Posted by Mary Jones on Aug 30, 2018
Sue Panek introduced Ken Strmiska, vice president of philanthropy and donor stewardship at EAA, as the day's speaker. Ken is a commercial pilot with a multi-engine rating. He's been with EAA since 2017.
 
Ken Strmiska
 
Ken noted that EAA AirVenture is becoming a place for the latest technology developments to be unveiled. He specifically referenced BlackFly, a personal transportation vehicle a la the Jetsons that was on display at the fly-in. The electric-powered vehicle is equipped with 8 rotary propeller blades and can continue to fly even after losing 3 of its motors.  It currently has a range of 25 miles before the motor's batteries must be recharged.  he recalled that last year Jeff Bezos displayed Amazon's Blue Origin rocket at AirVenture.
 
On a serious note, Ken observed that EAA is concerned because aviation has a problem. It's estimated the industry will need 117,000 new pilots in the next 20 years to serve as airline and corporate pilots. In addition the industry will need some 118,000 mechanics to service airplanes, and 154,000 people to crew public transportation aircraft (airliners).  Currently airline pilots are required to retire at age 65 (up from age 60 a few years back). 
 
Ken said that the days of low pay for airline pilots are over, with airline pilots typically making $50,000-$60,000/year and making captain on regional airlines in about 3 years.
 
In addition to the needs of the airline industry, it's estimated that some 5,000 aerospace engineers will be needed in the next several years.
 
On a positive note, Ken said that EAA membership is at an all-time high of 230,000 members, but that 10,000-12,000 members die each year as the association's membership has an older population. Of those members, 20% have built an airplane .. recalling that Paul Poberezny founded the organization in 1953 to support the right of people to build their own aircraft. It's estimated that by the year 2030, 1/3 of the general aviation fleet will be homebuilt aircraft.  The average cost of completing a homebuilt aircraft  can range from $75,000 to $100,000, depending upon its complexity versus $600,000 for a new, four-place Cessna 172.
 
Ken then explained EAA's current primary goals as an association:
1. Protect the industry from unwise regulations. He gave the example of the recent effort to privatize the national airspace system (air traffic controllers), which EAA and many other aviation organizations opposed.  He noted that the national airspace system is a public asset that belongs to all citizens and should be managed by the government for the people, not by the airlines as was essentially proposed. 
 
2.  Keep public airports open. Again, having public airports available in the airspace system is important for freedom of movement of citizens. Currently, about 1 public airport is lost every month, often to expansion of cities as the airport land is more valuable for other uses.
 
3. Provide services to its members, such as educational training.  For example, loss of control has been identified as one of the major causes of private aircraft accidents, and EAA is leading an effort to understand human factor issues to reduce those kinds of accidents.
 
4. Promote aviation. He said that's what EAA AirVenture is all about ... promoting interest in aviation. This year some 600,000 people attended AirVenture, with 10,000 to 12,000 aircraft coming into the area and 50,000 campers nearly doubling the size of the city of Oshkosh. He noted that KidVenture hosted some 25,000 youngsters this year, learning about aviation in various ways. 
 
Ken also noted that EAA produces a monthly world-class aviation publication, EAA Sport Aviation, which is sent to members throughout the world.  He also said EAA's 800 chapters around the country/world offer a "front door" opportunity to invite people to participate in aviation.