• joe
  • Venice, CA, United States

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Flying Lessons
Sports & Adventure

Why were you inspired to do this?

Ever since I can remember I used to point to the sky or stop and stare in amazement when a plane flew overhead. The airshow always won out over Disneyland and Space Camp over time at the lake. The attraction could have been out of pure respect for the awesome and unfamiliar power that I was witnessing. It also could have been a reaction to witnessing the boundary of the human spirit and science. I can’t think of anything mankind has achieved that can be more fulfilling than hurling ourselves at great speed beyond all that we know.

What were 3 things you did to make this happen?

Research. There are many variables when it comes to choosing a flight school and an instructor. The best way is to visit your local FBO and talk with the people you will be in the cockpit with. Have them show you all of the planes. Meet fellow students. Fly with them! Demo flights are cheap and give you great insight on your flight instructor.

Time. The reality is that learning to fly is a life-long commitment. The short term license acquisition can be anywhere from 2 months to a year. Beyond that there are ratings for flying in certain types of aircraft and also special ratings for landing at certain airports. It also helps to challenge yourself by hiring someone to teach you spin recovery or gusty crosswind landings. Endless possibilities.

Money. With help from the folks and cautious penny pinching it became a reality. All in all it cost about $11,000.00 for the first step. Beyond that there is a lifetime of learning and plane rentals that make this hobby one of the more expensive ones out there. Fuel costs rise, adventures get longer and more elaborate, and they sure don’t make Hybrid Skyhawks yet!

How did you feel once you had accomplished this?

Nervous. Exhilarated. Free. The first few lessons were the easiest. Then when you start to put things together, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain focus. I guess that’s why you practice! I would equate learning to fly like learning how to race cars. You become one with the machine, the smell of gas and the small, hot cabin. Then you learn to control everything with precise movements, trying each minute to improve the balance of performance and awareness. You even do “laps” around the airport practicing landings, departures and traffic management. I got lucky and live close enough to an airport that I fly over my house every time I take a lesson. There is a great sense of perspective when seeing the world this way. The adventures that open up when you’re able to rent your own aircraft for the weekend are limitless. There is also an awesome sense on control and beauty.

Additional notes and tips:

Make sure you dedicate time for this experience. As I became busier with work, I was able to get in the air less and less. Also you are dependent on the clouds quite a bit. Learn to plan and schedule flight time way in advance and learn your local weather patterns.

1/9/2011 8:46:20 AM

Congratulations, we have linked your story on the My Life List 90 (#81) to inspire others. Thank you so much for sharing this great story.

3/24/2009 5:16:25 PM

I remember my solo. Great. I now have my commercial rating and loving flying. Super exciting and all was an adventure every time.

9/26/2008 12:22:11 PM


9/26/2008 12:19:42 PM

Joe, I am sure you will enjoy this trailer for Speed and Angels!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8H9wDYKdxU

Why do you want to do this?

What three things will you need to make this happen?

What is the biggest barrier to your achieving this?