“I thought your platform would help me figure out how introduce the following idea to my husband,” began the email that appeared in my email box on April 15.
“I’m just beginning in my quest to find flying lessons to give to him as a gift. He’s a semi-retired software engineer (I’ve got to tell you, the guy’s brilliant). He loves airplanes and helicopters, has sat in as a guest in a few co-pilot’s seats, has taken a few helicopter flights, and has done some hang-gliding. I know that learning to fly would enhance his/our retirement, and perhaps even lead to a new career for him.
“So … I’d like him to get a few flight lessons (he took one or two a few years back). What should I look/ask for? Does anyone offer, say, four introductory lessons? Must he learn to fly a plane before he learns to fly a chopper? We live in Providence, R.I., and are near several small airports. Springtime’s-a-comin’! How do you recommend I/we get started?”
My reply to her query about learning to fly
I have to say, you are a dream. So many pilots and would-be pilots face an uphill battle with their spouse regarding flying or learning to do so. Bravo to you for taking such an active role in this.
Like many things in life, learning to fly is about relationships. Most likely you’ve cultivated relationships with doctors, lawyers, CPAs, financial planners, mechanics and others. The more trust you have, the more confident you feel when taking action on any recommendation they might make.
Learning to fly is no different. You’ll want your husband to learn from someone who matches your husband’s desires and goals. The professional aviation industry (the airlines) are in a bit of crisis mode when it comes to pilots. As soon as a pilot — who wants to be an airline pilot — meets the minimum hour criteria, they head off to the airline industry. As often happens, they leave the flight school they were instructing at, leaving students to fend for themselves. It isn’t personal, it is simply a lack of alignment between student and instructor.
So, I’d recommend finding an instructor who is NOT on their way to the airline industry. They are out there, but may take a little more time to find. Perhaps poking around some of those smaller airports around you will be helpful.
Learning to fly takes a good amount of time, energy and money (to be blunt). I wonder about your writing down a list of how you are willing to support him on this journey. That would make a world of difference to me if I were to consider launching on a path I’d never taken before.
Helicopter or plane first? It matters not. Whichever a pilot desires to fly is the one they should learn in.
I’m sure there are instructors that would offer four intro lessons, but I think the most important thing to work through is why he (and you) wants to learn to fly and find the instructor that matches that.
If, after a few flights, your husband feels that flying just isn’t all he thought it would be, a good instructor may be able to walk and talk him through the struggles…
I’ll keep thinking on this. But thank you for reaching out. I do hope you’ll keep me in the loop as this journey moves along.
This is where I’d love to hear your feedback. What else should this women (and her husband) think about when considering learning to fly? Comment below.