Working to save GA

Aviation faces some fundamental issues: While the FAA reports there were 41% fewer private pilot certificates issued over the last decade, Boeing is projecting the need for 460,000 new pilots globally by 2031. Meanwhile, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is reporting that up to 80% of student pilots drop out of training.

“It’s a mathematical equation that tells us that we have a real problem,” says Ravi the Raviator, a pilot and motivational speaker who has been named “Honorary Outreach Ambassador” by SUN ’n FUN.

Outreach is exactly what GA needs right now, he notes. “We keep trying to bring people to aviation, rather than bringing aviation to people,” he says. “That’s my focus from this point forward.”

He believes that to save GA, we need to show kids there is a career path from learning to fly to working in aviation. “That’s how we’re going to grow the pilot population,” he says.

He notes it’s difficult to get people to come out to a GA airport that may be out of the way and difficult to enter due to increased security. “We have to go somewhere where people are already comfortable to introduce them to the magic of flight,” he says.

In that vein, he spent a good part of his time at this year’s SUN ’n FUN  sharing his message with students in the area in his presentation “You Can Do It.”

Sponsored by Sennheiser, he’s also slated to speak at the Cannes AirShow in France in June. He’s hoping these efforts will lead to a “You Can Do It” tour of 24 cities around the country.

As he strives to inspire a new generation of aviators, he advises those already involved to look at the bigger picture.

“We as an industry really need to start looking at the world — not just how we save GA in America, but how we can export our talents to an emerging market,” he says.

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  1. EK says

    I agree with what some have posted. The greed of trial lawyers and insurance companies; and a bloated and restrictive faa bureaucracy that gets paid whether we fly or not have destroyed GA. This is an image of the corrupt society we have become. Honesty, hard work and intelligent risk-taking are not virtues any longer.

  2. AK John says

    Cost is a major issue for me. It’s amazing to me that the same Cessna 152 that I rented 20 years ago for about $35 /Hr wet is now roughly $126/Hr wet. Obviously fuel costs more, but it’s the exact same plane and tail number with rebuilt engine, same old upholstery, same radio…. I have to assume it was paid for long ago.

  3. says

    Been running flight schools and FBO’s for forty plus years. The cost, hassle, risk of learning how too fly scares people off who are otherwise motivated. As the size of the Federal, State, and Local government grows it greatly inhibits the “fun factor” of learning how to fly. Imagine any other recreational pursuit (ie boating, snowmobiling, motorcycling, skiing, diving, driving, etc.) that instead of being self regulated had every trip begin and end with government partnership/oversight. Think about it! The Feds regulate every conceivable aspect of aviation from beginning to end. Think that is fun???
    Hell no it isn’t fun! With 45 plus years, 12,000 plus hours I still make every flight in fear of some bureuacratic oversight (or outright rule violation) leading to revocation or punishment by “big brother”. It is like having a full-time IRS/Gestapo/Police/FBI partner involved in your daily life? We used to sell the sizzle…ie flying is fun…but those days are long gone, and the word is on the street….don’t make any wrong moves cuz big brother is watching.

  4. John Wesley says

    Another hair brained, ill advised case of window dressing, doomed to fail like all of the rest. Our problem is not the number of pilots needed 20 years from now, the certificate mills are full of prospective kerosene burners with absolutely no interest in GA or aviation in general for that fact. Our problem is the lack of infrastructure left in this country to support a resurgence of grassroots GA. Unless you live in a larger metropolitan area, your local airport has no FBO, no aircraft rental, empty T-Hangars, self service fuel and grass growing on the runways.

    This problem has developed over the last 40 years and I am afraid will not go away. Without the ability to obtain an aviation experience and education on a local basis, there is no way that we can ever hope to resurrect our dying industry.

    The gentleman that I worked for 48 years ago lamented the cost of maintaining a training program, but also knew that it was the very lifeblood of a local airport, without it, the airport and the local aviation community withers and dies. I have observed it at 14 once busy airports in this area that have died on the vine, as well as at 2 airports now dying on the vine. Only one in this area is attempting a rebirth and is actually showing signs of rebirth.

    The candidates are still out there, the desire to fly is still there, but the large, remote, dedicated certificate mills, do not fit the bill for these people. The current system does not support them, so they are lost to us.

    Until some way is found to rebuild local infrastructure to support more local grassroots GA activities, we are lost.

    • says

      Gentlemen: The infrastructure, the “cost”, and the Fed is NOT the problem!
      This is one of the few industies that is of the “build* and THEY, (who’s they?) will come mentality”! I suggest to those still trying to figure out how to resurrrect (reality) a declining recreational aviation population, like it or not, best start focusing on retaining those who have a NEED and promoting and convincing the same future aviation enthusiast that the UTILITY value of the airplane has merit – better to “hold alititude” than to decend and crash!
      * Rooks County , KS – nice big 5,000 of pavement – justified; PLEASE!

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