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Learning To Fly: What Are My Options?
By Kyle Garrett
You're considering learning to fly, but you also don't know much about it. You might be wondering what options are available or why you should learn to fly. To answer directly, there are three basic reasons to learn to fly.
This boils down to flying for fun. Just like there are people who like to hit the lake on the weekend or attend knitting conventions, there are people who fly just because it is fun. If this sounds like you, you should consider sport pilot training. It will allow you to complete your training quicker and at a lower cost. There are some restrictions, but they don't often limit recreational flying that much. If you want to carry more than one passenger or fly at night, a private pilot certificate may suit you better. It requires more training, but greatly reduces the number of limitations.
If you read many aviation magazines, you'll probably encounter a lot of ads targeted at this kind of pilot. A lot of business and personal flying falls into this category as the goal isn't necessarily fun, but rather getting somewhere. Using a plane is a great way to cut travelling time whether you're trying to get across the country to a conference or you're headed to the Bahamas for vacation. If this piques your interest, look at getting at least a private pilot certificate. The addition of an instrument rating will help bring a little more reliability to your travels since it greatly expands your ability to fly in less than perfect weather.
Career pilots are generally what most people think of when they think of a pilot. These are airline or charter pilots and others, like crop dusters, who get paid to fly. The work is interesting and the pay can be great, but the climb to the top can take a while. If you're looking for a flying career, you'll need at least a commercial certificate. If you want to fly for the airlines and some charter/cargo operations you'll need an ATP certificate, which requires thousands of hours of flight experience.
No matter your intentions, learning to fly is exciting and imparts a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. Learning to fly is just the start of the adventure, too. Once you complete your training, you can slip off for a weekend in the islands or have lunch halfway across the country. The possibilities are virtually limitless.