Why Do You Want To Fly?
Learning to fly at any point in one's life can be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream but its important to truly understand your mission and what's required to use an airplane in a practical and safe manner.
Over the past 47 years of flying, I have heard many potential pilots and would be airplane owners state reasons they "should learn how to fly" and ways they "could use an plane." Some have business interests that they believe would be better served with an airplane. Some have vacation homes that they feel could be used more often if they could fly. Others live away from family and friends and the notion of being able to increase "face time" with those they love through the freedom of flight is appealing. All are good examples of opportunities where it would appear an individual, armed with a pilot certificate and an airplane, could increase accessibility and expand his or her reach.
In these cases, flying is a means to an end and more often than not it seems, the love affair with aviation dies almost as quickly as it bloomed. From a practical perspective, the reality of being able to "dependably" use a pilot's license and an airplane is a lot more involved than what is originally thought by the novice pilot. Foremost is the obvious expense of flying itself. When the budget gets tight, there are always less expensive options to get oneself from point A to point B. Next, there is the hassle of renting an airplane. It is arguably difficult to find a nicely equipped and well maintained rental aircraft and when you do, the airplane is usually busy.
Even when one has the financial means to acquire an airplane, either alone or in partnership, a commitment is involved. Managing paperwork and maintenance is essential in order to maintain the legality of the aircraft's airworthiness certificate. A good maintenance shop will prove invaluable in guiding the new owner in his or her responsibilities but the responsibility ultimately lies with the aircraft owner. can prove intimidating to the novice airplane owner.
And one quickly learns that while a certificate in your pocket does legally allow you to use a plane to pursue business and personal interests, it is impossible to use it dependably without an instrument rating and the currency requirements that go along with it. When the weather will not support VFR, the airplane sitting in your hangar or on the ramp might as well be a submarine and the old phrase "Time to spare, go by air" will immediately come to mind. There is nothing more miserable than being stranded, sometimes for days, with family, friends or business partners because of a 600 foot overcast
Perhaps the best advice I could give to a person contemplating learning to fly is this... do it for the pure joy that comes with the freedom of flight. If you find you have an opportunity to use your newly earned capability for other reasons, all the better.