From Flying an Airplane to Owning One

September 20, 2003

There is a natural progression of involvement in your love of flying that all starts when you first catch the dream that you really can become a pilot. It’s a big job to get out there and find out how to get through flight training school to get your pilot’s license. The money, time and effort to get that training is demanding but its actually good that it is because when you finally pass the tests and do your solo flights and you earn that license, you really walk away with a sense of accomplishment.

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But you walk away with something else even more exciting which is a license that says that you really are a pilot and the authorization to take an airplane up in the air. It’s an addictive feeling to fly an aircraft and there are lots of opportunities for jobs that will take advantage of this well earned skill you. So just as there is a natural next step after you get a drivers license to want to own your own car, very often new pilots begin to get the bug to own their own plane after they become addicted to the love of flying.

There is no question that the freedom you will gain from owning your own plane will take your love of flying to the next level. And there are some good economic reasons for taking this step too. Very often you can build a small business of your own just putting your plane at the disposal of people who need it. Offering charter airplane services to businesses or individuals to get them where they need to go quickly and efficiently can be a good paying career and give you the chance to fly to lots of places you may have never thought about before.

Owning your own small business built around your plane and your love of flying can go a lot of different directions. You might find a great market offering recreational flights to people who want to get up above the town and look down on it like the birds can do. Often groups will charter an airplane to take them to the nearest city that has a national sports franchise to see the big game. These kinds of customers are often able to pay handsomely for your service and who knows, you might get to see the game too.

You should do your homework before thinking about buying a plane though because not only is it an expense up front but there will be ongoing costs that go with owning such a unique vehicle. Obviously you can’t park the plane in your garage or back yard so you will need a hanger to house your airplane day in and day out. Most of us don’t own our own hanger right off the bat so that will be an ongoing cost as well. And if you have your plane in a public hanger at the local regional airport, how will that affect your ability to use the plane at a moments notice if you want that kind of access?

But one of the biggest issues that you will need to be prepared to provide for when becoming an airplane owner is maintenance. Perhaps you became fascinated with the mechanical side of airplane technology when you went through flight school. So a career as an airplane mechanic might be ahead for you and it might be tempting to learn to take care of your own airplane as well. But its best to at least keep on retainer a qualified airplane mechanic to perform routine maintenance and to “check out” the plane routinely to make sure it is in good working order.

When you get that plane in the air, the last thing you want is for you to not know if the plane is sound mechanically. So while paying a mechanic to service your plane routinely is an expense, it’s crucial that your plane be safe to fly every day. So it’s a worthwhile expense. All of these costs mean that if you want to own a plane, you will have to commit to take care of it. But the fun of owning a plane and the potential for high paying charter business means that it might be a very good next step in your ongoing career as a pilot.

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It All Starts with Desire to Fly

July 20, 2003

That first inner prompting that tells you that part of your destiny is to fly an airplane might just come when you watch airplanes take off and you can only think, “It would be so cool if I could do that.” Sometimes we talk ourselves out of going for that dream thinking that only Air Force pilots or people who are on the path to fly jumbo jets can get a pilot’s license. But really anybody can do it, even you!

It might surprise you to learn that tens of thousands of people start out on the path to get a pilot’s license each year and most of them do it not to become a professional pilot but just to pursue the dream. But it really all starts with that desire and that inner urging to at least try it. Once you get a pilot’s license, there are a lot of practical ways you can put your love of flying to use. Sales people use it to get to more customers. Being able to fly your own airplane also opens up new ways to go see friends and loved ones. But even if you just want to fly for the sheer fun of it, it’s still worth your while to look into how to get your pilot’s license.

All you have to do to start your path toward becoming a pilot is head out to the airport where there are hundreds of people who know the ropes of the airline industry. But for better results, don’t go to the biggest airport in the region. In almost any major or medium sized city, there are small local airports that provide service to private pilots, business aircraft, helicopters and other specialized flying needs. It is there you find the true flying enthusiasts and it is there that you will find flying instructors mixing with mechanics and other airline industry professionals in a relatively relaxed setting.

The first milestone of your search is to meet a few flying instructors who can give you specifics on how to find out if you really have that inner drive to become a pilot. These small regional airports are often the homes of a number of flight schools who are always looking for customers and you can often find an instructor with an hour to kill who will give you a tour and help you get a basic understanding of the process you should plan to go through to get your pilot’s license.

Once you make contact with a mentor who can guide you in how to go forward with your flight training, he will get to know you and your goals. Many flight schools have the flexibility to design a program around what you want to do with your pilot’s license. There are several levels of pilot’s certification so you don’t necessarily have to aim for the highest and most expensive license which would make you able to fly for American Airlines. If you just want to take some short flights around for fun, a sports or recreational license is a perfect fit for you and the flight school can get you there efficiently.

Even on that first interview with your instructor and the school, you may get offered a chance to go up in one of the school’s planes and even to sit in the pilot’s seat. These aircraft are designed so the instructor can control the plane from his seat too so you can hold the controls and put your feet on the pedals that control acceleration and lift and as they move in reaction to the instructors movements, it will feel like you are flying that plane.

If that first experience permanently hooks you and confirms in your heart that flying an airplane yourself is a must do priority, then you are on your way to getting your pilot’s license. You can get started the next time the school has a class scheduled and step by step move through the process of getting that license and becoming a pilot. Just take it on as an adventure, even a lark because even if sometime along the way, you change your mind, you can always come back later and pick up where you left off.

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