2003 Summary of where the pilots come from 

                   Thanks to aid and patience form Bill Bolosky and Steve Roti, I got the data that

   shows  where hang gliding pilots come from and gives indication of what needs to be done

   to  get and maintain a stable member base.

            The single most glaring fact is that there are seventeen states without hang gliding

   instruction formally available. There are instructors in 34 states which includes Puerto Rico.

   In seven of those states there is only one instructor. In ten other states, there are two or

   three instructors. In nine fairly large states, there are four instructors. 


          Of the current membership, nearly twenty percent (over 1100) pilots show no H-1 or

   H-2 rating which implies that many were self taught. Fifty percent of the current membership

   that received H-1 ratings (more than 3700), got their ratings from instructors who had eighteen

  or fewer ratings to their credit. Twenty five percent of the current membership comes from

    instructors with eight or less.


        Roughly the same distribution holds for pilots who received H-2 ratings but the total of

   those in the membership is over 4700. Those numbers will probably change with a greater

   percentage coming from more high volume instructors as we lose more small schools and

  part time instructors. This would not necessarily be bad for hang gliding if the membership

   numbers represented pilots who were here to stay. In the past, the bulk of the USHGA

   long-term membership originated from the many smaller schools and low volume instructors.  

            It would be unfair to look simply at the percentage of pilots that an instructor rates

   that  remain  active as an indicator or anything, as the larger the school, the less "selective"

   they  can be  about who they teach. Volume becomes important for survival. The transient

   membership from a two or three year pilot make the USHGA books look good but really, the

   thing needed for long term survival is pilots who will put up with all the inconvenience

   involved with hang gliding   and fly for years until they can't remember their name.  

          The increased popularity and production of aerotow operations cannot be accurately

   evaluated yet in terms of what percentage of ratings issued that remain active. Not enough 

   years to see a real picture.  The overall improvement in hang gliding exposure from the

   aerotow flight parks will at the very least help people learn about hang gliding and the easier

   path into the  air will now bring people into hang gliding that particularly in this instant

   gratification  world, would  not otherwise have considered flying. The additional benefits

   of being able to  get people with  physical disabilities into the air will help the cause if not by

   numbers, then by

   example. Of course,  how many people want to run an aerotow operation? How many

   places  can you do it? 

         Somebody offered to buy us a tug if we would start an operation. We declined. Not our 

   type of thing. It is probably an economic mistake but -----------.

  Any Comments?
Write us