Learn to Fly!
Why not? If you're reading this page, you're already considering the possibility, wondering whether you have the skills, the time, the money.
Well, I can't answer all those questions for you, but there's really only one way to find out: Take a lesson. That's right. Find a flight school nearby and go up for an hour with a certified flight instructor. But I warn you: You'll be hooked. I started my road to becoming a licensed pilot that way: My wife gave me a "fun flight" for my birthday, thinking that I would go up for an hour and have fun. And I did. So much that I went on to pursue my license and more. (The more being aerobatics and instrument flying, but that's another story.)
So where, exactly, do you start? You could begin with the Yellow Pages and look up "Flight Schools" or "Aviation." But a better idea is to contact the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association, www.aopa.org. AOPA has terrific resources, and can provide you with virtually everything you need to get started, including the names of nearby flight schools. There's also a lot of free stuff for prospective and student pilots at AOPA.
What can you do with a pilot's license? The list is as long as your imagination. You can go to the beach or the mountains for the day. You can commute to work above all the traffic. On a hot summer's day, you can go up to 10,000 feet, where the air is much cooler. When you travel, you can always go flying at your destination. (On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I rented a plane and flew to Catalina Island.) You can see your home town from the sky. If you're single, you can date in style. You're no longer beholden to airline schedules and the interstate highway. You can visit places you didn't know existed. Phrases like, "Over the outer marker," and "Washington Approach, Cessna 63325 with you at 4,500" roll of the tip of your tongue. You can explore like you've never explored before. You can see what it feels like to be as free as a bird. You a fulfill a lifelong dream. You can takeover and land the 747 if the pilots are injured. (Keep dreaming.)
You will feel a incredible sense of accomplishment on the day you become a pilot. And before then, too: when you manipulate the controls of the airplane for the first time, as a student pilot; when you do your first solo.
What does it take to become a pilot? How long and how much money depends a lot of your schedule and where you live. There are certain minimum requirements set by the FAA (and that's a good thing); you can read about the requirements at AOPA, or Be A Pilot. It may take anywhere from 4 to 12 months, and cost between $4,000 and $6,500. (But you pay as you go.) Learning to fly is challenging, but the rewards are incomparable.
So, take the first step. You have little to lose, and a whole lot to gain. Flying can't be described. It has to be experienced.
P.S. If you decide to learn to fly after reading this page, drop me an email. I'd be delighted to hear about your decision or adventure! You might want to join DCPilots, an email list for Washington, DC area pilots.
New: Are you a Certified Flight Instructor? You can contribute to The CFI Advice Book for Pilots.
Machado's Private Pilot Handbook by Rod Machado
Fire and Air: A Life on the Edge by Patty Wagstaff
Your Pilot's License by Jerry Eichenberger
Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by William Langewiesche
The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, edited by Paul Illman
Flight Maneuvers by Michael Love
Flight Test and Tips from Eye of the Examiner by Howard Fried
The Complete Guide to Flight Instruction by Gregory Penglis
The Weather Sourcebook by Ronald Wagner and Bill Adler
Resources for Potential Pilots and Licensed Pilots
Be A Pilot: http://www.beapilot.com/
Rod Machado's web site: http://www.rodmachado.com
iPilot, resources for pilots: www.ipilot.com
Washington, DC area flying club
Angel Flight: Pilots helping people in need
The Ninety-Nines: The International Organization of Women Pilots: http://www.ninety-nines.org/
Experimental Aircraft Association: www.eaa.org
If you want to turn your Palm Pilot into a GPS, you can: get Flight Buddy.
If you live in the Washington, DC vicinity
Learn to fly at ATC Flight Training, http://www.lrn2fly.com
You can treat yourself or a friend to a "fun
flight" introductory lesson to see what flying is all about. ATC
is conveniently located in Ft. Washington, Maryland, about 15 minutes from
Give aerobatics a whirl: www.dcaerobatics.com. (Something you can do, even if you're not a pilot. An aerobatic flight is a great gift.)
Visit DCPilots: www.dcpilots.net
If you're looking for something to do in Washington, DC, perhaps the best resource is DCPages, www.dcpages.com.
To main Adler & Robin
You know you've been flying too much when... (a little aviation humor in Adobe Acrobat format)
Download Callback for the Palm Pilot. Read back issues of NASA's Aviation Safety Reporting System newsletter on your Palm. (Requires a Palm Pilot and an unzip program.)
Are you a pilot who uses a Palm Pilot or Pocket PC in aviation? If so, you might be interested in joining an email list for Palm Pilot Pilots. There's more information at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/palmpilotpilots.
Plan your flight here:
Adler & Robin Books, Inc.
3000 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
© Adler & Robin Books, Inc., 2003. All rights reserved.