The Volksgleiter (OSTIV)

Convention Center Room A1 Thursday, March 1, 2018 9:00 am - 9:45 am

Bookmark and Share

Neal Pfieffer – OSTIV Speaker

Experience with mass-produced machines like cars, computers, and smartphones has trained most people to expect a lot of performance and utility per dollar. Of course, this is so because of mass consumption that drives unit production up, and mass production that drives the unit cost down. People buy particular types and brands of cars, computers, and smartphones for a wide variety of irrational reasons. But in the larger context, these devices offer huge benefits in daily utility and confer substantial competitive advantage over those who lack them. The decision to buy is easily justified, and the decision to indulge beyond the necessities almost as easy. Gliders, not so much.

The technologies of mass production, even of specialized structures such as sailplanes, is very well understood. There is not much mystery to the idea that prices decline as production increases. But that increase must be validated by demand, and I think that stimulating the demand is where you have to start. The gliders that I design, develop, and help build are targeted into a limited demographic. We are a family, a tribe, a clan that finds strength and value in understanding and participating in every aspect of the machine–from the cut and drape of the cloth to the gloss of its wave-free surfaces. I think there’s value in supporting and expanding the reach of my people, but I also understand that we are and always will be a limited part of a larger whole.