BY TIM GENC
For those of us who love airplanes, we know that flying can be for anyone who has a passion for aviation. We also know that it takes skill, dedication, the right mindset and attitude of an early explorer, and an adventurer’s spirit. It takes quick thinking and the ability to divide your mind among a wide variety of things. It takes a degree of confidence and personal drive to become a pilot.
Flying is for everyone – However, becoming a pilot takes planning, dedication and a carefully drawn out map. It takes a motivated student, a patient yet fervent teacher and a commitment from both parties to make aviation a priority. It doesn’t have to be done full-time – it most definitely can be undertaken as a part of your life – but it cannot be approached casually. Flight training is not about getting flight hours; it is not about just showing up and flying your time and expecting significant results. It is about studying and learning aviation, even if it is one piece or one lesson at a time.
Your path can start with studying at home, talking to other pilots, taking an introductory flight lesson or two, getting a flight simulator program on a laptop or home PC, and eventually starting out with a few lessons to sample the process. After those initial steps, you’ll know more about your personal aviation journey, and you’ll know what it’s like to train to become a pilot. And if it has to be a dedicated lesson or two a month, that’s fine, as long as you stay focused on aviation between lessons. On the other hand, it certainly is something that you can jump into with both feet and never look back. You can eat, sleep and breathe the training, and dedicate a few weeks to completely immerse yourself in the process, and come out a certified pilot. Or, you can go somewhere in the middle. The journey is different for us all, because all of us have different schedules and outside factors. You and your instructor – or flight school – need to have a serious conversation about what you can commit, from both a scheduling and financial standpoint, to reach your goals. Then, you and your flight school need to create a program just for you. Flight training is not cookie-cutter, it is not one-program-fits-all, and it is why not everyone can be a pilot. But you can.
Remind yourself that aviation is not a means to an end; it is an aspiration toward greatness. It is different from driver’s education and different from learning to golf. If it wasn’t, then everyone could be a pilot. But then maybe aviation would be ordinary; it would be common. It would be no different from learning to tie your shoes, and it would not carry the allure that it does.
If you want to become a pilot, then you can become a pilot. And if you do, you will not be the same. Becoming a pilot is a change in your life, and that change is different for everyone. You can find a path to becoming a pilot that will work you. You just have to prepare and plan for it.
In a lot of ways, figuring out how to take flight training requires the same skills as you need to be a pilot. It takes desire, and it takes commitment. It takes a can-do attitude, and it takes a problem-solving mindset to overcome the obstacles that might impede your progress. But if you make the decision that you will become a pilot, then you can. And American Flyers would love the opportunity to guide you along the way.