A breathtaking aerial shot of Mount Jefferson in eastern Oregon vividly illustrates "why I fly," AOPA Project Pilot spokesman Erik Lindbergh told a group of would-be pilots, student pilots, and mentors on Oct. 6. Setting aside the travails of commercial flight, with its long lines, flight delays, and security hassles, piloting your own airplane "is just cool," Lindbergh enthused.
At a session on learning to fly, the grandson of famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh said he wasn't encouraged to take to the skies. It wasn't until a good friend "bugged me" into going to the airport for an introductory flight that he gave it much thought, Lindbergh said. But once he got up in the air, he knew he wanted to become a pilot. This type of friendly encouragement is what propels AOPA Project Pilot — putting together "people who are interested in learning to fly with people who have been there and are desperate to share their knowledge," said Jeff Myers, president of Myers Communications Group. "If I can give you one piece of advice, it would be to get a mentor," Myers said. "It triples your chances for success."
Mentors can provide encouragement and a sounding board for a student pilot's progress. And even before the flying lessons begin, a mentor can offer sound advice on what to look for in a flight instructor or a flight school, Lindbergh pointed out. An audience participant confirmed Lindbergh's observation, noting that her husband, who is her mentor, "is doing an excellent job. He encourages me. To get a mentor and fly — it's one of the best things you can do."
And pilots belong to a select group, representing less than 1 percent of the U.S. population.
October 6, 2007