I would venture to say that "PILOT" is read by many amongst the GA fraternity as it a quick way of finding out what is happening in aviation. Sad therefore that it is tending to lose it's way somewhat. I got my June edition this week and there seemed to a lot more advertising than usual. A quick check showed that, including that front and back covers, the magazine consisted of 110 pages. No less than 56 of those pages were taken up entirely by advertisements and many other pages included advertisments at least in part. In one instance 8 pages were devoted to a product called Arthroplex which helped people deal with rheumatism and other ailments. I am not sure what place such a product sales pitch has in an aviation magazine unless it reflects the fact that a fair number of older pilots are Senior Citizens.
To accommodate all this advertising undoubtedly something has to give. It is many years since "From the Notams" appeared which was an unfortunate ommission as it was a quick reference to anything you may have missed. Similarly the feature which brought you up to date with helpful websites has also disappeared. In the June edition I refer to Safety Matters was reduced to two pages describing two accidents and four incidents. It would be nice to think that this was reflective of greater safety but probably not. Finally "Airfields" didn't even get a look in.
The editor tells me that they need the advertising to make the magazine viable but you also need readers and if the magazine doesn't suit their needs, they stop buying it.
The eight pages of advertisement in the centre of pilot just reflects the age of the GA pilot community ............. Sadly I am rapidly heading for old git status and I don't see a lot of young people entering to replace me.
Oh if you think powered flying is bad take a look around a gliding club !
I was considering posting about this- all those adverts for hire purchase Aston Martins and arthritis remedies weren't helping to quell my growing suspicions that I'm not old or rich enough to enjoy GA as a long-term hobby post PPL. Not to mention a comment in one of this month's articles about a sandwich and coffee for "just over six quid" at the featured airfield. That's an hour at work after college for some of us 17 year old wannabe-types.
This summer I've got some savings set aside, and I'm now faced with the choice between my original plan- a handful of hours in a tatty 152/PA28- or the increasingly tempting idea of buying a tired classic Mini and a decent spares budget, and having dozens if not hundreds of hours of fun restoring it with my Dad. Dad being somebody whose involvement in my hobbies were previously confined to waiting patiently for countless hours in the airfield car park to pick me up as I faffed around with tech logs and payments having spent a month's wages on myself in two hours.
Car insurance is needlessly expensive for a sensible person of my age, but it'd still be less of a dent in my finances each month then 90 minutes of flying In fact I'd still have money left over for tax, MOTs and plenty of fuel.
Sorry for the cynicism, But I can't help think that 'Pilot' is actually quite a fair representation of GA as I see it. I think GA does have a difficult task in attracting younger people though- I've yet to come across a young wannabe pilot who isn't set on anything other than commercial training and shiny automated jets, so those who could afford a flying hobby (or perhaps more accurately, those whose parents can), I suspect are often taken straight in by the integrated schools. Outside of the wannabe pilot circles, I suspect the average young person that could be a potential GA hobbyist just simply isn't aware of its existence- most airfield with a flying club are in the middle of nowhere after all, and GA rarely makes an appearance in the mainstream media unless there's a fatal accident of course.
I think there's a reason for young people not taking up hobby flying- the costs are simply extraordinary to most ordinary families, and the value for money just isn't there. I've had friends my age who have expressed an interest in learning to fly having listened to my exploits, and do you know what? For all the thrill of the first solo, the satisfaction of a neat landing or a successful PFL, I'd never reccomend it to any of them. £170 for an hour. Sixty minutes in a musty, slab sided, common or garden trainer. When the weather's right of course.
As much as I never thought I'd say this, I can really empathise with all those who learn to fly and then never set foot in a cockpit again.
I've got a subscription to Flyer and the LAA monthly magazines, which don't seem too bad with adverts. My wife was advised to go towards Flyer as a birthday present. I've been enjoying both of them, although as being newly into flying I don't know how they compare to previous publications. I also have gotten into the habit of mentally blocking out pretty much all adverts that I see in all media so I've no real idea how bad they are.
Maybe someone with better forum knowledge than me could start a poll on the UK's favourite GA mags? "Classic Aircraft" anyone?
It's getting awfully hard to deliver value given the amount of free content that is already on the web - especially the stuff produced by keen enthusiasts, some of which is of good quality, and far too frank to ever appear in a printed publication that carries adverts.
And, with some exceptions, people who produce free material are strongly despised by those who make a living producing printed material...
In my business (electronics) we get a pile of trade mags. They are much worse that any UK aviation mags. Virtually zero content in most cases. The "articles" are all advertorials, appear alongside adverts from the company.
But some are not too bad, in the case of specialised stuff. The other day I read a nice educational piece of LVDTs. Maybe the UK mags could try that formula. I guess the challenge would be to find somebody from Garmin UK willing and able to string enough words together to produce an article from the pilot's POV.
For those suggesting the electronic version, it would be tricky taking the laptop / iPad into the lavvy without raising suspicions of evil doings. A mag is much handier when going for the three 'S' s!
I have to agree with the views expressed, 'Pilot' mag is going downhill fast, and I for one will be unlikely to renew my subscription. When the - mainly irrelavent - adverts make up more than half of the mag, it has gone too far!