Authors Posts by John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman

101 POSTS 51 COMMENTS
John knows how lucky he is to go to work every day at an airport. As Vice President of Sporty’s Pilot Shop’s Catalog Division, he says, “I get to hang around airplanes all the time, flying regularly and testing new products for the catalog.” Coming from an aviation family, John grew up in the back of small airplanes and learned to fly as a teenager. Ever since, he has been hooked on anything with wings and regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Robinson R44 helicopter. Despite his love of low and slow flight, John says, “I love the challenge of IFR flying in the system. Seeing the runway lights as you break out on approach is a thrill.”

How much does it cost to earn a pilot’s license?

No one wants to pay too much for a product or service, and it's certainly no different with learning to fly. Learning to fly involves some expense, but it's important to examine this expense as an investment that will provide a lifetime of return.

How long does it take to learn to fly?

The length of time it takes to earn a pilot's certificate varies widely (anywhere from a few weeks to a year), and depends on how spread out your training schedule is. A major milestone in your training is your first solo.

What pilot supplies do I need for flight training?

While the list can of things a pilot can buy seems endless, we recommend the following as the basics to get going.

Your first flight lesson

Getting into the air and taking your first flight is the most important—and most enjoyable—step you can take in your journey. There’s nothing like your first takeoff in an airplane to show you the fun and freedom of flying. If you’re on the fence about learning to fly, go take a first lesson!
Pre-flight inspection

The dreaded pre-flight, and how to do it well

I've never liked the pre-flight inspection. It's like the salad course before a steak dinner--sure, it's good for you, but all it does is prevent you from getting to the good stuff. But if I could give some advice, it would be short and sweet: "Get over it."

Stop and smell the avgas

We all set goals as pilots, whether it’s completing the first solo, earning a private pilot certificate or simply getting current again. There’s nothing wrong with that (in fact, I think it’s part of what makes flying so rewarding), but we need to be careful that the destination doesn’t overshadow the journey.
Young Eagle in right seat

After the checkride – making a plan to stay engaged

During flight training, it's natural to focus on the big hurdles: the medical, first solo, knowledge test and checkride. Those are certainly important, and they deserve your attention. But many student pilots get so focused on the training process that they never think about flying after the checkride. That's a mistake.

Learn to love the wind

Pilots spend a lot of time worrying about the weather, and for good reason--it's a factor in many general aviation accidents. But while nasty things like thunderstorms and in-flight icing get a lot of attention, more flights are affected by wind than any other weather phenomena. It deserves serious attention.
Aviation cliche sign

6 aviation cliches that are true – and 3 that are not

Aviation is filled with "experts." These self-appointed sages never miss a chance to share their tips for safer flying, usually from the lofty perch of a rocking chair at the FBO. But not every cliche can be discarded. Most of them exist because there's a kernel of truth.
Checklist

One checklist that works in every airplane

Do you fly the airplane, or is your checklist really the PIC? It may sound funny, but an awful lot of pilots are slaves to their checklists, blindly following them as if it’s a set of assembly instructions for a piece of furniture. You can and should do better.
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