October 1, 2013
By Dave Hirschman
It’s hard to place a value on my nearly 7,000 hours spent aloft in general aviation aircraft, but $1 million is probably close.
That’s an average $142.85 an hour for airplanes ranging from Piper Cubs to warbirds, so the million-dollar figure is, if anything, too low.
Even more surprising than the monstrous sum is how little I seem to have learned during 25-years of “higher education.” I still make errors, have lapses in judgment, and bungle landings with sad regularity. My only consolation, or schadenfreude, is that others—some with even more expensive educations than mine—prove themselves equally dense.
So, even though the thoughts offered here for free aren’t worth anything close to a million bucks, here are some of the lessons that my 7,000 hours of flying has imparted:
On the other side of the ledger, and balancing out the expenses, are the priceless firsts that flying provides: First solo; first checkride; first passenger; first loop, roll, and spin; first student, et cetera. How can anyone place a value on these milestones?
My highly organized wife Martha handles our family finances, and she’s got computerized spreadsheets covering just about every conceivable category. I’m sure she could tell me at the touch of a button how much I’ve spent on flying—and I’m grateful she never has.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Dave Hirschman joined AOPA in 2008. He has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates. Dave flies vintage, historical, and Experimental airplanes and specializes in tailwheel and aerobatic instruction.
A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
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