Some people are content to enjoy a plane flight passively from their window seat in the passenger cabin, while others are compelled to pilot the craft above the clouds with their own two hands. If you've finally expressed your desire to learn to fly, you may have received all kinds of pushback from well-meaning friends and family members. Here are three of the reasons they might claim that you "can't possibly" take up flying -- and why those reasons don't hold water.
1. "It Takes Too Much Time to Learn"
Your loves ones may make this objection based on some notion that flight training invariably requires years of study and hundreds of hours of flying time. While that may be the case if you're training to become a first officer for a major commercial airline, less rigorous training programs are also available for those wishing to become private pilots. Aviation colleges can vary widely in the flexibility of their schedules and course offerings; even within the same school, you may be able to enjoy options such as an accelerated learning track or a part-time schedule that you can pursue alongside other obligations.
The amount of time you spend in flight school may also depend on whether you want an actual aviation degree from an accredited aviation college or you're willing to accept a more limited amount of training -- and the limits imposed by that training. A private pilot certificate takes an average of 60 to 75 hours of flying time to earn, although technically the FAA's minimum requirement is 40 hours. If you're really pressed for time and don't mind accepting plenty of restrictions, you can obtain a recreational pilot's certificate after just 30 hours of flying time. Recreational pilots can only fly small craft within a 50-mile range during daylight hours, but they're still taking to the air under their own power.
2. "You Could Never Afford It"
There's no getting around the fact that flight training costs money, as the naysayers in your life may be quick to point out. But so do many other kinds of higher education programs, and people find ways of paying for them. It's also worth noting that just as different U.S. universities charge different tuition rates, different aviation colleges and flight schools may also vary in price, so shop around. Flexible program schedules may make it possible for you to work and train at the same time, while scholarships, grants and student loans can help you fund your schooling. Other smart ideas include:
- Getting a job at the flight school in question
- Joining the Civilian Air Patrol and excelling as a cadet (which may persuade the CAP to give you discounted flight training)
- Joining the military for a tour of duty so you can apply VA education benefits to your flight training
- Serving in the U.S. Air Force in exchange for comprehensive (and fully paid) training
3. "Disabled People Can't Fly Planes"
If you have a physical disability, you've probably heard this one plenty of times by now. It's understandable that some folks might think that a disability might automatically disqualify a would-be pilot. But that isn't necessarily true -- it all depends on the type and severity of disability you have. As long as you can demonstrate in your flight medical exam that you can perform the physical actions required of a pilot, you can be cleared to fly.
Adaptive devices are available to help disabled pilots get the job done. For instance, profoundly deaf pilots can still communicate with control towers by arranging in advance for the tower to use a light gun, which uses colored lamps to flash coded messages. Hand controls enable paraplegics to operate a plane's rudder and brakes.
Now that you're armed with rebuttals to the arguments about why you can't fly, take the next step to prove those arguments wrong. Contact your local flight schools or private instructors and find out how they can help you overcome any barriers to becoming a pilot! Visit a site like http://www.parkland.edu/aviation for more info.