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The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 7th 21, 11:06 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Douglas Richardson
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Posts: 19
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas
Ads
  #2  
Old March 7th 21, 12:45 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 281
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 5:06:18 AM UTC-5, wrote:
Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas

Douglas, what we have seen here in the US is no different than your UK experience. yes there has been a decline in soaring. Soaring has become a bit more expensive and young boys and girls seem to be more occupied with cell phones and video games that keep them away from the gliderport. Us here at TCSC have been able to bring new potential pilots to the arena with our youth program. Our program allows for a youth to start at 13 and obtain a glider rating at no cost. During the next two weeks we will once again be sending a youth member for a DPE checkride. This past week we had two more youth members take flights toward their solo and glider ticket.
Covid certainly has made things worse, old and young alike are reluctant to participate in any function that might expose them to a viral infection. Cost of equipment and operation of that equipment has risen yet the soaring community continues to get smaller.
  #3  
Old March 7th 21, 02:57 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Douglas Richardson
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 19
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

Whenever this is discussed in the UK the point is always made that people now, unlike in the 60's, are time poor.
In other words people these days are less willing to spend an entire day at a gliding club for perhaps a 20 min flight.

I agree with the point made here in the UK that the way we "do gliding" is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
We should be using self-launchers and the SSDR category of single seaters, as well as slot booking, which doesn't work with current infrastructure but will work if done correctly with self-launchers (note the flying crowd have used slot booking for decades).

Any of this ring true in the USofA?

On Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 11:45:43 AM UTC, wrote:
On Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 5:06:18 AM UTC-5, wrote:
Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas

Douglas, what we have seen here in the US is no different than your UK experience. yes there has been a decline in soaring. Soaring has become a bit more expensive and young boys and girls seem to be more occupied with cell phones and video games that keep them away from the gliderport. Us here at TCSC have been able to bring new potential pilots to the arena with our youth program. Our program allows for a youth to start at 13 and obtain a glider rating at no cost. During the next two weeks we will once again be sending a youth member for a DPE checkride. This past week we had two more youth members take flights toward their solo and glider ticket.
Covid certainly has made things worse, old and young alike are reluctant to participate in any function that might expose them to a viral infection. Cost of equipment and operation of that equipment has risen yet the soaring community continues to get smaller.

  #4  
Old March 7th 21, 03:46 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
John Galloway[_2_]
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Posts: 58
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Sunday, 7 March 2021 at 13:57:13 UTC, wrote:
Whenever this is discussed in the UK the point is always made that people now, unlike in the 60's, are time poor.
In other words people these days are less willing to spend an entire day at a gliding club for perhaps a 20 min flight.

I agree with the point made here in the UK that the way we "do gliding" is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.
We should be using self-launchers and the SSDR category of single seaters, as well as slot booking, which doesn't work with current infrastructure but will work if done correctly with self-launchers (note the flying crowd have used slot booking for decades).

Any of this ring true in the USofA?
On Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 11:45:43 AM UTC, wrote:
On Sunday, March 7, 2021 at 5:06:18 AM UTC-5, wrote:
Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas

Douglas, what we have seen here in the US is no different than your UK experience. yes there has been a decline in soaring. Soaring has become a bit more expensive and young boys and girls seem to be more occupied with cell phones and video games that keep them away from the gliderport. Us here at TCSC have been able to bring new potential pilots to the arena with our youth program. Our program allows for a youth to start at 13 and obtain a glider rating at no cost. During the next two weeks we will once again be sending a youth member for a DPE checkride. This past week we had two more youth members take flights toward their solo and glider ticket.
Covid certainly has made things worse, old and young alike are reluctant to participate in any function that might expose them to a viral infection. Cost of equipment and operation of that equipment has risen yet the soaring community continues to get smaller.


John Roake from New Zealand (who runs Gliding International magazine) has published world gliding membership numbers for many years and has been writing authoritatively and campaigning about the worldwide loss of membership for as long.
  #5  
Old March 8th 21, 03:00 PM
Walt Connelly Walt Connelly is offline
Senior Member
 
First recorded activity by AviationBanter: Aug 2010
Posts: 365
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Richardson View Post
Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas
I would ask if anyone has thought of "Marketing" their operation? Things are in decline and yet operations are doing the things they have always done which in many cases is close to nothing. Unless the target audience for your facility knows who you are, where you are and what you can do for them your prospects will be in decline. ( I brought this up at a facility I once frequented and it fell on deaf ears, among other things)

While I cannot speak to the conditions in the UK and elsewhere, my experience with commercial operations in the US shows little being done to "advertise" their presence. (Clubs are a different story and take a different approach) I lived 30 miles from a glider port for 35 years an never knew of its presence, I learned about it by accident. A business should not depend on a small sign on a secondary highway for much business.

The "target audience" for a glider operation is in age group 14 to 94 and includes high school students with a desire to learn to fly, general aviation pilots seeking another challenge and add on to their current license AND the older pilot who has lost his or her medical but still wants to fly. SO, what are you doing to make your presence known to these potential sources of income?

A little advert in "Soaring" magazine is nice but the subscription rate to this magazine is quite limited and probably in decline as is the industry. My suggestion would be to selectively advertise in General Aviation magazines targeting local zip codes (yes, many magazines will allow you to place your ads based on local zip codes to subscribers and magazine stands within your geography). I subscribed to "Plane and Pilot" and "Flying Magazine" among others while I was out of the cockpit for a couple of decades. I never saw an ad for a glider port although one did exist locally. This would allow for an awareness among the general aviation pilot seeking another challenge and the medically disqualified who wish to get back into the air. And how many medically DQd pilots know a glider rating doesn't require a medical?

A well managed service operation (and yes a glide port is a service operation) needs to constantly be aware of its "capacity utilization" level and its break even point. Your profit is beyond the break even point.

Of course management must be willing to spend the money to accomplish this level of communications to the target audience. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

When I decided to get a helicopter rating a coupe of years ago I googled helicopter flight schools locally. NOTHING came up and I found myself driving and hour or two to investigate such schools when there was one 10 minutes from my house. I too found it by accident and a business cannot depend on potential customers finding them by accident. They now advertise on a local TV station quite frequently and have an online presence. They have a professionally shot video which grabs the eye and communicates the proper information to the public. They have seen a ROI which has made it an ongoing activity.

Walt Connelly
Former Tow Pilot
Now Happy Helicopter Pilot
  #6  
Old March 8th 21, 11:27 PM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
son_of_flubber
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Posts: 1,550
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

The new elephant in the room is the still_to_be_understood ramifications of Covid. For example:

People may retire from soaring rather than make the effort to regain proficiency that they lost from inactivity in 2020.

Students who had their training interrupted in 2020 may have lost all/most of their proficiency. They may not want to start over, and may have found other things to do.





  #7  
Old March 9th 21, 01:06 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
[email protected]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 281
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Monday, March 8, 2021 at 5:27:43 PM UTC-5, son_of_flubber wrote:
The new elephant in the room is the still_to_be_understood ramifications of Covid. For example:

People may retire from soaring rather than make the effort to regain proficiency that they lost from inactivity in 2020.

Students who had their training interrupted in 2020 may have lost all/most of their proficiency. They may not want to start over, and may have found other things to do.


COVID still has the population on edge, especially here in Florida where we were once the epicenter. What we have been able to accomplish in just 3 plus years is impressive, new glider pilots , a place to fly, a great group of people and participation from young and old alike. We have had new members joining and buying gliders, refurbished gliders and we are inviting people from all parts of the country to join is this month to enjoy the soaring of the Treasure Coast. Bob
  #8  
Old March 9th 21, 01:14 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
AS
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 653
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Monday, March 8, 2021 at 5:27:43 PM UTC-5, son_of_flubber wrote:
The new elephant in the room is the still_to_be_understood ramifications of Covid. For example:

People may retire from soaring rather than make the effort to regain proficiency that they lost from inactivity in 2020.

Students who had their training interrupted in 2020 may have lost all/most of their proficiency. They may not want to start over, and may have found other things to do.


That may be true, but the decline in SSA membership and overall soaring activity was already ongoing well before the pandemic.
Soaring competes with other less strenuous activities for a finite number of leisure time hours. Why would a 14yo want to hang out at a dusty and remote glider strip with a bunch of old geezers for a season, if they can sit in an a/c'ed room and play a video game, which you can become a master in in a weekend?
Also, gliders don't go 'vroom - vroom', which I was told by a 16yo does not make them exactly 'chick-magnets'.
There are operations in the US which have a thriving youth group - Caesar Creek or Harris Hill for example. The one thing these operations have in common is that they own their facility and have a lot of members.
It's a tough situation soaring in the US is in!

Uli
'AS'
  #9  
Old March 9th 21, 01:28 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Martin Gregorie[_6_]
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Posts: 699
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Mon, 08 Mar 2021 16:14:46 -0800, AS wrote:

On Monday, March 8, 2021 at 5:27:43 PM UTC-5, son_of_flubber wrote:
The new elephant in the room is the still_to_be_understood
ramifications of Covid. For example:

People may retire from soaring rather than make the effort to regain
proficiency that they lost from inactivity in 2020.

Students who had their training interrupted in 2020 may have lost
all/most of their proficiency. They may not want to start over, and may
have found other things to do.


That may be true, but the decline in SSA membership and overall soaring
activity was already ongoing well before the pandemic.
Soaring competes with other less strenuous activities for a finite
number of leisure time hours. Why would a 14yo want to hang out at a
dusty and remote glider strip with a bunch of old geezers for a season,
if they can sit in an a/c'ed room and play a video game, which you can
become a master in in a weekend?
Also, gliders don't go 'vroom - vroom', which I was told by a 16yo does
not make them exactly 'chick-magnets'.
There are operations in the US which have a thriving youth group -
Caesar Creek or Harris Hill for example. The one thing these operations
have in common is that they own their facility and have a lot of
members.
It's a tough situation soaring in the US is in!

Out of sheer curiosity: what's the approximate male:female ratio at those
fields? It would seen that a roughly equal mic might prove attractive to
both sexes.

I have noticed that my (UK) club seems to be attracting rather more women
members now than it did 20 years ago.


--
Martin | martin at
Gregorie | gregorie dot org

  #10  
Old March 9th 21, 07:21 AM posted to rec.aviation.soaring
Frank Whiteley
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 2,099
Default The decline of gliding - a worldwide issue?

On Monday, March 8, 2021 at 12:43:07 PM UTC-7, Walt Connelly wrote:
Douglas Richardson;1039844 Wrote:
Good morning,

My name is Douglas and I am a glider pilot here in the UK.

I would like to start a friendly discussion about the decline of gliding
and whether this is an issue outside of the UK.

Within the UK gliding has been in decline for decades and according to
discussion on gliderpilot.net this is down to a few key issues, which I
may go into later in the thread if required.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts on this.

-------------
Douglas

I would ask if anyone has thought of "Marketing" their operation?
Things are in decline and yet operations are doing the things they have
always done which in many cases is close to nothing. Unless the target
audience for your facility knows who you are, where you are and what you
can do for them your prospects will be in decline. ( I brought this up
at a facility I once frequented and it fell on deaf ears, among other
things)

While I cannot speak to the conditions in the UK and elsewhere, my
experience with commercial operations in the US shows little being done
to "advertise" their presence. (Clubs are a different story and take a
different approach) I lived 30 miles from a glider port for 35 years an
never knew of its presence, I learned about it by accident. A business
should not depend on a small sign on a secondary highway for much
business.

The "target audience" for a glider operation is in age group 14 to 94
and includes high school students with a desire to learn to fly, general
aviation pilots seeking another challenge and add on to their current
license AND the older pilot who has lost his or her medical but still
wants to fly. SO, what are you doing to make your presence known to
these potential sources of income?

A little advert in "Soaring" magazine is nice but the subscription rate
to this magazine is quite limited and probably in decline as is the
industry. My suggestion would be to selectively advertise in General
Aviation magazines targeting local zip codes (yes, many magazines will
allow you to place your ads based on local zip codes to subscribers and
magazine stands within your geography). I subscribed to "Plane and
Pilot" and "Flying Magazine" among others while I was out of the cockpit
for a couple of decades. I never saw an ad for a glider port although
one did exist locally. This would allow for an awareness among the
general aviation pilot seeking another challenge and the medically
disqualified who wish to get back into the air. And how many medically
DQd pilots know a glider rating doesn't require a medical?

A well managed service operation (and yes a glide port is a service
operation) needs to constantly be aware of its "capacity utilization"
level and its break even point. Your profit is beyond the break even
point.

Of course management must be willing to spend the money to accomplish
this level of communications to the target audience. Nothing ventured,
nothing gained.

When I decided to get a helicopter rating a coupe of years ago I googled
helicopter flight schools locally. NOTHING came up and I found myself
driving and hour or two to investigate such schools when there was one
10 minutes from my house. I too found it by accident and a business
cannot depend on potential customers finding them by accident. They now
advertise on a local TV station quite frequently and have an online
presence. They have a professionally shot video which grabs the eye and
communicates the proper information to the public. They have seen a ROI
which has made it an ongoing activity.

Walt Connelly
Former Tow Pilot
Now Happy Helicopter Pilot




--
Walt Connelly

Timing is everything and COVID-19 has put many operations on pause. That said, chapter memberships have remained pretty steady as many age out of the sport. The SSA is working on a marketing program, but picking a launch time is a tricky as taking that first launch and staying up. SSA chapters and business members should benefit. First will be a new web site front end. Getting close. Marketing will follow. It will be up to those operations to close the deal. SSA has been trying to help grow CFI-G at the chapter level for a couple of years now. There are plenty of youth scholarships but applications seem a bit slow this year.

Real growth is a grass roots effort or at least an effort when people show up. Post COVID growth of outdoor activities could be an opportunity.

Frank Whiteley
 




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