psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:50 pm

Following up on some of the comments in this thread, Airliners International 2014 (by crownvic Jul 6 2014 in Aviation Hobby) , I put together some thoughts on the shortcomings of the World Airline Historical Society and their annual Airliners International conventions. I have attended and enjoyed many of the AI and regional shows over the years but have regrettably become convinced that the WAHS needs an infusion of new thinking and new business practices before it fades into obscurity. It would be helpful to get feedback on the thoughts listed below.

I’ve belonged to WAHS since 1981, when it was the only outlet for the airliner enthusiast. Kalmbach’s short-lived Airliners International magazine folded in 1974 and Airliners and Airways were years in the future. As the airliner enthusiast community has grown, however, WAHS has declined to where it is down to just over 300 members. There are several shortcomings with the current way WAHS operates. Each of these issues is related to the decline of WAHS membership and I will discuss them in turn.

WAHS Website and the digital “Capitan’s Log”

First of all, the WAHS website needs to have a real "members only" page. Once a member signs in with a username/password combination, they should be presented with links to every available digital Captains Log, an archive of board meeting minutes and the “flight exchange” listings. Members should not have to fill out that stupid questionnaire every time they want to download an issue, and the current site only has 2 issues to choose from. There should be an archive to get electronic versions of prior issues. Giving members this kind of online access would add value to the membership at little cost.

And if WAHS really wants to reduce printing and mailing costs, they should consider offering a reduced rate membership option for members who agree to only get the electronic issue of the Log. The National Railway Historical Society-Central Coast Chapter's dues are cut in half if you agree to forgo the printed newsletter and get the online version instead; many members do this. I also question if giving a free download to non-members is the way to go, perhaps they should just post some sample pages to show what the publication looks like.

WAHS needs to find a new printer. Currently, if a member wants a printed copy of the full-color Log, they must pay a total of $80 for four issues. For half that amount, I can get four printed issues of SP Trainline, the journal of the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society which is printed on high quality glossy paper with color photos as appropriate. (Obviously older historical photos are in b&w.) Order one for yourself at http://www.sphtsstore.org/servlet/the-375/Trainline-Issue-115/Detail and see why I'd rather get this instead of a printed Captain's Log.

Adopting a poor “dba” name for WAHS

I recently read the WAHS board meeting minutes from the LAX convention (since removed from website) which contains interesting tidbits such as "Membership numbers are decreasing which will be straining our operating budget" and "As of July 7, 2014, WAHS had 335 current members of which 57 are non-dues paying Life Members." Unfortunately, as membership declined, WAHS got side tracked and adopted the ill-advised dba name of “Airliners International Association.” The rationale for doing this was to somehow attract more new members to WAHS. The fact that membership continues to decline reinforces my long-term contention that going off on a tangent and adopting this ill-advised dba name was beyond a waste of time. In fact, it was actually counterproductive by causing the board to “take their eye off the ball” and not address the real reason membership is dropping off, which is an exclusive emphasis on collecting at the expense of being a true “historical society” as discussed below.

I’ve been around long enough to recall the discussion decades ago to adopt the name WAHS to replace founder Paul Collins’ original “World Airline Hobby Club” name. I supported this, feeling that the WAHS name would result in the organization being taken more seriously by other aviation historians and the general public. In contrast, “AIA” is a stupid and counterproductive name. You have to be in the “in-crowd” to know what “Airliners International” is. Exactly how is that supposed to attract new blood? On the other hand, “World Airline Historical Society” lets people know that the group is somewhat related to airline history, at least in theory.

Airliners International business model

AI 2011 at PDX was the first AI that I have attended since 2004 and I couldn’t help noticing the drop off in the number of vendor tables during the intervening 7 years. Although external factors like the growth of online auctions are involved, much of this has to do with the way the show is presented each year. Specifically, I’ve felt for at least 15 years that AI needs to change from a Friday/Saturday schedule to a Saturday/Sunday schedule in order to maximize exposure to the general public.

Stubbornly sticking to a Friday/Saturday schedule sends a message that AI is run for the in-crowd of die-hard collectors and that the accommodating the general public is a secondary concern. A few years back, I was told of a family that saw a Saturday local news item about AI, only to be disappointed to show up the following day to be told the show is over. And the organizers of the Newark show in 2010 had a huge publicity coup because Robert Hager was broadcasting live from the show on Saturday morning, but locals who saw his reports had only an hour or two to get there before the show closed. If the show had run until Sunday afternoon, more locals would have attended. This squanders any publicity they get and alienates potential visitors.

AI 1999 in STL was an example of a show where the organizers really dropped the ball on local promotion. After a dead Friday with only the regulars, I was hoping for strong local turnout Saturday so I could sell Airways magazine (to which all the regulars subscribe). Unfortunately, Saturday was as dead as Friday with no locals.

I brought this up at a business meeting at the time, but nobody cared. “We’ve always done it this way” and “people want to have Sunday as a travel day” were objections to my proposal to try a Saturday/Sunday show. It’s too bad AI/WAHS refuses to consider changing this practice, doing so would make the show more attractive to new people.

What is the purpose of WAHS?

WAHS never outgrew its “Hobby Club” origins. Except for one brief article in each Captain’s Log, WAHS focuses exclusively on collecting. The last two issues have done away with the history article altogether and exclusively focus on collecting. All of the serious airline memorabilia collectors are already aware of WAHS but there is little incentive for non-collectors to join. And there is a big disconnect between Captain’s Log editorials about a need to appeal to new members and the refusal to consider changes to the way the group does business.

An exclusive emphasis on collecting limits the appeal of WAHS. In the past 25 years, other outlets catering to airline enthusiasts have grown and prospered while WAHS membership declined. First we had the growth of airline hobby magazines such as Airliners, Airways and Airliner World in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Then, as the internet became popular, we saw the rise of airchive.com, airliners.net, jetphotos.net, flickr, wikepedia and countless other outlets for airliner aficionados to obtain information. Hard-core collectors are a small subset of the large and growing group of airliner enthusiasts.

And despite the fact that the Captain’s Log emphasizes collecting, it misses/ignores trends therein. For example, as airlines have cut back on distributing collectible promotional items, many collectors have shifted to other priorities such as the scale diecast metal airliner replicas made by GeminiJets and others. When you visit an airliner show, these little models are all over the place, but they are not discussed in the Log. What good is a collecting magazine that ignores trends in its area of expertise? If you rely only on the Captain’s Log for news of airline collectibles, you’d miss out on the diecast model craze.

This is just one long-term member’s perspective on this organization’s decline, offered in hopes of initiating a discussion to provide some helpful suggestions to get WAHS focused on evolving into a true historical society. If readers would like to share any thoughts with the WAHS board, their contact information is here: http://www.wahsonline.com/members_only.php
 
WA707atMSP
Posts: 1608
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:16 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Wed Jan 14, 2015 8:40 pm

I agree with your views 100%.

I feel current management has been very slow to accept just how much the hobby has changed since the WAHS' glory years twenty years ago, and has made only minimal effort to market the hobby and draw new collectors in.

Your comments about switching to Saturday / Sunday are dead on. Another benefit switching to Saturday / Sunday would have is that switching to Saturday / Sunday would mean people would return home on Monday, when flights are emptier than on Sunday - a big benefit to airline employees trying to non rev.

For me, the three reasons I came to the convention were (1) to buy from the vendors, (2) to see my friends, and (3) to participate in the special events arranged by the convention organizers, like (a) getting a tour of Air Force Two at the DCA show in 1993, (b) the Chalk's seaplane flight at the MIA show in 2001, and (c) meeting Robert Hagar at the EWR show in 2010.

Ebay has killed off reason (1), the convention organizers in recent years have not come up with any "must do" experiences, and many of my friends have passed away or stopped coming to the shows.

The 2011 PDX show was the most recent show I've attended. Unfortunately, I have a limited amount of free time and discretionary income, so I think it's unlikely I will come to the convention again unless the organizers come up with a special event as part of the show that's really interesting.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:13 pm

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 1):

I feel current management has been very slow to accept just how much the hobby has changed since the WAHS' glory years twenty years ago, and has made only minimal effort to market the hobby and draw new collectors in.

You're right, they have, which is unfortunate. But as I see it, the problem is bigger than that. They need to expand the reach of WAHS beyond hard-core collectors. A "historical society" needs to focus on history. Collecting is part of this, but only a part. AAHS publishes a journal that contains actual historical articles, why can't WAHS do the same?

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 1):
Another benefit switching to Saturday / Sunday would have is that switching to Saturday / Sunday would mean people would return home on Monday, when flights are emptier than on Sunday - a big benefit to airline employees trying to non rev.

Good point, I wonder why that has never come up, given all of the airline employees at attend AI shows.

Is non-revving a good deal for employees anymore? I know load factors are up and traveling standby is harder than before.

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 1):
I think it's unlikely I will come to the convention again unless the organizers come up with a special event as part of the show that's really interesting.

I know how you feel. For me, geographic proximity is also a factor. I was going to hit the LAX show last summer for reason #2 but a family emergency got in the way. The ATL should sounds interesting but it's a bit of a haul for me. For the reasons you state above, I've lost interest in going to the AI shows if it involves traveling a distance.
 
airways1
Posts: 536
Joined: Mon Jul 19, 1999 3:05 am

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Sun Feb 08, 2015 1:20 pm

I've never been a member of WAHS, but I do know some members.

If the organisation was started by hobbyists for hobbyists, then what reason is there to believe that the organisation should be anything other than for hobbyists, save for its name?

I feel that the internet has really superseded the need for such an organisation anyway, be it focused on collecting, or more generally on aviation history.

The organisation must have been an invaluable hub between disparate collectors worldwide, who would have had little way to get to know each other otherwise. In fact, I know a few collectors, particularly of timetables, and it astonishes me how they managed to get to know each other, and trade with each other on the scale that they did, before the internet.

Now with the internet, you can find other collectors just be searching. However, with the appearance of eBay, good old-fashioned trading seems to be a thing of the past, when for sellers, a much better return can usually be garnered off eBay, and for buyers, eBay provides a much wider selection of rarities than you could possibly hope to find off any individual seller.

And as for the historical aspect, well, again, with Wikipedia and the like, and the convenience, speed and accessibility of the internet in general, what place is there for any offline society?

I have nothing against WAHS, but to me, it seems superfluous in this day and age.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Mon Feb 09, 2015 4:35 am

Quoting airways1 (Reply 3):
If the organisation was started by hobbyists for hobbyists, then what reason is there to believe that the organisation should be anything other than for hobbyists, save for its name?

There is no reason to believe that it should be.

The issue is what type of hobbyist organization it is.

A true "historical society" actually publishes articles of historical interest. A good case in point is the Southern Pacific Historical & Technical Society http://www.sphts.org/ which is clearly a group of train hobbyists. But the article quality and photo reproduction in their publication is much higher than we get in the Captain's Log.

Decades ago there was a discussion regarding this, and the name was changed from "World Airline Hobby Club" to World Airline Historical Society." But the group never changed and the Captain's Log remains a specialty publication for collectors. The Captain's Log is about the same as it was in the 1980s with the exception of improved desktop publishing.

Quoting airways1 (Reply 3):
The organisation must have been an invaluable hub between disparate collectors worldwide, who would have had little way to get to know each other otherwise.

It was, especially during the late 1970s through the 1990s. See my first post in this thread.

Quoting airways1 (Reply 3):

And as for the historical aspect, well, again, with Wikipedia and the like, and the convenience, speed and accessibility of the internet in general, what place is there for any offline society?

You have a point, and maybe the answer is "none." Their website http://www.wahsonline.com/ is not that impressive.

Membership is declining, and the WAHS board doesn't appear to know what to do about it. They've gotten sidetracked with meaningless "dba" names while publishing Captain's Log editorials about the need for new members.

But a well-written, attractive publication, such as the aforementioned SP Trainline, can still exist in a digital world. Of course, such a publication could always go to digital distribution.

The group is stagnating. If it wants to broaden its appeal, it should strive to be more like SPH&TS. If WAHS just wants to focus on collecting, they should adopt a "dba" name that actually represents this, such as "Airliner Memorabilia Collectors Club."
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Mon Feb 23, 2015 11:53 pm

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 1):
Another benefit switching to Saturday / Sunday would have is that switching to Saturday / Sunday would mean people would return home on Monday, when flights are emptier than on Sunday - a big benefit to airline employees trying to non rev.

I still do not understand why they don't give a Saturday/Sunday show a try to see if it would work.

Regarding the non-rev issue you bring up, I seem to recall that non-revers cut out Saturday afternoon to avoid an extra hotel night and Sunday non-rev hassles.

I remember spending weekends at MIA around their regional show back in the late 1980s. Airline employee friends had to get up at 0-dark-30 on Sunday mornings to beat the cruise ship rush.
 
rugger
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:03 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Wed May 20, 2015 12:30 am

Quoting airways1 (Reply 3):
I feel that the internet has really superseded the need for such an organisation anyway, be it focused on collecting, or more generally on aviation history.

The internet has also affected other types of aviation groups as well. It used to be that there were a lot of small business aviation related groups that got together periodically and had great membership numbers. But after about 1996 or so those groups numbers started declining too. Why? A lot of members attended to find out the latest news/rumors/happenings in the aviation world from other people in the industry. But then the information they were seeking became available on the Internet so their need to belong to such a group was greatly diminished. Some groups just went extinct because of this.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Wed May 20, 2015 3:30 pm

Quoting Rugger (Reply 6):
Some groups just went extinct because of this.

Unfortunately, I fear this will be the fate of WAHS unless they find a way to broaden their appeal and bring in new blood.
 
WA707atMSP
Posts: 1608
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:16 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Thu May 21, 2015 2:41 pm

Quoting psa188 (Reply 7):
Quoting Rugger (Reply 6):Some groups just went extinct because of this.
Unfortunately, I fear this will be the fate of WAHS unless they find a way to broaden their appeal and bring in new blood.

This really hit home to me when I was at the PDX convention banquet. When I started coming to WAHS conventions, I was one of the youngest people there. 35 years later, I'm still one of the youngest people at conventions, because of the WAHS' total inability to connect with younger collectors / enthusiasts.

The 1993 WAHS banquet in DCA was almost standing room only. The 2011 banquet barely filled 1/3 of a room that was smaller than the room used for the DCA banquet, because so many people who previously attended the convention have passed on, or moved on with their lives.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Thu May 21, 2015 4:20 pm

Quoting WA707atMSP (Reply 8):
The 1993 WAHS banquet in DCA was almost standing room only. The 2011 banquet barely filled 1/3 of a room that was smaller than the room used for the DCA banquet, because so many people who previously attended the convention have passed on, or moved on with their lives.

This is a sad truth.

I don't recall much about the 1993 WAHS banquet (didn't REG Davies talk about SU, having just published a book on the subject?), but the 1983 version, also in Crystal City, VA near DCA, featured two of the best AI banquet speakers I've ever heard: Bill Masland formerly with PA who reminisced about the flying boat days and Tony Meadows who spoke about flying the Concorde.

The talk at the PDX banquet, about the BFI Museum of Flight was interesting also. Too bad more people didn't hear it.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:21 am

Just got the latest issue of the WAHS "Captains Log." In his lead editorial, outgoing WAHS president Duane Young calls it "a world class must read magazine" even though it has shrunk to 32 pages and goes to less than 500 members.

Sad. Total disconnect.
 
crownvic
Posts: 1977
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2004 10:16 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:21 am

ill see everyone in Atlanta this week!
http://airlinersinternational.org/

[Edited 2015-06-16 21:25:28]
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Fri Jul 24, 2015 5:32 pm

Quoting psa188 (Thread starter):
If readers would like to share any thoughts with the WAHS board, their contact information is here: http://www.wahsonline.com/members_only.php

Odd, this website now appears to be down, redirecting to a GoDaddy.com page. Anyone know what's up?
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

RE: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:29 am

If anybody's keeping up with the WAHS saga, in light of declining membership, they've decided to make the Captain's Log an online-only publication. Given the declining membership and the fact that the online version is all-color, this is the logical thing to do. Reportedly, a enhanced website is in the works.

Now if only they'd get rid of that stupid d.b.a. name.
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

Re: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Thu Oct 27, 2016 5:00 pm

I wonder whatever became of WAHS? Last spring they announced that they were taking the Captain's Log all-digital but their web page now appears defunct. The page listing "upcoming" memorabilia shows http://www.wahsonline.com/collectible-shows/ lists the ORD show of Saturday, October 22, 2016 as its latest listing. All the 2016 shows are now over. Anybody know if a site refresh is on the way?
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

Re: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:28 pm

BTW, the WAHSonline site is hopelessly outdated. Last year, WAHS published their last printed "Captain's Log" and promised to have an all-digital version going forward. Since then, crickets. They have not even provided any updates to their status in over six months and I have no idea what's going on. Anyone have a clue?
 
WA707atMSP
Posts: 1608
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:16 pm

Re: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:13 pm

psa188 wrote:
BTW, the WAHSonline site is hopelessly outdated. Last year, WAHS published their last printed "Captain's Log" and promised to have an all-digital version going forward. Since then, crickets. They have not even provided any updates to their status in over six months and I have no idea what's going on. Anyone have a clue?


Have you heard any more about their website?
 
psa188
Topic Author
Posts: 636
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2000 11:02 pm

Re: Musings On The World Airline Historical Society

Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:09 pm

WA707atMSP wrote:
Have you heard any more about their website?


It's finally out, after a delay of forever. Basically the Captain's Log is now a blog (Captain's Blog?) There was talk of scanning and uploading pdf versions of old Captain's Logs however the only one up is issue 37-1 without the front cover.

I'm happy to report that they seem to have done away with the pointless "AIA" dba name.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos