Challenge Notes Importance of Flight Time

By Scott Spangler on April 15th, 2012

For decades, individuals and organizations have focused attention and effort on rebuilding the pilot population. But for the first time in memory, AOPA is drawing attention to—and doing something about it with its Keep ’em Flying Challenge—an equally important number: hours flown. And it asks pilots to push themselves beyond the hundred-buck burger run.

ChallengeLike the pilot population, the hours flown by GA and Part 135 pilots has been in bumpy decline since 1980, when they logged more than 41 million hours. In 1990 it was 32 million; in 2000 it was 29.9 million; and in 2010 is was 24.8 million hours, up from 23.7 the year before.

AOPA elegantly shares the wealth and benefits of getting airborne and motivates participation with a random drawing that will award a $2,499 grand prize, $1,000 to second place, $500 to third place, and four $250 fourth-place awards.

There’s one entry per pilot, and qualification is on the honor system. Between April 1 and July 31, 2012, pilots must fly at least five hours as pilot in command of an aircraft to five destination airports more than 50 nautical miles away, and complete an Air Safety Institute online course.

That sounds like more fun than the prosaic burger mission to the same old airports. Aviation is about adventure, so add your own challenge. Fly to five never-before visited airports or seek all available runway options: grass, gravel, asphalt, and concrete, short and soft, wide and narrow.

And don’t forget to invite your friends. Making your challenge a social event with passengers (prospective or lapsed pilots you may know) and more than one airplane adds to the fun! Let me know what personal challenge you come up with, because flying is also about sharing. –Scott Spangler


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8 Responses to “Challenge Notes Importance of Flight Time”

  1. Bobby Smith Says:

    i enjoyed your article and after losing most of my hearing was looking forward to getting back in the air and connot even get an aircraft built because Titan Aircraft and Indy Sport Aviation think I should support my sorry step daughter because she is a Christian in need. I find it strange that as a retired officer I don’t seem to have the rights that I spent most of my life fighting for.


  2. Billy rosenthal Says:

    I just about puked after reading this comment about fly as many hours as you can I have just about every rating in general aviation that you can get in two types now these days you haft to win the lotto or be rich to fly now a person could not do what I did 30 years ago all I here is we are going to do something about well here is your do somthing avgas $ 7.37 gal west texas and the sky is the limit and in some places over $ 10 gal when are you going to do something do me a favor go to your local airport and count the number of pistons aircraft flying now count the private jets you will have your answer it seems the elites and the foreighnors can only get tickets now it makes me sick now do something
    Billy Rosenthal

  3. Tom Weldon Says:

    I think it is a great idea if we don’t start flying more often then we will loose are right to fly. Yes! Fuel is expensive but where there is a will there is away. I for one will never have a hanger Queen and no I am not rich but I have made flying a priority in my life. I wish other pilots would do the same.
    Tom Weldon

  4. Billy rosenthal Says:

    Well Tom
    When I was 14 or 15 years of age i just started flying the year 1973 in school a 1973 Cessna 150 sold new for $5500 $13 dollars solo $15 with a instructor now I worked part time at Winn Dixie made $60 dollars a week big money for me now if you look At the numbers I had time for a least 3 to 4 hours a month and still had plenty of money left in 1980 as a instructor the price jump to $39 solo and $53 dual I made $6 dollars a hour for primary student and $8 dollars for instrument now peesent min wage 7+ about $300 week before taxes I believe a Cessna 152 now is $125 hour maby more with the fuel so now mr. Or mrs. Now can only fly maby 1 hour a month that is what Iam talking about no American kid can afford this on his own like I did it is totaly out of reach and aviation is good for kids billy rosenthal

  5. Brian M. DeVandry Says:

    Ya know …guess I must be finally getting just a little too old, or something. As a longtime (enthusiastic) member/supporter of AOPA, reading of this …AOPA (actually?!) offering a prize?? for who can fly the most hours?!? …to kick start …entice … coax?? ..motivate?!? what’s left of the GA pilot population …or “inspire” a newer one?? and recover from this death spiral she (General Aviation) finds herself in …actually embarrasses me! All it seems I can do is shake my lowered and aching head.

    Come on APOPA …enough of the gimmicks!

    Please forgive the following re-cap of a previous rant;

    Lets see …the “new & improved” C-172-SP, recently reviewed in Flying magazine: a single engine, 4 place, fixed gear, fixed prop, basic, simple low HP “light airplane”. One whose basic airframe has been around for over half a century and whose R & D, tooling and most all other initial development costs have long since been paid for many times over, decades ago (essentially a (very) old airframe with a few tweaks, and upgraded to some modern avionics (which also should cost substantially less than their steam gauge, analog counterparts) …all this for ONLY $300,000+ ?!?!? Oh, but you can get the venerable old “new & improved” Piper Archer for about the same price! But wait! …you can get a shiny new Carbon Cub; an even simpler TWO place, fixed gear, fixed prop, basic, simple low HP “LIGHT SPORT” airplane” with a basic avionics package for the bargain price of just under 200K!! Of course, Cessna has finally thrown a bone (sort of) to the fledgling new “Mom & Pop” Flight School in the form of a 21st. Century “Trainer”; the C-162 Skycatcher! … available for the much more REASONABLE “base price” (just recently increased!) of 150K! …which means they should be able to afford at least 3 or 4 of em! The C-172 was available, in 1980, IFR equipped, for the low 30’s (aprox. 90K in today’s dollars) In 1979 the C-152 went for just under 20K (55K today)

    Now, throw in the over inflated (and ever increasing) costs of fuel, insurance, maintenance and all those other “miscellaneous” operating expenses and ask yourself; How can even an “Upper” Middle Class, “Above” Average Joe afford/justify such a purchase (especially after tacking all those actual operating expenses) How can such a sums for such airplanes ever be (reasonably) justified?? And we (and APOPA) wonder why new pilot certification is half what it was just two decades ago?? Why (aircraft) rental rates have gotten beyond the reach of most would be Sunday Flyers? What could possibly be causing this decline in our beloved activity??

    Most of Europe and all of present day Asia have no such thing as “General Aviation” …solely because of the prohibitably expensive costs. Their citizens have been coming here to pursue that dream we’ve all been taking for granted! (but even that’s going to change …read: practically grind to a halt, now that the new draconian EASA Flight Crew licensing regs have kicked in) Active participation in our wonderful world of “Flight” here in the USA has always been on the (relatively) expensive side, and up until now has remained the best (and only) place on the planet to do so. But take another really honest look at the math. Even if we tack on another 50% (a very conservative/generous estimate) to account for the uncontrolled explosion of all the greed laden “Product Liability” suits many (airplane manufacturers) have had to endure these last couple of decades (about the ONLY thing Cessna, Piper etc. can legitimately claim to have been “victimized” by) …we should, at most, be looking at somewhere around $135 – 140,000 for our present day (fully equipped) C-172. …hmm.

    In the late 70’s, I struggled to put myself through school (let’s not even get started on the costs of a college degree these days!) and pay for (mostly through loans) my flight training to pursue a dream of being a Professional Pilot. Now 35 years later, after having been fortunate to have flown everything from parachutes to 747’s, this subject has been a particular heartbreak for me, as I seriously doubt I could succeed in that endeavor today …and wonder how any of today’s young folks (of even “above average” means) ever could as well.

    I’m afraid these greedy times we’re a livin’ and the exponential rate at which that expense is accelerating, will only serve to hasten the time when the final nails are driven. We’re rapidly destroying “General Aviation” in this country …made it solely a “Rich Mans” sport. “Why” the rapidly downward spiraling total logged hours?? …a Pilot shortage?? …very, very sad indeed.

  6. Billy rosenthal Says:

    Let me tell you boys something there are no pilot shortage and if there were one the airlines would grab a foreinor and take a american job I have seen it both industries heli and fix I was a minority when I was a instructor very few American instructors 1980 now I want you aviators to do me a favor when I get fuel I bitch I let the whole FBO here me just do it and I even ask what they are paying for fuel some even show me there fuel bill no bs some knock off a little off the price also send letters called nasty grams to your reps and senators I do both I also leave phone call messages and tell them what a terrible job they are doing in aviation to do it I have had enough and I am not that old just want to say most of you aviators or well to do
    and they will listen

  7. @williamAirways Says:

    Once again, AOPA proves themselves as an out-of-touch, marketing machine to capture as many membership dollars as possible. Really? AOPA really think giving away these limited number of prizes will actually increase people’s flying? Give me a f*#$ing break. Enough already. I’m so sick of AOPA. If anything AOPA is a detriment to general aviation with their empty promises and bubble gum giveaways. AOPA is so desperate to capture membership numbers that they will say ANYTHING to inflict fear into GA.

    So as long as there are people making money, there will be people with disposable income to try their hand at flying. Sure, the numbers have diminished somewhat but AOPA takes an alarmist stance. The pilot decline isn’t all that horrible if you look at the numbers. The problem isn’t people’s lack of interest in aviation. The problem is disposable income. Solve that and GA will be just fine. But AOPA seem to think there are reasons other than money that is keeping people away from flying. Believe it or not, there are people with money who actually go to the airport and spend it. I see it every single day. What you don’t see are the aforementioned middle class doing it. It’s sad, but let’s not kid ourselves. Flying is expensive, and if you don’t have disposable income, you’re not doing it. When the decision is food vs. flying, well, survival trumps. This basic concept escapes AOPA, which is just pathetic.

    AOPA really need to wake the hell up. I’m going to the bathroom now to finish throwing up after having vomited in my mouth from this pathetic attempt by AOPA to stimulate flying. Good grief…you’d think they have better things to do with membership dollars.

  8. Billy rosenthal Says:

    Tell them williamsairways your right but they are not listening no fighters here but I am.

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