Have pilots lost their sense of adventure?

I just finished reading (for about the fourth time) Rinker Buck’s Flight of Passage, the story of two high school boys who restored a Piper Cub and flew it across the country in 1966. It’s a classic flying book that should be mandatory reading for any pilot, but it’s also pertinent to our recent Special Report on the future of general aviation.

Bucks
Rinker and Kern Buck, two teenagers who flew from New Jersey to California in a Cub they rebuilt.

The book makes clear just how much has changed since the golden years, when gas was cheap, airspace was simple and there was no Facebook to distract teenagers. But I found myself focusing on other changes, in particular how much has changed with pilots. Certainly these boys were different–after all, that’s why they made history with their flight. But in other ways they were very ordinary. Unlike some noteworthy recent events, the Bucks’ journey was hardly a millionaire’s publicity stunt or a military-funded record attempt. Rather, the trip happened because two teenagers had a restless spirit and a desire to try something new.

Would this type of flying adventure still happen today? It’s hard to imagine.

Richard Collins said it well in an article last year on Air Facts:

One reason there are fewer pilots is because the mood in our country has changed. There is more of a tendency today for people to be needy and dependent and risk-averse. That is not a good demographic for flight training or for flying.

This statement was met with much derision, but I think Collins’ basic point is dead-on. Almost everyone today, pilots included, is less spontaneous and less accepting of risk. That’s probably a good thing overall (we’re living longer), but it’s less than ideal for getting the most out of a pilot’s license.

Don’t worry, this won’t devolve into some anti-government rant or a lecture about “kids today…” The fact is, I’m as guilty of this thinking as anyone. Some years ago, when a colleague offered me the chance to fly a Cessna 172 from California to Ohio, my first thought was, “Is that possible?” Obviously if two teenagers in a Cub with no radio could do it, I could squeak by with an IFR GPS and an autopilot–but my brain was wired to think otherwise. We can debate why that is, but it’s a fact.

I think this is one reason Airventure remains such an important event. For many pilots, flying to Oshkosh is the last big adventure; the rest of the year we play it safe. I see a lot of pilots who are simply flying to stay current. That’s fine, but a steady diet of touch-and-goes and steep turns is a great way to burn out.

The problem with a less adventuresome attitude is that flying becomes progressively less useful, more boring or both. Soon we don’t see a good return on our aviation investment, our family and friends lose interest and it’s easy to fade away. Adventure doesn’t have to mean record-setting flights, either. It could mean taking a 300 mile trip by airplane instead of car or trying a new $100 hamburger spot.

A reader’s comment on our Special Report sums it up: “general aviation is a product in search of an application. In other words, most of us have no need for it.”

The reader is right in many cases, but it’s our own fault. Sure, the airlines have made air travel incredibly safe, reliable and affordable, weakening the case for general aviation as a means of transportation. But for 300-500 nm trips, a light airplane is still a fine way to travel. Likewise, the countless distractions of modern life offer plenty of alternatives for recreation, but there’s nothing more immersive than flying. To a large extent, whether we have a “need” for general aviation depends on what we do with it. It’s clear that nobody has a need to practice slow flight.

TFR map
Do pop-up TFRs destroy pilots’ sense of adventure?

Some will rightly point out that the high cost of flying and the increasing burden of FAA and TSA regulations play a part. We haven’t lost our sense of adventure so much as the TSA has stolen it, they argue. It’s certainly a valid argument, and the Bucks’ voyage would have been much less spontaneous in a world of $6/gallon avgas and pop-up TFRs.

But these realities can easily become excuses, and we can’t blame it all on cost and regulation. The lesson of Flight of Passage is that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Consider if you were to recreate their cross country flight today. You could easily buy a well-maintained Cub for under $30,000 and spend about $1,000 on gas flying to California. You still don’t need a radio at most airports in the US and you could easily stay in uncontrolled airspace the whole way. But you would probably have an iPad with a moving map, charts and terrain–for a paltry $75/year. We may be less free than we were in 1966, but we don’t exactly have it bad.

If you’re like most people, the word “pilot” brings to mind names like Charles Lindbergh or Chuck Yeager. That’s because aviation has always attracted adventuresome (some might say swashbuckling) pioneers who dreamed big and made a mark on history. We don’t all have to be risk-takers like Yeager, but we could use a little more of their spirit.

If we’re not careful, the obsession with risk and cost management can become fun management–and soon we’ve managed all the excitement out of flying. So the next time a friend suggests a “crazy” cross country or you feel like playing it safe and taking the airline, put on your leather jacket and go flying.

39 Comments

  • John – I understand the feelings you’re expressing, that there are many reasons why flying today seems less free and more burdensome than in the past, and for those reasons flying can lose some of its appeal. Yet I am not pessimistic at all.

    Flying is mostly about challenge, and freedom and adventure and fun, as well as serving as practical transportation. Most occupations and hobbies and even human relationships (like marriage) can grow stale if we’re not constantly challenging ourselves to do something different or new or challenging to add excitement. How many times can you catch the same trout, drive the same road, shoot the same duck, play the same hand of cards, etc etc before you get bored?

    Why not just get in your airplane and fly somewhere you’ve never been before?

    Sure avgas isn’t cheap, but name any hobby that doesn’t cost a lot of your hard earned cash if you really get into it … whether its cars, guns, fishing gear, musical instruments, or even something as simple as bicycling gear … anything can get real expensive in a hurry for serious practitioners.

    So just get in your airplane, and go.

    For variety, I suggest pilots looking for adventure get into backcountry flying and airplane camping – you can do it anywhere in the USA, not just the Alaskan bush. I got into it a few years ago and it added immensely to my enjoyment of flying. And it does not require a million dollar specialized aircraft to do it either – virtually any mechnanical bird will do if you know its (and your) limitations; be sure and get some instruction though.

    Fly with someone else, and see what it’s like to fly their bird, and share the avgas bills. Get into ultralight flying. Earn a seaplane rating or a tailwheel endorsement. Get some aerobatic instruction, or earn a glider rating. Earn an instrument ticket. Help a friend build an experimental aircraft. Or just go to an airport or destination you’ve never been to before.

    If you do nothing but the same old same old, and choose to let life frustrate you and make you unhappy, then there is nobody else to blame but yours truly. Variety and new challenges are the key. This is good practice for pilots, and for everybody.

  • Excellent article – spot on. I have “Flight of Passage” and have given several as gifts. It embodies the spirit of General Aviation – as well as making me thing “I should go look in old barns for airplanes”!

    There is SO much rewarding about GA. Three examples:

    Last weekend I flew three ladies for a Leaf Peeping Tour of the NC/TN mountains. The carpet of colors from above was an incredibly beautiful sight.

    Yesterday I took an 8 year old up on a birthday flight. The GoPro video (thanks for that technology) shows the priceless grin that stayed on his face. He and his parents enjoyed it immensely; my reward was far greater.

    Next weekend we’ll get in the 182 with another couple and fly to the Out Islands of the Bahamas for a week to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. The trip will cost more than catching the airlines but the memories we will make will be far more indelible. Watching the pink sand beaches drift by only a thousand feet below is priceless.

    You can’t do any of those three things any other way. There are other examples of how you can keep the variety and appeal of flying – volunteer for Angel Flight or Pilots and Paws or other charitable flights. You stay current, get used to real life situations that make you a better pilot, and meet the most appreciative people who are grateful for your generosity.

    Sense of adventure? It’s all around us! You nailed it, John – “put on your leather jacket and go flying”

  • I have a solution, or at least one that works for me. I don’t have to convince anyone of the practicality of what I do, because I freely admit that it has zero practicality. I fly aerobatics, but only with a very skilled aerobatic instructor at my side. (Well, actually he’s behind me; I was speaking metaphorically.) I never get jaded. It’s always exciting. Despite the high price of avgas, I still spend less than guys who play golf at upscale courses, and I’m having way more fun. And you really don’t need nerves of steel, or the eyes of an eagle. Believe me, I have neither. Altitude is your friend; start high enough, and there’s enough time to figure out what went wrong, and fix it. You don’t even need the proverbial cast-iron stomach. Most people can develop substantial tolerance for inversion and G-force; just start slow. Ask around and you’ll probably find a CFI and plane that are aerobatic capable. Still remember your first solo? I bet you’ll feel the same about the first time you see the ground up and the sky down. Try it; you’ll like it.

  • Recently my friends, Paul, Craig, and I took a hop from Rocky Mountain Metro (KBJC), Jeffco to the old timers, to Silver West Airport (C08). Silver West is a small strip approximately 50 NW of Pueblo, Colorado. The kind of small airport, with a pump, a nice FBO facility, and local pilots trading “fish” stories. The kind of place that one would imagine two teenage boys in 1966 experienced.

    Granted, this wasn’t a long flight. No more than 150 miles or so. It took us over some of the most picturesque areas of the Rocky Mountains. To top it off, the peak of Autumn when the Aspens turn from green to every hue of gold imaginable.

    The trusty 30 year old 172 took the 3 of us, all large adult males, through peaks, and over mountainous terrain that has inspired many a story of adventure. We picked our way through unbelievable terrain, with some bumps, and a few stories in the cockpit. Three pilots, out on an adventure. An adventure to pick up a plane. Mundane to some, but a treat for myself, and one heck of a nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

    Sure, we could have driven down to the airport to get the plane, but what fun is that? Where is the adventure in that?

    As we flew we discussed the nature of flight training. Training has become a routine in around the local airport. The first 10 hours or so are an adventure, but from there it can quickly become dried out birthday cake. How amazing would it have been during our training to have taken short hops to neighboring airports, to grab a bite, and practiced skills en-route. Adventure/destination based training. Turning each flight into a treat. Putting the adventure back into flying and doing it from square one. Making adventure the act of flying and not something we do on special occasions.

    Adventure doesn’t have to be defined by a risky endeavor, discovering new paths, pushing man and machine to its limits, or flying across the US. It can easily be part of what we do every time we fly. Adventure is a state of mind, not a policy of danger.

    So what can adventure be, it can be anytime we get in that cockpit. It can be training, flying to the airport the next county over to get pancakes with a friend name Brian, or a flight over the hills to pickup a plane. Adventure is what you make it.

    • My flight training was exactly as you describe. My CFI took me on countless breakfast and lunch runs during training. I still fly with him for fun and to keep fresh. Just last month while fine tuning short field technique he said, “let’s go get an ice cream.” A challenging landing at a airport I hadn’t been to in years. The ice cream tasted better for the experience.

  • John, Great article. When I first started looking into getting my license (at Sporty’s) I bought a few aviation magazines. They scared the Hell out of me. I went on to get my ticket, and my instrument rating. I fly about 35 hours a year. Every time I get an aviation magazine there are at least three or four articles highlighting how some poor guy killed or almost killed himself and/or his family. I understand that safety is important, but do the magazines have to crush our souls with it?

    • Good point here. I have yet to see a hot rod or motorcycle magazine dedicate a section to crashes every month; yet they would have plenty of examples to pick from if they chose to do so. I wonder why they don’t? The aviation magazine editors continue to defend the practice based on “learning for safety”. I think it’s counter-productive.

      • Not really hard to figure this one out. As we know, flying is already uber-regulated and our industry rags would be remiss in their responsibilities if they didn’t present topics that help keep the legislators at bay. And addressing ways we can avoid killing ourselves and others is a positive step in that direction…

        Flying also requires many months of dedicated and expensive training just to get a license, not to mention currency and advanced ratings, whereas anyone with some cash (or a good credit rating) can get a fast bike or a hot car.

        Human nature and societal norms view pilots, especially private pilots as rich daredevils and elite fools, but at the same time they see rice-rocket riders (going faster on one wheel than my Warrior does at cruise) as everyday people just having a little fun… Because of that perception, when a plane goes down it’s a major news story which generates tons of negative press, but when a bike or a car crashes it’s an annoyance on the hourly traffic report with no long term repercussions.

        I’ll take all the Accident Reports and Case Studies I can get. I’d much rather see, or hear, or read about various situations that could be hazardous to my health than to learn about them for the first time on some dark and stormy night…

  • I think every pilot has a time when they want to become the adventurous pilot like the Buck brothers. I personally want to drop everything and just fly off to another state just because I have the ability with a private license. But as you put, with 6-7 dollar gas it would cost an arm and two legs with a fuel efficient airplane to become adventurous.
    Many organizations, like EAA’s Young Eagles, try to get kids interested in aviation at young ages, but the cost almost destroy those interests. Those groups do a great job at what they do, but they need to show more to the effect of how you could become a pilot and it is not impossible. On the plus side, the more pilots there are, the lower our cost will become. As a teenage pilot I know that if the cost would be lower, I could exercise my license to learn more often and even become the adventurer that I dream about every time I read Rinker Buck’s Flight of Passage.

  • I think a lot of it has to do with inertia. Costs, regs, TFRs, NOTAMs, etc all tend to make it just too much trouble to go out there and get the engine started. But if can overcome that and get airborne that old spark gets rekindled. I just returned from a 2500 mile round trip xcountry to the AOPA Summit. “It’s hard to explain the feelings I have after a long cross country like this one. Pride of ownership, accomplishment of a challenging task, the delight in seeing new places and talking with interesting people, its all a part of General Aviation. More than anything else I feel fortunate to be able to participate in the adventure.”

    • Great point. When I fly, I tend to fly more soon after. When I get stuck in a no flying rut, it’s harder to get out. That’s why rituals are so important: the Saturday morning breakfast run, the Sunday night sunset flight, etc.

  • Getting my certificates was already a crazy expensive process, and now that we are living in a zero-fault world, doing anything perceived as risky (even if well-planned, within one’s abilities, and legal), can bring a flood or lawyers and the strike of FAA’s hammer at the slightest screw up. An FAA examiner once revealed to me that a young pilot’s career was ended when some FAA line-check saw his altitude drop to 480′ AGL on a part 135 flight (his minimum was 500′ and he was stuck VFR under clouds above, you do that often in some operations in Alaska). They yanked his certificates even though the operation was otherwise legal and routine.

    He was well within his skills and company policies to be flying where he was, and a 20 foot altitude bust destroys his career.

    With threats to my certificate like that, why would I ever want to do anything fun or challenging in a plane unless I had a good relationship with a lawyer who could cover my ass? How could I afford such a person?

    Society has connected risky actions with stupidity and negligence. Can’t blame people who started flying for adventure for coming to terms with the harsh reality of our legal system and economy.

  • I was just out walking and I saw a WW2 Jeep with the windscreen folded forward carrying 4 school kids in school uniforms to school. They all looked pretty happy.

  • I once flew a 172 over the Cascades from Renton Muni (KRNT) to Ellensburg (KELN) and back, with a quick stop at Thun Field (KPLU). It was that rare CAVU day with no wind over Snoqualmie Pass. The flight itself was maybe a shade under 2 hours, but it was some of the most glorious scenery I’ve ever encountered. Eastbound, I could look left and see Mt. Baker and the granite spires of the North Cascades, and to my right was Mt. Rainier in all her glory, with Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens peeking out from behind her.
    Coming home, I could make out the intense green shades of Western Washington, which contrasted sharply with the lighter brown hues of Eastern Washington. Every major municipality of Greater Puget Sound was visible on this crazy clear day. The pictures I took do not begin to do the views justice. This entire round-trip flight was accomplished in the same amount of time it would have taken me to drive across the same route one way.
    It doesn’t have to be a long flight to be an adventure.

  • I think there are plenty of adventures left to be done that would be both interesting and not impossibly expensive. For example I’ve often thought it would be neat to fly coast to coast with some sort of a motorglider just to see how little I could spend on fuel; or an electric plane. My fondest memory is running an open cockpit Fly Baby up the westside of Yellowstone park on a smooth, late September morning on the way to visit friends in Bozeman, MT; low cost, priceless returns. And ski-plane flying; gotta do that.

    I think if we change our view of GA to something more along the lines of aerial motorcycles rather than mini airliners, the adventurous spirit will return.

  • I would have to agree with the author that we Americans as a whole are losing since of adventure. That adventurous spirit is part of what has made the US a leader in the world. He is spot on with his statement that we are “less spontaneous and less accepting of risk.” You can see it everywhere now. Look at what they are doing to football now with the “risk” of concussion. America of the past was know for its risk taking and rough and tumble character. It is part of what made this country so great in its very short history. I love Richard Collins and and what is noted in this as he said, “One reason there are fewer pilots is because the mood in our country has changed. There is more of a tendency today for people to be needy and dependent and risk-averse. That is not a good demographic for flight training or for flying.” And would add that it is not good for the over all health of any country. Thank for the great article!

    • America’s growth was pushed along by European migration. That’s not happening any more, most of the immigrants are coming from 3rd world countries and have no education and no assets. Its not that they don’t have the sense of adventure, they just don’t have the money or anyway of getting it.

  • There is another old challenge out there for just pure flying, no need to go anywhere… try soaring. Join a Glider Club and get a Glider endorsement. That can add a whole new dimension to your flying, sense of adventure and piloting skills. Not to mention lower costs and a whole new set of challenges and decision making.

  • The loss of adventure can be attributed to our transition to a “spectator society”. People watch TV, watch movies, watch sports, watch plays, watch concerts… They do nothing, but watch others live their lives. Getting people off their sofa and out to the airport (or another activity) is most difficult.

    When we are 90 years old and sitting in a nursing home will we really say “I wish I had watched more TV”?

    “Life is short”, and “you can’t take it with you”.

    • Great sentiments Dan but the country is a much more crowded place than in 1966 so perhaps we should leave a large portion of the population watching stuff while we go out and enjoy ourselves. The “couch potatoes” would just get in the way.

  • I’ve been flying for more than 40 years and I’ve experienced lots of different flying niches during that time. I’ve done IFR, long cross country in small panes and competed in sportsman level aerobatics for several years. Only recently I got into bush flying. I bought a Maule and flew it from Seattle back to Virginia, maximizing the number of grass strips I stopped at on the way. In my interactions with other back country pilots,I’ve met a number of much younger folks that are really pushing the envelope of where you can land with a properly configured plane and a well trained pilot. Just look at some of the videos posted by the Ohio Bush Planes, or other videographers from the Backcounty pilot’s website. (here’s an example – http://ohiobushplanes.com/1/?page_id=290. These folks are all about the adventure that flying a plane offers and I think the future of adventure aviation is safe in their capable hands. If you never stray away from paved airports, you might not know about this intrepid group of aviators, but they are out there!

  • Adventuresome. What a nice word. I’ve always thought I was a bit adventuresome–not crazy foolish, but adventuresome.

    I’ve flown my airplane (a 1963 P172D) through the Rockies, with an annual camping trip to Marble, CO with the Colorado Pilots Association. I’ve flown regularly to OSH for several years, both alone and with a buddy. I’ve taken it to Omaha and Salt Lake and Killeen TX and Hardin MT on Angel Flights. Last week I flew to Durango for a visit with my Sis. In the past, I flew the family on vacations from Wyoming to Ohio and points in between, once as far east that I circled Niagara Falls. I’ve flown as far west as the LA basin.

    I’ve also boated throughout the Northwest (the San Juans and Gulf Islands), in boats ranging from my 19′ Sea Ray to a 37′ Bayliner with a couple of 32′ Nordic Tugs in between. Last time I was in BC, I took a morning to take my first seaplane lesson out of the Victoria area–now THAT’S an adventure! I wrote about my first boat trip in the Sea Ray in The Ultimate Small Boat Adventure.

    I’ve bicycled throughout Colorado on the Ride the Rockies tours, 9 times. I’ve bicycled throughout Wyoming on the Tour de Wyoming, 4 times.

    We can choose, either watch others be adventuresome on TV or in the movies, or be that way ourselves. I’ve made my choice.

    Cary

    • Those are some great adventures, Cary. I think your last sentence sums it up – it is a choice. We can feel like victims, but it really is a choice we can make.

  • As is intoned by my E-mail, I own a 1940 Taylorcraft BC-65. NO electrical system, (You ought to see the looks on some people when a 63 year old woman one hand prop starts an Antique Aircraft). Don’t like the price of General Aviation? I have the cure, get an ULTRALIGHT. You can do your own work, NOTHING needs to get signed off, and unless you have done it, you have no idea how it feels to fly in the wind, a road map strapped to one thigh, and a Sectional strapped to the other. How adventurous can you be in an ultralight? I flew to West End Airport on GBI in the Bahamas in a legal 5 gallons of gas Ultralight, no chase boats or planes, NO nav gear, just a lensatic compass held on the top of the stick with my thumb. That was twice the distance that Bleriot flew across the channel, and I didn’t have the Cliffs of Dover to look at to keep me from getting lost. LIVE THE EXCITEMENT!!

    • Sabrina, that is a serious adventure. If you ever want to write that story, we’d love to publish it at Air Facts 🙂

  • Your article was timely. I flew from Ohio to Florida in October for the first time ever in an old Cessna 172 with steam gauges and no autopilot. Although I have an IFR rating, I chose to make the entire trip VFR. I wanted to know if I was up to the challenge of flying to all new airports and through unfamiliar territory including the Blue Ridge mountains. The flight planning was leading up to the flight was also enjoyable as I dreamed of the adventure. Even with the cost, I still prefer the freedom of personal flight to the experience of what commercial flight has become. I’m very thankful to be living within the very short time since the airplane was invented (compared to the time before!). I am both humbled and proud each time I ascend into the heaven above the earth on a magic carpet that I control.

  • Price of avgas is a hindrance to adventure?? Never! I think you’ll find the price of avgas in 1966 was probably more relative to the average pay packet.
    Last year I had the incredible adventure of flying from Oxford, Mississippi to Sacramento, California solo in a C152. It had no GPS but the VOR worked. I wasn’t sure if the little bird would clear the mountains if I followed Route 66, I figured I needed 9000′, so I went south to El Paso. I had to sit out a tornado belt before I left, encountered exhilarating lift in mountain waves near Twentynine Palms and snow overnight in Victorville. All the way I encountered people that still loved aviation and their airports and by and large dream of adventure in the air. Air Traffic Control were helpful and polite and the countryside was spectacular. You have so much adventurous flying that can be done, don’t let attitude get in the way of altitude. If you get bored with that, come to Australia. Like the USA, one of the few places where you can fly for three days in one direction and stay in the same country!

  • Times have changed, society has changed. Kids today don’t look to the sky or space as we did. Name one contemporary aviator that the general public would recognize! Burt Rutan or Patty Wagstaf maybe would fit the bill.
    Powerboat racing is hurting because you can go to your local dealers and buy a boat faster than many race boats.
    Todays generation no longer work on their cars. The cars are too complicated and technology has left the owner in the dust. So today they put on different tires and wheels and call it a day. Go to any car show and count the folks under 40 showing their cars, very few.
    So the problem is not just aviation. Then add the complexity, cost and time to get a PPL, and it is low on the totem pole.
    At the same time there are bright spots.
    The South Carolina Breakfast Club had 77 planes for breakfast a week ago.

    BTW I agree with the poster above, too many accident stories in every journal, magazine, e-mail etc. Enough to scare off anyone. How many times do we need to read someone stalls or runs out of gas or flies into IMC?

    • How many aviators know who Steve Winton jr. is? He’s got everything, good looking, young, blonde californian racer. Your archetypal poster child for aviation adventure. If he was in nascar he would be seriously loaded

  • Hey, if anyone wants that same “Flight of Passage” adventure I have a J-3 Cub for sale in New York that can be flown back anywhere you want for an adventure!(after you buy it of course)…… I am a new pilot of two years and flew a Super Cub home after purchasing in late summer from Oklahoma to Oregon over a 2-1/2 days, saw some beautiful country and it was a real adventure.

  • Turns out that after 32 years as a certificated pilot the only kind of flying I really enjoy is long cross-country flying, and I’ve discovered that it can be done economically with the right airplane and a little research on sites such as AirNav, where fuel prices are published on a regular basis. The trickiest part of the journey is planning those economical fuel stops and figuring how to get around on the ground or find a place to stay without breaking the bank. Hotwire, Priceline, Kayak and other travel sites with last-minute deals do the trick 65% of the time. The other 35% of the time the FBO is there with a great hotel room deal and sometimes even a courtesy car (Thanks KTVR, KLAR and many others).
    I’m pretty sure the reason I love long cross-countries in my airplane (a light single-engine homebuilt) is that I’ve driven the length and width of the North American continent a couple times now and found that on the roads I spend my travel time driving defensively—essentially trying to keep other drivers from killing me. I know that statistically my odds of “buying the farm” and taking my family with me are much, much higher on the road than in the air. I’m taking much less risk by flying myself cross-country than driving. In my aircraft, which was built for 600-mile flights, I spend about the same money as I would in my car on a transcontinental trip (especially when you factor extra hotel nights in) and the view is infinitely better!

  • Hi John,

    While I have not read the book you referenced, I will tell you about another book that will bring back the joy of learning to fly and flight itself. When I was 15, 40 years ago, I read a book called Weekend Pilot, by Frank Kingston Smith. This book was about a Philly lawyer learning to fly in a Cessna 140. It gave me the bug and at 18 I got my license. Mr. Smith went on to write two more books about his adventures as he moved up to a C170 and then a twin. All three were/are great reads which I have read a couple of times to help bring back the joy.

  • One of my aviation adventures was in 1986. I flew a Silhouette kit plane, which I help build, from Merritt Island Florida to Oshkosh. Flight was with no radio and IFR, I follow roads. It was so cool to land at the busiest airport in the world with out a radio. Since then, I moved to Germany and fly a Pulsar which I use to discover many different german towns and other european countries.

    My opinion is adventure is personally motived and influenced somewhat from external factors. I feel the best way to motivate young people to start flying and get them going to starting thier own adventures is to first get them in the cockpit. Let them experience the freedom of flight and the rest will follow. That’s how it started with me when a high school friend’s father took me up and showed me what flying is all about.

  • I just came across your website. Love it so far and really enjoyed this article. I have had my private license for going on 7 years. I had dreamed of learning to fly and all the adventures i’d go on if i ever did since about 8 years old. It took me until i was 36 to finally take the plunge and start lessons. Well i earned my license in 41 hours bought my first plane(C150) and did a lot of local flying and a few short x countries. After about 40 hours or so and a year i sold the 150 because i just did not have the time for the adventures i had in mind all those years ago. I have not givin up on the adventures but it just seems so out of reach. I’ll have to find a copy of the kids flying across the country then maybe i’ll have that since of adventure x-countries renewed

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