So, you’re thinking of earning a pilot certificate?

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly”, “I’ve wanted to learn how to fly since I was a kid” and “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time” are some of the more common explanations I hear from people when they visit my flight school expressing an interest in earning a pilot certificate.

While these reasons may seem reasonable on their face, I’m grow concerned when these are the only justifications proposed by someone who is exploring the process of earning a pilot certificate. Why? Because I fear that these motivations will not be sufficient to sustain the effort that will be needed to both earn a pilot certificate and maintain proficiency post-certification.

When a potential pilot’s reason for earning a pilot certificate is business-related, perhaps to reduce the time required for a long-commute or to be able to work with clients further afield, I’m more assured that their underlying reason for obtaining a certificate will help get them through justifying the investment of time and money required to earn a pilot certificate.

Perhaps this is just another example of the difference between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’. So, what if you’re interested in becoming a pilot but you do not have a business-related reason for doing so? I’d suggest spending some time identifying how you will use the utility of a pilot certificate before you start the journey of earning a pilot certificate. Are you an avid outdoorsman or backcountry hiker and want to spend less time in the car getting to your next adventure? Do you have children attending university along the West Coast and want to be able to visit them more frequently and conveniently?

Whatever the reason, its best to determine this before you begin your training journey and for your flight instructor to understand your motivations. Your flight instructor can help to keep you motivated through a tough patch during your training by reminding you of your motivations and taking a break from the syllabus with a ‘fun’ flight that lets you experience your personal reason for flight.