I knew when I was 4 years old that I wanted to be a pilot. I joined the Canadian Armed Forces in the 70’s, got my wings, and never looked back. Now it’s my passion to help others reach their dreams. However, after my years of experience in helping students learn to fly, I realized one thing that would make a world of difference for those wanting to become a pilot.
Here is my insight…
The best time to start pilot training is in high school.
Sound a little extreme? Here are three reasons why I believe this is the best time to start learning to fly (not that you can’t start learning just about any time), and the easiest way to start doing so.
1. Grateful flight instructors
One of the biggest complaints I hear from flight instructors is how unprepared many student pilots are for their flight lessons. Most instructors, especially at universities, only have a short amount of time to help the student complete their training. Making the most of every lesson is important. If students showed up to their lessons having a better understanding of the material, and even some skills from using a simulation, the instructor can go through the material quicker, and be able to help the student master their flight skills sooner.
2. Happy Wallets
Just as flight instructors want to make the most of every flight lesson, so do the individuals paying for them. Flight time costs A LOT (more than $100 an hour). The better students are prepared before getting to their lessons, the less hours they will need to learn the material, and the less money they spend. They will need to meet the required flight hours to get certified, but any hour beyond that should be kept to a minimum as long as the student knows the material and has gained the necessary skills.
3. Less Stress
Flight lessons can be stressful. Multiply the stress you felt the first time you started driving a car by ten, and then imagine that car flying through the air. There are many more controls to think about, weather issues, talking to air traffic controllers, not to mention other aircraft and having to land! It’s noisy, it can be really hot or really cold, and if you didn’t get enough sleep it can be hard to focus. You want to do a good job, so there can be performance stress. Being prepared can eliminate or at least significantly decrease the stress that many students feel during their flight lessons.
It is no surprise that the preparation I advocate for the most is flight simulation. I taught college students using books at first, which are great, but saw the best improvement when I implemented flight simulations. The students learn quicker, because they are more engaged, they feel less stress during their flight activities and they are fun!