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Question What is the state of General Aviation in 2023?

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Forums Chief Pilot
Staff member
Oct 31, 1996
Type aircraft owned
Carbon Cub FX-3
Base airport
Post 9/11 it seems General Aviation went downhill in a bad way. FBO's or more specifically flight schools closed. After my Air Force days I considered getting back into GA but visits to the airports were just like visits to my radio controlled airplane fields - dead! A ghost town and depressing. My local flight school only does Cirrus now which is very expensive for anyone to get into flying. Across the river at KOFP is a different story, they seem to be quite active.

When going to Oshkosh you get a feeling that General Aviation is alive and well but beyond that I'm not sure. Then the backcountry craze was discovered (by me) and it rekindled my desire to get back into flying again (thank you Trent Palmer and associates).

What are you seeing as to the state of General Aviation? We're all hearing about pilot shortages in airlines and how they may even have to train their own from the start. Fact is it's crazy expensive to learn to fly vs. when many of us did it long long long time ago.
To do this as a career and go to school such as WMU, EMU, RIDDLE, etc expect to pay 100k - 200k for the degree and ratings. Then you have to go instruct or build hours another way until you meet ATP minimums. A lot folks today don't have that much cash available, nor do they have the desire to be an professional. I feel like a lot of the respect people had for pilots has diminished over the years. Now couple that with the US Military not cranking out pilots like they did after the Vietnam and Gulf war eras, you have a pilot shortage. We are now seeing all the military pilots from those eras are hitting retirement age. Couple this with kids not getting into is what is causing the shortage.
On the GA side parts availability is becoming and issue for many older GA aircraft and some aircraft are at risk of being grounded. Fortunately, the FAA has a program coming out or is out, that will allow the use of off the shelf parts to be used on aircraft, if they are not a safety related part as deemed by the mechanic. e.g. you could use a autozone starter on a C-150 that is VFR only. I alos think the price of fuel and maintenance is keeping some people on the ground more than they would like too.