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  Oshkosh '97: Pulling In New Pilots

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Biography

An artistic development of over 20 years can be evidenced in the career of Craig Peyton. As a producer/ musician Peyton has released 11 CD's of his own including the #1 charting "Latitude, 40 Degrees North". Contributing production, writing, and arranging skills to many hits with other artists including James Brown, Melba Moore, Nona Hendrix, Levon Helms, and Dan Hartman, made Peyton a much sought after producer in New York City.

In 1991 Peyton founded EarthFlight Productions, a multi production company combining his passion for flying with music. Already a 3,000 hour instrument rated pilot, Peyton learned the craft of aerial cinematography crossing the United States 4 times in his Mooney 201 filming a full length video for his "Latitude, 40 Degrees North" CD. Peyton recently finished a 5 part series called "EarthFlight Scenics" for "The Outdoor Life Network" featuring his original music and aerial films. EarthFlight aerials and music are currently used on numerous commercials, TV shows, and feature films, like Brando's "Island of Dr. Morrow".

Visit EarthFlight on the web to learn more about the company and its multi-media productions.

Disclaimer Editorials alert you to issues, link you to resources, uncover research and, provide information.

Opinions and content appearing in the editorial section of Landings.com do not necessarily reflect those of Landings.com, its publisher, or any other Landings.com official. The author is the sole responsible entity.

  
     Pulling In New Pilots

   "If we re-build it, they will come"

     by Craig Peyton

As the new century is a mere 3 years off, many of us in the pilot community have been asking ourselves, "what is flying going to be like in the year 2000"? Without major changes, the quick answer might be; about the same as now, just more expensive. With the good news of congress getting the trial lawyers off our backs, we now look forward to a new generation of flying machines that can ignite some new energy into GA.

The problem is who is going to buy the next generation of aircraft? The whole scene is aging fast. Anyone going to a recent airshow, can't help but notice a lot of gray out there. We need new faces for new machines if we are going to survive on any level beyond "sport aviation" in the next century. Many of the generation of post-war pilots that helped build civil aviation in the US are now hurting it with the "club mentality" that dominates GA. This attitude is found in many of our flying zines. By nature, safe flying requires a conservative approach and attitude. The problem is we've taken this so far that the average flying magazine reads like a medical journal. This is OK for those of us in the "club" who know the lingo and current arguments, but very boring for the newcomer looking into our world.

Go to your magazine pile and pull out any back issue of your favorite flying rag and compare to the current one. Seems kind of the same doesn't it. Is it any wonder the hip 30 something watching ESPN2 sports and open to new experiences sees us as the walking dead. While safety is an important issue, it's not the reason why any of us fly. The drama of war created strong romantic flying images for many pilots this century. Flying had general public support in the decades following WWII. With the end of the cold war, the military model and values no longer carry any public impact. "Top Gun" may have created the image of the rough tough fighter pilot for the movies, but no one is fooled into thinking the modern military pilot has this kind of freedom. The public sees most commercial pilots as tightly controlled service professionals getting people or packages from a to b. GA is a nuisance of noisy and dangerous toys with little visible benefit.

To attract a new generation of pilots we need to 1) come up with cool, exciting aircraft that have practical traveling value and 2) recreate the image of romance that made flying so attractive in the '30s. 3) Sell the public a new aviation image of environmental responsibility, safety, and a good alternative to social ills like gangs, drugs etc.

With apologies to the millionaires reading this, is anyone sick of reading about aircraft we can never afford? The whole scene is aging fast. Anyone going to a recent airshow, can't help but notice a lot of gray out there. We need new faces for new machines if we are going to survive on any level beyond "sport aviation" in the next century. Many of the generation of post-war pilots that helped build civil aviation in the US are now hurting it with the "club mentality" that dominates GA. This attitude is found in many of our flying zines. By nature, safe flying requires a conservative approach and attitude. The problem is we've taken this so far that the average flying magazine reads like a medical journal. This is OK for those of us in the "club" who know the lingo and current arguments, but very boring for the newcomer looking into our world.

Go to your magazine pile and pull out any back issue of your favorite flying rag and compare to the current one. Seems kind of the same doesn't it. Is it any wonder the hip 30 something watching ESPN2 sports and open to new experiences sees us as the walking dead. While safety is an important issue, it's not the reason why any of us fly. The drama of war created strong romantic flying images for many pilots this century. Flying had general public support in the decades following WWII. With the end of the cold war, the military model and values no longer carry any public impact. "Top Gun" may have created the image of the rough tough fighter pilot for the movies, but no one is fooled into thinking the modern military pilot has this kind of freedom. The public sees most commercial pilots as tightly controlled service professionals getting people or packages from a to b. GA is a nuisance of noisy and dangerous toys with little visible benefit.

To attract a new generation of pilots we need to 1) come up with cool, exciting aircraft that have practical traveling value and 2) recreate the image of romance that made flying so attractive in the '30s. 3) Sell the public a new aviation image of environmental responsibility, safety, and a good alternative to social ills like gangs, drugs etc.

With apologies to the millionaires reading this, is anyone sick of reading about aircraft we can never afford? The old saw about private aviation being the domain of the rich and privileged seems quite relevant in the pages of AOPA and FLYING magazines. Breathless reviews of new King Airs featuring new style carpets and paint jobs for only 2.5 million. Average new single engine aircraft costs of over 350K. I know these are the real cost of hand making 30 to 50 machines per year and prices will remain high if not worse. The point is that the aviation media love affair with machines we will never own is turning the act of flying into a coffee table dreamscape. How can we pull new people in when most of us already can't afford to fly the machines offered us? At least Private Pilot is making an effort to address grass roots aviation with good adventure and travel stories.

Young people want to fly. The Microsoft Flight Simulator is the most popular retail software package in history. Check out some of the web sites where you download stealth fighters, space shuttles, or even pick-up trucks to fly in.(watch out, the pick-up uses lots of runway) Our image and attitude has to change. AOPA is about to spend a pile of money on the GA 2000 "Stop dreaming, start flying" campaign. This Nike "Just do it" approach is flawed from the start. Impulse marketing will sell sneakers, ice cream, and beer but not a major time, effort, and money commitment like flying. The modern informed consumer will walk into the local airport and see buildings, people, and machines, that look like time froze in 1955. Than when they hear about the cost of buying a 25 year old machine, let alone a new one, suddenly the old Microsoft Sim looks real good. We have to sell the whole family on flying, not just the wannabe pilot.

We need an unprecedented joint effort between pilots, manufactures, aviation media, and airports to keep private aviation alive in the next century. This column will attempt to address these issues. Many already believe the end is in sight if not here. As we weaken, the feds will drive in the final regulation nails. To get the all important student start numbers back up we need to bring excitement back into aviation. The affordable, sexy aircraft (using unleaded fuel) flying into a dynamic upbeat private airport, (serving decent food and real coffee) tuned into the needs of the next generation, is a dream our multi billion dollar industry can deliver. The pieces already exist. It's time to re-focus the image so GA can prosper in the 21 century. If we re-build it, they will come.

Craig Peyton

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