While Arizona was enjoying exceptional flying weather in January, much of the rest of the country was experiencing harsh winter conditions. We saw sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice, and the "windchill" we all hate.
My nephew, John, has come from Minneapolis to Tucson several times for a week of relief from the cold. We had planned this trip several months in advance. When he departed MSP January 11 it was a minus 10 degrees F and snowing. I was worried that the flight might be cancelled, but they made it. He enjoyed the 70+ degrees here every day.
We had talked about flying before he came and he was interested. In order to see a bit more of Arizona, we made a flight with Rick Whitaker for a breakfast run. On a beautiful Sunday morning we left Marana (KAVQ) about 7:30 and landed at Payson (KPAN) about an hour later. The flight could not have been better with clear skies, no turbulence, and calm winds.
On our way back we diverted over the eastern end of Phoenix and then over Casa Grande in order to give John an even better view of the Phoenix Valley. He loved it.
John is no stranger to general aviation as his dad is half owner of a Cessna 172 kept in La Cross, Wisconsin, and John has flown with his dad many times. Rick and I did our best to make this flight as pleasant as possible.
It must have worked. Two days after getting back to Minneapolis, John called to tell me that he has decided to pursue getting his Private Pilot License! He had already contacted a flight school at a small GA airport within easy driving distance from his house. The airport also has a flying club, and if you are a member of the club, the aircraft rates are a little cheaper.
That was a fun call for me. I had not expected it, but he enjoyed the flight so much that he thought more would be better. Naturally, we talked about the training requirements, aircraft rentals, written tests, and check rides. I suggested that he look more into the flying club since you can connect with other members and learn from them, not to mention the social aspects of club membership. He knows that his PPL is still a way off, but the first steps have been taken.
If we were closer together I could help with some flying lessons, but I told him to call me any time. Maybe we will have a new pilot in the next few months.
It doesn't always turn out this way. After the first ride, some people just don't want any more. You can't really tell who will and who won't like the experience. We should do all that we can to make the experience pleasant, and after that, it is up to them.
Be sure to check your Arizona Pilots Association for seminars near you, and don't forget to bring your wingman!