A few years ago, actually, almost 14 years ago, I wrote a posting in one of the rec.aviation groups on the Internet that talked about a possible renaissance that could occur in general aviation (GA). I’ve often thought about the posting over the years, wondering if it would be prescient or just an embarrassing prediction that never came to fruition. Thanks to Google’s ambitious indexing efforts, I have had the chance to review what I wrote, which can be a humbling experience, especially after time has passed. Rather than summarize it, I thought I’d just lay the posting out in front of God and everyone, because for me it is a combination of deja vu and a form of ‘lost time’. You can find it yourself if you search on Google groups, but here it is, word for word:
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1993 03:19:26 GMT
Local: Tues, Sep 28 1993 9:19 pm
Subject: A Renaissance for General Aviation?
Do you think that GA is on the verge of a popularity explosion? It
seems that the industry has been in a tailspin for the past several
decades but I can’t help thinking that certain forces are at work which
will allow it to undergo a sort of renaissance.
This could be good or bad, depending on your point of view. Currently,
aviation has many barriers to entry and attracts primarily only the true
enthusiasts. Consequently, I feel like I have a lot in common with
those who like to fly. Perhaps you have also noticed this rapport among
aviators. It seems when I meet other aviators we immediately become
good friends. Opening up aviation to the masses is bound to attract
throngs of uncleansed infidels who have no true appreciation of the
miracle of flight :-). However, I think it would be the lesser of evils
since the current trend indicates that we are on the path to extinction.
There are several reasons I think that general aviation can make a
comeback. The primary reason is that general aviation has been
wallowing in a sort of technological ‘dark age’ for too long. It has
missed out on nearly every technological advance for the past 20 years.
Now, the world is bursting with new technology that would greatly
improve the convenience, cost, and safety of personal flying.
Some of the advances will make a few of our skills redundant. I wonder
how many of us old timers will still want to see the newly initiated
demonstrate proficiency at hopelessly arcane skills like NDB navigation
or manipulating an E6B in the cockpit. Certainly not I.
Consider that in just the last 4 years here are a few of the significant
changes that have occurred:
My biggest hope is for the virtual replacement of all navigation
equipment by GPS. A piece of equipment that gives position,
groundspeed, groundtrack, distance, and ETE makes an ADF or even VOR
seem silly by comparison. GPS navigation should knock off a few hours
of training when NDBs and VOR go the way of the AN airways.
DUAT cuts your briefing time in half and can give a much more complete
description of the weather that you can carry with you. You won’t have
to listen to ‘All briefers are busy ….’. I’m not saying briefers can
be done away with, just that DUAT is definitely more convenient. And
don’t forget to use GTE’s plain language weather translator. It’s free.
Computerized Flight Planning Software.
Planning cross countries using paper and pencil ranks right up there
with getting a root canal. Then, if your flight gets canceled for any
reason, you must start from scratch because everything you did is now
worthless. Computerized flight planning software takes the hassle out
of preparing for flights. If you haven’t tried the one on GTE’s DUAT,
you’re missing out on a great product. It automatically interpolates
the winds aloft at your altitude. It knows the correct magnetic
variation and computes all your headings for you in seconds. Don’t
worry about database updates, it’s already handled for you. It’s also
free. Maybe it should be allowed on the FAA exams in place of the E6B
These should eventually be integrated into one of the several CRTs that
belong on the instrument panel to replace the instruments, avionics,
gauges, etc. If things continue to proceed the way they have been,
a GA glass cockpit is an inevitability.
The Primary Category
This EAA-inspired program is most promising. It’s ironic that the first
‘airplane’, a Quicksilver 500, to be certified under these rules looks
more like an ultralight. There will be 3 planes certified before the
end of this year and probably a dozen more over the next 2 years.
There are many other advances waiting to be integrated into light aircraft
such as inexpensive autopilots, composite construction, low-cost computers,
digital communications, and collision avoidance to name a few.
Yes, I think the industry is perfectly poised for a major re-birth and
hopefully we’ll all be able to experience it firsthand.
Lee Devlin | HP Little Falls Site | phone: (302) 633-8697
Piper Colt N4986Z | 2850 Centerville Rd. | email:
“Spirit of rec.aviation”| Wilmington, DE 19808 | dev…@lf.hp.com
As you can see, this was a kinder, gentler Internet where you not only provided your contact details, but your employer’s name, mailing address, phone number, etc.. How times have changed! I still am as forthright as I’ve ever been about my identity on the Internet, and I’m probably in the minority in that regard. At the time I was still flying the Colt with probably 250 hours of flying under my belt. Now that I’ve had 14 years to contemplate my predictions, I have to wonder if I was wrong, or simply ahead of my time. Maybe a new posting to further explain and elaborate on my predictions would be in order…