Flight Training By Campfire
Monday, March 1, 2004
Learn To Fly!
Flight Training Adventure Camps offers a unique and exciting opportunity for aspiring pilots
|Learning how to fly means, among other things, mastering the controls of an airplane, understanding weather theory and unraveling the mysteries of aerodynamics—all of which can be studied at a local airport. That is an adventure in itself. But what if that process were taken one step further? Imagine, for instance, the Wild West as your flight school. The airplane, your teacher. Here, the vast expanse of the West plays an integral part in your flight training. It’s a daring place where you sleep, breathe and eat aviation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, where you can sleep underneath the wing of the plane you’re learning to fly and where all around you is some of the world’s most inspiring landscape. This is you learning to fly.|
The soul of FTAC’s private-pilot training program is really its expeditions. Unique to the school, FTAC has two types of “moving classrooms” available to students as they travel across the Southwest for four weeks: two airplanes, in which students take turns learning to fly them; and a bus, in which students can learn flight plans and other flight-training basics as they await their turn to fly. This camp-like atmosphere allows students to focus on learning, practicing and applying their flight skills in all types of terrain and scenarios, such as flying to unfamiliar airports, experiencing density altitude and flying in inclement weather. And because of the fact that outside factors, such as weather delays and mechanical problems, can affect these moving classrooms, no two expeditions are alike—and that’s part of the fun.
Scott Orland, a former FTAC student, explains, “There’s no way to describe a ‘typical’ day at FTAC where nothing is typical and anything is possible. I would get up, pack up, take an orientation stroll around the present locale and then line up sectional charts on a picnic table to plot the day’s destination. Flying time is divided among campers and everyone prepares for their individual leg. As the day’s journey comes to an end, the assorted vehicles gradually arrive at the new destination and we debrief, set up camp and prepare for an evening of Swiss culinary delights shared over a campfire. Atypical days usually mean delays caused by severe weather, lost jeeps and perhaps an angry buffalo. The only thing that was always certain was the shared camaraderie between students and flight instructors, and the unique lessons and stories shared over the campfire at the end of each day.”
These expeditions, however, aren’t all about aviation. Students also get a chance to enjoy other outdoor activities, such as river-rafting, water-skiing or open-air theater.
“I don’t recall a time when I had as much fun in my life as I had on Lake Powell with our rented boat,” enthuses Pirmin Geisser, a prior student at FTAC. “We went water-skiing, tube-riding, cliff-jumping and cookouts in a remote canyon that’s only accessible by boat. At night, by the campfire, under the clearest sky that one can only imagine, we played silly games, told our airplane stories and counted satellites and shooting stars. No wonder people opt to sleep on their balconies after their FTAC experience.”
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