Learning to Fly

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

So much of our American culture revolves around flying – think of all the songs that mention it and the sayings we use– “Fly like the wind,” or “Go fly a kite”. But what if you want to actually learn to fly? How hard is it to get a pilot’s license? The answer mostly depends on how much money and effort you’re willing and able to put into it. There might be other obstacles to overcome as well. I came into flying later in life, well after my youthful fearlessness had worn off. That meant I had to overcome two fears of mine – dying and emptying my wallet.

Finding a good flight school is important. It should have an excellent safety and maintenance record, charge reasonable rates, have fair policies, and provide adequate plane availability. Matching yourself to the right instructor is also essential, but the definition of “right” is subjective.

While advancing through flight training over the years, I have had three flight instructors and they were all very different from one another. The flight instructor/student dynamic is like any other relationship in that sometimes you have a connection, and sometimes you don’t. In the context of learning how to fly an airplane, you may not even know yet what you’re looking for in an instructor.

Before making a commitment for flight training arrange a test flight with the instructor for an hour or two so you can familiarize the instructor’s teaching as well as style of flying. It is perfectly acceptable to comparison shop a flight instructor. Visit more than one flight school and interview the head instructor as well as the pilots that you will be working alongside. After all, clear communication between student and teacher will facilitate the learning process and lead to more effective instruction and less anxiety.

Prospective pilots may prefer an instructor with a demeanor and personality that will enhance their learning experience with a pleasing personality while other students may do better with a flight instructor who is more formal in his personality and teaching approach. Whatever may be the personal style of your instructor, remember that the objective of any prospective pilot is to obtain the safest and more thorough training possible so choose your flight instructor diligently.

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