Not Wanting to Earn Their Wings

July 25, 2006 at 11:32 pm | Posted in flight, tech | Leave a comment

Hopefully your summer is going well.  Mine has been good.

The Daily Link has been in summer hibernation while I have been enjoying life.  Reading this article in the Washington Post motivated me to get typing (the website requires that you created a free account- if that doesn’t work use the resources at

“Not Wanting to Earn Their Wings” describes the alarming drop in student pilots.  I quote: “The number of pilots in the United States has fallen 25 percent in the past 25 years. The number of student pilots has plummeted 56 percent over the same period — from about 200,000 to 87,200 in 2005.”  While not every pilot earns their license in order to become a commercial pilot (you get paid to fly) these numbers have caused alarm in the industry.  Should this trend continue airlines may have difficulty finding qualified pilots to fly their passengers.  Recent financial problems suffered by the airline industry in the post 9-11 travel world (plus high fuel costs) have caused some airlines to layoff large numbers of pilots.   When these same airlines have tried to re-hire these same pilots some are taking a pass and pursuing other careers. 

But back to the article.  It doesn’t paint a very good picture of someone in high school. The suggestion that flying is too hard for today’s teenager is unfortunate.  Worse yet, those quoted in the article suggest that hgih school students lack the commitment and focus necessary to become a pilot. 

My experience as a high school teacher indicates otherwise.  Students are interested in the chance to be different and stand out.  Trust me- a high school student learing to fly is different.  I think that flight has become less adventure and more like taking the bus (Southwest Airlines).  The days of hanging out on the edge of the airfield runway and bumming a ride from the local barnstormer are long gone.  So, how do you try out flying?

The Young Eagles program provides people between the ages of 8 and 17 with the opportunity to fly in a single engine airplane for free.  Learn more at  Young Eagles also offers internships and scholarships.  Of course, flying is dangerous and accidents happen so give this some thought.  Riding in a car is dangerous.  Skateboarding down a flight of stairs is dangerous.  Give it some thought.

My first flight in a single engine airplane was unforgettable and an experience I wish that everyone could enjoy.  It was the exact opposite of sitting in couch class rationing my free peanuts.  The horizon was spread out in front of the prop instead of viewed through a 10 inch high window.  The flight took off in the East Bay and wound north over Napa and then cirecled around Tam before heading back for a smooth landing.

At the very least you should go to an airshow.  Try the Wings Over Wine Country Air Show in August ( 

Ok, back to summer.

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