Take Flight: Yes, You CAN Get a Pilot’s License
Visit almost any small airport in the South and it’s likely there will be a certified flight instructor (CFI) on hand at the FBO (fixed base operator). An introductory flight in a small trainer is free or highly discounted and you’re soon on your way to getting a pilot’s license that will let you rent an airplane to fly almost anywhere.
Don’t let aviation lingo put you in a tailspin. Start with the FAA website, http://av-info.faa.gov/ to get acquainted with the language. Licenses are called certificates and additional ratings are issued for flying on instruments, flying different types of aircraft, and flying for hire.
As a Student Pilot you’ll be allowed to fly alone only under specific conditions. As a Sport Pilot you can fly only light-Sport planes. As a Recreational Pilot you can fly planes up to 180 HP and with up to four seats, daytime only and not for hire. When you reach Private Pilot status you can fly for fun or business, with guests but not for hire. A Commercial Pilot can charge for the flight. An Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) is certified to fly for airlines (although having an ATP alone won’t get you a job until you’ve amassed the flying hours required by employers and/or their insurance company.)
All this sounds dull as dishwater until you experience the euphoria of flight, the thrill of taking control of an aircraft and the outright triumph of landing safely after your first solo and cross-country flights. As a traveler who flies, you’re in a new world of elite tourism. Take a plane up just for an hour of flying over the seashore or seeing autumn colors. Vacation in places airline travelers can’t reach. Land at small airfields at iconic resorts such as Chalet Suzanne or Cedar Key in Florida, Jekyll Island, Georgia or Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. As a business person, fly into “executive” airports, which are usually closer to business centers.
Propel yourself into a new and exciting travel world. To find a CFI near you go to http://av-info.faa.gov/PilotSchool.asp
Myth Busting: Private Planes (also known as General Aviation)
About the Author
Janet Groene co-authored Cockpit Companion (Jones Publishing), a guide for people who sit in the passenger seat but are not pilots themselves.
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