Thought for the Day: Importance of Affordable Aircraft

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Below is Henry Ford’s comment on his goal with the Model T. In five years, when people ask why the concept of factory built S-LSA planes flopped, you can point back to this quote, that evidently very few of the people producing, or the aviation journalists writing reviews of S-LSA aircraft have ever read or understood:

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“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces.”

 

Here is an odd, but important connection: Above is the most successful sailboat of all time, the Sunfish. No other boat in history even comes close to the numbers sold, the number of people who learned to sail or the hours they enjoyed. It was not the fastest sailboat of its era, nor the best in any other way but one: It was affordable because it was a brilliant simple design that was mass producible. They went to molded fiberglass in 1960, eventually producing a quarter million boats. These boats produced millions of sailors, and a very strong and enduring sailing base in the US, complete with a lasting market for more advanced boats.

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Aviation magazines are always highlighting the best, fastest, most elaborate planes with a moronic argument that these will stimulate aviation by getting people interested. Perhaps after decades of  this fiction, we can dismiss it. You don’t build a pyramid by making the top block and expecting the base to appear under it. Lasting things are built from the foundation up. No person in sailing would make the foolish claim that the winner of the 1960 America’s cup, (which demonstrated itself as the most expensive and fastest sailboat ever) was important to sailing as the introduction of mass-produced Sunfish the same year. Yet this is the same argument we hear when the EAA puts a multimillion dollar TBM-850 turboprop on the cover of Sport Aviation. -ww.

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The paragraphs above are from a two-part story I wrote last year. You can consider the complete line of thought by clicking on this link: Model T of the air?

and this one for the second half: Model T of the air, Part #2 – Leeon Davis notes 

I wrote both the stories about before Cessna threw in the towel on the Chinese built, $170K, C-162 ‘skycatcher.’ Read the story of their failure to understand the US market at : Cessna’s Chinese adventure a failure.

Thought for the day: Building as an individual.

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Building and flying your own aircraft, a device that serves no direct purpose to society or government, something that is just for you the individual, is a very important act that reinforces the dignity and value of being an individual. No matter how you think we got here or what you think we are supposed to be doing, we can agree that the points in history were individuals had no value were not the brightest chapters in human history.

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I love animals and think they are great,  but the two things that are supposed to set us apart are the fact we make tools and we can choose to act as individuals and not part of a collective herd. Funny how fewer people make and use tools these days and how that coincides with many people behaving more like a herd. Individuals creating art in any form, painting, music, dance or even aircraft building, even if it is done just to please one human, is just as important as any act for the greater good.

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  The first time I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull I thought it was stupid gibberish (because I was 17, the age where we were all a unappreciated genius). Later I understood that Bach’s point is that if every act is judged on the sole merit of its value to society, we will end up with the conformity of a flock of seagulls, complete with their compulsive need to peck non-conforming individuals to death, just to protect the uniformity. (It also took me an embarrassingly long time to get that the seagull was named after Johnny Livingston, one of the worlds greatest pilots ever.)

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Out there, many builders reading this are probably thinking :”I just wanted to build an engine and go flying, not change the world” Well if you stick with it and finish and fly, I can assure you that one world will change for the better…your own.-ww

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The paragraphs above are taken from a larger story I wrote last year. If you would like to read it, you can click on this link: Carl Sagan, Corvair Owner, Practical Philosopher, Individual.  -ww.