Why Fly?

Why fly? There are many motivating factors compelling many to fly. Everyone has personal reasons as to why they fly.  Some have verbalized those reasons, some not. 

Some reasons for flying include a deep and resounding desire to soar like a bird. An older person may want to fly because it is something he or she has always wanted to do, but never had a chance earlier in their lives. Flying is a means of furthering and exercising your mind, regardless of age. It allows a young person to become more educated than their peers and it provides anyone a challenge to master.

One of the primary reasons people fly is for fun. It is wonderful to be able to look beyond the horizon, to feel the accelerations of the airplane, to go places and meet new friends. 

There are many fun activities you can accomplish through your flying – adventures such as attending “fly-ins,” or gatherings of other pilots for the purpose of hangar flying and showing off their airplanes – owned, borrowed, or rented. A fly-in to a destination to meet with other pilots for lunch or just to talk about flying is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

Another reason for learning how to fly is that it is a practical means of transportation. For instance, a person who has a Cessna 172 at his or her disposal can live in Atlanta, GA and have a great weekend in Washington, DC.  The flight to the DC area will take about four hours in the Cessna; in a car, the drive is 10 hours or more – in traffic.

The pilot wishing to spend the weekend at the Smithsonian can depart Atlanta after work and have a leisurely flight north, have dinner, check into a motel and be ready for a day of sightseeing first thing on Saturday.  They can then stay longer on Sunday, leave the area about 3 p.m. and arrive home by seven in the evening.

Those who have to drive do not have a chance to do a weekend like this. If they leave early from work and get on the road by one in the afternoon, they will be driving late into the night, perhaps past midnight. They will get up late Saturday morning, exhausted from the drive, see all the sights they can in one day, and then have to be on the road by 8 a.m. Sunday to make it home by the same time as their flying friends.

Travel by light airplane is a delight; it is a much more relaxing means of travel. When traveling by car, there is the constant stress of dealing with traffic, keeping the vehicle in the lane, and watching out for the dangerous driver that may pose a risk. Drivers also have to deal with the constant monotony that lulls them into a hypnotic trance.

In the airplane, there is more time for sightseeing – it is actually a part of a type of navigation referred to as pilotage. You don’t have to fight traffic on the roadways and the pilot, constantly using his or her mind to solve navigation problems while en route, can easily avoid a zombie-like episode.

Many pilots have repeatedly shown those who travel by light airplane arrive at their destinations refreshed and ready to go. The same is not true of those who drive.

Essentially, an airplane makes a practical weekend out of a 500-mile trip.  The same is not true for those who have to drive.


© 2010 J. Clark

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6 Responses to Why Fly?

  1. Very true, and I love flying and my old airplane. But … in reality, flying light aircraft may not be as practical from an economic standpoint as we like to think. First, in that 500-mile range, the fuel cost in a car is so much less than in even a 172 or Cherokee, that the added few hours behind the wheel may be a bargain. Second, unless you have an IFR rating (and that costs some to obtain and maintain), you might have to factor more for motels and maybe burning a sick day in order to travel safely.

    I just drove to Chapel Hill, NC and back. It’s about a 1000 statute miles round trip. Driving took exactly 8 hours each way. My car gets 32 mpg, which works out to about $100 in fuel for the round trip at what I paid at the pump for fuel. Plus about $25 for snacks and meals.

    I would have taken my plane, but the forecast and reason for the trip both precluded that. But had it been VFR, the trip takes about 4 hours (no wind) at a fuel burn of about 9 gph. That works out to about $325 for fuel round-trip at the current average 100LL price hereabouts of $4.40 per gallon. Or $200 more to take the plane than the car.

    Now, if you were splitting the cost with a friend, all of sudden the calculations change. So let me know next time you want to go somewhere. Hey, I’d pay the hundred bucks just to sit next to you and fly while you told stories!

    Granted, the plane does it on this particular trip in exactly half the time.

    I look at flying like I used to look at sailboats. It’s just prettier and more fun.

    Love your blog, brother, and miss you.

    — David

    • Joe Clark says:

      David, you are so right about the expenses. Something that many tend to try to “looking the the other way” when balancing the books at the end of the year. Sailboats fall into the very same category… Ack! It’s only money, right?

  2. I’d love to fly. Not with no plane, however. Nope, but like Peter Pan or Superman. I would be smart enough to wear goggles, however

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