Soaring Fuel Costs Ground Recreational Pilots

By: AP
By: AP

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Soaring aviation fuel costs are grounding many pilots from recreational flying, creating an economic drag on the nation's general aviation industry.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says a survey of its members found that 72 percent of them reported they flew less in
the past year. About 61 percent of them blame rising fuel prices
for their decrease in flying.

An aircraft mechanic at Hawker Beechcraft in Wichita says he's flown his vintage 1946 Taylorcraft only 15 hours this year, far below 50 hours he normally would have flown it by this late in the year.

The average cost of aviation gas nationwide increased 24 percent in the past year, from $4.62 a gallon in July 2007 to $5.72 a gallon today.

Makers of small planes are feeling the pinch. Shipments of piston-powered aircraft plummeted by 28 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. That compares to shipments of business jets which shot up nearly 41 percent.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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