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Why Learn To Fly?

DSC_0007Reclining on the wooden bench on this humid morning, I watched the cool mist slowly dissipate. The only noise was the dew dripping from the hangar. The thin fog covering the grass seemed like a silk bed sheet covering the sleeping grass below. I took a deep relaxing breath noticing the smell of fresh cut grass. The only movement was from small birds and an occasional dear grazing, lulling me into a catatonic state.

My peaceful respite was suddenly interrupted by a grinding noise followed by an explosive burst from the small airplane. The engine rattling to life caused a rush of excitement and adrenaline through my body. I sat upright in anticipation of watching a small plane take to the air.

It was my senior year of college and I should have been studying for my finals but I couldn't help but come out to the airport and view the magical and mysterious event of an airplane leaving the ground and flying through the air.

A short burst of noise emanated from the small engine and the propeller began moving very fast. The plane shook for a moment and suddenly jerked forward. The engine noise then became silent and the airplane rolled, moving gracefully as it made its way toward the runway.

As the plane moved towards the runway disappearing beyond the tall trees, I sat silently and listened in anticipation. Finally, I heard a faint noise which grew louder and the small plane came into view. Its nose was slightly off the ground. The wheels under the wings gradually lifted, extracting itself from the bonds of earth. Miraculously the small plane was being carried skyward by an invisible force. A burst of excitement coursed through my body thinking to myself how wonderful it would be to fly!

DSC_0108As I watched the miracle of flight unfold, vivid childhood memories appeared of flying in an airliner with my face glued to the window. I peered through the small round window in amazement as we passed over the many houses below. I recall wishing I was Peter Pan, flying above my friends homes, my school, and my favorite lake. I wondered in amazement what it would be like to fly a real airplane and see the world from a bird's eye view.

Decades have passed but my childhood dreams of seeing the world slide slowly below me is what I enjoy most about flying today. Having the opportunity to fly technically advanced jets is interesting and fun, but my favorite thing to do while flying is to look out the window and see this wonderful world from my perch riding on a layer of air. Every so often I look around making sure no one is listening and say to myself "this is why I fly".

The First Step In Learning To FLy : Ask Yourself Why?

If you are considering flying, the first step is to ask yourself why you want to fly. Maybe you think it would be a grand adventure to obtain your pilot license because you see it as a challenge. Maybe you are tired of waiting in traffic or driving 8 hours to a remote destination that has a small airport you could have flown to in only a few hours. Or maybe you want to make a career of flying to interesting destinations around the world and get paid to do so as a professional pilot. Or maybe like me, you share the sense of freedom which comes from leaving the earthbound world as wonderful sights unfold below.

DSC_0147Let me share with you some experiences personifying why I choose to fly every day. I am truly blessed to be able to do this for a living. As a matter of fact I am writing this while commuting to work and looking out the window at the Atlantic Ocean and sandy beaches of Cape Hatteras. Some day you could join me in the wonderful world of flight and enjoy the same views while piloting your own aircraft!

No waiting in traffic on the highway.

Driving from my home town in New Jersey to the University of Scranton was a weekly journey through some beautiful hills. Occasionally I would stop at the Delaware Water Gap to enjoy the views of the river. But more often than not I would be stuck in traffic wishing I could fly over all of these people and get to school quicker. Years later I was flying a 172 to pick up my friend at the University in a flight that only took forty minutes without waiting on the highway in traffic.

Off to Key West for lunch. I'll be home for dinner.

I have never driven the highway down to Key West but I have followed it from the air. I had to fly a friend from Orlando to Pahokee, FL just southwest of Lake Okeechobee. After going inside the airport building I told him I was headed to Key West for a grouper sandwich and I would be home for dinner. The aqua blue waters of the Florida Keys is a wonderful place to relax but most of us dread the 8 hour drive to the Keys. In my plane I can get there in under two hours, enjoy a day shopping and dining and then jump into my plane and head back home. Talk about a wonderful Sunday drive!

Manatees as far as the eye can see.

DSC_0026Flight Instructing close to an air force base has its advantages. I was lucky to teach in Tampa, Florida near MacDill Air Force Base which is home to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. One of the missions of NOAA is to observe marine mammals such as whales and manatees.

One day someone from NOAA contacted me and said their plane was being repaired and they needed to rent a plane. Insurance requires all pilots renting the airplanes be checked out by an instructor and luckily I was picked. During the flight the pilot from NOAA asked if I wanted to see a demonstration of what they do. I immediately accepted and he flew me over an area where many manatees were swimming. We circled low watching them move about with an occasional dolphin jumping from the water. Viewing these immense creatures from the air gave us a unique perspective about how they interact as a group. These large mammals look graceful from a few hundred feet above the water.

The Northern Lights

Cruising along over Montana six miles above the ground a light show erupted outside my window. Swirls of green and yellow light covered the sky as if someone was spreading icing on a hugh terrestrial cake.

Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, provide wonderful entertainment on a cold January night. I peer outside and think to myself how I wish I could share this time with my friends. Some day you could fly your small airplane northward and watch them from your own cockpit.

Conclusion

My hope is that you will be attracted to flying for one of the many reasons above. The most common reasons people tell me they want to fly include: wanting a fast mode of transportation, wishing to fly as a career, wanting to see the world from a different perspective, or they feel it is a challenge and have set a goal of learning to fly.

You will discover many more aspects of flight you never would have thought of before you began venturing into the air. The experiences I have related were not in my thoughts when I began building model airplanes as a child but they became part of my favorite experiences in life. I hope you will find as I have that flying is a truly serendipitous journey through a whole new world.

Look up. If you see me flying over head I might be waving, inviting you to join me in this wonderful new world.

For More Information:

Let's Go Flying.org

Sporty's Learn To Fly

Experimental Aircraft Association Learn To Fly

Cessna Learn To Fly


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