It is profoundly dispiriting to remember that a new Cherokee 180 with IFR steam gauges cost $16,200 in 1967 (“Budget Buys: Bottom-Line Four-Seaters,” November Pilot). The essentially identical airframe (with steam gauges), which is pictured in your article has, at $229,200, increased in price by 1,417 percent in a 40-year span.
According to the United States Census Bureau, median household income in the U.S. increased from $11,975 to $48,201, or 403 percent during the same time span.
Putting it another way, a median wage earner could buy a PA–28-180 for about 16 months worth of income in 1967. Today, she would have to put out 57 months of income to get one.
Needless to say, with prices of new airplanes soaring, used airplane prices are also reaching nosebleed territory.
The number of people with the means to buy new airplanes is shrinking, with predictable effects on unit volume and product price. Perhaps light sport aircraft will take some of the edge off this trend, but it’s yet to be proven that there’s a sustainable market for aircraft offering out-the-door prices mostly north of $100,000 and 1930s performance numbers.
Homebuilding offers more affordable (and very interesting) alternatives, but most potential pilots are neither motivated nor qualified to take this route.
It gets harder and harder for me to believe that general aviation (other than multi-million dollar very light jets) will survive the next decade or so.
George Kilishek, AOPA 1851082
Regarding Christopher Freeze’s article on the “plane in a tree” photo that spread around the Internet (“Plane in a Tree,” November Pilot). Yes, the photo with the “learn to fly here” sign is ironic but seeing an airplane crumpled in a tree is never funny. This photo has helped to perpetuate and confirm the general public’s concern that learning to fly light aircraft is unsafe.
The first time I saw this photo I had to defend flying because everyone was saying, “See? I told you those things were unsafe.”
I was thrilled to find out that the pilot walked away from the wreckage. But shame on his instructors for not teaching proper use of carb heat regardless of what the manual calls for. Every pilot who flies an aircraft with a carbureted engine should know the conditions that cause and symptoms of carb ice.
Here we are trying to bolster public opinion and gain new pilots and the author made no mention of the fact that this photo has had a negative affect as much as humorous one.
Sam Cunningham, AOPA 5848905
Los Angeles, California
“Plane in a Tree” was an excellent story, and raises a question. Why did the NTSB treat Brookham so gently? When I was flying light, single-engine aircraft decades ago, it was drummed into us that, whenever possible, an airplane in the landing pattern should be flown in such a way as to be able to make the runway with or without the engine [producing power]. This is a good rule and following it is, incidentally, one of the reasons I am alive today. Considering his flight history, Brookham’s failure to observe this rule is a far more serious mistake than failing to use carburetor heat.
Richard C. Tomkins, AOPA 1315962
Croton On Hudson, New York
I recently read your article “The Greening of GA” in the November issue (“Waypoints: The Greening of GA”). I agree that there is a lot that general aviation can do to be better for the environment and I am a big fan of not dumping sumped fuel onto the tarmac, recycling used oil, and not flying too loud. With an education in aerospace engineering, I am an especially big fan of flying aerodynamically and efficiently.
But I must disagree with your recommendation of purchasing carbon offsets. I am not a world-class expert in the area, but from what I have seen they are merely a way for people to make money off of other’s guilt. If 100-percent of the money went to planting trees, I’d have less of an objection, as I am a strong supporter of conservation. But a lot of the carbon offset money doesn’t go to anything that truly has the potential to make a difference for the environment. One example is investing in wind turbines. To power just New York City with wind turbines, you’d need to cover the entire state of Connecticut with wind turbines, and that’s just one major city, let alone all the others.
If I were to write an article encouraging [pilots] how to be more green, it would probably say 95 percent of the same thing as the article that Haines wrote, but carbon offsets strike me as little more than a scam.
Louis Turek, AOPA 4166649
Thomas B. Haines is right to urge members to minimize fuel consumption, but climate change is not a primary consideration. While carbon dioxide (not carbon particles) might be a contributor (it could also be a product of warming—the science is uncertain), it is indisputable that human activity produces a very small portion of the total and that GA’s share is not measurable.
Bernard J. Long, AOPA 131584
Bonita Springs, Florida
I just finished your article on the Catch-A-Cardinal sweepstakes (“Perfect Timing,” December Pilot). I just have to say that my hat’s off to everyone involved in this project. I have only been an AOPA member since 2002, and obtained my first certificate that same year. The Catch-A-Cardinal airplane is to me the best sweepstakes aircraft yet.
As I read through Julie K. Boatman’s account of the year, and those who had a hand in this project, I felt as if I myself were a part of it. She gave credit to so many for their long hours of work and commitment, and also to those who contributed not just time but parts. I want to say thank you for taking on such a monumental task as managing this project. I hope to one day have an aircraft of my own.
Mark L. Boyer, AOPA 3951375
The Catch-A-Cardinal sweepstakes has caught my attention as well as everyone else’s. I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey, watching the progress of the restoration of the Cardinal. I have learned so much through the articles about the airplane rebuilding process.
This has obviously been a work of love, passion, dedication, hard work, determination, and fun. To see all the people who are involved in the project and the spirit of dedication to making this such a work of art says a lot about AOPA. Thank all of them for us because it helps build the general aviation community.
I am trying to win the Cardinal like everyone else! I figure that with all the work that is being put into the Cardinal, it deserves a concerted effort to try to win. Whoever wins will really get a great airplane. Thanks for the dreams and all the fun.
Brian Bacalski, AOPA 5917803
San Diego, California
The Catch-A-Cardinal sweepstakes ends at midnight December 31, 2007. The winner will be drawn in mid-January and the airplane will be awarded a few weeks later. For more information, visit the Web site ( www.aopa.org/sweeps).
We welcome your comments. Address letters to: Editor, AOPA Pilot, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701. Send e-mail to [email protected]. Include your full name, address, and AOPA number on all correspondence, including e-mail. Letters will be edited for length and style.