Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gaining Your Pilot’s License

An opportunity to see the world from a different perspective

Regardless of which aspect of aviation may most interest you, there’s some segment that will keep and hold your attention for a lifetime. Here are a few tips I’ve compiled to help you make the most out of your journey toward your pilot’s license:

1) Come to the airport prepared for each flying lesson. If your instructor informs you that, on your very next lesson, you’ll cover turns, climbs and descents, come prepared. Before the lesson, read up on the factors of lift; what controls an airplane on the vertical, horizontal and yaw axis; and how drag and angle of attack affect airspeed and lift. By doing this, your lessons will be a lot smoother and quicker, and you may even have the chance to try new or different things with the time you save. This not only will make your learning experience easier, but also will make it significantly less expensive.

2) Find the right instructor for you. Every student has a different method of learning, and every instructor has a different method of teaching. You and your instructor will be spending a significant amount of time together, in very close quarters, so it’s crucial to make sure your personalities match. This will ensure that you have the optimal learning environment and experience.

3) Get a mentor. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) operates a program called Project Pilot ( that links established pilots with private pilot students trying to obtain their pilot’s license. With a mentor on your side, you’ll have someone who knows what you’re going through, someone you can lean on through the tough times and a personal “cheerleader” helping you along the way who will be there for you through all the highs and lows.

4) Last but not least, enjoy the moment. When you’re learning how to fly, it’s easy to get caught up in regulations, procedures and technicalities of flight. While all of these are important, don’t ever lose sight of the primary reason you decided to learn to fly in the first place. You’re experiencing something that the majority of the population will never have the chance to try—something that will open your eyes to unbelievable opportunities. So enjoy it…don’t lose sight of the thrill of flight!

These four tips may sound very simple, but following the above basic guidelines and the advice from your mentors will allow you to become a safe pilot who can enjoy the excitement of general aviation a lot quicker, cheaper and easier than you can possibly imagine.


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