“It has always been my dream to fly.”
I’m often prompted with this upon someone’s discovery that I’m a pilot. After I respond with, “It’s pretty fantastic” or something of the like, I encourage them something else.
There’s only one way to become a pilot, and that is to start flying. But it costs too much! I don’t think I’m smart enough! Please bore someone else with your…excuses. You have not lived until you’ve experienced a crisp early morning with a graceful departure, or cruising into a metro area shining brightly at night— until you’ve seen the face of a friend who trusts you enough to burn holes through the sky for naught, don’t give me excuses.
Here are some ways to get started:
- Go on a discovery flight. Your local airport probably has a flight instructor sitting around, waiting for you to hop in. He or she might explain a few basic things, but mostly it’s just to get a feel for flying. The flight will last approximately a half hour or so and shouldn’t be terribly expensive.
- Be a bum at the airport. Hanging around airports is the best way to meet people; pilots are egotistic and love to brag about their airplanes, so why not schmooze?
- Don’t be afraid of finances. Yes, flying is expensive. But most FBO’s (fixed based operators) are very flexible— I once paid off my balance at an airport by landscaping and odd jobs (it’s kind of neat to spray weeds on the side of a runway. Not glamorous, but neat).
- In this day of technology, there is way more information on flying online than ever before. The FAA even publishes the Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) for free in PDF format— as well as the Airplane Flying Handbook and a multitude of other resources. It may not be the most savory reading, but it’s free and accessible!
And after your brain hurts from aerodynamic concepts and common procedures, roll on over to airliners.net and drool to beautiful metal.
I’ll leave you with this: aviation is a very small community, one that supports everyone involved. Someone will find a way for you to defy gravity, but only if you want it more than anything. Once you join the rank of supreme beings— pilots —you can continue the tradition of paying it forward.
For the FAA publications in free PDF format, follow this link to download copies of the PHAK, AFH, and more!