ANN Readers Respond, Vociferously, To 'Aero-Rant'
Aero-Analysis/Commentary by ANN Readers Around Planet
Earth, (Intro By ANN E-I-C Jim Campbell)
Last month, I finally committed myself to publishing a
long-thought-out editorial series entitled "What’s
The Point of ‘Next-Gen’ If ‘Now-Gen’
Crashes and Burns?" So far, its been a helluva run...
The first four parts have seen daylight and I have a feeling
that we're looking at a dozen or more parts to this magnum opus if
I keep this series going along as much as I fear I'll need to
adequately voice my concerns and thoughts... and, MORE
IMPORTANT, to relate yours as well. At this point,
though, I think its a good time to once again look at some of
the THOUSANDS of responses we've had to this series and let ANN
Readers take over the editorial helm for the evening.
I think it particularly important after a chance meeting with
AOPA's Craig Fuller, and newly minted EAA Boss Rod Hightower... The
two conversations could not have been more different. My chat with
Fuller was quite similar to one I had decades ago with my High
School Principal after yours truly got caught, hidden behind the
lockers, in a serious but none-the-less illicit lip-lock
with a really cute little girl from my theater arts
group. The tone was much the same... stern, condescending,
disappointing, and without much room for counterpoint. I found that
sad... as Fuller seemed none too interested in actually discussing
the matters we brought up (principally in Part 4), and more in
complaining that we had actually had the temerity to voice
complaints about the almighty AOPA. Oh well... I realise that
criticism isn't all that pleasant (believe me, I KNOW), but we
progress through critical examination and proper examination of our
missions and actions -- and if AOPA wasn't so interested in
squelching/crushing/inhibiting criticism (or non-AOPA generated
news reporting), they might be a better organization, as a
result -- much like they USED to be.
Campbell and Fuller...
On the other hand, the conversation with Hightower was
constructive, two-way and actually quite enjoyable (and a good part
of it will be on Aero-TV shortly). While there are a
number of things that worry me about the direction of EAA, I get
the feeling that Hightower is a guy that will at least be open
to discuss the issues... and not send me to detention
(which, in the embarrassing case of the aforementioned
incident at High School many moons ago, was WAY worth the
down-time... that girl had 'talent').
But... enough of the memories --
herewith, a representative sampling of the opinions, thoughts and
concerns of ANN readers all over the globe...
From Bill S: Jim, so
far you are hitting the nail right on the head.I have gone to Air
Adventure for the last twenty some years and stopped going the last
two, because I didn't like what I was seeing or hearing.The decline
of general aviation is a matter of fact as far as I am
concerned.Does Ford Motor company run Air Adventure? Thank you for
being a voice for GA.
Robert A: In the
years before LSA, EAA was looking for ways to increase aviation
participation. I suggested to EAA and FAA the following:
De-certify aircraft over 40 years of age with the following
- The aircraft must be certified first ( to keep people from
rebuilding basket cases.)
- The aircraft would revert to experimental status.
- Must be no more than 2 seats
- Not used for any commercial purpose
- Be maintained as experimental ( by owner )
- Condition inspection done by owner if attended school. (
otherwise by A&P)
- Aircraft owner must belong to a type club or association.
- The FAA went along with the Light Sport concept because they
were dead set to some how regulate and license all those
ultralights and their unlicensed pilots.
The EAA let the FAA in the back door to
get their LSA , and now look what we have. Thank goodness for home
builts and kit planes, general aviation is hanging on by a
Bill H: Thanks for the
ranting on the aviation groups. I too have been irritated for some
time and have written the ones I belong to and magazines I
subscribe to. I no longer take Flying magazine. Redundant, boring
and written for the rich guy. ABS, Bonanza Society, has become more
and more nothing but a private club for the rich, living on the
dues of the peasants. Stories of how much money they can spend on
their plane and the countries they fly to is the norm. Too many
'adds' also. I have told them I may drop the membership next year
when it is due. AOPA is our only voice in Washington but I think
they are playing politics just like the crowd up there. I have also
told them that I really don't see a reason to belong any more. They
represent the FAA more than they do the members! I don't think any
of the organizations represent the average pilot any more. They are
in it for 'Empire' building and the money.
Thanks for speaking up.
Robert S: FYI, I sent
this to AOPA before I read today’s Propwash. I agree with
Subject: Attn. Mr. Craig Fuller RE: Your request for donations to
As a member of AOPA for many years I am insulted by your request
for donations to the AOPA PAC.
If there are that many senators and representatives in jeopardy
then they must be on the side of the direction this administration
is taking our country. Just because they are an incumbent, and have
supported AOPA does not make them the correct choice for our
You do not provide any names and the states they are in. I would
consider supporting candidates that are AOPA friendly if they also
are trying to stop this insane administration that is trying to
destroy our country.
Mr. Fuller I sense a definite change in the direction you are
taking AOPA. I don’t know what your personal beliefs are, but
I think changing the direction this country is headed is more
important in the long run.
One other point, AOPA has no business getting into the wine
As it stands now I am seriously considering not renewing my
membership due to the direction you are taking AOPA.
David P: As one of the "less than a dozen"
telling you that you were at least partially wet about AOPA, I
appreciate your further clarification and can't disagree
I did not realize how many issues there were. I love your
aggressive honest style I just worried about alienating the AOPA
membership such that even if AOPA improves, they are gone. I guess
my attitude is, tell people to hang in there a little longer while
making their concerns known to AOPA and give AOPA a chance to
improve. And, make sure AOPA knows that it is "on the bubble" so to
speak and if improvements are not made, then the membership may or
will leave. I will take my own advice and give them a call. In the
meantime, I do still think we are better off with them in their
current form than without them, unless someone starts a competing
organization that is better.
An example is old Rhinebeck aerodrome. While I hear reports that
things are improving, even though a lot of the membership is
unhappy with the board of directors, they are still members because
the alternative would kill the organization. So they are supportive
by being members while working to change the leadership, though,
like your rant, some of that effort is public so it dissuades
others from joining even when those same critics say please join.
At least they are calling for people to be members even as they try
and improve the situation.
I could not agree with you more about the EAA and yes I am a member
that makes a yearly pilgrimage there, even when it floods.
Keep up the hard nosed journalism. It is and always has been
Brent S: Thanks for your editorial series
exposing the aviation organizations deterioration over the past
several years. When I read in October's AOPA Pilot "Flight Service
- five years later" that the transition to Lockheed FSS was "fairly
seamless" and that flight service users ALL agree that the system
has been working pretty well" is so absurd and deviates from truth
in such a material fashion as to be laughable if it wasn't so sad.
AOPA is supposed to represent my interests in these matters but
such a fundamental misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of the
truth really negates their ability to do that.
The FSS system is so fundamentally flawed now I only contact them
to record my TFR check before a flight. For preflight I now use
DUATS, Wx Channel, NOAA ADDS and private pay flight planning
services and if I want the level of service I used to get from FSS
and Flight Watch for "free" I am forced to buy additional cockpit
equipment and subscribe to satellite and provider services. I guess
that would be OK except I'm still paying for the so called free
services, which have ceased to exist in reality, through aviation
My last encounter with Flight Watch, long after that seamless
transition, rendered so much misinformation and confusion that I
have stopped using it all together for fear of outright life
threatening misinformation. I understand that asking for Hot
Springs weather is not the correct way to ask for weather but when
you spell out KHOT and get back the weather for KHSP and the
briefer doesn't even have the good sense to read back the
identifier with the weather report it is impossible to even help
them overcome their own incompetence. Add to that they knew I was
enroute from Montgomery AL to Albuquerque NM the absolute depth and
breadth of incompetence is starkly apparent. I used to use Flt
Watch in lieu of dispatch weather occasionally when I was an
airline pilot because I felt it was easier to get real time info in
some circumstances but now that option is obviously long gone. When
you have to walk these people by hand through any briefing,
in-flight or preflight, to the point of what state your talking
about and they omit critical information or misstate it
drastically, you realize your on your own. If you are using
Lockheed FSS as your sole or even primary source of weather and
NOTAM info you are risking the safety of your plane, your
passengers, and yourself. For AOPA to paint such a glowing picture
of this situation amplifies your own criticisms.
AOPA now finds it necessary to continually beg for funds to lobby
the criminals in Washington, hawk legal services for pay that used
to be a right of membership, and then tries to sell non aviation
related services like the infamous wine club but then is so
completely clueless on the reality of flying the system that I am
becoming convinced that this organization has gone the way of the
FSS and FLT Watch. Not only are they quickly becoming useless but
probably have become a force contrary to the wishes and needs of
the General Aviation pilot in the USA.
I know you are inundated by comments like mine and I appreciate the
opportunity to get this off my chest, even if you haven't been able
to read it in it's entirety.
Ron M: Keep it up! You're covering what needs
to be covered.
I wonder if the general theme is that the freedom and possibilities
that used to be aviation has been lost.
Our country seeks perfect safety and more regulation instead of
freedom. We want to be Europe.
Little boys are no longer exploring the woods and falling out of
trees on their own. Instead their moms drive them to soccer games
and make them all play by the rules all the time. None of them will
be allowed to jump off the roof into a rose bush with their
self-designed airplane. (as did Gen. Robert L. Scott as he wrote in
GOD IS MY CO-PILOT)
Mike P: I enjoy ANN and appreciate your point
of view in your editorials. A few comments on today's
- I totally agree that organizations supported by members need to
have a "real" vote in electing the leadership of the organization.
Specifically, EAA needs to have a more open voting process for it's
Board of Directors. The nominees get their bios published in Sport
Aviation but the only chance to vote is in person or by proxy. But
when the current leadership holds the proxy of the vast majority of
members, the vote is a mere formality - Leadership will always get
their choices elected. EAA is a dictatorship, not a democracy. I
can't even find who actually was elected in this year's EAA BoD
elections (can you find the results and publish them?). Why so
secretive? Why isn't EAA proud to announce their new Board?
Towards the end of your editorial, you mentioned you would be
writing about the demise of flying clubs. I wanted to offer our St
Louis Flying Club as an example of a club that is growing and
thriving. In existence since the 1940s, we just expanded to 2
planes and from 8 to 16 members. Take a look at our website: www.stlflyingclub.org
Jim W: I agree with your comments about the
aviation alphabet groups. I received a mailer from AOPA this week
that leaves me kind of questioning their positions. I am extremely
pro aviation, but I am also pro America. The entire subject of
their mailing was bemoaning the possible upcoming elections
anti-incumbent and anti-democrat tone. The current crop of
congressional critters have shown themselves to be less than
effective in leading this country and as such they need to go. The
key to advancing GA is not pandering to poor congressional leaders,
but choosing new ones with the right attitude in support of this
country including aviation. I don't care how much they support
aviation if the over all economy is in the tank GA is not going to
do well because no one will be able to afford to participate. Then
we measure their support for GA.
I also agree that GA has become way to expensive and one major part
of that is fuel. When fuel is $5.00 a gallon range that puts a
large damper on the ability of people to fly enough to stay
proficient. Even an economical bird like my M-20C becomes
burdensome to operate. There is no reason for the cost of most of
the technology in my aircraft. I have been in electronics and
aviation for many years and there is no justification for the cost.
The projected cost/benefit for ADS-B that is now to be mandatory in
some airspace is ridicules and being driven by poor management and
planning by the FAA.
Dan V: Your comments regarding AOPA are
accurate and appropriate. I would like to add-
- The volume of solicitations for additional donations for
activities that should have been budgeted for as consistent with
the core mission of AOPA is out of control. Any informed pilot
knows that biennial federal elections are critically important to
the health of general aviation as is the reauthorization of the FAA
enabling legislation. AOPA should have budgeted for its lobbying
activities and not need to solicit additional member funding for
- The add-on costs for "services" and products bearing the AOPA
label are far in excess of their value. The AOPA insurance, credit
card, car rental costs are far higher than comparable products
available from many sources not affiliated with the AOPA.
- My experiences at the AOPA Summits, Fly-Ins, and ASF "Webinars"
have been consistently disappointing. They are poorly organized, do
not meet my needs as a GA pilot and aircraft owner and seem to be
designed to burnish the image of senior AOPA staff and place
impossible burdens on the rank and file employees.
- My ten year membership and support for AOPA is probably going
to end this year. I can't afford to support an organization as top
heavy and non-responsive as it has become.
PS. Wine Club??? Who in their right mind would link the
consumption of alcohol with the promotion of general aviation and
aviation safety? What were they thinking or drinking?
Larry S: On the subject of EAA:
In 2008 - just after I had written for ANN at AirVenture - I saw an
ad for a job with EAA that had MY name on it. I applied for it,
received a telephone interview and a subsequent invitation to come
in for an in-person interview.
When the subject of compensation arose, I wish you could have heard
the violin players they brought out telling me that they just
couldn't pay very much for a job which demanded many skills.
Already retired - and with my formal residency in Florida - I
decided I could not afford to live full-time in Wisconsin and asked
that my name be withdrawn. Basically, I couldn't afford to work for
EAA at the compensation level they offered ... despite WANTING
Subsequently, I discovered that Tom Poberezny receives compensation
of nearly $500,000K + perks annually. I did the math and decided
that his salary alone was eating into a major portion of EAA's
active members yearly membership fees. It's no wonder that EAA
charges SO much for food and admittance at AirVenture and is always
hawking some new fund raising scheme to buy bricks on a path or
paint your name on the old gateway to the flightline, etc. All the
while, the working rank-and-file employee is just scraping by ...
and they can't draw in good talent with insufficient compensation.
I know several EAA staffers and what they earn ... it ain't much
Since I summer just 35 miles west, I spend lots of time in Oshkosh
five months of each year. Around there, the 'talk' of EAA always
leads to the Poberezny "dynasty." As ANN reported in Part IV, the
retirement of Tom Poberezny will actually be a puppeteering act ...
he'll be pulling the strings from behind the scenes, likely hauling
in a nice retirement paycheck while EAA continues to find ways to
drain its constituency of every discretionary dollar they can grab.
Rod Hightower was likely hired because Tom thought he could
continue to find new ways to generate revenue for EAA and because
he'll fall in line following his "instructions."
Maybe they'll start an EAA Wine Club?
Oh for the days when the antique and classic parking area was in a
beautiful grass field just south of where the old tower/gateway to
the flightline was.
... and for the days when you didn't need a people mover to get
your carcass to see antique airplanes. The old grass field is now
AeroShell Square. EAA is NOT a business ... it is an organization
of like-minded members and EAA has lost sight of this, I feel. I
came close to resigning after 35 years over their attempted "grab"
of the C-47 "Last Time" gathering in Illinois.
And I told them so, too.
Maybe the problem with both AOPA and EAA is that they have grown to
the point of 'critical mass' and are trying to run their
organizations like a business ... which they is not.
Keep up the good work, Jim ... you're right ON with your
Next (REALLY -- We Mean It This
Time)… There used to be a time when Flying
Clubs were a prevalent and popular aspect of the GA and Sport
Aviation landscape… and in the last few decades, they've all
but disappeared. However; a revitalized and modified version of
such entities… relevant to the 2010 generation… might
provide inestimable value to rebuilding the popularity,
affordability and accessibility of GA. And by the way... while we
seem to be throwing some rocks at certain entities in aviation, do
be advised that some of the toughest criticism we have coming up is
for our own ilk... and the truly deplorable state of aviation
More to follow in the coming days… Stay tuned!
Jim Campbell -- Unrepentant Aero-Advocate, Professional
Trouble-Maker/Pain-In-The-Ass/Aero-Evangelist (YOU Choose which one