Standing next to my favorite airplane inspires me to recall a few of my favorite flights. This old, red Aztec has taken my friends, family and me to such far-flung places as Caracas, Newfoundland, Cabo and Kelowna. I now realize it was because of the training I received (and a lot of good luck) that I have been afforded the opportunity to go to those places–and cherish those memories.
Here at Sporty’s, I see all kinds of prospective pilots walk through our door. Some want to be an airline captain, others a bush pilot, and many just want to see the ground from the sky with a buddy or spouse (or someone they hope will be their spouse). But no matter the disparate goals, they have one thing in common. Sometime between that moment when they first walk into our flight school and the time they advance the throttles on that Boeing full of passengers or Skyhawk with a friend, they have to taxi from the ramp to the end of the runway, take off and land an airplane by themselves–they must solo!
The solo is such a powerful accomplishment that in the past couple years, we at Sporty’s Academy have not had anyone–not a single student–drop out of the program between their solo and earning a certificate. And regardless if they are pursuing a Sport, Recreational or Private license, they all need to possess the same knowledge of airmanship to conduct that solo. The main (and really only) difference in requirements is the Recreational and Private candidate must have obtained a medical certificate prior to their solo flight.
This initial, mutual path forms the architecture for Sporty’s award-winning Learn to Fly course. The first lessons concentrate on soloing, the common experience for all pilots. Just as a long cross country is really only a series of short cross countries, only after pilots pass this first waypoint–the solo–are they ready to continue their route to the Sport, Recreational or Private certificate. Flight paths for all three are included in our Learn to Fly course.
In the future it is my hope the FAA will extend to pilots flying simple airplanes recreationally, the same medical requirements necessary for the pilots of balloons, gliders and sport airplanes. This will eliminate what is for some the greatest barrier to my passion–our passion–enabling a new generation of aviators to create memories of their favorite flights. Now that is a proactive flight plan!
Blue skies and right rudder. Fly safely.