What’s the best time of year for pilot training?

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It’s approaching spring in what has been a welcomed mild winter for southern Ohio. We’re anxiously awaiting more hours of daylight ahead which means more time for flying. I trained at Sporty’s Academy for my license and we routinely see students working toward their hobby and career goals in aviation. Each season has its advantages for flight training. If you’re looking for the best season to begin your flight training, there are pros and cons for all four. We’ll take a look at everything in this article but we also want to hear from you!

Tell us about the region where you fly and make a case for your favorite time of year. You can comment in the section below or if you’d like to submit an article to Student Pilot News for possible inclusion, send to cfi@sportys.com. Let us know where you fly, what time of the year is your favorite, and why you think it’s best.

Spring
Spring in southern Ohio tends to be wet. We average just under four inches of rain from March to May. But what’s different versus Seattle (which, in the same time period, averages about 2.3 inches of rainfall) is that Midwest rain seems to be either on or off. We’ll get short down bursts and then back to sunshine withing minutes. The weather moves through quickly so we don’t experience long periods of time with “no fly” weather. The winds are calm in the morning, the skies are likely to be severe-clear, and the temperatures are perfect. There are plenty of rolling hills nearby with fun airports scattered throughout to make for beautiful scenic flights during the spring awakening of the surrounding forests.

Summer
Summers in Ohio average in the mid-80s which isn’t terribly oppressive, but the humidity can make more bothersome. That said, long days and blue skies with minimal thunderstorm activity are to be expected. Summer is the busy season for flight training. Renting an airplane is more difficult because of the higher demand and the pattern is going to be busy.

Flying in our area lends itself to lunchtime flights for some of the best $100 hamburgers you can find. Some of my favorites include Urbana-Grimes (I74), Portsmouth (KPMH), Lunken (KLUK), Greenburg (I34), Columbus, IN (KBAK), Big Sandy (KSJS), Eagle Creek (KEYE), Rough River (2I3), and Hagerstown, IN (I61) all within 150 miles of Clermont County (I69). Fly into the Hagerstown grass strip for the best fried chicken in the Midwest.

Fall
Every pilot loves a good view. While the Fall can signal the end of your long summer days, the changing of the leaves in southern Ohio never grows old. I highly recommend everyone make a trip to experience the fall foliage of the Midwest at least once. The weather is cooling down with average temperatures in the 60s. Precipitation is at its lowest point of the year during the fall averaging less than nine days per month with rain.

Winter
Winter is a great time to fly, especially this year with almost no snow and mild temperatures. The airplanes love the cold, dry air and sunny skies warm you up in the airplane so it’s not uncomfortable. Best of all, with the shorter day, it’s easier to gain night experience. All pilots need night flying to stay current or earn those minimum night flying hours for Private pilot. We also encounter less traffic and better aircraft availability. Flight training in the winter is a lesser-known trick to new pilots, but those who’ve flown through the season know it’s a great time to fly.

What about you?

Now it’s your turn! Let your fellow pilots know where you fly and what time of year is best. Share your experience below in the comments or you can send to the editors at Student Pilot News and we’ll share it in a special article based on our reader’s contributions. Email us at cfi@sportys.com. Blue skies ahead!

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I'm a pilot and part of the Sporty's Pilot Shop team in Cincinnati, OH. I'm also a University of Cincinnati alumnus. I've been flying and working on airplanes with my Dad since I was old enough to hand him a wrench. I've worked at Sporty's for more than 8 years and love every minute of it.