John Roake, Chairman of the IGC Membership Subcommittee, has submitted his report on the development of gliding members worldwide up to the end of 2004.
In New Zealand, the average age of a glider pilot is now 52.3; ten years ago it was 45.6. If this is indicative of a worldwide trend, then our sport has serious problems. We (New Zealand) are not attracting youth to the sport and I suspect that most countries are experiencing the exact same situation. We are now looking at ways and means of make gliding more accessible to teenagers, and it may well be that we will have find subsidising funds for youth participation and involvement.
Our sport has two basic problems - the two same problems that have been around for 50 years. Gross time wastage and costs. Competition from other sports in today’s world is intense and our youth are too impatient to sit around and wait 2/3 hours for their turn to fly. Club’s, world wide, have to get more efficient, and more smarter if they are to survive. In my country, we have a trend of smaller clubs closing down or amalgamating with dedicated enthusiasts now starting to go to commercial organisations to complete their training in days, not months as it has been taking with club organisations.
During the next 12 months, I will dedicate more time to completing a world survey on time to solo, age of pilots, clubs closing down/starting up, so we can be more informed on the world picture. Next year’s IGC meeting should be a “membership congress” so that the problems and solutions can be fully explored. A full day not an hour or two should be set aside for this purpose and those in involved in each contries administration invited to attend, the debate not just involving the same delegates IGC sees every year.
With delegates help the review figures I will be seeking will be available by late November and not just before the meeting.
The following notes should be read in association with the membership table. A determined effort has been made to achieve accurate as possible figures. Further new data suppled this year has again allowed me to correct errors in previous years.
ARGENTINA: A small increase in both of the last two years..
AUSTRALIA: A small increase, not enough to suggest they have arrested their major decreases since 1993.
AUSTRIA: Completely stable no increase/no decrease over the last year.
BELGIUM: Could get no response from their delegate. Applied the international average to their previous year’s figures.
BRAZIL: A concerted effort made to get their membership figures, but without success.
BULGARIA: A concerted effort made to get their membership figures, but without success.
CANADA: Last year I wrote, “A substantial drop in flying membership, their lowest level in 20 years” The trend continues in 2004.
CHINA: A surprisingly small number of pilots - Down in 2004.
CROATIA: Contact achieved with their delegate for the first time.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Stable membership with a small increase over the previous year.
DENMARK: Stable membership with a small decrease over the previous year.
FINLAND: A 2% drop over the previous year.
GERMANY: The world largest soaring country. A small but continuing drop in membership - year after year since 1992. Germany’s membership loss over 12 years amounts to 9.4%
GREECE: No response from delegate - Used previous years membership figures.
HUNGARY: Accuracy in membership hard to achieve. Delegates estimate.
ICELAND: Two clubs only. Maintaining membership numbers.
IRELAND: Small increase on last year. Up 6%.
ISRAEL: No change.
ITALY: Major drop in membership 2004. Down 17.84%.
JAPAN: Remains stable - no change
KENYA: One club (commercial operation) minor change
KOREA: Small numbers, stable.
LATVIA: No response from delegate.
LUXEMBURG: Down 28.57% on 2003.
LITHUANIA: Another small increase – Have achieved increases every year since 1998.
NETHERLANDS: Up 8.47%.
NEW ZEALAND: Down 2.8% Disappointing as the country works very hard at lifting membership.
NORWAY: The reversal of inhibiting legislation shows figures around the 1999 – 2003 level being maintained.
PAKISTAN: A small decrease.
POLAND: Once again no response from their delegate and no response from the Polish Aero Club. – Used international average based on their earlier years report.
RUSSIA: No change.
SERBIA/MONTENEGRO: Small decrease (9%).
SLOVAK REPUBLIC: Reasonably stable membership. Small decrease
SLOVENIA: Major unexplained drop in membership. Down 36.7%
SOUTH AFRICA: Decrease of 5.8%. Above the international average..
SPAIN: Very stable – No change.
SWEDEN: Down 4.6%. Had a major increase the previous year.
SWITZERLAND: After an almost continuous downturn in membership since 1992 their membership decline has been arrested with an increase for 2004 of 9.85%
UNITED KINGDOM: A drop of 99 members over the past year (1.18%).
U.S.A.: There has always been difficulty attempting to get factual figures for the USA. Soaring pilots do not have to be a member of the SSA. SSA represents less than 50% of soaring pilots in the U.S.A. FAA have issued a new summary of licensed glider pilots which has resulted in a major change of figures over the past 10 years.
TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND