- Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:53 am
The whole text here
It is an intresting topic and I have had many discussions with fellow pilots about the ever decreasing numbers of new people in the sport.
It is definatelly a good idea to send people for a tandem flight, even for a 1 or 2 day trial course. Just make sure you send them to a proffessional instructor that makes a living out of it. Even if only one of 30 or 40 decide to get into the sport, you are at least providing an income for a valuable resource in our sport (the instructor that is).
If, on the other hand, the instructor is not a proffessional and is not making any real money out of it (me for example) then it might be better to let the curious find out themselves what kind of a sport this is, the level of commitment it requires, the time it takes to start flying "like those cool guys up there" and let them come in contact with the poor soul that is the instructor themselves. Although I am a new instructor, I am already tired of people taking up my limited instruction time only to discover in grave dissapointment that after one week on the training hill they are still not allowed to fly cloudbase on a badass topless.
I live in Sweden where all the instructors are taking time out of their proffessional and family lives to go out and teach. None of us makes any real profit out of instructing, we are happy if we break even. The students we want to have are the ones that will continue flying. If this means just a couple of students then that is just perfect. Why have ten students take up your time only to be left with one or two by the end of the season? It is a waste of my precious time as far as am concerned. It is a waste of the commited students time also.
Promotion? There are hundreds of films on the net - just from Sweden, not talking about the thousands upon thousands from other countries. We take part in fly-ins. We fly mosquito along crowded beaches. We have been featured on TV and newspapers.
Reach us? Anybody within a 10 km range of a working computer can easily find our national association website with listing of all local clubs and their websites, our videos and our contact details. Full details of all available courses in the whole coutry are also available on the association homepage. Does that wealth of information lead to more interest? No, it just means that we don't get contacted with questions about the sport very often - almost everything in answered on the website.
This year we have a particularly discouraging FAQ describing the sport as it is: expensive, time consuming, hard to get into, does not combined nicely with other expensive & time consuming hobbies. In that way we hope to reduce even more the amount of students who enroll for training only to leave after the end of the basic training.
I don't think that young people today are couch potatoes whereas young people thirty years ago were tough and commited and more willing to jump off mountains. In my opinion the good times that our sport experienced back then were a bubble.
Paragliding has also had it's days of glory and is now seeing the number of active pilots dwindle - the paragliding bubble is leaking air. Paragliding is easier, more accessible and more practical than HG but people in the sport stop flying and complain about lack of free time, expenses, distance to flying sites etc etc. Sounds familiar?
I also don't think distance to flying sites is much of an issue. I have invested in a mosquito so that I can fly locally when time doesn't allow for longer drives to free flying sites. An easy solution for increasing your flying hours. You fly with the motor and keep yourself current, then when the opportunity arises you make that full-day trip and free-fly to your heart's content.
Finally I don't think money is much of an issue either. If somebody is complaining about the cost of HG then you can be sure that their money is needed somewhere else: their ill-afforded big house, their pimped car, their consumption of stuff/s***, their social lives, other expensive hobbies and so on. And it is probably a good sign that this person is going to quit HG pretty soon. From people with low income I have heard that as soon as they get some money they'll be getting into the sport but I have not really heard them complaining about the cost of HG.
I think we just have to accept the fact that most people are just not ready to put so much effort into a hard sport that requires a lot of commitment, a crazy desire to want to be a hangglider pilot (not just any pilot) and an appreciation of flying in this way, with no control sticks, no windshields and no mechanical landing gear. I reckon the amount of new people getting into & staying in the sport is not going to increase, despite the fact that training is better and safer, wings are easier to fly and information plentiful and readily available.
I am personally planning to make sure that I only come out and instruct those few students that I could not be discouraged in any possible way.
Last edited by combat.is.hell on Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:59 am, edited 1 time in total.