Drew Steketee, the former president of BE A PILOT, senior vp-communications for AOPA and executive director of the Partnership for Improved Air Travel, has written a thought provoking op-ed piece for General Aviation News about general aviation and how its increasingly out of reach for the middle class in America to enjoy. He began is op-ed by noting:
My General Aviation is for everyone — or at least for a lot of people of varying wealth and incomes. What inspired me in the 1960s was that firemen, farmers and school teachers in my town were flying. What a wonderful American story. But now?
….Today much of GA looks like a Rich’s Man’s Game, as it did in the 1930s. I think most of us strain to avoid the admission.
Drew went on to write about the decline of the American middle class in general but he also wrote about the growth in business jets and VIP transportation and specifically about how “big money” has flowed into bizjet sales, corporate aviation, fractional ownership and jet charters. He also noted that GAMA’s annual billing numbers had astounded people when they were at US$2 billion in 1980 but in 2009, this figure had increased to US$20 billion (down from US$25 billion in 2008).
At the end of his op-ed piece, Drew wrote that he longed for the “’good old days’ of busy, friendly airports and admiring neighbors” but he also pointed out that in the USA: “…there aren’t many school teachers and firemen out at the airport on a Saturday morning.”
Hence, we want to ask our UK and Europe based readers for their thoughts about how accessible general aviation is to the masses in the UK and Europe. In other words, has general aviation in Europe become just another rich man’s hobby?