Fuel for the Fire

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one that sees the “big picture” the way I do. Recently, a fellow pilot in Arizona took the time to write about the escalating fuel prices and what this rise in energy costs is doing to the economy

Groceries are already going up in price here, it’s in small increments but if you think back to last year it’s clear many items are up 30% or more.

Ron, this fuel cost is going to change our country completely. I go through about 20 gallons of gas a week in my car. Not long ago that cost about $25, now it’s $60. Multiply that by 52 weeks a year and it’s now costing roughly $2000 more a year for one car. That’s about what my C310 insurance costs.My 100LL cost has doubled in the last 2 years, and flying is soon to become the private club of the seriously rich.

If you aren’t a multi-millionaire with a million coming in each year that adds up fast. I used to not even give it a second thought when I wanted to pull into a restaurant and buy a meal for me and my kids. Now I think 3 times before deciding. This gas price is pulling money out of areas that once were a routine part of my life and others. Everyone is going to suffer, the restaurant owners I used to visit 3 times a week aren’t going to see me but once every 2 weeks maybe. It just keeps being passed down the chain.

Hope springs eternal, let’s hope prices fall quickly before it wrecks this economy for years and changes a way of life we’ve known since the 1950’s.

Indeed. The fuel prices are really out of control. As I work in the transportation industry, there’s no choice but to pass the cost on to the customer. The Extra 300 we rented for $200 in the mid-late 90’s goes for $311 now. And unless you’re flying it solo, tack on another $55 an hour for the CFI. The Super Decathlon that was recently $130 or so is now $140, and it’s sure to go up again within days.

I wonder if the Chinese are paying through the nose like we are. Or the Europeans. If their gas was $8 a gallon a couple of years ago, does that mean they’re paying $12-15 a gallon now?

I couldn’t agree more about flying becoming a domain of the wealthy. It’s not just the gas prices or insurance. Landing fees are being instituted at more and more places. Santa Monica, for example. We’re totally priced out of airports like McCarran and San Francisco Int’l. And the airports that are cheap are either being closed (Rialto), are overcrowded (John Wayne), or are in such out of the way places that there’s no reason to go there (San Bernardino). The government is now openly discussing user fees, which would discourage pilots from using safety services.

I think that inflation is not only high, but rapidly accelerating. There was an article on CEO pay on CNN.com today which showed how the rich are getting richer. The top 10 CEOs have, over the past ten years, made something like $15,000,000,000. In case the zeros are making you dizzy, that’s fifteen billion dollars.

That’s not how much they’ve made for their companies, it’s how much they’ve been paid by their companies.

This I can at least understand, if not condone. Actually, I take that back. I don’t understand it. But the real estate mania leads me to believe that either a) the average Californian really can afford a $1 million home, or b) there’s something seriously out of whack.

Money aside, the usefulness of the general aviation system is being destroyed and no one seems particularly bothered by it. Except, perhaps, those of us who can’t do much about it. I’ve tried writing letters. A lot of them. I’ve commented on NPRMs, written to newspapers, legislators, and bureacrats. If I’m lucky, a pasty form letter will be my reward, and it will come 3-4 months after I’ve written, so whatever issue or vote was on the radar has long since vanished. You can almost hear the novice voice of the 4th string flunky who printed out this mealy form letter, which by the way doesn’t even address the issue on which I’ve written, but is so generic in nature as to cover anything related to the committee or panel on which he/she sits.

Sure, I like to fly. But it goes beyond that. We are rapidly catching up to the Europeans in socialization. And we’re adding our own pathetic twist in the form of homogenization. We all eat at the same chain restaurants, drive the same cars, shop at the same chain stores, and live in the same cookie cutter homes. You’re not a person anymore, you’re just a number.

This is no way to be. The last refuge of individuality and real character seems to be things like general aviation, which far too many people already see as the pervue of some rich white guys.

Sad to say, the price of things makes them a little more right as each day passes.

  5 comments for “Fuel for the Fire

  1. August 30, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    If their gas was $8 a gallon a couple of years ago, does that mean they’re paying $12-15 a gallon now?

    The Europeans pay more for gas due to gas taxes. In England (if I recall), taxes are set at a moving rate such that it keeps the price of gas constant. In other places, the difference is gas taxes and transportation costs. Since gas taxes stay constant, and transportation costs to go up somewhat, they are probably paying an extra $1 or $2 per gallon like it is here.

  2. Ron
    August 30, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    It seems that the gas is actually cheaper there than it is here. As you noted, however, the taxes are rather high:

    On average, 60 percent of the price European drivers pay at the pump goes to their governments in taxes.

    In Britain, the government takes 75 percent, and raises taxes by 5 percent above inflation every year (though it has forgone this year’s rise in view of rocketing oil prices, and the French government has promised tax rebates this year to taxi drivers, truckers, fishermen, and others who depend heavily on gasoline.) On August 8, for example, the price of gas in the US, without taxes, would be $2.17, instead of $2.56; in Britain, it would be $1.97, instead of $6.06.

  3. John Williams
    October 2, 2005 at 4:54 am

    Feel sorry for us private pilots in the UK where av gas is $9.12/US Gallon and you think you have problems

  4. Greg
    October 19, 2005 at 6:40 am

    You’re right. One person can’t make a difference. That’s why I am one of thousands of other pilots who are members of AOPA. We give them money and Phil fights for our aviation interests.

  5. Johnny
    October 26, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    All the while, Exxon Mobil is recording record profits, while we pay to secure thier interests abroad.

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