AVweb had a story yesterday about how the EAA was going to stand firm on their policy of not paying appearance fees to have specific aircraft attend the annual convention and fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This has become an issue because it appears that Jerry Yagen, the owner of the Mosquito recently (and impeccably) restored by Avspecs LTD in new Zealand, has said he won't bring the Mosquito (and his new-manufacture Me 262) without being paid to do so. Hmm, really? Normally I'd just hear this news and then let my opinion rattle around inside my head, but as a guy who has covered this Mosquito extensively in the last several months here on AirPigz, I decided I have something to say.
I'll start with the EAA. I have had my issues with the Experimental Aircraft Association over the years, (don't get me started, some of these issues are big ones to me) but in the end, I don't know of any other organization that has done so much for the true love of flying. I first joined in 1970 when I was 9 years old... I started scratch building an airplane on my own when I was a junior in high school and I've been to well over 30 Oshkosh events over the last 40+ years. The EAA and Oshkosh are good great for aviation, so I'm going to have to side with them in this issue with the Mosquito.
I'm going to assume that the AVweb story is accurate, and as such, I have a hard time wrapping my I-bust-my-butt-for-30grand-a-year head around the idea that Jerry Yagen (who has more cash wrapped up in the Merlins on that Mosquito than I have spent in my entire 51 years on Earth) can't see fit to spend just a little cash to do what warbird owners have been doing for years and years... pay to bring their airplane to Oshkosh so us meager little commoners could admire them. Please don't misunderstand, this isn't class envy on my part... I have no problem cheering the fact that Mr. Yagen has had the opportunity to generate the kind of wealth that allows him to own an incredibly large collection of extremely expensive and rare aircraft, but to demand to be paid to show one or two airplanes at the world's greatest aviation event is just a bit stinky to me.
I'll add that I have been also working my butt off the last four years in my spare time with AirPigz.com in an effort to bring the beauty and fascination of aviation to a younger generation. I understand the value of investing time and money in things that can have a positive impact on others. And, while it takes very little money to run this website, it does take a massive amount of time and energy on my part... and as many of you know, I still haven't figured out a way to generate any real income off the 25,000 plus people (and growing) that visit this website every month. It seems that if I was to use Jerry Yagen's approach, I'd just tell y'all pay up or I'm done. Well that's not how I operate. (and yes, it's very true that I did just over a week ago ask for some financial support for the my 1,000-hours-a-year work here on AirPigz. I raised $170, which brought the total income for the website in 2012 up to about $600)
My opinion on the Mosquito issue is in no way an attack on Jerry Yagen, but it is request for him to take another look at the principles (and financial realities) involved here and reconsider the value of spending the loose change it would take to put Avspecs' beautiful work on display at Oshkosh 2013 for the aviation world at large to enjoy and appreciate.