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If you didn't see the story link from our Facebook page on aircraft ownership I suggest you check it out.* Even if you’re not in the market for an aircraft at this point, like myself, it is one of the most simple and straight forward assessments I have seen to date.
There are a lot of deals out there in this buyers’ market if you know what you want out of an aircraft. As with our ground transportation needs, many are weary of gas guzzling aircraft despite the “fire sales” you see for high-horsepower aircraft, light twins in particular.
I have concerns with low utilization times of aircraft in light of the fact that most sport aviation pilots only fly 52 hours a year. Since the majority of aircraft sit in the hangar or tie-down for the majority of the time, it may be time to consider clubs or partnerships. While I'm not going to beat the well-worn “flying club” drum, a good partnership (or small flying group/club) can drive costs down through maximum utilization. However, partnerships, be it clubs or small groups, can be like a marriage, for better or worse.
USING TAXI SIMULATORS TO SHARE THE PASSION OF AVIATION
By TC FREEMAN
I am a big fan of unique marketing ideas, especially ideas that get people away from the computer and in an interactive environment. One analog marketing tool, I say analog because it’s a physical product, is a ground aircraft taxi simulator made by the Labor family, a small aviation business located in Snyder, Texas. The Labor's taxi simulator is a go-kart looking device with only three wheels and works much like an aircraft.
The original story, seen on AOPA Live (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), depicts the interviewer taxiing the simulator. The interviewer was having a tough time mastering the device but was fortunately under the watchful eye of a young Labor family member. Never the less, new pilots can work on communication skills without the expense of renting a real aircraft! Depicted as a taxi simulator, I could see this being used as a great way to promote learning to fly. Imagine the general public going to an airshow or fly-in and having the opportunity to experience taxiing a aircraft. This device could include miniature wings and tail with a cut-away design and moveable controls to further explain how aircraft fly.
This story reminds
me of the BD-5 mini-jet wings and fuselage that was donated as a
project to convert it to a ground-based aviation education tool. I
had seen a few BD-5s converted into powered rolling aircraft used for
parades, rides and static display. If you are not familiar with this
aircraft, it was popularized in the 1980s via a James Bond film and
later in airshows as a marketing tool for a major beer company.
Sadly, for my case, the project was too ambitious for our
organization at the time and sat dormant in my backyard. Eventually
an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter took on the cause
to initiate the project. I really like the concept of creating a
"hands-on" kind of aircraft for aviation education.
This is a great way to take the fear out of a new experience by getting them to focus on just a couple of skill areas necessary for riding a motorcycle. We could stand to learn a lot from the motorcycle industry about marketing!**
I commend the Labor
family for creating a great product that helps pilots save money by
allowing new pilots to practice taxi and communications skills
without turning on a Hobbs meter.* In addition to being an aid to
student pilots, this would also make an awesome tool for inspiring
future pilots. Time to get to work!
Author's Note: I was unable to find any additional information about the taxi simulator from the original AOPA Live story or from an Internet search. Any supporting information will be posted to the WingsOfun.com website in a future blog.
*A Hobbs meter is used to track aircraft rental cost and are sometimes called an "hour meter." I break into a sweat every time the Hobbs meter starts on a rental multi-engine aircraft, whew!
Photo: Aircraft Parts and Salvage
**Special thanks to WomenRidersNow.com for the use of the motorcycle ride simulator picture. I especially like their mission to bring women into a historically male sport. As mentioned previously, we can learn a lot about bringing more people, especially women, into aviation by the example this organization sets for women.
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