Flight training’s seen its better days.
Pilot training is as at it’s lowest point in the 44-year history of airplane statistical record-keeping.
There were only 17,585 new private pilots in 2008. Expect fewer in 2009. And, those who do fly are getting old. Since the early 1980s, the average age of all pilots increased from 38 to 45 years old.
Unless flight training becomes more attractive a business and more affordable for students, and soon, you can predict the end of public access to light general aviation in your lifetime. Marketing efforts are practically non-existent at small aviation businesses that serve and should be the promoters of the value of general aviation to local communities. AOPA’s efforts and industry partnerships, like GA Team 2000 (Be A Pilot.com) in the late ’90s fizzled as the economy turned south.
Have you seen the news? This just in Thursday’s USA Today.
In 1998, there were eight Cessna Pilot Centers in my Dakota territory barely affording new $155,000 Skyhawks. Just ten years later, at nearly $300,000 a copy, there’s one Cessna Pilot Center left. Most small airports are old and look that way, offering little to attract a would-be flier.
Cessna Pilot Center, circa 1979.
I don’t blame the tech-savvy, adventure-seeking pilot prospect for not finding interest here. The average age of a 4-place single engine plane is 38 years old! No kidding, the plane you’ll see at the local airport (assuming you know you even have one) was built before microwave ovens, VCRs, and personal computers of any sort. The planes look antique, as do the facilities
Go to a larger city, and you may train to become a pilot in a modern plane, like the G1000-equipped Skyhawk, that is, if you can afford to. Aviation needs an affordable new high-tech trainer, updated facilities and modern methods of computerized instruction.
Enter the Cessna 162 Skycatcher! On the verge of a production run this year, watch the videos below to follow the first pre-production Skycatcher cross-country as it journeys from Wichita to San Diego. King Schools will use this little gem to film a new computer-based instruction curriculum for modernized Cessna Pilot Centers.
Day 1 (If you follow this blog, you’ve already seen Day 1. Feel free to turn down the sound if the music annoys you.)
Day 2 – Tucumcari to Phoenix
Day 3 – Phoenix to San Diego (and Beyond)