Learn to fly: experience firsts you’ll never forget

By Anne Kauztky

Special to The SUN

Photo courtesy Anne Kauztky Safety first. Jesse Rader, a local electrician, preflights the San Juan Flyers Cherokee prior to a recent flight training session. Photo courtesy Anne Kauztky
Safety first. Jesse Rader, a local electrician, preflights the San Juan Flyers Cherokee prior to a recent flight training session.

There are a number of firsts in your lifetime that you will never forget.

When you decide to learn to fly, four events will stick with you for as long as you can remember:

• First flight or first lesson: The first time you sit in the pilot’s seat and the flight instructor hands over the flight controls to you. You realize that the instructor is sitting over in the other seat, relaxed, arms crossed, and you are the one in control and flying the airplane.

• First solo flight: This might be the first time you realize, “I am a pilot!” The instructor is not sitting beside you. You are all alone up there and this is all up to you. All the training that you and your instructor have done up to this point has made this day possible. You are able to take off and land the airplane by yourself.

• First solo cross country: This is the first time you see that you do not have to stay within a certain area. You can travel with the airplane and go somewhere. There is something spectacular about traveling across the countryside, viewing the landscape from a vantage point that most will never get to see.

• First time you take a friend/family member for a ride: This is what you’ve been working so hard to do — share the experience with someone who has been cheering you on throughout this journey. Sharing your passion, being proud of what you have accomplished.

You can experience these firsts, too.

To get started, the first thing you need to do is visit the local airport. Meet the instructors, sit in the airplane and get a clear view of the cost in both time and money to what it will take to get your private pilot license.

Saturday, May 18, is National Learn to Fly Day. The Learn to Fly Day concept was first announced at the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture Oshkosh 2009 as an aviation community-wide effort to help people take the “next step” to discover the fun, freedom and accomplishment of flight.

Through the efforts of the EAA and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), Congress passed a resolution in May 2010, which recognizes the third Saturday of May as National Learn to Fly Day. This resolution supports the goals and ideals of National Learn to Fly Day noting that, “since the birth of flight, aviation has had a tremendous impact on the imagination, innovation and economy of the United States.” Many of this country’s heroes have been pilots, but, “every one of these individuals had to learn to fly before they could achieve their greatness,” and that “flight brings joy, inspiration and a sense of accomplishment to those who fly for recreation and pleasure.” It also praises, “the contributions of flight instructors, flight schools, aviation groups and industry in promoting and teaching the nation’s next generation of pilots.”

San Juan Flyers , the local flying club, will have a booth at the fifth annual Car Show on Saturday, May 18, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Lewis Street in downtown Pagosa Springs. San Juan Flyer members and instructors will be available to answer your questions concerning how you can start on your list of firsts.

For more information, contact San Juan Flyers at 731-3348 or e-mail sanjuanflyers@gmail.com.