Plane & Pilot
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Learn To Fly: March 2008

Becoming a pilot is a dream for many. Here we present the basics to help you make that dream a reality.

learn to flyTo learn to fly is to step off the precipice of the ordinary and mundane. It’s a step into a new world that challenges your mind and senses, and rewards you like nothing you’ve ever dreamed of. To become a pilot is to see the face of our planet from the vantage point of angels.
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What Are The Requirements?
To earn your private certificate, you must be at least 17, though you can “solo” (fly without an instructor) at 16. Federal regulations require 35 to 40 hours in the air, divided between different types of flying (i.e., night, solo, cross-country, etc.). You must pass an FAA written exam as well as a medical exam performed by a doctor specializing in aviation medicine. Finally, you must pass a practical exam demonstrating your skills in the airplane with a pilot examiner on board.

learn to flyIs It Safe?
The media isn’t kind to aviation. If you watch the news or read the newspaper on a regular basis, you might think flying is dangerous. It seems like “little airplanes” are crashing all the time. The truth, however, paints a different picture.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), there were 43,443 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2005. During the same year, there were 562 fatal general aviation (GA) accidents. It may be interesting to note that there were 697 fatal recreational boating accidents that same year.

While it’s difficult to precisely compare aviation risk to motor vehicle risk, research proves that flying is safer than it may seem. At its worst, flying may be on par with riding a motorcycle. If you eliminate accident factors you should never encounter (like flying intoxicated, irresponsibly or into bad weather), flying becomes even safer. Instructional flying is the safest of all GA flying. Every minute of your training will go toward making you a safe pilot. The entire aviation curriculum is focused on safety. Advances in aircraft, technology, weather prediction and reporting, navigation and communication make flying safer today than it has ever been.

Top 10 Online Resources
The Internet is a vast resource of excellent information for beginning pilots. Here, we give you our top 10. AOPA’s Website includes “Project Pilot,” which helps fledgling pilots find an
aviation mentor during training. There are tons of free features and resources. The FAA’s site for beginning pilots includes links to a free online AIM
(Aeronautical Information Manual), a variety of student-pilot statistics and
detailed requirements. By signing up for Plane & Pilot’s free Learn To Fly Kit, you’ll receive materials and information that will guide you as you start your path toward pilot certification. This aviation portal is a gateway to all things aviation. From breaking aviation news to sources for pilot supplies, this is a great starting point. This fantastic resource has free online ground-school courses and much more. Live ATC feeds allow you to listen to real communications between pilots and some of the country’s busiest controllers.
Both sites offer free practice FAA written exams. An online directory of airports, navigational aids and flight-planning aids, all free.
The FAA’s search tool for pilot schools.
Darren Smith is the certified flight instructor who runs this site. It’s a huge repository of good information. His “links” page alone will keep you busy for days.


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