Monday, August 20, 2007

Listener Email: Brian Gold River CA

[ Here's the complete text of Brian's email, which we discussed in UCAP#043. In retrospect, I realize I may have oversimplified Brian's ideas. So please discuss them here, or in the comments of the blog post for the Episode #43 discussion. -- Jack ]

Thanks for producing such a good show! I wish you success as the
program moves forward.

In episode 39, there was a brief discussion of the high cost of
flying. Amy made the point that sometimes paying the extra cost of
using a big airport FBO can actually be the smarter choice. That's
true, but not always and not often true. This issue would be a good
one to devote some time discussing. Some questions to explore might be:

Is the cost of flying really more expensive now than in the past?
Adjusted for inflation, what is the cost today compared to 25 or 50
years ago?

Is it true that the average American has a higher percentage of
income that is disposable than was the case in the past? If so, it
may be the case that people are choosing to use this disposable
income for things other than flying.

Is the cost of flying really driving people away or are people
choosing other pursuits for other reasons?

What social factors are involved with whether people choose to fly as
opposed to spending their money elsewhere? I've heard one theory that
makes sense, but may cause some controversy. Fifty years ago, the man
was more often the sole breadwinner of the family. Social conditions
back then made it acceptable for men to make all the important
decisions of the family, and the wife would dutifully go along with
those decisions. In that environment, it was possible for the man to
decide to spend part of the family budget on flying. Today, women are
contributing to the family income–sometimes a larger portion of the
income than the man. Today's more liberated woman rightly has a say
in how the family budget is allocated. In this environment it is less
likely that the man will have the necessary income to fly. Since
traditionally so few women are interested in aviation, discretionary
income is more likely spent on home decorating or family activities
with little or nothing left for flying. Until more women become
involved in aviation or see aircraft ownership or renting as a
potential family activity, this factor is not likely to change.
That's the theory anyway.

Personally, I think this issue goes beyond the cost of flying. I
think today's Americans can afford to fly, but they are not
interested in doing so. We need to find ways to show people how
appealing and wonderful aviation can be for them. If we just focus on
trying to make flying cheaper, that may not draw more people. An
example is the guy next door who can afford to fly. He's just not
interested. We need to find ways to get people like him interested.
He owns a $50,000 SUV. He doesn't need it, but he bought it because
it appealed to him. If he wanted to fly, perhaps he would have
settled for a $20,000 sedan, freeing up enough money to buy a 1/8th
share in a good 4-place airplane and flying lessons. One does not
have to buy a new half-million dollar Bonanza in order to fly. There
a many reasonable options out there.

Anyway, I have only heard two episodes, but I really enjoy the
program. A little listener demographic information for you: I fly
cargo 767's for DHL at work and have a Co-Z that I built which I fly
for fun. Because the Co-Z is too small to be a family plane, when my
wife and two children want to take a flying vacation, I will rent the
right aircraft from a local flying club and go.

Blue skies!

Gold River, CA


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