Learn to Fly Day

Monday, May 23, 2011
by asalvo

This past Saturday was International Learn To Fly Day, so I volunteered to help out at my local FBO/Flight School, Wisconsin Aviation. I am currently taking private pilot lessons thru Wisconsin Aviation and so while I can’t give out airplane rides, I thought I could do my part in sharing the gift of flight by helping out with the open house.

My assigned duty for the day was to man the front counter to help people get signed up for airplane rides. I worked with a former student of the flight school, Britney, who just got her pilots license back in January. While the weather was less then corporative, keeping turn out lower then last year, we still managed to get a few airplane rides in.

Two types of rides were offered, a short scenic flight out to the capital and back, and a an introductory flight lesson, called a demo flight. Most of the people who did turn out were interested in the demo flight and learning how to fly, but a couple of them brought with family and friends who went up on a scenic flight.

The demo flight, which costs $69 and is available year round consists of 30 minutes of ground instruction with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), including learning how to preflight the aircraft. This is followed by a 30 minute flight where the perspective student gets to fly the plane under the supervision of the CFI. It’s a great way to see if flying is something you want to pursue. This was the first step that both me and Britney did in our flight training.

When I did my demo flight back in October, I paid $79 to get into a 4 seat aircraft so that I could take my wife along. I wanted to make sure that she would be comfortable in a small airplane before investing the time and money into learning how to fly. She later told me that she had just gone along to humor me, but in the end really enjoyed it, and realized that having access to an airplane would open up some travel opportunities for us.

Gaining the support of your family and/or spouse is really important in learning how to fly as it gives someone to share the success of your training with. Britney and her husband actually took lessons at the same time which is a great way to learn. Just last week I had the opportunity to sit in the back seat in an Instrument training flight (the next certification that most people pursue after their private pilot’s license) and was able to learn so much by just being able to absorb and not worry about flying the plane.

In addition to the airplane rides, there were tours of the facility offered, a couple of Q&A sessions on the flight training process with the Chief Flight Instructor, Gustav Ryberg, and a limitless supply of free hotdogs and soda! Even with the lower then expected turn-out due to weather, I think the event could still be classified as a success. The people who did turn out for the demo flights were obviously eager to fly, and hopefully will start taking lessons soon.

Even though I was assigned to the front counter, I did manage to get outside a shoot a couple of pictures. Here you can see CFI Pete C. showing how to preflight a Cessna 172 (N3421E) to a couple of perspective student pilots.

IMG_0478 IMG_0477

Checking the elevator and vertical stabilizer

Checking the aileron

If you, or someone you know is interested in learning how to fly in the Madison area, the first step would be to contact Wisconsin Aviation to setup a demo flight. People can also contact me thru my blog or twitter if they would like to talk to me about my experiences in learning how to fly. I just passed the 40 hour mark and have most of my requirements completed for my private pilots license, with just some check ride preparation remaining.  I also recently joined the Capital City Flyers club and made the transition from flying a Cessna 152 to the Piper Archer.


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