Friday, 20 May 2011


Someone asked me recently why pilots were flying less, and why fewer people were learning to fly. The answer (obviously) has something to do with money, or more accurately, value for money.

On that subject a couple of things struck me recently…I was thinking about an autopilot for the C182. It has the Cessna Navomatic 200 wing-leveller fitted, but that only works if you want to fly 10nm circles, and although I could probably find someone to repair and recalibrate it, I get the feeling that I'd be in for some big bills to keep it working. I spoke to a few people about a decent retrofit autopilot (S-TEC is really the only game in town). The bottom line is that it would be cheaper to pay for my wife to get a PPL and an Instrument Rating than it would be to fit an S-TEC 55X. I guess I'll be hand-flying for a while.

I'm typing this from the world's biggest pilot shop - Sporty's. The company is celebrating its 50th year this weekend and is having a fly-in at Clermont County Airport. I paid less for my ticket on United than I paid to fill the tanks in the C182 last week. I'm trying not to think about that.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

AOPA US under attack

Over the years, I've spent some time talking to people working for AOPA US. I've been to their annual events, and I read AOPA Pilot, their magazine. They're a good bunch doing a good job in tough times. A few years ago the organisation had a change of President when Phil Boyer retired and Craig Fuller took over.

Craig's timing was less than ideal - the economy took a dive and that, combined with rising fuel prices, led to fewer aircraft sales and fewer people learning to fly. Times were tough and they're only just starting to get better.

AOPA has recently been getting some stick, see this post for an example from the end of 2010, and now others are joining in too. ANN has hit out with this. That's a bit of an outpouring about AOPA's email marketing campaign, and given that ANN and AOPA are also competitors on the commercial side, it's a bit wide of the mark IMHO. What a shame…