Day 4 of Avgeek Christmas this year is where the real fun starts as far as I am concerned. There simply is nothing like flying in a small plane at the controls. I have been on dozens of airliners and flown all over the country, and even half way around the world, but there is still nothing that compares to the first time I ever took the controls of a plane.
For me it was a Cessna 172 with the Garmin G1000 system, which was awesome. I even remember the tail number still: N123VK. It really doesn’t matter what type of plane it is though, it is still incredible.
Whether it is a Cessna, Cirrus, Mooney, or Stearman it will still change your life. Okay, if it was a Stearman it might be even more life changing, but that is for another post. The point is, there is nothing that compares to the hum of that engine, pushing up the throttle, and the feeling that you get when the gear leaves the ground, and for just an instant you feel totally empowered and peaceful all at the same time.
It truly is indescribable, but once you have felt it, you will never be the same.
In a lot of ways, flying is like the greatest drug ever. It is totally legal, will eat up your money just as quickly, and lets you experience a high that simply cannot come in any other way.
The beautiful thing is that there are literally thousands of airports all across the country where you can take lessons. You won’t find any links in this post because there is simply no way I could possibly link to even a fraction of a percent of the options out there. If you know where the airport is just drive on out there and I would be willing to bet there is a flight school there, unless it is DFW, JFK, LAX or some other similarly sized airport. Stick to the small airports for now.
That being said, all flight schools are not created equal. Some of them have nicer aircraft which will carry a higher price. You may want to learn on a tail-dragger and not all schools have those. One of the most important aspects to consider is finding an instructor that you mesh well with. There would be nothing sadder than committing all that time and money to something amazing just to grow to hate it because you hate your instructor.
Many schools offer discovery flights to new students which give you a chance to check out the school, the instructor, and the aircraft you will be working with generally at a decent discount. This is a great opportunity to find just the right fit for you. The key is to remember that this really is about you, and not the school or the instructor. You need to be happy with what you are receiving, and if you aren’t then find somewhere else, because like I said, there are plenty of options.
Another great avenue to consider, that can also be less expensive, is finding a local flying club. This is a great way to save a little money, as well as being part of a club that you can continue flying with after you attain that coveted PPL. Once again, no links here because there are too many to even try. A simple Google search of “flight club (your city)” will likely give you a great starting place.
The other great route to follow in finding just the right school or flying club is to talk to the people at the airport. Talk to the students, talk to the instructors, the maintenance guys, possibly the FBO that houses the flight school, or even just fuels their planes. People are what make aviation great, and for the most part we are all there to help other people out, especially new people.
If you come across a school or club that isn’t anxious to help you find exactly what you are looking for, then look elsewhere, because flying should be fun, and it is about you. The moment that it stops being fun is the moment you need to change something, because it is supposed to be about having a great time.
As I write this post, there are no links that I have personally put up, but like I say all of the time, flying is about people, and helping others out, so if you have a flight school or a flying club that you would like to support or recommend then leave me a note in the comments and I will gladly put them up on the main post.
Flying is one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my life. It shapes the choices I make everyday and the career that I have decided to pursue. It has become a part of me in a way that if I could never do it again I would never be quite the same. If you or your favorite avgeek have even the slightest interest in learning to fly then please go out and take a discovery flight. You may find that you would rather stick to the airliners, but you may also find the most incredible experience of your life, and you will never be the same.
“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
-Leonardo da Vinci
12 Days of Avgeek Christmas:
Day 1: Aircraft Models and RC Toys
Day 2: Aviation Books and Guides
Day 3: Aviation Apps and Flight Simulators
Day 4: Flight Lessons
Day 5: Headsets
Day 6: Bags and Kneeboards
Day 7: Sunglasses and Watches
Day 8: Handheld GPS
Day 9: Handheld Radio
Day 10: Cameras and Video Recorders
Day 11: Random Aviation Accessories
Day 12: Airplane