Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What the Hell is Wrong with EAA?

OK, let’s get it out in the open.  We all know the “Couldn’t move to Oshkosh” line was merely an excuse to replace the captain in order to head off a full blown mutiny.  But what happens after you make the Captain walk the plank?
People or groups with a desire to survive do an emergency status review of all policies and programs then begin bailing water as quickly as possible.  Not EAA.
This is the EAA display at the current NBAA Convention. 
Did someone not get the memo?  Does someone not understand the critical state of EAA at this time?  How does this happen?  It pains me to say this but it is clear that EAA still doesn’t get it.  If they did, the house would have been cleansed to the point a display like the one in these photos from the current NBAA Convention would never have seen the light of day.  It is a perfect example of all that is wrong with EAA.
Another unbelievable EAA display from the NBAA Convention.
The organization is out of touch, they do not know their market, and they clearly have no idea that the planes in these displays represent work to many pilots who would prefer to be out building the experimental of their dreams or flying a vintage biplane over a beautiful fall landscape.  What it shows is that EAA has more house cleaning to do.  I pray that Jack has it in him because it is obvious there are problems at all levels and there is much more to be done.  Good luck Jack.
As I sit here writing this and looking at these photos, I find myself  even more dismayed by what EAA did here.  The best thing the organization could do is to save them and have a ceremonial burning during Airventure 2013.  In fact, they could sell tickets to see which attendee gets to light them off.  The funds would likely keep the museum, which is a terrible drain on the organization, afloat for another year.


Mike said...

I believe a big part of the problem is the endless pursuit of growth. EAA captured probably 95% of the experimenters rather quickly, to continue their growth, the reached out to vintage,warbird, ultralights then spamcans. They had the majority of the aviation world as members. How do we grow from here? Didn't they sign up all Oshkosh attendees as "members" for a few years? Experimentalists are almost a nonexistent minority of the EAA membership. The organization must cater to the needs of its members to keep them... this means trucks/ bull riding/ human slingshots at airshow center to entertain the majority of their members with washed up bands and puppets in the theater in the woods (actually Dunham is an experimenter). Where will they grow next and what will the core of the membership be like in 5 years? How many pages of the magazine do you need to flip through to find the word experimental?

Rich Davidson said...
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Rich Davidson said...
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Rich Davidson said...

This comment is in response to a complaint I had on the Members4Members facebook page.
This is part 1:
So a friend asked me if I ever had anything good to say and then told me that the NBAA display had a Stearman in it. Yeah, I knew that. I also discussed it at length with several people, posted photos (I thought here but now I realize I did not) and stated that I was glad EAA was giving away a Stearman. As for saying things that are nice, if my goal was to make everyone warm and fuzzy, I would have gone to the “EAA Fills Me Up with Sunshine” facebook page. Well, I would have if there was such a page. Instead, there are pages like these where people complain then either do not show up to board meetings or when they do they want a pothole filled or locks for their bikes when they are at the showers. (Yes I know one or two of you were at the board meetings to fight for change but you know what I am talking about) It is for this reason I often feel sorry for groups like EAA. Everyone wants to complain, but nobody wants to do anything.

If you know me (my friend obviously not so well), and you pay attention, you would know I have written many things in EAA’s defense through the years. I even wrote one that defended Rod on one occasion; it’s true. Yet, like weather, everyone remembers the storms but not all the days the sun shone in between.

Rich Davidson said...

Part 2:
As for the Stearman on display, I did not think it was relevant. Banks give away toasters but I do not assume that makes them about toasters. I look at the message the bank puts in its material, I look at the bank’s record for the past ten years minimum, and I look at their bottom line.

As a marketing person, I know how people respond to messages. People are trained to respond to them and most do not know it. Put flat notes in a movie and people automatically perceive evil or something uncomfortable. You may not realize it but you do. The sound of a Stuka in full dive in a movie is one of the most annoying things to pilots because they know it is wrong yet most people have been programmed to know that as the sound of a plane crashing to Earth. That is why it is still used in movies despite the silliness of it. There is also the widely known effect of people perceiving anything in print, digital or on paper, as truth. Surely you all know this one. We even joke about it it is so prevalent. We know it yet we still fall for it. I mention these things only to point out that there is so much more to selling, or marketing, a product to people and among the most important are the materials you produce and the message you put in print. Stearman or no Stearman the message was wrong and perhaps I expected most people to understand that and now I know they do not.

When some of you began to question I didn’t give them enough time, I wondered, “How long ago did they decide on the Stearman?” EAA had time to get it there and on display. And when you questioned the time it would take for a new booth I let it slide and didn’t point out that EAA has in house printing that could easily make new displays on the fly. Surely if the Stearman was part of some grand new message and they had time for that then clearly they had time for their message.

Ultimately, the way I see it, I was being nice when I didn’t point out that a person who oversees the marketing department hired multiple family members after the firing of others, I didn’t go into detail about some of the arm-twisting that went on at EAA that bordered on evil when the threat of taking someone’s healthcare was handed out. No, I was being nice to hold out those and so many other things I have learned about the ugliness inside EAA because I wanted and still do want EAA to get its house in order. To save us time, am not going to go into the accounting side of things. But I think you get the point. The average person knows little of how bad it actually got inside and yet here I am wanting to get it fixed. A strong EAA is good for aviation and society and much is still to be done. The easiest way to way to move a boulder is to push once it is already moving.

Oh and one other thing, I believe Jack is a great person to lead the charge but it will also take him a while wade through all the BS that has been erected as CYA to so many people. It may not be my job to fix EAA but I am going to make sure that he, and others at the top, occasionally hear something more than “can you fix a pothole on Lindbergh”.

Steven W. Oxman said...

I have been a member of the EAA and the VAA for a number of years. I wish to continue to be a member of both. I have noticed the churns occurring at both the EAA and the VAA. I hope the present situation changes and that both of these organizations prosper in the future. I also love AirVenture (although I enjoy calling the event "Oshkosh"). I volunteered last year to VAA and EAA. I found volunteering for VAA not so easy. I found volunteering for EAA (camping registration) to be easy and fun (because of the bosses and the members I worked with). All organizations can experience bumps in the road, I hope VAA and EAA pass by these bumps and move on for a great 2013. Happy Holidays to all, to VAA, and to EAA.

Anonymous said...

I went to Oskosh in 2009 for my first and only visit. I'm not saying it was my last but I really was ticked off at the end by all the VIP crap. My feet were killing me, my pockets were empty from the spot of ground I paid Disneyland rates to sleep on and after all that I had to keep being passed by VIP's in their golf carts and "sorry the museum is closed again for a VIP dinner. I'm not a life member so I can subsidize a grand life for a VIP and whomever at EAA that gets such tickles from hob nobbing.

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