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In America, that is. It is no secret that there are fewer and fewer active general aviation pilots (that is private pilots not working for pay) every year. Why is that true? Can we arrest the decline? Will the activity ever grow again?
The factors most commonly cited when discussing the decline are money and time. Those are excuses, though, not factors. Flying has always been expensive and learning how to use an airplane has always taken a lot of time.
There is simply less appetite for risk-taking today than there was 30 years ago. If you had been shot at in World War II, your view of risk was dramatically different than someone who spends their life behind airbags and computer screens. Just think of all the helmets kids wear and the safety features in new cars. These aren’t necessarily bad things, but they mean the average Joe is probably more concerned than ever about safety.
Air Facts, the magazine for private pilots and general aviation enthusiats, has posted five essays on the topic, well worth reading.