I know that this is an Arizona Pilots Association newsletter, and that almost everyone reading this is a pilot. So, why ask the question: “What’s it like to fly?”
When your friends learn that you are a pilot, or flight instructor, the usual first question is: “how much does it cost to get a pilots license?” Or, “how many hours do you need to get a pilots license?” If you try to answer those questions, be sure to watch out for the quicksand. More potential pilots are turned off in those few minutes than ever go on to get a pilots license of any kind.
Many times the conversation will drift away and become; “are those little airplanes really safe?” When you hear that, you know that the trap is being set, and you should be ready to escape. Of course, we try to answer the questions, but in most cases, when you get a question like that one, no answer will satisfy the person. They already have their minds made up. Quicksand again.
Very rarely will you hear “What’s it like to fly?” When I do hear that question, my reaction is; ah ha, maybe I have an open mind here. But what do they really want to know? My best response here is: “That’s an interesting question, why do you ask?”
Now, the person will give me a little more information on what they really want to know. I met an old friend in a shopping center and we were talking. He asked if I was still flying. I said, yes I am. He responded; ‘I always wondered what it would be like to fly an airplane.’ His wife, standing by his side said: “Don’t even think about it!” Bam! The door was closed and locked, just like that. I don’t think he wanted to get a pilots license, he just wanted the experience at least once. But, “don’t even think about it,” was the complete turn off. He will never get to know what we, as pilots, know, experience, and love.
The ‘engineer types’ may want to know more about the physics of flight, and the mechanical stuff that we need to learn. The ‘dreamer type’ will be thinking about getting somewhere more quickly than driving, or watching the world go by them below. The ‘worry types’ will be more interested in the rules and regulations. Everyone has their own motives.
How do we tell them about the pure joy of flying? How can we express those :
Have you ever taken a friend for their first flight? I hope you have. It doesn’t have to be an intro lesson on flight. I can be an intro to just the experience, and it might be the only flight they will ever take. Sadly, some people just hate it, because they expected to hate it. So, if you do take a ‘first timer’ for a flight, be sure to do everything you can to make the experience a positive one. Explain as much as you can without getting too technical for the new rider, and give short safety briefing for those “just in case” things and emphasize that you will not likely need any of this – just like the airlines do before every flight.
Some people won’t fly at all; not even on the airlines. You won’t hear “What’s it like to fly” from them. They already know that you are crazy and you can’t change their minds. When I am flying cross country and looking down at parts of the earth that I would never be able to see from the ground, I just feel sorry for those people. How can I tell them about that feeling you have when flying between layers of clouds and you are the only person in the world that can see that sight at that moment?
Sure, flying has risks for those that are not prepared, or don’t have the skills, and the news will make a lot of noise about those. Unfortunately, that is the only noise many people will ever hear about flying.
That is why the Arizona Pilots Association does so many safety seminars. We want our pilots to be safe pilots and spread the pure joy of flying. So, “What’s it like to fly?” My answer: “It’s pure joy and Magic!”
Be sure to check the website and come to the next seminar. AND: Bring your wingman. Don’t come alone.