Ah, if only you knew how to fly! You could escape the shackles of your humdrum life and soar above its stresses. You could wake up in Nebraska, eat a cheeseburger for lunch in Colorado and settle in for the night on a crystal lake in Idaho. You could fly biplanes or jets or spiffy little yellow Cubs with smiling bears painted on their tails. But how much will it cost, how long will it take and how safe is it? What can you do with a pilot’s license?
To get technicalities out of the way, it’s more accurately called a pilot certificate, not a license. The private pilot certificate is the traditional first certificate, though now there are also the sport and recreational certificates. Whichever one you pursue, you’ll enter a new world of adventure and challenge. You’ll find yourself in the company of some of the most fascinating, friendly and spirited people on the planet. The question of what to do with a pilot certificate becomes one of limitless possibilities.
Visit Exciting Places
While there are roughly 550 airports in the United States with commercial air service, there are more than 19,500 public and private airports available to general aviation. If you visited three of these airports a week, it would take you 125 years to visit them all! From the breathtaking mile-long runway surrounded by red rocks at Sedona, Ariz., to the rugged island-top airport at Catalina Island off the Southern California coast, to a thousand others, a tableau of destinations awaits you.
Not only can you fly within the United States, but you can stretch your wings into other countries as well. How about flying over the sapphire waters of Mexico? Punta Pescadero on the Sea of Cortez—with its idyllic and remote setting—scenic Las Palmas or one of the countless airstrips along the Baja peninsula are all within easy reach of a small airplane. Other than proper paperwork and advance planning, international flying isn’t that difficult. The freedom to travel anywhere you want is part of the great allure of flying.
Say this to yourself: “No more lines, no more taking off my shoes, no more stale peanuts and no more sweaty tourists taking off their shoes next to me…” Earning your pilot certificate puts an end to the hassles of airline travel. It also eliminates the stresses of rush-hour traffic and holiday backups. There’s nothing more satisfying than flying above a long line of cars on the interstate, knowing you’ll reach your destination long before the drivers below you.
The instant most student pilots complete their first cross-country, they realize that small airplanes are a viable alternative to other forms of travel. Whether or not GA flying is cheaper than airline travel, the fact remains that the convenience of driving to an airport near your home, carrying anything you want in your luggage and traveling on your own schedule are all valuable benefits of GA flying.
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