Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Leaving your aviation comfort zone will open new doors
The multi-engine rating adds multi-engine privileges to your existing private or commercial pilot certificate. Even if you're not planning on becoming an airline pilot, adding multi-engine capability opens the door to a wider variety of aircraft.
Frequently called the "multi-engine add-on," it can be accomplished in about 10-15 hours. Some schools such as ATP offer focused, accelerated programs to earn your multi-engine rating in four days for just under $4,500. Local FBOs also offer multi-engine training for varying prices depending on the equipment being flown. One outfit in Tavares, Fla., offers a multi-engine seaplane rating in a Twin Bee, and Sheble Aviation in Arizona offers training in a Beech 18 on floats.
The Commercial certificate and CFI are also popular next steps for many pilots. The commercial certificate allows you to get paid to fly and opens up a world of possibilities including crop-dusting, aerial photography, banner towing and, of course, flying people or cargo for an air carrier. The CFI certification is often pursued by pilots with family members or friends who have expressed a desire to learn to fly. Few things are more rewarding than watching a student pilot that you trained solo and earn their ratings. The CFI and Commercial certificates make that possible. Though none of these are cheap, they're worthwhile investments in your aviation career.
I'm admittedly biased in this area because I own and fly a tailwheel aircraft. However, it's because I used to fly tricycle-gear aircraft that I can tell you that learning to fly a tailwheel aircraft (correctly called "conventional gear") is one of the best investments you can make in your flying.
Damian DelGaizo at Andover Academy in New Jersey offers tailwheel and backcountry instruction.
Nearly every general aviation airport has an FBO with some kind of tailwheel aircraft, or there's an independent instructor—usually with grey hair—who'd be happy to help you earn your tailwheel endorsement. You can transition in just 10-20 hours depending on your skill level, and those aircraft are usually much cheaper to rent than the whiz-bang, glass-cockpit flivvers gleaming on most FBO's ramps. It also qualifies as your biennial flight review (BFR).
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