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Is learning to fly worth it?

As of late, I have been contemplating my future with regard to aviation. During the past few months I even considered giving it up. With the costs involved and constant demand from family / work it does get hard sometimes.

In the end, I came to the conclusion that aviation has become such a big part of my life that I just can’t see giving it up, but I do have to make a change. Over the past few years I have been talking about getting my Commercial Pilots License. Not so much to make money (commercial pilots know that you won’t get rich flying for a living) but so I could continue to do what I love. Like they say, if you do what you love, you won’t work a day in your life. Successful people from all walks of life say the same, “do what you love and you will be successful

The plan:
Well as you know. A plan is nothing without action so a few months ago I decided to put a temporary stop to flying so I could save a little money. I have used American Flyers for all of my ground school work (PPL – IFR) and so far the classes have proven to be valuable for me so yesterday I signed up for the next Commercial boot camp. Class starts on Friday 3/9 and I plan on taking the written that Sunday. With proper preparation and study I should score in the 90s like all of my other tests.

After that, I will start flight training. I will use one of our club instructors thereby saving a bundle. We plan on starting work in our 172n since it is cheap to fly and then do the final few hours in the 182rg before the check-ride.

After the rating I hope to land some part time flying work as a jump pilot (flying skydivers) or anything else. If any of you know of any other part time gigs let me know.

What inspired this article?
One of the best things about documenting my flights is that I can go back and re-live past adventures. Life is a series of experiences and flying has been a great source of memories that I will forever treasure, and then, I found this picture.

Kind of puts in all in perspective..

Private Pilots License $10,000 (in 2002).
Instrument rating $12,000 (2009)
Years of flying $$$$$$$$
The look on your sons face when he is about to go flying with his daddy… Priceless!


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  • Mike,

    I can’t say I have ever thought about giving up flying but Mary and I have no children at home. We’ve been there done that as they say and now it’s just us. I have noticed my flying hasn’t been as often, even with our nice “winter” wx.  We have concentrated on house things, a new kitchen that seemed to take forever and now a motorhome for the beach. We are excited to fly to/from OXB this summer and not have to drive the 2.5 hours it takes to get to Ocean City MD. The Bride has her beach place and my hours will increase.

    Good luck, you’ll ace the commercial, I have no doubt.

  • Tripp Griffin

    Mike, I think your doubts about continuing to fly and the approach you are taking are perfectly reasonable.  I am in a similar situation with a young family and many other obligations (financial and otherwise) that make it difficult to fly.  Basically, if you do not need to fly to earn a living, then questioning the value and your goals for such an expensive hobby is a wise move.   I do not need to fly to put food on the table and a roof over my head.

    That said, the thrill of flying keeps me motivated to keep going and learning (and spending money!).  But my real long range goal is modeled after my Dad’s flying career.  He has been flying for better than 4 decades as a private pilot, basically just as a fun challenge.  He had a young family and many other obligations, but kept up flying through the inevitable ebb and flow of time and money.  However, as he neared retirement and had more time and resources available, he acquired new ratings and has been able to get out and see new places with the skill and confidence acquired over years of flying.    So, flying to me, will eventually be a way to travel on my own terms.

  • Mike

    Thanks for the comment Tripp. I too dream of the day when time and money permits me to fly when and where I want. I see the commercial / CFI training as a way for me to continue what I am doing but also as a way of justifying the cost involved.

  • Lsaeronaut

    The kids, the mortgage, the two cars, summer camps and soccer practice followed by the kids college expenses kept me away from flying for twenty years. A matter of priorities on where your family decides the dollars have to go. Being a pilot means making good decisions.

  • Mom

    Mike, don’t give up your dreams, but do continue to consider the financial impact and move forward accordingly. Get creative, just because others haven’t figured out a way to make money flying, doesn’t mean you can’t. I believe in you – always have.


  • Mx1man

    Tell me mike what out there doesn’t cost money? I think  its the love of flying that makes you do it. Not a flying job where it becomes you have to do it. Do you get what I mean? I’m in the aviation business and the grass is not greener on the other side. One little thing of advise. When you get your commerical ticket “watch out for the sky diving jobs” Not funn! Not fun!

  • Thanks for the comment Mx1man. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking to quit my day job any time soon. My eventual goal is to earn my CFI II so I can instruct. As far as the CPL. Do you recommend any part time gigs?

  • Mx1man

    I say if you are going to become an instructor then be the dam best instructor that you can be. I remember some instructors that I had. Some great and I learned alot from them.Then there were some that, lets just say, I don’t think they should have become instructors. As for the part time gigs I don’t really know of any now but if I hear of something I will write to you.   P.S.  Love the sight and look forward to reading another flying adventure of yours.

  • Cirrussr22driver

    As a more mature pilot, I have been where you now find yourself. In the 22 years of flying, there have been ups & downs. Balancing family time, work & financial responsibilities will challenge every man’s dreams. We spoke awhile back about your obtaining your CFI, this may not pay well but you will at least be sharing your passion with others & flying at the same time. I have met many pilots and aviators over the years. You my friend are a true aviator, which is light years beyond being just a pilot. I have seen the smile you have brought to your son’s face and it truly is priceless. Stick with it, make it work for you.

  •  A bit late on the response I know. I plan on instructing not so I can build hours but because I actually like teaching others how to fly even more than flying itself. I think…. Scratch that… I know I will be a great instructor some day. 🙂

  • Ponce3143

    I can Appreciate your comments.  My situation exactly.  It hasn’t been 20 years but cloese enough.  Looking forward to resume at some point.

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Amanda Michelle (Younkin) Franklin 3/14/1986 – 5/27/2011 Click for information on Amanda