Monday, July 20, 2009

Aviation is a rich person's hobby

I've always enjoyed John and Martha King, who have advocated dispelling aviation of many of its myths. One of them is that the ride to the airport is more dangerous than the trip in the airplane. It's not true.

But aviation has spent too much time denying that aviation is for the well-off. Why not just admit it and be done with it?

A few minutes ago, I took one of those online surveys in order to try to win a Garmin 696 (boy, you don't think aviation is for rich people? Price out that puppy!). At the end, here are the possible choices in the "what's your annual income?" category.

Of course "wealth" is a relative term. The "rich" usually don't perceive themselves as rich. That's why they hit the roof when the government, for example, tries to get more of their money.

Ask anyone who wants to fly but doesn't why they don't, and money is almost always going to be the reason. So why is it such a stretch to accept that those who do fly are "rich" when defined by those who don't?

The aviation associations would do better to acknowledge the perception, rather than spend energy and resources trying to pretend there's no truth to it.


  1. Of course, a lot of those people that say they don't have the money are driving expensive cars and taking Caribbean vacations.

    Often times, it's simply a matter of choices.

  2. I think driving expensive cars and taking Caribbean vacations is a rich person's hobby, too. (g)

  3. I would agree that the majority of folks that fly are "rich" according to many. I think that the important part of the letter group efforts are to suggest that you can do this hobby for not as much as it costs to buy a Citation, or fly off for the $100 hamburger. It does cost more than in the past, but so do cars and about everything except houses lately.

    There is a place to suggest that you don't have to be rich to do this hobby. It surely helps though. How about a middle ground?

  4. I guess what I was really trying to say is that while disposable income is clearly a must-have, a passionate desire can make quite a difference too.

    "Rich" can afford to fly as a hobby, probably with no sacrifice in other areas.

    Non-rich has to really, really want it. The non-rich guy partners in a 1966 Cherokee with three or four other non-rich folks that share the visceral need to fly. It's not as easy, sure, but it can still be done.

    But yeah, that guy in the hangar next to me with the gorgeous Beech Baron that he seldom flies? He's rich. The guy next to him that has that '66 Cherokee? Not so much. But he wants it more. Far, far more.

    I'm glad there's still room for guys like that. He's the one that waves as you taxi past. He's the one that will loan or borrow tools. He's the one that's happy just to stand around the hangar jawing about our planes.

    The Baron guy? It's as if he's in his own little world. He has never even acknowledged the presence of other people at the airport. My guess is that he would check off one of those middle choices on the poll.

  5. One of the reasons I love Oshkosh so much is there's still a few oldtimers out there who maybe learned to fly in the war and then kept it up. I love walking through the Pietenpol section, particularly.

    Of course I always walk through the RV corral and poke my head around to look at some people's instrument panels. Man, it's not hard to see why some friends of mine like Stein at SteinAir report business is still pretty good despite the recession.