14 Reasons To Earn Your Wings

While flying commercial airlines can be a logistical headache plagued with more restrictions and less options than ever before, you have another choice. Avoid the human cattle-call and open your world to thousands of new destinations by earning your pilot’s license. Discover the freedom, control, time savings and travel opportunities millions of pilots worldwide experience every time they take off and land. While you’re at it, check out the cool characters, aviation history and often amazing restaurants and cafes at local airports everywhere. Tame.

1. No TSA “Pat-Down”

npr.org / Via NPR

While 9/11 changed flying forever, being your own pilot means you have access to thousands of airports that don’t serve commercial airlines. Many of these airfields cater to the general aviation (GA) community. Step back in time when flying and freedom were synonymous.

2. Attend the World’s Largest Aviation Geek-Fest

EAA AirVenture Survival Guide / Via airventure.org

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh attracts more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts each summer to the Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI. You have to see it to believe it! The largest air show of its kind, Oshkosh will be held this year from July 28 to August 3, 2014.

3. One Word: Seaplanes

Photography by Vanessa K / Via vanessakauffmann.blogspot.it

Seriously, is there anything cooler than taking off or landing on the water? Especially when it’s planned. While Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger successfully landed his A320 in NY’s Hudson River, most seaplane pilots use amphibious landing gear (aka floats) to navigate such moves. Get your license and fly to your next island vacation!

4. Thousands of Regional & GA Airports

FAA Report on General Aviation in U.S. / Via faa.gov

With more than 5,000 public use airports - and thousands more private airfields - you can fly to ten times as many places than a commercial plane. While many airfields have been abandoned or annexed for development, there are still thousands more in rural and urban areas waiting for you to touch down.

5. Water Bottle in Your Bag? No Problem!

SFGate / Via sfgate.com

6. Leave Your Mobile Devices On

Airplane Owners & Pilots Association website / Via aopa.org

Unlike commercial carriers, using your smart phone or tablet isn’t just welcome on board the plane, it’s encouraged. With new apps debuting every week, you can plan, document and share your flight while in air.

7. Flying Low and Slow

Baden Aviation / Via badenaviation.com

For many private pilots, the journey is the destination. Experience aerial sightseeing — aka ‘flight-seeing’ — as you travel low and slow over mountain, city, field and forest. No borders. No boundaries. No limits!

8. The Only Thing Sitting on the Tarmac for Hours is Your Plane

Mesa Grill, Sedona AZ / Via Facebook: MesaGrillattheSedonaAirport

Pull up, tie-down and get out once you arrive. While your plane sits on the tarmac, you can explore aviation museums, visit local attractions or enjoy a fabulous meal. Many small airports have beautiful views and amazing restaurants on or near the field. The Sedona Airport’s Mesa Grill has been wowing pilots and non-aviators alike who flock to this critically acclaimed restaurant overlooking Arizona’s famed red rocks.

9. Seeing the Sun Rise or Set from the Sky

AOPA / Via blog.aopa.org

Is there anything more spectacular than the front seat of an airplane watching the sun rise or dip into the horizon? No inflight movie or onboard entertainment can replace nature’s spectacular shows.

10. Enjoying a “$100 Hamburger”

Georgia Magazine, July 2013 / Via nxtbook.com

Pilots coined the term “$100 Hamburger” referring to the cost of fuel to fly to an airport diner for breakfast or a burger. Often hidden in ‘plane’ view, these restaurants are well known by pilots, but often unknown by most people. From steakhouses and sushi bars to 50’s diners and BBQ joints, local airport eateries are great finds for foodies and aviation enthusiasts alike. Visit Air Fare America on Facebook or our map of 350+ airport destinations to learn about the great dining destinations at small airports across the U.S. http://airfareamerica.net/Home/Pilots See more photos from our Georgia Magazine collaborator John Slemp at Aerographs Aviation Photography.

11. Simulators Make Learning Easier & Faster

Flight schools across the country like Middle River Aviation in Baltimore use full motion flight simulators to make learning to fly more efficient and cost effective. Discover how you can cut costs and earn your license faster even when the weather grounds you.

12. No Baggage Fees

No baggage fees or “sorry we’re full, check your carry-on at the gate.”

13. Every Flight is 1st Class When You’re in Control

Shoreline Aviation / Via shorelineaviation.net

Whether piloting a Cessna 172, Learjet or anything in between, every flight is first class when you’re in control.

14. Because You Can!

Pinterest / Via pinterest.com

Earning your pilot’s license will challenge you physically and mentally. It will make you stronger and smarter; maybe even more successful. It will open up new worlds and new opportunities. But you have to take the first step. As an airport manager once quipped, “A mile of highway will take you one mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.” Blue skies.

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