Flying is fun, fast, and exciting. There is no experience more rewarding than getting aloft, navigating through the skies, and pulling off a ‘greaser’ of a landing at the end of it all! Every pilot you meet will have started with a little trepidation, don’t worry, it’s natural.
Today we will talk you through all of the things that are great about flying. We’ll provide a brief overview of the first steps to take. We’ll also cover some of the ups and downs of learning to fly.
Why Learn to Fly?
Soaring through the skies like a bird?
Why would you not?
Here are some great reasons why you should learn to fly:
The Great Views…
Go to any tourist spot in the world, and you’ll undoubtedly stand in line and pay for the privilege of a good view.
Here’s the good news.
If you fly your own aircraft, there are no lines, and you’ll see things from a whole new perspective.
At altitude, the air is clearer, and because you are higher, you can see further.
The ‘bigger picture’? Absolutely!
You’ll never see the same view twice. Changes in the lighting, season, and weather mean that every time you go aloft, you’ll be seeing the world with a fresh pair of eyes.
The World is Your Oyster!
Take out a map and put your finger on it.
No roads? No problem!
The beauty of flying is that you can reach areas that others can’t. You’ve got the world at your feet. Once you have learned basic navigation, you can literally travel to any place that you like.
The faster you fly, the more efficient the wing is. And in the sky, there are no speed cameras!
The average light sport aircraft travels at around 120 nautical miles per hour! That’s faster than most sports cars!
The Learning Never Stops!
We never said that learning to fly is easy.
And, here’s the truth.
From day one until forever, you are going to be learning something new. If you are the kind of person who enjoys a challenge and always wants to know more, it is most definitely for you.
Problem-solving and lateral thinking is an integral part of a pilot’s “flight bag”. There are always things to think about and improve upon.
We’ve saved the best ’til last.
Flying is about as fun as it gets.
Whether you want to go and challenge yourself as you practice your crosswind landings for an hour or two… Or, have your friends shrieking with delight as you pull steep turns over their house, flying is serious fun.
Learning to Fly | First Steps
The most common obstacle for most ‘wannabes’ in flying is knowing where to start.
The good news is that three easy steps will get you going in the right direction.
Book a Trial Lesson
If you are considering learning to fly, the first thing you should do is book a short trial flying lesson.
What people think flying is, and the reality can sometimes be two different things.
And, being upfront… It isn’t for everyone.
Flying does involve some investment, better to find out early on whether it is the activity for you before you are “in too deep”.
My first ever flight was a shock to the system. It was only 30 minutes in duration. I felt sick, sweaty, and, dare I say, a little bit scared. In short, I loved every minute! The desire to overcome the fear (and the fact that my flying instructor was someone who barely looked out of high school) pushed me to rise to the challenge.
It was one of the best decisions of my life.
However, some will emerge from the cockpit, kiss the ground and say ‘never again’. Which you will be?
A trial lesson is a really cost-effective way to know for sure.
Get a Health Check
The Federal Aviation Authority (or FAA for short) is the regulatory body for flying. They govern all of the requirements to be a pilot. This includes mandatory requirements that detail a minimum level of medical fitness.
The granting of a pilot license relies on a pilot being medically fit. You could be Chuck Yeager in the sky, but without a medical, you can’t get a license.
Again, it is better to discover any health barriers at the start than at the finish.
The good news?
Provided you are in good health, it is fairly easy to obtain a third-class medical, the minimum required to pilot a light sport aircraft.
Find a Good Flying School
A ‘good’ flying school might be a little bit of a subjective term. But there are a few things that you can look for…
A good flying school will be:
- Local. If you have to travel for hours every time you want to fly, it soon becomes tedious.
- Friendly. When you speak to a flying school, how do they treat your inquiries? Your “gut” feeling is important when choosing. If they are terse with you as a customer, why would they be any when instructing?
- Reliable. When you embark on your training, you’ll have days where it just isn’t going to happen. Bad weather, technical problems, instructor availability… A good and reliable flying school will do its utmost to keep your training on track. Check online reviews or maybe visit and speak to students.
- Affordable. Beware, the most expensive doesn’t always translate to ‘best’. You should try and achieve an equal balance between cost and training quality. At the end of the day, they all offer the same license. Shop around and see what’s out there!
So, you’ve had a trial lesson, loved the experience (why wouldn’t you?). Found out that you are medically fit, and found a school that looks just perfect.
Is there anything more to think about?
Of course, learning to fly is a big step and it pays to be aware of the good and the bad before you dive headfirst into your adventure.
Here’s some things to consider…
Picking a Flight School (Video)
Smooth Skies or Turbulence | The Ups and Downs of Becoming a Pilot
As with any pursuit, flying isn’t always plain sailing. While it is immensely enjoyable, there are one or two downsides. Here’s what you need to know.
Reasons to Become a Pilot
It’s fun and unique
How many people have you met who fly or even own an airplane? You’ll be embarking on a path that relatively few people get to enjoy.
It’s highly rewarding
A real sense of achievement is gained when you touch down hundreds of miles away from where you first started. And you’ve got there using only a stopwatch, a map, a compass, and your own flying ability!
It sucks you in
Once you get “bitten by the bug,” then you are in real trouble. You’ll eat, sleep, read, watch, and breathe flying!
Downsides of Learning to Fly
It takes patience
Flying experience is all about hours. And while you might intend to fly 10 hours per day, the reality is that you will often be thwarted by things like the weather, aircraft availability, and even your own schedule.
It will humble you
Flying will occasionally show you how little you truly know. Flying is most certainly challenging. There is always an area that some find easy, that others find hard. (For me, it was crosswind landings).
Flying isn’t prohibitively expensive, but it isn’t cheap. With the average cost being around $10,000 as a minimum, it isn’t a small investment. That said, there are ways to make it much cheaper. A frugal pilot could reduce this by nearly half.
By now, you should have a good picture of what’s great about flying. You’ve also learned how to take the first steps on your journey to becoming a pilot. We’ve covered some of the good (and even the not-so-good) things too!
Frugal pilot is dedicated to helping aspiring pilots gain their certification while also saving money. Why not check out some more of our straightforward flying guides? We cover everything from airplane costs to flight tuition and everything in between!
Being honest, cost is a significant factor in any decision making process. Our next articles give details on how much you can expect to spend to achieve that golden ticket to the skies! When you are ready to begin your journey, be sure to check out our introduction to flying where we offer you tips and some practical advice.
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This section includes the following articles:
Getting Your Private Pilot’s License: Full Process, From Start to Finish (Video)
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide