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Common obstacles

Flying High: Daniel Island Aviators

After the 9/11 attacks, James Platzer was blindsided by his own personal terror.

He was afraid to fly.

This was not the garden-variety air anxiety experienced by around 30 to 40 percent of American travelers. It was a flop-sweat-inducing, heart-thumping phobia and it kept him grounded for six years.

“I had a pretty serious phobia,” the Daniel Island businessman said. “It was like a switch went off after 9/11 and I just couldn’t fly commercially. My wife Heather and I drove everywhere, including across the country. I literally could not get on a plane.” Read More >>

In any endeavor worth doing, you will likely encounter obstacles that must be overcome in order to achieve your goal. Flight training is no different. Ask any pilot, and they will probably tell you about concerns they had about flight training—either before or after they started. Common obstacles include fear of flying and the commitment of time and money needed to become a private pilot. Rest assured that these concerns are normal—and the obstacles can be overcome.

Finding a flight school

If you don’t know where your local airport or flight school is and don’t know anyone to point you in the right direction, you may wonder how to start flight training. Click here for a list of flight schools nationwide. You can search the database by zip code to find the one closest to you. Once you’ve selected one, just call or stop by to schedule your introductory flight. A flight school staff member or flight instructor can answer any questions you may have.

Fear of flying

Fear is a relative term with many synonyms—nervousness, anxiety, apprehension, dread, trepidation, and worry. How it affects you depends on how you deal with it. If you let it paralyze you, consume your mind so you cannot think and act, it is a bad thing. But if you put fear to work for you, it can be an essential ingredient in the safety of every flight. For example if your fear is of the unknown, then go ahead and schedule an introductory flight lesson. The more you learn about how the aircraft flies and how you control it, the less nervous or fearful you will be. If your fear is of something going wrong in flight, rest assured that as part of your training, you will learn emergency procedures and you will know how to respond to emergencies in flight. You will also perform a thorough preflight inspection of the aircraft prior to each flight to verify the airplane is in airworthy condition. This allows you to detect any problems on the ground to minimize issues while airborne.

Time

As with any recreational activity, the amount of time you dedicate to flying is up to you. As you go through flight training it’s beneficial to fly at least a couple of times a week so you keep proficiency between lessons. That will result in less flight time—and therefore less money—needed to earn your certificate. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules mandate at least 40 hours of flight time for a private pilot certificate, but most people need about 60 hours. Sport pilots need at least 20 hours and recreational pilots need 30.

Cost

The cost to become a pilot ranges from $5,000 to $9,000, depending on the type of certificate you earn. Other factors affecting price include the type of airplane you train in and the number of hours you fly. Once you become a pilot, the amount of money you put into this activity is up to you. You can buy an airplane or choose to rent at the thousands of facilities found at general aviation airports nationwide; you can join a flying club to share the costs with others; and you can fly a few times each week or once every weekend. It all depends on you and how you choose to use your pilot certificate.

Are you currently grappling with an obstacle to your flight training? Tell us about the issue and how you plan to conquer it. Your story may help other prospective pilots begin their flight training journey.

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