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Mon, Oct 17, 2022

Barnstorming: A Long Time Coming – The eSportPlane Resource Guide (eSPRG)

News/Analysis/Commentary By ANN CEO/Editor-In-Chief, Jim Campbell

“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.” -- Mark Twain

For the longest time, we been talking about a project that has roots going back nearly 30 years.

I speak of the SportPlane Resource Guide. We did a number of editions of the SPRG over the years, and the last version of the book weighed nearly 6 pounds and was 1100 pages. Tens of thousands of those books got into circulation, and all around the world we were pleased to hear (over the course of many years), that the SportPlane Resource Guide was helping people maintain or find their way back into aviation in an affordable manner.

And that's all we really wanted to do… To help rebuild aviation, one flyer, one plane, at a time.

Okay… Let's be real – the print version of this thing turned into quite the undertaking.

In the prior print-book iteration of the SPRG each load of 5000 books comprised an entire semi-trailer truck-load and totally filled a three-car garage from floor-to-ceiling… And then some. And we did this over and over again. Of particular note, were the long-suffering folks at our local post office, who would deal with our showing up each day with several hundred boxes at a time, as we sent books to the folks that ordered them all over the world. It was a brutal process, and in no uncertain terms it is now my solemn oath to never unload a semi-truck again.

Worse than that, the old print-book way of doing things was quite frustrating… In that the minute the book was printed, it was outdated. So many things changed, so quickly, in  this industry that within a month or two of receiving each new edition of the book, we would have seen or compiled dozens of updates or additions.

That’s the old madness… It's time to do things totally differently.

We are finally, and fully, involved in building the massively updated version of the SportPlane Resource Guide… And in light of the way things are done these days, it will be totally digital—but that’s not all.

Digital offers us some amazing new possibilities. First, the book will never be out of date for long, as corrections are simply a matter of correcting the digital file and publishing it once again. We can do that daily, if need be. Further, we have spent the last few years watching various digital publishing platforms mature in complexity, and capability, to the point now where we’re fairly satisfied that all the things that we want to do with multimedia while building a truly useful tool for the sport aviation community, is now possible.

The number of new tools at our disposal in what we will now call the eSPRG is extraordinary… I can't even express to you how impressed I am the more we get into this. But the exciting part is this… We are going to present to you a SportPlane Resource Guide that we could have only dreamed of but a few years ago and what we will present in the coming year should be one of the most outstanding resources anybody with the interest in sport aviation cannot live without. And finally… In order to get updates and in order to stay abreast of all the new data that we will be presenting, sometimes on a daily basis, our readers will be able to register and subscribe to receive the updates. This allows us to build and serve the community in a way that print books would not allow… And best of all, we will know who you are (and keep that info private), so that we will be able to offer you information on a regular basis, and keep you abreast of all the changes coming to the sport aviation community…

And over the next few years I assure you that changes are going to be fast and furious.

MOSAIC, anyone?

Okay… Here's the plan. Previous editions of the SportPlane Resource Guide required a minimum of a year to complete. The eSPRG will be no different. As a matter of fact, it may take as much as two years to not only do all that we envision, but to take advantage of all the assets this new medium will allow us. Where we left off  with the print book series, we were at 1100 pages with over 700 aircraft in the last printed SportPlane Resource Guide. We now see the necessity to catalog upwards of a thousand aircraft -- And push as many as 2000 pages, to explain and support it all, as we complete the foundation of this work.

The SportPlane Resource Guide has a number of facets…

There are dozens of how-to chapters that explain the technologies, the regulations, and the rudiments of dozens of different types of flying machines, and how to safely own and operate the. There will be massive aircraft directories, broken down by type, with solid descriptions, pictures, spec sheets -- and where we have the knowledge to do so, we will report on the quality of the aircraft, their companies, and how well they fulfill the commitment they have made to their customer base.

The main thing that the SportPlane Resource Guide did, in the past, was provide credibility in the midst of a lot of smoke and mirrors… Our report cards, our credible commentary, our expert analysis… were the things that made the SportPlane Resource Guide not only unique, but of inestimable value to the person(s) looking to spend a huge chunk of their life and livelihood and invest it into a sport aircraft.

As a result, when we found a good airplane, and could say so; it gave people positive guidance. And when we saw companies or aircraft that didn't live up to expectations, we did something truly unique in this industry, and we said so. We took a whole lot of crap for it, but we did it with a clear conscience… And thousands of you, over the years, expressed your appreciation for the "No-BS" appraisals and ‘Take-No-Prisoners’ attitude we brought to it all.

Following nearly 2 dozen types of aircraft directories and evaluation pages, there will be a number of supplementary directories documenting the engines, avionics, instruments, props, and other accessories that a sport aviator needs to consider.

And finally; we will compile appendices that provide copies of important regs and documents, listings of organizations, chapters, clubs, schools, and the like. All manner of knowledge building information will be included – all in one place. And, of course, we will do our best to keep it up-to-date… Day by day.

Let's get back to the "No-BS" issue.

This is particularly critical right now… The new digital age has given rise to a number of very attractive, even flamboyant, attempts in media that attempt influence folks who are trying to get educated on aviation. Many of the so-called "influencers" do not have the expertise, or in some cases even the ethics, to provide the honest appraisals that they claim to offer… And in many cases, we have had reports that some of these influencers are getting paid or otherwise compensated for positive reviews (Pay to Play…) about aircraft that they feature in audio, written, or video features. We've seen some really atrocious stuff… Presenters parroting what a salesperson tells them, nearly Word for Word… Presenters who are not even licensed the fly the aircraft that they are "evaluating" and in one case we watched one of these clowns do it from a backseat… We see massive compilations of the 10 best of this and the 10 best of that, using old B-Roll video (often without permission) that is as old as some of the presenters, making all kinds of pronouncements about the capabilities and qualities of aircraft that in many cases are no longer available -- and in even many more cases, where the presenter has never had the chance to set foot in it, fly it, or otherwise properly evaluate the aircraft.

Test flights and Eval flights should be done by accomplished aviators with the ability to describe and document their findings, present them in an expert, credible manner along with substantiating and supporting documentation -- And without any overt financial incentive.

That is one of the primary jobs of the SportPlane Resource Guide, and we promise that whatever evaluations we are able to present will be done strictly with the utmost in honesty, credibility, expertise, and your best interests at heart. And the wonderful thing about all this in this day and age, is the fact that the digital capabilities of the eSPRG will be able to allow us to present written, audio,  video, and photographic evidence of everything on which we opine. "No BS" indeed.

Don't get me wrong… This is a massive undertaking… Actually, I think it is likely to be the biggest project I've ever undertaken, and the more I get into it, the more complex it becomes… But in a really good way. We are learning so much about new ways to present extraordinary information and do so in a thoroughly understandable and entertaining manner, so we’re tremendously excited about how this book will change the course of sport aviation for so many.

We have a rough schedule for what we hope to do over the next year…

We will publish the first 200 or so pages of the SportPlane Resource Guide shortly after the beginning of 2023 and we will invite you to critique the hell out of them as we make plan to fill out the rest of the work.

We plan to have approximately 500 pages researched, documented, compiled, and published by the end of March. And thereafter to keep up with the plan we have in place right now, we hope to have somewhere near 1000 pages done by Oshkosh. Thereafter, we will add at least 100 pages, each month or so, until we get to some sort of completion…

Keep in mind that "no plan survives contact with reality."

We are well aware of this, but it's also one of the reasons why we did not dive into this complex undertaking until most recently. We wanted to do this right. And we wanted it to serve as a pivotal resource long into the future… And, let me tell you, the foundation we’re building now is as impressive as anything we've ever attempted.

After Oshkosh 2023 we will continue filling out the book and I fully expect it to take somewhere between a year and 1/2 to two years before we can call this thing "done." Every day, from then on, will reflect our commitment to update, offer new content, and aid the Sport Aviation community as much as we know how to do. And that's as it should be… There is a lot of information to be researched, digested, properly documented, and published – again utilizing extraordinary tools of multimedia, social media, and much more.

This is, admittedly, a costly process. So… We will open the SportPlane Resource Guide to initial sales on the first of the year. Initial book sales will include the right to utilize the SportPlane Resource Guide, along with either a year or two of updates (depending on what you purchase upfront). Since the book will need a few months to get to a point of reasonable completion, we will not start the clock, so to speak, on any subscriptions until we get to a thousand pages. Once we get there, the clock will start on the purchased and subscribed update.… Again, but only after reaching a proper milestone.

We have not made a final decision yet on pricing for the book. Nor have we settled on the update subscription pricing model. Again, we expect to update the book several times per week, even daily if required, and along with all this, there will be regular newsletters and news updates that will be available to our subscribers throughout the length of their subscription. These newsletters will be hosted on the same platform as the book, and will provide advance notice of updates, news, flight tests, and other insights and should be fairly compelling additional benefits to this immense bag of tricks.

Further the eSPRG will be portable. It will be accessible by mobile device. It is accessible by PC. And considerable portions of it will be available for download, as well.

We still have a lot to learn here… The more we dive into this, the more intriguing this project becomes. But; as we make this available to you, were going to ask for your insight, commentary, critiques, and recommendations for updates, changes, and additions to the work. If you see an airplane we haven't documented yet… Tell us. The same thing for an engine or other accessories. If you feel there is a how-to chapter about a technique, or technology, that we haven’t covered adequately, tell us again. In other words, we really want this to reflect what you really need… But the only way we’re really going to understand what that is, is when you tell us.

Okay… Enough of this for now; there will be a lot to say as we go forward. We have some amazing people helping me with this, and they’re is dedicated to this project as I am… And I couldn't be happier with the kind of folks that we have contributing to this effort. Over the coming weeks and months we’ll tell you more about that, we will start showing you parts of the book, features that are available, and acquaint you, as best as possible, with what we have in mind.

We have high expectations for this… As I noted earlier, tens of thousands of people read and bought the SportPlane Resource Guide in its previous iterations. We heard from thousands about how this book affected their purchasing decisions, their desire to become a part of, or return to, the sport aviation community. And most of all, our ‘no prisoners’ attitude was cited hundreds of times by people who were properly educated about issues that could have affected their enjoyment, safety, and knowledge of the industry. And we promise you, that the eSPRG will be all that, and more, and geared to building a brighter future for the sport aviation community…

Again, one flyer, one plane, at a time. Safely. Honestly. Credibly. Professionally.

Whew… I have work to do…



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