I’ve been around everything aircraft related my entire life. My dad is a Delta pilot, I received my pilot’s license when I was 19, we own an airplane, and I’ve been all over the world. It’s safe to say, my life revolves around planes. I mean, heck, I’m now blogging for an aircraft website. This picture is of me, my flight instructor, and my dad after my first solo- just so you can be sure I’m not just making this stuff up. My next step is going to get multi engine flight training at a local flight school.
Do you want your pilot’s license? Has the thought ever crossed your mind, “Hey, that’s cool- I think I wanna try to fly a plane” or “That looks easy, I could totally do that”? The truth of the matter is, it is easy. I got my license in a little over a month. It’s a thousand times safer than driving a car, there is no traffic, and it’s extremely peaceful 5000 feet above the ground. If you’re really interested in SC Flight Schools, USAeroFlight is a great place to check out and if one of the few that allows for multi engine flight training, although there are good pilot schools all around.
But let’s get to the point, shall we?
I’m here to tell you the do’s and don’ts of getting your license. If you are a Type A person who can sit down and do one thing for 12 hours without a break, like my pilot father, then you probably won’t benefit much from this post. But if you’re like the rest of us who have regular attention spans, strap in, because here is your first flight lesson.
- Take a lesson whenever you feel like it. One lesson every two months just isn’t going to cut it. You’ll never finish, trust me.
- Take lessons too close together. I made this mistake. It sounds pretty impressive that I was nineteen and managed to get my license in about 3 weeks, but trust me, at the end of it, getting a root canal seemed more fun. I was in an airplane about 4 or 5 hours a day and when I wasn’t in the airplane, I was receiving ground schooling to learn more about the airplane. “Airplane” became a word that made me cringe. Space it out.
- Get cocky. My first solo, I realized there was a thunderstorm relatively close to the airport to which I was flying. I am relatively sure I could have made it, but I played it safe. Never ever be afraid to play it safe. IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE. I think my parents (who were watching me solo from the tower) would have been unhappy had I crashed because I played chicken with a thunderstorm.
- Find a reputable flight school with instructors you think you can get along with. You’re going to be spending a fair amount of time with them, so it’s best to like them!
- Take your lessons relatively close together. If you take one lesson per month, you’ll forget everything you learned from your last lesson and you’ll most likely quit going and you’ll never be able to hold your fancy pilot’s license in your hand. I suggest one or two lessons a week. That will give you time to absorb the information rather than do what I did and cram it all in only to forget most of it later and have to relearn.
- No joke, there are a lot of little things to remember. It’s much more than just learning to not kill yourself in a flying contraption. You need to understand maps, weather, engines, how to use the radios, and a whole slew of other things.
- Take time to enjoy it. This was my biggest mistake. I was so concerned about getting the license
and learning it, I never really flew around and enjoyed what I was doing. It was like a job to me rather than a fun skill to learn. When I finally could fly around by myself, I didn’t really want to. I had it burned into my brain that it had to be all serious. Enjoy flying, don’t make it a task.
So, to wrap this up, get your license. It’s a ton of fun, it makes you look super cool at a party, and it’s a great skill to have. I actually think it has made me a better driver because I am now more safety conscious. Now that I’m finally getting over being so burned out, I am considering getting my multi engine flight training. If you’re going to get your license, however, do it the right way and don’t make the mistakes I made!
Casey Fowler - Furman ’17 - Private Pilot