Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Protecting Your Freedom to Fly

Safety Publications/Articles

Instructor Report


Here's something you might want to consider. When students invest six to nine months of their time to obtain a private pilot certificate, they're doing something special - something that's beyond just learning to fly. They've focused a significant portion of their lives for a significant period of time on a single objective. In my book, doing that is doing something special.

When is the last time you spent six to nine months in pursuit of a single goal? College offers a lot to sustain your motivation: the chance to meet someone of the opposite sex, freedom from parental supervision, and the need to learn enough to get a job and make your way in the real world, to name a few. A person who takes flying lessons isn't sustained by such factors. He voluntarily elects to make great sacrifices of time and money (among other things) just to earn the right to be pilot-in-command.

What makes this achievement so admirable is that people often do this without the reward of a measurable daily accomplishment. Because of learning plateaus, it's often difficult for a student to measure forward progress by a specific achievement on every lesson. Yet, to sustain themselves, students learn by default to think in larger spans of time - months and even years in some instances. They learn to think in terms of progress, paid for in delayed gratification, which helps to sustain their motivation to achieve.

This is one of life's valuable lessons. It's the means by which we keep ourselves motivated to pursue goals of epic proportion - goals like earning a pilot certificate, building a business, landing a career with an airline.

This is one of the things that a flight student learns in addition to learning to fly. The next time one of your students graduates to the level of private pilot, remind him or her of this wonderful achievement.

By Rod Machado

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