I really felt that it was going to be a great year for Prairie, and in fact it was a really good year. Aircraft sales appeared to fall into the same category as recreational equipment and prices stayed strong. There were a number of folks who thought they were going to get some huge deals in all sorts of things, and were sorely disappointed by what actually happened.
Now we are starting 2021. How is this year going to look? I don’t see things getting back to what would be considered the “New Normal” or the new word that has had the most Google searches, normalcy, till at least the fall, if not later.
Well, never a better time than now to have your own aircraft. The safest way to travel is in your own plane.
It is also a great time to fly as the airports are not busy and many pilots are really enjoying flying into airports they never would have even considered going near a year ago. The skies have really opened up, so to speak, for the private flyer. The charter companies are busy and overall general aviation is picking up.
The flight schools are busy; they are doing a great job of following all the Covid rules and new pilots are in the air. It is great to see the general side of aviation doing well. The cost of flying has changed so much that flying your own aircraft is now a very affordable option. With all the routes that have been cut back and many that are no longer even available, flying your own aircraft may now be less than taking the airline. You are able to do it within your time schedule, and on your own terms.
The freedom of private aviation, what the makers of general aviation aircraft have always been promoting; now it really is a reality. When you look at some of the vintage ads for private aircraft sales from the manufactures when private aircraft sales began, they focused on the freedom of flight and the convenience of having your own aircraft. With personal safety and personal space so important right now, travelling in your own aircraft is a great option.
There are so many great aircraft that cost no more than a new vehicle. Yes, there are other costs involved with owning your own plane, such as storage, insurance, and maintenance, but still, not over the top or unattainable. There was a time, not so many years ago, when owning your own aircraft was quite common. The flying farmers’ organization had 11,000 members in the 70’s, now it is less than 500. “An aircraft in every barn” was the motto back then. Interestingly enough, it is those same aircraft that you can now buy as your first aircraft, your only aircraft, or whatever is your current need and mission.
The history of some of these aircraft is amazing. These aircraft were like family members - so many wonderful memories shared with the folks that traveled the country in them. I have had elder members of the organization who had lost their medicals in tears when they had to give up their aircraft. Doing so meant so much to them because of the memories made, but more importantly, they were losing a huge part of their freedom that they knew they would never get back.
Nothing makes these folks happier than knowing their family member with wings is going to a really good home and will keep exploring the skies.
Why am I getting so nostalgic? It seems that at the end of 2020, folks were re-evaluating so many things in their lives. Families were spending time together as they were the only people they were able to spend time with, and that is still happening now. Staying home, doing things together, eating dinner together. Things were so busy with so many activities, prior to Covid, that I heard over and over again from parents that all they did was drive their children from one activity to the next. Where was the family time?
What better activity to do together than to go flying together? Explore this beautiful country together. See it from the air and explore the towns and cities when you get there. When you think of driving somewhere that might take you six to eight hours, depending on where it is and what the roads may be like, a two-hour flight is much more doable, and you can enjoy the trip.
There are so many great spots that you can fly to. For the cost of a few dollars of gas put in the airport courtesy car, you may head into town. Meet the local folks at the airport. We all know that Aviation is one big family; get to know your family better.
Let’s start a new organization; spread the word, easy to do now with so many social media sites for aviation. Let’s get out there and up there, work on getting General Aviation back to the numbers it once was. In the 70s there were about 22 million people in Canada. Now there are over 37 million. Surely we can get the same amount of folks in the air as we had in the 70s.
Enjoy the life we have while we have it. We all know how short life can be with the year we have all been going through, good or bad. Make a commitment to enjoy life more, spend time with the folks you love when you can, and if you ever wanted to see the world from above, on your own terms, get yourself a pilot licence and get into an aircraft.
Fly safe everyone! Looking forward to seeing how 2021 shapes up.