc.

If you think flying is the US is expensive, look at Europe. Avgas tops $10/gallon and they have to pay high user fees, yet GA pilots keep flying. The regulatory agencies in Europe make flying difficult, but GA pilots keep flying. It is becoming almost impossible for a private pilot to file and fly an instrument flight plan across Europe, but you see GA pilots mount campaigns worthy of conquering the worlds tallest mountain to do so.

Despite these and many other obstacles, we GA pilots stick with it, spending more than we should sometimes, taking some time off from work (or later, family) to fly, because there is something about flying that just calls to us, that gives us more pleasure, more fun, more satisfaction, than anything else we do. Many of us even spend a career and thousands of hours flying professionally and then buy a small plane because we just can’t get enough. Thus it will always be.

There was a very interesting letter in the January AOPA pilot magazine regarding an article about entry level singles from the November issue.

AOPA Members: aopa.org/members/files/pilot … s0801.html

[quote=“AOPA Pilot”]It is profoundly dispiriting to remember that a new Cherokee 180 with IFR steam gauges cost $16,200 in 1967 (Budget Buys: Bottom-Line Four-Seaters, November Pilot). The essentially identical airframe (with steam gauges), which is pictured in your article has, at $229,200, increased in price by 1,417 percent in a 40-year span.

According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in the U.S. increased from $11,975 to $48,201, or 403 percent during the same time span.

Putting it another way, a median wage earner could buy a PA28-180 for about 16 months worth of income in 1967. Today, she would have to put out 57 months of income to get one.

Needless to say, with prices of new airplanes soaring, used airplane prices are also reaching nosebleed territory.

The number of people with the means to buy new airplanes is shrinking, with predictable effects on unit volume and product price. Perhaps light sport aircraft will take some of the edge off this trend, but its yet to be proven that theres a sustainable market for aircraft offering out-the-door prices mostly north of $100,000 and 1930s performance numbers.
Homebuilding offers more affordable (and very interesting) alternatives, but most potential pilots are neither motivated nor qualified to take this route.

It gets harder and harder for me to believe that general aviation (other than multi-million dollar very light jets) will survive the next decade or so.

George Kilishek, AOPA 1851082
Dallas, Texas


There’s obviously many reasons for this increase, but it also effects the used airplane market and makes it harder and harder for the average joe to get into aviation, and seems to hold a glim future for GA. Which is especially disappointing for me personally because I’ve been in search of an affordable used airplane, but can’t work it in to my budget just yet, and sometimes I wonder if i ever will.

Flying is not just for wealthy people.
You may have to make some sacrifices but it’s not unattainable. I paid for all of my ratings working a $10/hr job and attending school full time. I was still living at home, yes, and sure, it took a few years, but this isn’t something that happens overnight.
There are student loans available if you wish to go that route. Or save for a year or two and pay for it outright.
I don’t consider myself wealthy, we make far less than your $100k a year figure, and my wife and I still go flying at least a few times a month. We have 10 year old cars and we scrimp in other areas to enjoy the things we love.
If it’s something you really want to do, you’ll find a way.

CFIJames… you’re like my brother from a different mother…

There was an article in Flying a while ago…which issue it was escapes me…saying that the airlines were wooing the CFI’s away from their schools, leaving less and less CFI’s to teach the new pilots. That sure isn’t helping things much.

Well, I used to get around quite a bit.

Where were you born? :smiling_imp:

and a different father… :smiley: :smiley:

I was hoping to have more time the other night to say exactly what CFIJAMES just said but didn’t have the chance.

I have 2 jobs, I have an office job at a mortgage company by day, and I work several nights a week at an airline. I also deliver newspapers (do you know how embarrasing that is to admit?) in the morning, and occasionally, when work calls, I detail aircraft with my own buisiness. With exception to the full time, and deliveries, I don’t really work, I’m playing airport, but the 3 extras are my son’s travel hockey money and my flying money.
My wife and I own our house but it’s not huge, and not brand new. Our cars are less than 3 years old but they’re compact. My wife is also finishing college. Trust me, we’re considered lower middle class incomewise.
I do the extra, 1. for my son’s love of hockey, and 2. for my and now my son’s love of flying. I have never had a better bonding moment than when we’re both in the cockpit and I tell him I need 1st notch of flaps or fuel pump off and he complies.
I bust my butt, and sometimes at my various jobs, I wonder WHY do I continue to do this, and every time we go out to the airport I remember why.
The point is, where there’s a will there’s a way. Sure there are easier ways that don’t seem quite so easy at the time, but do what you have to do if it’s what you want to do, It’s all worth it.

Well said!

While I waited until I could financially make the commitment to commit aviation, once I got my first dose, it was worse then any addictive medication :smiley:

But hey, who can say they get high literally and legally without endangering others around them :smiley:


I dunno Allen, we’ve all seen your landings.

Base: :smiley:
Final: :confused:
Bounce: :angry:
Plunk: :open_mouth:
Rollout: :blush:


Ooooohhhhh, shucks, nobody was suppose to notice that purposely omitted little detail :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe I should have rephrased it without endangering anybody outside the airport environment. This way, I have the parking lot, FBO, taxi ways, ramp all covered!

I found it. December 2007, Tom Benenson’s column, page 85.

That’s called eating your seed corn!

You may think flying is expensive, but so is divorce. Both were well worth it though.

Sounds like Flygirl needs a drop in pilot. I nominate CFIJames.

You don’t like James much, do you? :smiling_imp:

Don’t blame me… he started it! :unamused: