CAVU weekend, lack of Pvt A/C flying ... Sad

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This past weekend was text book CAVU both days, more what you might find in early October around here than mid Sept, deep crystal blue skies devoid of any clouds whatsoever, high temps struggling to reach 72 Fahrenheit, wind light and variable. 10 years ago there would have been the constant sound of piston singles entering or leaving the pattern. I live near the Class C airport for our city and there are several turf fields in the area as well. I can probably count on just one hand the number of private GA airplanes I saw flying this weekend. I guess it's fuel prices paired with the economy driving it for the most part. Sad.
 
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It's fuel prices combined with the increased cost of everything involved in keeping a GA aircraft flying. We have a nice little GA airport near us that offers both a paved and a grass strip. The only activity I usually see there involves a C208 jump plane based on the airport. The pilot often plays that classic game of trying to beat the jumpers to the ground and it's impressive to see the rates of descent the Caravan can achieve. I guess that the jump school is doing okay since they're still around and can apparently afford to maintain and feed a Caravan. Other than that and the annual Aeronca fly-in, there isn't much going on at this airport these days. Back in the 'nineties, there were even DC-3s and B-18s flying ad hoc freight. That was something to see. All gone now.
 
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I'd love to think all the GA guys headed out to Reno last weekend for the air races, but I know that's not true. From the video feeds I saw, crowds there were still down too.
 
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In '08-'12 our local airport looked like an airplane graveyard--lot's of GA airplanes deteriorating on the ramp. Nowadays, things are looking better in my area. There's a LOT of GA bizjets / turboprops flying and a lot of newish Diamonds, Cirrus and Cessnas flying. . . .I hope the trend continues.
 
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Yes, it's mostly related to fuel prices and the chain FBO's raising costs. Interestingly, major FBO chains are "buying up" smaller "mom n pop" FBO's. The results are ramp fees and high fuel costs. At all local (to me) airports this happened. Fuel was $4.51, until Landmark purchased the FBO. Now it's $7.35. There is only one semi-local airport left with the same fuel price as before. I'm sure it won't be long before "Atlantic", "Landmark" or "Signature" sees the wisdom of purchasing the shack at that field and charging $8/gal. At Boca, they now charge a $40 ramp fee. (not a landing fee by the airport authority) This is INSANE. The ramp was paid for by my aviation tax dollars and the FBO did not pave, create, or maintain the ramp. Why can't I land, self park, and go through the gate? In essence, just to use the "gate" to get out of the airport and walk next door to the resturant, It costs me $40. Worse than that, we wanted to pick someone up and fly the pattern once and drop them back off. $80 for that. The FBO was willing to negotiate the "fee" down to $78. Screw them. INSANE.
 
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Originally Posted By: Cujet
Yes, it's mostly related to fuel prices and the chain FBO's raising costs. Interestingly, major FBO chains are "buying up" smaller "mom n pop" FBO's. The results are ramp fees and high fuel costs. At all local (to me) airports this happened. Fuel was $4.51, until Landmark purchased the FBO. Now it's $7.35. There is only one semi-local airport left with the same fuel price as before. I'm sure it won't be long before "Atlantic", "Landmark" or "Signature" sees the wisdom of purchasing the shack at that field and charging $8/gal. At Boca, they now charge a $40 ramp fee. (not a landing fee by the airport authority) This is INSANE. The ramp was paid for by my aviation tax dollars and the FBO did not pave, create, or maintain the ramp. Why can't I land, self park, and go through the gate? In essence, just to use the "gate" to get out of the airport and walk next door to the resturant, It costs me $40. Worse than that, we wanted to pick someone up and fly the pattern once and drop them back off. $80 for that. The FBO was willing to negotiate the "fee" down to $78. Screw them. INSANE.
+1. This is everywhere now, and it's suffocating GA.
 
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Aren't most of these airports publically owned? Maybe when the local powers that be figure out that an airport without traffic is of no economic benefit, they'll renegotiate the leases they have with these corporate FBOs to make GA affordable again for those with decent incomes. The $4.51/gal for 100LL Cujet cites seems reasonable. $7.35/gal is insane and would discourage most from flying much at all. Even fifty hours a year in a 172 would be beyond what most of us would care to buy fuel for. A forty dollar ramp fee, even if I buy fuel? That seems a little excessive. There was a time in the not too distant past when tie-downs for transient aircraft were cheap or free and the airport often had a POS car or two that you could use to run for food and other supplies. No wonder GA has gone down the drain. If not for an active GA segment, then where will the next generation of pilots come from, both GA and commercial? There's already a shortage of entry level regional first officers, although there are also other reasons for this and not everybody thinks there is a pilot shortage. Some think that it's just a pay rate shortage. Still, less GA activity means fewer people will start earning the private certificate which means fewer people earning advanced ratings and then fewer ATPs down the road. The airlies might actually be forced to fund their own training from the get-go, as some European carriers already do.
 

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Originally Posted By: fdcg27
Aren't most of these airports publically owned? Maybe when the local powers that be figure out that an airport without traffic is of no economic benefit, they'll renegotiate the leases they have with these corporate FBOs to make GA affordable again for those with decent incomes.
Someone needs to tell Springfield OH that: http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news...end-of-t/nhLzf/
Originally Posted By: fdcg27
If not for an active GA segment, then where will the next generation of pilots come from, both GA and commercial?
From foreign countries: http://www.avweb.com/avwebflash/news/Boeing-Announces-Ab-Initio-Pilot-Training222484-1.html "Boeing’s massive presence at AirVenture 2014 was explained today when it announced a worldwide ab initio airline pilot training program that will qualify pilots to go directly into the right seat of airliners in virtually every country of the world except the U.S." Due to the new 1500 hour rule to be a 1st officer, upped from the old 250 hours in the wake of the 2009 Colgan Air crash in Buffalo NY, aspiring ATP's in other countries can do Boeing's new program and get in the right seat quickly outside of the U.S. Then while our folks are plugging away as CFI's those same out of country 1st officers quickly exceed 1500 hours and can come over here and snap up the 1st officer jobs before our guys and gals can log enough time.
 
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Of course, never mind that the accident that prompted this requirement had nothing to do with the time either the captain or the right seater had. There are people who shouldn't be flying aircraft, especially after they've made a very long and probably sleepless commute. Why is it that when there is a poular outcry that something must be done our regulatory agencies often end up doing something that would have in no way prevented the outcome that prompted the outcry?
 
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I just said the same thing to my Wife this past beautiful weekend...the skies were virtually empty and I live in between a few of the busier (maybe that is a relative term now) GA airports here. I too remember the restaurants at many of the small fields, loaner cars, busy ramps and griping about ~$3.75/gal fuel. I also remember flying around the Northeast during the .com boom, seeing a bunch of new Mooneys and Bonanza's at KBED thinking this is great for the sport...now a little more than a decade later and we are thinking of when to sell before the used airplane market collapses.
 
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One more data point. LNA. Lantana, FL was up for a business bid a while back. Highest bidder, "Atlantic Aviation" gobbled up all the facilities and raised the 100LL price to $9.09 per/gal. Lantana is one of those old triangular "small GA only" airports, not capable handling jets, nor will it ever be. As there is not enough land to support longer runways. It's also only 5 miles from PBI, where the jets go. Atlantic's purchase and quadrupling of prices also has driven out "Tropic Airpower" engine shop, The magneto shop, The big sheet metal shop "aero structures". The result is utter frustration on the part of small aircraft owners in the area. $9.09 for fuel? Really? Just an FYI, wholesale was $3,44 when I checked.
 
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Originally Posted By: zuluplus30
Originally Posted By: Cujet
Yes, it's mostly related to fuel prices and the chain FBO's raising costs. Interestingly, major FBO chains are "buying up" smaller "mom n pop" FBO's. The results are ramp fees and high fuel costs. At all local (to me) airports this happened. Fuel was $4.51, until Landmark purchased the FBO. Now it's $7.35. There is only one semi-local airport left with the same fuel price as before. I'm sure it won't be long before "Atlantic", "Landmark" or "Signature" sees the wisdom of purchasing the shack at that field and charging $8/gal. At Boca, they now charge a $40 ramp fee. (not a landing fee by the airport authority) This is INSANE. The ramp was paid for by my aviation tax dollars and the FBO did not pave, create, or maintain the ramp. Why can't I land, self park, and go through the gate? In essence, just to use the "gate" to get out of the airport and walk next door to the resturant, It costs me $40. Worse than that, we wanted to pick someone up and fly the pattern once and drop them back off. $80 for that. The FBO was willing to negotiate the "fee" down to $78. Screw them. INSANE.
+1. This is everywhere now, and it's suffocating GA.
++1
 
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Originally Posted By: Cujet
One more data point. LNA. Lantana, FL was up for a business bid a while back. Highest bidder, "Atlantic Aviation" gobbled up all the facilities and raised the 100LL price to $9.09 per/gal. Lantana is one of those old triangular "small GA only" airports, not capable handling jets, nor will it ever be. As there is not enough land to support longer runways. It's also only 5 miles from PBI, where the jets go. Atlantic's purchase and quadrupling of prices also has driven out "Tropic Airpower" engine shop, The magneto shop, The big sheet metal shop "aero structures". The result is utter frustration on the part of small aircraft owners in the area. $9.09 for fuel? Really? Just an FYI, wholesale was $3,44 when I checked.
What's left at Lantana? Besides Atlantic?
 
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