EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
5 min read

You worked hard, paid a lot of money and earned your pilot’s license. Congratulations! Now what do you do? It’s a question that comes up more often than most pilots care to admit. Sure, you’ll want to take friends and family up for a ride, but once you’ve done that a few times, you may find yourself looking for new missions.

The good news is that your flying adventures are limited only by your imagination (and to a certain extent, your budget). When you think about it, this is probably one of the main reasons you learned to fly–the unbelievable freedom and possibilities that come with the title “pilot in command.”

Everyone’s dream list will vary, but let me suggest 11 things that every pilot should do before they die. Call it a bucket list if you want, but I consider it a flight plan for a fulfilling life in the cockpit:

Youth flight

Take a kid flying–you’ll have as much fun as they do.

1. $100 hamburger flight. Why do greasy hamburgers taste better when you’re at an airport restaurant? Because you’ve accomplished an actual mission and you’re probably with a group of pilots. This social element to flying is often the fuel that keeps the fire burning. These flights don’t have to be long, and can take you to a fine dining establishment (like Louisville), or to a simple diner (like Urbana). Either way, it’s a memorable meal.

2. Night flight over a city. The word “peaceful” is probably over-used in aviation, but a pleasure flight over a city on a clear night is exactly that. The thermals are gone, the wind is often calmer, traffic is lighter, and the twinkling lights below make it impossible to think about anything else.

3. Fly a taildragger out of a grass strip. Everything may not have been better in the “good old days,” but this is one part that probably was–at least on a warm summer day with the window open. I can clearly remember a flight in a Piper Cub out of a farmer’s field that is among the most awe-inspiring 30 minutes of my life. So find an old airplane and a quiet strip and take a trip back in time.

4. Take a kid for his or her first flight. Whether it’s your own kids or a Young Eagles ride, showing a young person the wonder of flying will remind you how fortunate you are. Even if your passengers never become pilots, their perspective on flying and personal responsibility will be changed forever.

5. Go on a flying family vacation. As this website declares, “There is nothing as rewarding and satisfying as using an airplane to go places.” That’s especially true when you can take your family with you, and show them that all the time and money you spend on flying can pay off. It probably won’t be a flawless trip the first time, but that’s part of the fun. Plan a relaxed schedule that allows you to enjoy the flying as much as the beach.

6. Low and slow cross country in the Fall. Even if you’re not an outdoorsman, a 500 ft. flight across the changing colors of the seasons is breathtaking from the air. Do yourself a favor and turn off the GPS and radio–you’ll want to be looking outside anyway. Pick a winding river or a country road and simply follow wherever it leads. And don’t forget to take a camera.

7. Fly an actual instrument flight. Even if you don’t earn an instrument rating, you owe it to yourself to fly a real approach in IMC (with a pilot who has the rating). Flying through featureless gray clouds for an hour and then seeing the runway lights appear in the windshield is a high that most drugs cannot match. It’s just about magic.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

There’s nothing like Oshkosh.

8. Fly something different. Get outside your comfort zone and take a lesson in an aircraft you’ve never been in. Many pilots would argue that seaplane flying is about the most fun you can have in the air, and I agree. But other great options are gliders, helicopters or aerobatic airplanes. No matter what you fly, you’ll get a new perspective on flying and you might even discover a new passion.

9. Go to the Bahamas or Mexico. While this may not be a short trip (depending on where you live), watching the turquoise waters of the Caribbean or Mexico slide under your wings is well worth it. It’s not as hard as you might think, and there are dozens of outstanding destinations that specifically cater to pilots. And since an airplane is the only way to get around many of these places, you’ll see things that most ground-bound people never will.

10. Oshkosh! Technically called EAA AirVenture, the world’s largest fly-in is one of the few events in modern life that is not over-hyped. You could easily spend the entire week at the show and never see it all. It’s an eclectic mix, too, at once old fashioned and thoroughly modern. You can see antique bi-wings in the morning and modern jet fighters in the afternoon. But the most impressive part of Oshkosh is the culture of hospitality–wildly different people come together as equals at Oshkosh and become friends simply because they love aviation. It’s impossible to describe adequately, so make plans to see it yourself.

Your answer. What would you add to this list? Something you’ve done already or hope to do some day?

John Zimmerman
187 replies
  1. Michael Turner
    Michael Turner says:

    I’ve done nine of the ten, just need to fly a tail dragger on a grass strip. I learned how to fly at an airport that was grass. Now that airport has a Lowe’s and a Home Depot on it.

    • Mike Savage
      Mike Savage says:

      Take a two week session of spin training. Half of it was flying aerobatic routines that I could never do in my Cessna 172!

      About $2 thousand for all and you can spin in your own plane to get the hang of it. About 20 hours of ground and flying. Very worthwhile!

      Mike Savage

      • odyluvs2av8apple
        odyluvs2av8apple says:

        Hey Mike, I agree completely. Back in 1990, I found some extra money and went to a small airport in CA and signed up for an EMT (emergency maneuvers training) course (mostly spin trng) followed by a basic aerobatics course. After 14,000hrs of professional flying…it was the best money I ever spent. What a rush! I am still doing the aerobatics and lots of spins.

    • Ron Myer
      Ron Myer says:

      I’ve done them all, except for Mexico. But you have to add aerobatics in a Biplane with lots of power. And yes, a Beaver is lots of fun. Full or empty it gets off in about 600 ft.

    • gene
      gene says:

      Gorham N.H. could use some fly ins all sorts of restaurants are in walking distance and limington maine has a nice diner at the end of the runway.hope to see you their.

    • Mike Coutcher
      Mike Coutcher says:

      It took us a year and a half of planning, logistics, safety gear…paper work, 40 + lbs. of charts, approach plates (flight done in 1992, No ForeFlight etc.), but, it was an incredible experience. C-172 …KUUU KBGR CYQM CYZV CYRR BGBW BGKK BIRK EGPF EDFE
      Throw in, loosing the electric fuel pump from ferry tank on return leg…and it got very interesting.
      That’s my story….many will think about it, but only a few actually do it.

    • Mike Coutcher
      Mike Coutcher says:

      Fly a P-51 Mustang. Stallion 51 in Kissimmee, FL, offers Crazy Horse and it’s the experience of a lifetime. You…do most of the flying.

  2. Terry
    Terry says:

    I Have done 7 out of Your 10 . I would add , taking a few lessons in a Twin . Not that I want the Rating , just would like to handle 2 throttles and feel that extra Surge on take off !

  3. Derek
    Derek says:

    Dropped the ball on not adding First Flight Airport to the list!! Gave me goosebumps when I landed here for the first time;)

    • Norm
      Norm says:

      I’ve been to Kitt hawk prior to taking flight teaining. It’s a great place to visit and for pilots it is visiting the shrine of aviation. How exciting is it to fly your airplane parallel to the flight path taken by the Wright Brothers in 1903!! That’s definitly on my “bucket list.” So is flying for a vacation in the Bahamas.

    • Norm
      Norm says:

      I’ve been to Kitty Hawk prior to taking flight teaining. It’s a great place to visit and for pilots it is visiting the shrine of aviation. How exciting is it to fly your airplane parallel to the flight path taken by the Wright Brothers in 1903!! That’s definitly on my “bucket list.” So is flying for a vacation in the Bahamas.

  4. Richard Ewing
    Richard Ewing says:

    I live in Perth Western Australia. A friend and I are off to Oshkosh for the fifth time this year. So if you live in the US, don’t you dare complain that it’s too far away.
    We are also building a Sonex. So, No.11… Build your dream. :-)

    • Ronnie
      Ronnie says:

      Richard, I am headed to OshKosh for the first too. I started working toward my ticket in 1986 and I just earned my license in March ’12. I would love to make your acquaintance at Osh Kosh. Have a safe flight from down under!

      • Don Cothran
        Don Cothran says:

        Props for you! That is cool that after all that time you finished and got your license. I started training in 1986 as well and although I did get my license and logged almost 200 hours I basically stopped for 2 decades. I got the bug at 62 to see if i could fly again and after fights with the FAA Aeromedical dept over past ailments I got my medical and that beautiful biannual. Add to that in the last 6 mths I bought my first airplane… Just proves age need not be the factor for living a dream. Best of luck in your quest for OSHKOSH.

  5. Jordan Skok
    Jordan Skok says:

    Fly over a city on New Years or Fourth of July…
    7 spin stall…
    Airport Geocashing…
    Fish off a sea plane…
    Hand Start…

    Mile high club? :D

    • Kenn Hinick
      Kenn Hinick says:

      Flying the canyon was one of my most cherished flights. I was flying as co-pilot in a huey with another huey and a cobra from Ft. Irvin, California back to Ft. Carson, Colorado. The view of the dam as we flew towards it was spectacular.

  6. Art Pauly
    Art Pauly says:

    I’ve done 8 of the 10 things you mentioned. actually, I have flown out to Catalina Island and up and down the California coast. Does that count for #9? If so I’ve done 9 of the 10. I would add fly or fly in an open cockpit aircraft. I’ve done that a couple times and it’s quite a thrill. You can really feel the air and hear how the air reacts to the aircraft. It’s great.

  7. Hunter Heath
    Hunter Heath says:

    Have done 8 of 10, plus flying a Bonanza IN the Grand Canyon (yup, years ago). My no. 11 is a tossup (apologies in advance) between taking aerobatic instruction and making ten perfect landings in a row on a paved runway w/ my Aeronca Chief!

    • Reuben
      Reuben says:

      mine too! I would love to fly on floats. I got to take a ride (in the back) in a Beaver in Seattle last summer, it was very cool!

  8. Greg
    Greg says:

    I’ve done all except #9. I’m not really interested in flying internationally, especially Mexico. The Bahamas might be nice, I’m not sure the paperwork and ‘pucker-factor’ over the water is really worth it.

    I do like some of the other suggestions like aerobatics and float plane experience tho. Those are definitely on my bucket list.

    • Connor
      Connor says:

      Just check into fly”outs” from Florida. There’s breezer aircraft company whos owner does a lot of flying to the Bahamas and loves to help people do that flight.

    • kenn Hinick
      kenn Hinick says:

      The paperwork for the trip is not as bad as some think. The customs people are, according to some that have made the trip, very responsive to pilots needs. This is especially true on the Bahamas side. The weather is normally clear, blue, and 22 and from Florida at 4000 ft you can see the islands on most days. AOPA and several other sites have information on what you need to do to have an injoyable experence.

    • Betty Storrs
      Betty Storrs says:

      Definitely worth it. My first trip to the Bahamas was the Women’s International Air Race to Nassau. Later with the whole family for awsome sunburns while snorkeling.

  9. Grant
    Grant says:

    I’ve done ’em all. A T-6 from a grass strip in New Zealand nicely takes care of a couple of them! For number 11, add Fly a Public Benefit mission, like Lifeline Pilots, AngelFlight, or Pilots N Paws

  10. Jim Wreyford
    Jim Wreyford says:

    Have done 9 outta 10.

    Most of the multiple times … and hope to do them more often.

    Want to aim to get 10/10 in a single year.

    My next #8 is to get some seaplane time/instruction.

  11. Larry Baum
    Larry Baum says:

    I’ve been fortunate to have done them all. For #11, we flew across the continent from New York to Olympia, Wa and then north to Alaska. #12 will be to fly in Hawaii or in Australia.

  12. Bill Davis
    Bill Davis says:

    I’done 6 0f the eleven. Best- flying below the rim

    of the Grand Canyon in a P_63. Also under the Longview bridge over the Columbia River northwest
    of Portland, Oregon in a P-39..

  13. J. I. Logan
    J. I. Logan says:

    Donate your time and expertise to saving peoples lives. Angel Flight, Royal Flying Doctors, etc. My goal is to fly for Medicine n the Move.


  14. AfricanEagle
    AfricanEagle says:

    I am missing Oshkosh, being a bit distant from where I live. I have also flown a radial engine and do Civil Air Patrol.
    What I really want to do is fly from Rome,Italy to Capetown, South Africa in a Piper PA18 Cub.

  15. HR
    HR says:

    Do a medical mission. Great satisfaction in being able to help someone with a big problem. Recently took a kidney transplant patient to get a kidney in the middle of the night. Only way it would have worked for him since time is very important in transplants

  16. Nathan Wang
    Nathan Wang says:

    im a student with only 8.8 hours… today imma fly a piper pacer tail dragger out of a grass strip. one out of 10 done!

    • Steve C
      Steve C says:

      I’m a student with three hours. All I’ve done so far is fly Tiger Moths off grass strips. Number 2 on the list is to fly straight and level.

  17. Michael Ricks
    Michael Ricks says:

    Great list. I have hit 9 of ten so far. Believe it or not, Oshkosh is the one missing.

    I would definitely add flying a float plane (I found both a Super Cub and a Beaver to be satisfying), as well as flying aerobatics (I have played in several types, mostly antiques, but the most fun was in a Fox glider). Also amazing, bush flying in Africa.

    Great read.

  18. Brian Litch
    Brian Litch says:

    KLXV, Lake County Airport, Leadville CO. At 9934 msl, the highest paved runway in North America. Pick a beautiful VFR day and go with an instructor experienced in mountain flight. You will be amazed by the effect of the altitude on your SOG at touchdown. The flight up the Arkansas River Valley is extraordinarily beautiful. The Western side of the valley is formed by the Collegiate Peaks which are in excess of 14,000 ft. It was one of those flights I’ll never forget, highly recommended!

    • Kenn Hinick
      Kenn Hinick says:

      A great flight. Don’t forget to get your certificate of pilotage for navagating the airways to North America’s highest airport. I recommend early morning as the density altitude can climb very quickly when it starts to warm up.

    • Jonathan
      Jonathan says:

      Good one. I learned to fly from LXV and later was Mt flying instructor. Wonderful place.

  19. paul cullman
    paul cullman says:

    Done them all and glad I did Mexico and Central America while things in general were peaceful. Soloed on skis, and found out what wheels were like in the spring.

  20. David
    David says:

    Fly a Sailplane (Glider). Or did someone say that one already? I did not read all of the comments completely.

  21. Barry R. Urry
    Barry R. Urry says:

    Don WWII leather helmet with British Goggles, and parachute, and take a ride (hopefully with plenty of stick-time) in a P-51 Mustang. There’s only one thing better, and that, by just a little bit.

  22. A. H. Powers
    A. H. Powers says:

    I would add the flight down the Hudson River in NYC. (about a month before the 9/11 disaster)
    As an extreme West Coast aviator, that alone was worth crossing the continent to see. OSH on the way was ice on the cake.


  23. Dan
    Dan says:

    I once flew from Boston to New York on the 4th of July with fire works most of the way. Spectacular! Possibly better than the time whale watching off the California coast.

  24. Dustin
    Dustin says:

    I’ve done 2 of the 10 items on the list (technically). Flying over a city seeing the twinkling lights at night is nothing short of nostalgic. Sometimes, I pick a particular light and wonder, “Who’s in that car or house, what are they doing at that exact moment, having no idea I’m looking down on them from above. Second, I have flown in Nicaragua twice in a Cessna 150. It was the first time of my life flying over the ocean… …unforgettable.

  25. Gene
    Gene says:

    Ive done these:
    1. Pilot a Russian MI-17 Helicopter in Cambodia
    2. Pilot a Hot Air Balloon
    3. Pilot an Air Ship (blimp)
    4. Pilot a seaplane
    5. Free fall parachuting
    6. Pilot a gyro-plane
    7. Pilot a French Broussard
    8. Pilot a DC3
    9. Pilot 600 miles in hard IMC non stop
    10. Land in a cow pasture at night
    11. Pilot the same airplane for more than 3000 hrs
    12. Pilot 600+ miles non stop at night

    I would like to fly a C-130

  26. Dan
    Dan says:

    So many wonderful memories of flight. In 1960, towed to 2,500 feet by a 1927 French bi-plane and then gliding for hours along the Swiss German border with a Swiss Air Force captain. Flying in a SNJ-4 to an air show at Airborne’s base at Wilmington. Going to the Paris Air Show in 1977 as a guest of Falcon Jet after purchase of a Falcon 20. The list could go on forever.

  27. Tom
    Tom says:

    The one I would add is one that I just accomplished last summer. A cross country trip. No, not the 60 mile cross country that we’ve all done, a true cross country- sea to shining sea cross country. I flew Atlanta to California (routing through Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California) and then back all the way to Savannah Georgia and then home to Atlanta. Enroute I flew Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon VFR corridors, Hoover Dam, and Meteor Crater. I literally flew above the Pacific Ocean and 2 days later flew above the Atlantaic ocean. It was the most memorable trip of my life!

    • Thomas W. Ivines
      Thomas W. Ivines says:

      Hey Tom: Great trip. I did the same thing in a light sport. Took me four days, though, because of weather.

    • Richard W
      Richard W says:

      Just curious how you got to Texas from Mississippi or did you go around Louisiana? Sounds like a great trip.

  28. Thomas W. Ivines
    Thomas W. Ivines says:

    Does my heart good to know I have done all ten, but does that mean I’m done? Not hardly. I still plan on flying across Canada from the southeast US coast, to Alaska and back via the US northwest coast… I mean, I’m only sixty five years young after all.

  29. Roger Brining
    Roger Brining says:

    I have done 9 of the 10. Just need the Bahamas or Mexico, although I have flown in the Florida Keys, and they are very beautiful, also.

    I would like to fly in a glider sometime.

  30. Larry James
    Larry James says:

    I have done 8 of the 10. For #11 I recommend getting a DC-3 Second in Command Type Rating. The 2 I haven’t done? Low and slow cross country and trip to Bahamas.

  31. John
    John says:

    Got all 10. Agree 11 used to be the Hudson River over NYC day or night – used to be able to do that any time you wanted to. My float plane flight was in a Cherokee Six off of the Indian River near Vero Beach. Nice list/blog, thanks.

  32. Rob Kuhns
    Rob Kuhns says:

    Fly around the island of Oahu. Rent a plane and circle the island. Beautiful! The next challenge for me is to fly to a nearby island.

    • Thomas Ivines
      Thomas Ivines says:

      Rob: Forget about Oahu. You really want to fly around the big island of Hawaii. It’s about the size of Rode Island and much more scenic. Oahu is an old eroded island and only takes about forty-five minutes in a Cessna 172, which is about the only rental you can get. Hawaii is a little over two hours around with volcanic action, water falls, epic-cliffs, jagged shore lines, etc. Oh, and by the way, the rental companies won’t let you fly from island to island.

  33. Peter
    Peter says:

    Good list. Other than Oshkosh and actual official instrument work (lots of VFR time in IMC)I’ve done ’em all.
    Like others, I’d add Kitty Hawk, as a pilgrimage, and the Grand Canyon. I’d also add open cockpit, preferably a big biplane.

  34. Gerry Jurrens N2GJ
    Gerry Jurrens N2GJ says:

    I did two of those things at once: took a one hour lesson in a J3 at Sky Manor in NJ, then took up my toddler son (at the time) for a ride. Summertime meant the door was clipped to the wing, and a frightened little guy wanted to unbuckle his belt and come back with Daddy! It was the scariest 20 minutes of my flying career!

  35. Gerry Jurrens N2GJ
    Gerry Jurrens N2GJ says:

    I’d suggest a hot air balloon ride at dawn (or dusk), an intro lesson in a Robinson R22, flying right-seat in a bizjet (OK, so I wasn’t really flying, I was just sitting there while it was flying!) Taking a helicopter ride to the volcano on Montserrat while in the left seat was one of the coolest things I’ve experienced in an aircraft!

  36. John W. White
    John W. White says:

    I still fly from my grass strip in Aeronca L-3,
    and I have done all 10, but a flight in a ballon was a real kick.

  37. Jack
    Jack says:

    I think Tom suggested flying back and forth across the continental USA.

    I’ve done that once, CT. to CA. And almost again (CT. to UT. via MT. and Yellowstone.) These cross countries are a good challenge and you have so many interesting sites you can visit along the way.


  38. David
    David says:

    Fly past the worlds tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 1500 feet and look up to see the top.

  39. Jonas
    Jonas says:

    For me as a Swedish resident and European pilot, flying in another country as a tourist and especially in the USA was a big milestone in my flying. Last trip was from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

  40. Jim
    Jim says:

    I’ve done 9 out of 10 (Oshkosh.) I would add fly in a seaplane (on floats) even if one just flies in the right seat. I’ve not gotten my seaplane rating yet.

  41. Ron Chandler
    Ron Chandler says:

    I’ve done 9 of the 10. But instead of the Bahamas, my son and I flew my Cessna 172 from Kansas to Alaska and back, to celebrate his 40th birthday. Our route followed my old friend’s advice, “head northwest, keep the rocks on your left going up and on your right coming back”. It worked. What a blast.

    • Mort Mason
      Mort Mason says:

      If the rocks were on your left on your flight to Alaska, you must have been flying that C-172 backwards! That must have been interesting . . .

      • Ron Chandler
        Ron Chandler says:

        Well, if you start in Kansas and head northwest, there are a lot of tall rocks that will appear on your left. They are called the Rocky Mountains. Try it.

  42. Vicki B
    Vicki B says:

    -finish flying to all airports in my state. (only 15 more)
    -fly Alaska
    -fly over the neighborhood I grew up in. (would include coast to coast crosscountry)

    These came immediately to mind.

  43. Andy
    Andy says:

    my flying bucket list definitely contains:
    – landing at courchevel(FR), one of the steepest runways in the alps
    – flying a dc3 and/or some warbirds
    – an actual imc flight on conventional instruments (no glass cockpit)

    and the rest is all in the list

  44. Paul
    Paul says:

    Just got my licence but I have 3 out of 10 and really looking forward to ticking off the rest. Soloed in a tail dragger on a grass strip at it was awesome. Just jumping a ride in anything that flies is all part of the fun /obsession. So many peoples only experience of flight now is with 300 other people in a tube. Float flying is just the best and will be my next rating.

  45. Louisa Baer
    Louisa Baer says:

    Taking my first flying lesson tomorrow, so I have all 10 to look forward to. Flew right seat to the Keys just last month — gorgeous!

  46. Marc
    Marc says:

    Wow, I have done 9 out of 10…. But so far my favorite was the summer we did the island hopes. That year for my vacations we took 3 and 4 day vacations to islands with runways. Marta’s vinard, put-in bay, Kelly’s island, Jekyll island, key west. Took folding bikes a road all over the islands sight seeing.. Try- it you’ll like it…

  47. Mark C.
    Mark C. says:

    My first lessons were in a taildragger off a grass strip, so #3 is covered, my night cross country training included flying over a city, so there’s #2, and transitioning from the Champ to a C152 was hard enough that I consider #8 covered, but I still want to take soaring lessons and maybe balloon lessons and maybe IFR, high performance, complex, and seaplane ratings. One thing I’ve done that I recommend is flying a taildragger on skis, snow is so forgiving it makes every landing look like it’s perfect. Having gotten my license this week, # 1, 4, 5, and 6 are not long off, and #10 is scheduled for this summer although I’m not sure yet if I’ll fly in or drive in. My personal list of #11’s includes making some long x-c’s in the Champ, hitting some backcountry strips and camping out, and flying a Stearman. My wife is taking me to Kauai next month and I’m looking into rentals, I’d love to add Hawaii to my list of states I’ve flown in. And having hiked the trail that circles the airport, flying into KSEZ above Sedona is on the list.

  48. Dianna C
    Dianna C says:

    I would say, if you can afford it and have your commercial license, get your instructor rating. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to teach and inspire someone the way your own instructor did for you. It makes you a better pilot in the process since you go right back to the basics to become the best pilot you can be.

  49. Carl Morgan
    Carl Morgan says:

    Do yourself a favor and go fly a couple of days with Budd Davisson out in Arizona where you can fly and land (or at least try to land) his S2A Pitts. Just make sure you stay with him and his beautiful wife. You’ll never regret it and you’ll never forget it.

    • Jim Wreyford
      Jim Wreyford says:

      Have to agree on the Pitts. My son just got a Pitts sign-off in a S2B! Plus basic acro and he loved it. He is going to be setting up with Budd too. Has already been talking to him.

      As for the IF you can, my son has sub 100 hours Total time and only about 8 hour tailwheel … he picked up on the Pitts right away. Made him proud that he had done something his Dad has not (yet) done.

  50. Josh W.
    Josh W. says:

    At 19 years old, 85 hours TT and 6hrs Tail-wheel I have been fortunate enough to have done 7 of them. I would have to say getting checked out in a Pitts would have to top my favorites. It was the most fun I have had, period. Also, flying the Pitts was not as hard as some make it sound. If you want to do it GO DO IT! Take every safe opportunity you come across to fly something new and never be too shy to ask. And for the fixed wing guys, go fly a helicopter for an hour or so. Its eye opening.

  51. Joshua Collins
    Joshua Collins says:

    i went to Oshkosh but only saw the museum and nothing more but i didn’t fly there. is it different if you fly there? or is it at a special time of year that things go on?

    • Mark C.
      Mark C. says:


      Type EAA Airventure into Google and find the answer to your question. And if you plan to fly to OSH between 07-22 and 07-30, make sure you check the NOTAMS (I’m not sure about the effective dates).

  52. Kenn Hinick
    Kenn Hinick says:

    An impressive list of great things to do. I have done most of them but still have a few to accomplish. I have flown the Grand Canyon and over Hoover Dam. I have my Certificate of Pilotage from Lake County Airport in Leadville, Co. I had 3 instrument approaches in actual weather in my lokbook as a student pilot. (I hate wearing the hood) I one thing that I look forward to is to become a CFI and experence the thrill of having my first student solo. Aways have something to keep you learning and do it safely.

  53. Dr. Kenneth Nolde
    Dr. Kenneth Nolde says:

    I am not big on seaplanes or gliders for that matter, a flying vacation–seems that is what the plane is for. I have done most of the neat stuff listed. I would add two things: first a flight from the Narrows Bridge down the Hudson River, past the Statue of Liberty at 500′ is breath taking; secondly continue north down the river to Old Rhinebeck Airport to see the old airplanes fly–wonderful.

  54. Darren
    Darren says:

    Fly in a different country with different procedures. I mainly fly in the UK, but also fly in USA and Australia where things are very different.

    • Skyking
      Skyking says:

      I’m from the USA, but have flown in over 3 dozen other
      countries as PIC in SEL airplanes.

  55. Mike Spinelli
    Mike Spinelli says:

    I have done quite a few of the things to do as a pilot. I would like to do the OSKosh thing but hope some of you that have done it could give give me some info; Thanks

  56. o2bav8n
    o2bav8n says:

    Worked 15 years flying a news helicopter in and around San Diego county. Ocean, Mountains, City lights at night. Have accepted that I will never have a flying job as glorius as that again . Lifetime of stories for the future grandkids.

  57. Skyking
    Skyking says:

    I’ve flown a cropduster to Pakistan twice from the USA and flown a helicopter off a Tuna boat, spotting fish on the equator.

    Oh, I have also flown a “Bamboo Bomber” (Cessna T-50) from a duster strip.


  58. Ken Kaiser
    Ken Kaiser says:

    Took my first flying lesson in 1945 and at that time paid $4.00 per hour for a piper J3 Cub. Still have a License at 81 and still love it except the cost

    • Skyking
      Skyking says:

      Yeah, I know what you are talking about. In 1963, I
      was paying $4.00/hr for an Aeronca L-3 while working on
      my Commercial.

      When I was instructing in my own Piper Colt in the mid
      60’s I was charging $10 for the plane and $5 for my time.

      Sky King

  59. Carl Morgan
    Carl Morgan says:

    I was in Oscaloosa, Iowa a few years ago getting fuel and complaining about how high fuel and flying was when a quiet elderly man sitting in FBO perked up and said that the cost of flying had not changed over the yesrs. When I gave him a look he said “50 years ago it took all my money to go flying and today it still takes all my money to go flying!!!”

  60. Donnie Isaac
    Donnie Isaac says:

    You MUST fly and Angel Flight or Compassion Fight. DO you know the adage nobless oblige? That means that the Nobility is obliged. As a private pilote, certainly one who is IFR rated, you are OBLIGATED to give back. Maybe not all the time, but try it. I guarentee that first time you see that child/person smile and thank you for a fabulous flight, you’ll be hooked. It’s a great way to give back and fly more too!

  61. Tom Ivines
    Tom Ivines says:

    It amazes me that this string is still being posted on. I put my two cents worth in at the very beginning but I keep seeing more and more posts in my email. Something I should have added at the beginning was “Pilots-N-Paws.” This is a worthwhile organization. I have been flying for this organization since its conception, transporting dogs around the country in my airplane that were otherwise slated to be killed. The satisfaction of knowing you saved the life of a beautiful pet is beyond words. If you have not done this, you should add it to the top of your list.

  62. Winson
    Winson says:

    Flying a Bell 407 at night with night vision goggles EMS, below the rim in the Grand Canyon.

  63. sump
    sump says:

    been trying to complete my licence now for years and keep running out of cash….but oh so close now……all of these experiences would be wonderful to say the least…….one i have not seen here on the list is to actually jump out of a perfectly good aircraft and watch it fly off….what a hoot

  64. Liz White
    Liz White says:

    I would love to do #2 and #3. It sounds lovely. I did #6 last fall in a Biplane. It was beautiful to see the ground the way birds do. I would love to do #10 but I have a scooter. I am not sure it would be good with crowds

  65. Scott
    Scott says:

    Do the trans Atlantic route Goose Bay – Narssassuaq – Reykjavik – Wick and beyond. Too cool if you can stand the $20 100 octane at BGBW! Take a camera. National Geographic scenery.

  66. Steve
    Steve says:

    Most flying clubs do some fun activities that are designed to hone the skills. So try entering a flour bombing comp, ballon popping or streamer chasing. The bucket list challenge is to be your best, hit the mark, or pop the balloon. In addition, another great must try is formation flying. Every time a glider is aero-towed it is like being in formation. Take some lessons – it is an awesome experience to be so close to another aircraft based on your skills as a pilot.

  67. rdt7
    rdt7 says:

    I would add three things: 1) rent a 172 and fly around the Hawaiian islands 2) shoot an approach to minimums and miss 3) fly aerobatics solo.

    Really, there are a million great things you can do with an airplane. Flying is a gateway to adventure.

  68. Skyking
    Skyking says:

    I have flown single engine aircraft from Oakland,ca to
    Hawaii. The final destinations were Seoul and Bangkok.
    What else is there?

  69. Tom
    Tom says:

    It is amazing the great things you can do in an airplane.
    To this list I’d add spending a week flying the back country of Idaho.

  70. Clarence Oveur
    Clarence Oveur says:

    “Nearly killing yourself” must have just missed out on the list. Sorry, black humor. ;-) But if you fly long enough… Anyway, great list. Only missing number 6. California doesn’t have the color change.

  71. Roger D
    Roger D says:

    Two best flights: Both orignated from Griesers Airport Wauseon Ohio back in early 70’s. 1st was to Burke Lakefront with father, walked to see Indians play and flew home in evening. Next was a flight to Indianapolis to see the time trials & flew home Sunday evening. I did the navigation, pilotage (sectional, straight line, & landmarks) Good fun with father in a Cessna 140.

    • Roger D
      Roger D says:

      OK, Does anyone know or remember Grieser Airport? I also had a ride in an F-16 over Souther Ohio, & Southeast Indiana. Pulled 7.2G’s, but I’ll take the Cessna 140.

  72. Jeffrey G
    Jeffrey G says:

    I flew a R44 helicopter from Las Vegas to Atlanta Ga at 500 agl. It was a trip of a lifetime with great views. Including Hoover Dam and flying down the Colorado River.

  73. Michael W
    Michael W says:

    Love this list, John – happy to say I’ve done several of them already. You mention “take a kid flying” – I’m struggling finding any FAA regs on taking children up as a private pilot. Either I’m missing something or children are just categorized like every other passenger. I have a 3 1/2 year old son, and would love to take him up. Can I do that? Does he need to be in his car seat? In the back? Any insights would be much appreciated, both formal regs and informal recommendations (i.e., are you nuts? Never take a 3 year old in a small plane? ;-))


    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      Michael, it’s not crazy at all. I’ve flown with my kids since they were a few weeks old and it’s been a lot of fun. The regulations are very limited, so common sense rules. I just put them in whatever seat they ride in in the car, although that’s not necessarily the law. Back seat is a good idea until they’re older, just so they don’t touch the controls. I also would take another adult along – there may be a time when your son needs something but you need to focus on flying. Last tip: make the first flight a short one and make sure the weather is good.

    • Lou
      Lou says:

      My son was three the first time I had him up. He was thrilled. Has his own PPL now. Just got it through the (Royal Canadian) Air Cadet program. Go for it. Don’t lose another minute. You might want to use a booster seat like you you do in the car, but strap him in, and break the surly bonds of earth together.

  74. Andy Charlson
    Andy Charlson says:

    In the early 80’s, I got off duty to find my friends from the aeroclub flew to the Paris Airshow. Having a 4 day pass, I fueled up on of the less used Piper PA-38 Tomahawks and with some C-Rations and a few gallons of water in the seat beside me, I flew from Ramstein AFB to Paris. The flight took less than 2 hours. I had to hold for another hour before I was vectored in. I did this as a new Private Pilot with around 100 hours. I still get a laugh when I think about the Parisian Air Traffic Controller trying to understand my Southern accent and my attempts to understand his… Frenchy English. One thing I forgot to take was a HERE (human element range enxtender) bottle. What a great time!!!

  75. Dean Holms
    Dean Holms says:

    I bought a cessna 150 In Pennsylvania and, with a friend, flew it home to Austin,Texas. One year later I moved to Bozeman, Montana and flew it from Austin to Montana. A long XC in a small plane is a must do. (We had no GPS and inoperative VOR)

  76. Joe in WYO
    Joe in WYO says:

    I have knocked most off the list, but the one I would add and enjoy the most is camping with my aircraft! Load up a bunch of gear, steaks, fishing rod, and a good wine to finish it off and get out the sectional to explore some very special stips in Wy, MT, & ID! Also bought a folding mountain bike so that I could extend my area of operations once on the ground. I would give you may favorite strip, BUT enjoy having the place to myself. Look for me and N30661 out and about this summer! Oh and Beaver Island is a place that is at the top of my list, even if it doesn’t give you that Rocky Mountain high:-)

  77. Michael
    Michael says:

    I love the idea!! I’ve done all 11 but it was a long long time ago for some of them. You’ve inspired me to start the list again!


  78. Maharani
    Maharani says:

    Fly over the Los Angeles Basin on July 4 to view the fireworks. Simply incredible!

    Take a flight lesson if you travel somewhere interesting-I have flown in Oxfordshire and Maui.

  79. Maharani
    Maharani says:

    Fly over the Los Angeles Basin on July 4 to view the fireworks. Simply incredible!

    Take a flight lesson if you travel somewhere interesting-I have flown in Oxfordshire and Maui.

    Co-pilot a jet x country-amazing!

  80. Jeffrey Sell
    Jeffrey Sell says:

    Fly a PLA (Practice Low Approach) to the shuttle landing strip at the Kennedy Space Center. Incredible views, and you’re flying an approach to a place where space ships landed

  81. Ken Hawkins
    Ken Hawkins says:

    I think my most memorable flying experience was delivering 7 rebuilt Super Cubs from Atlanta to Anchorage Alaska in the 1980s. Went up the Alcan Highway. I learned more about flying on those trips than my 35,000 hours of airline flying. The scenery was amazing and the people I met along the way were so nice. I have always wanted to do a trans Atlantic crossing in a light plane but never had the opportunity. Anyone need a copilot on such a trip? I come cheap.

  82. Joel Godston
    Joel Godston says:

    I have 50+ years of flying (flown many aircraft in the Air Force, Mass. Air National Guard and civilian sector); and experienced 9 of the 10 Must Do items listed. However. instead of “Go to the Bahamas or Mexico”, I have flown to England and Spain while in the US Air Force. Also, I would add to the list, “Learn ALL there is to know about the aircraft you are going to fly BEFORE you fly it solo”. and, “Practice flying and landing EVERY aircraft you fly with the engine at idle (like it is a ‘glider’)”, because your life, and the life of others flying with you WILL depend on it! Amen, AMEN, & AMEN!

  83. Paul Pflaum
    Paul Pflaum says:

    As my friend and instructor Hall Goddard (Rip)would say to me: “Come on, fledgling…let’s go burn some avgas”…and we’d leave Tucson’s Ryan Field and do just that. He had me land a few miles away (well…a few “air miles”) and showed me what the ag spray plane he was flying – – – and landed – – – looks like with three feet missing from the wing. Hal said: “If I had hit a power line, I would have been a blue explosive plasma ball not teaching you how to learn.” His emphasis was that you never ever take your eyes off of the power lines you’re flying near. I miss Hal. He was a calm flying Albatross (the name I gave him…he knew it) and I am a better pilot having been taught by him.

  84. Ray
    Ray says:

    Wow! This list really sparked the pilot population. Comments may go forever. I read them all.

  85. Terry
    Terry says:

    How about flying around metropolitan Tokyo at night and also flying on and off Rogers Dry Lakebed where Chuck Yeager et al landed; both a perk of being a member of the Air Force Aero Clubs.

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