Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do Something Magical: Learn To Fly

Innovation continues to change flight training, but it’s still about the fun

To earn a sport pilot license, you only need 20 hours of flight instruction and a valid driver's license in lieu of a medical certificate.
Flying's Realities
It's difficult to justify flying based solely on cost. Nobody likes to talk about the fact that we fly because flying is fun and not because it saves us money. Sure, it's more convenient, more enjoyable, and the overall time spent is frequently the same or shorter than the airlines—thanks to today's security requirements and oversold flights. But GA is rarely as inexpensive as a commercial airline ticket, especially when traveling alone. However, airlines can't beat GA when it comes to destinations.

Most people don't realize that 75% of all U.S. domestic major airline flights operate in and out of only 46 airports. And 70% of airline passengers travel only between 30 hub airports. Even if airlines provided more flights to a wider variety of destinations, only 560 airports in the U.S. are certified for scheduled airline service. Meanwhile, GA serves some 19,600 public and private landing facilities in the U.S!

Learning to fly takes commitment and dedication; there are no shortcuts. There's a knowledge component to earning any pilot certificate and not just "stick-and-rudder" skills. Consistency is an important part of any flight training program, and you must set aside not only the funds but the time to immerse yourself in the training. The latest AOPA statistics show that only a small percentage of students who start flight training will finish and earn a certificate. The solution is to set your expectations up front. Know what will be expected of you, your instructor and your training facility. Talk openly with your instructor at each stage of your training. Studies show that if you dig in and make it to the solo stage, you'll most likely earn your certificate.

Training Academies And Schools
A huge variety of flight schools and academies are out there; each with its own approach and feel. We suggest you examine each option carefully to find the flight-training program that suits you and your needs. Visit for a list of training academies and degree flying programs.


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