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Monday, January 23, 2012

Dreaming the life

[A] wing is an odd thing, strangely behaved, hard to understand, tricky to handle.
--Wolfgang Langewiesche, Stick and Rudder

You might feel the same way about beginning the flight training process as ol' Wolfie does about the wing above. Don't worry, and don't panic! It may seem strangely behaved and hard to understand at first, but by breaking it down into small, comprehensible steps, we'll get through it together and wonder why it ever seemed so difficult at the start.

You may be one of those people who has always looked up every time a plane flies over or spent countless hours by the airport watching the planes come in, checking them out as they taxi on the ramp, thinking how cool it would be to be able to climb in one of those and go where ever you want.

Or maybe you're a professional who needs to travel to places that aren't conveniently served by the big airlines. Our flight school trained a lawyer who just wanted to see if it could help him in his practice. Before he was even done, he had some of his colleagues start taking lessons, too, because he discovered how much easier and more productive it made him. As a real-life example, he had an 8:30 a.m. hearing that was in the next state over. Instead of having to drive the day before and spend the night in a hotel room, he slept in his own bed, got to the airport early that morning, flew himself, and was back that same afternoon with energy to spare. I also personally know at least 4 doctors who have a second (or third) practice in a location that would be too far to drive but is a short flight away.

Perhaps your career goals are somewhere in the field of aviation itself. A pilot certificate is very useful to have when considering becoming an air traffic controller. Furthermore, interviews with airlines for piloting jobs tend to be rather short if you can't fly an airplane.

Or maybe you're someone who thinks that the TSA has gone insane and thinks that just because they're getting on board an aircraft, a citizen of a country that calls itself the "land of the free" shouldn't have to surrender their dignity at the door. Well, if you learn to fly yourself, you can have all the cupcakes you want without fear that some lowly-paid government TSA drone will confiscate them. And no one will pat down grandma if you take her flying with you.

Or maybe you'd like to visit relatives or children hundreds of miles away. In many cases, flying yourself is actually faster than taking an airliner. As an example that happened to me not long ago, I had to go to Atlanta twice in the span of about a year. The first time, I traveled by airline because I had to due to circumstances. It took me over 7 hours each way because of a layover. Tack on another 2 hours because of the security screening process and you've got 18 hours for a round trip via airline. The next time I went to Atlanta, I flew myself in a Cirrus SR20. The round trip time flying myself from Cleveland to Atlanta was 6.9 hours!

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and the first step toward your certificate is to identify what it is you want to achieve as an aviator. I've listed several reasons above, but you may/probably have a reason all your own. Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to learn to fly, you have a dream. Now it's the flight school's purpose to turn that dream into a reality. In my next post, we'll look at the different kinds of flight schools and figure out which one is right for you.

Tailwinds and blue skies!

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