Working in the clouds

Working in the clouds

Although becoming a pilot may take hard work and dedication, it also offers great beauty and the satisfaction of accomplishing an important goal. Nearly one hundred years ago the idea of human flight was thought absurd. Flying was something one only did while he was dreaming; but presently one can fly to his destination in the utmost comfort and safety, thanks to the airplane.

The first flight took place on December 17, 1903, in Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The inventors were Wilbur and Orville Wright, the Wright brothers. Orville made the first successful flight. Although their "air machine" flew for only twelve seconds, the Wright brothers started a revolution that has greatly affected the entire world.

“The time will come when gentlemen, when they are to go on a journey, will call for their wings as regularly as they call for their boot.” -Bishop Wilkens

With the success of the Wright brothers' flight came renovations that have made everyday flight possible. Airplanes are used for a variety of things; travel is only one of many. Aviation is divided into three sectors. The first sector of aviation is military aviation. Military aviation refers to aircraft flown by the armed forces. Aircraft have a chief weapon in many wars. The major air arms of the world's military, has a variety of aircraft developed for both strategic and tactical purposes, such as, the supersonic fighter and the strike aircraft. Some of these advanced aircraft have the capability of flying three times the speed of sound and carrying missiles and radar-directed antiaircraft artillery. The second sector of aviation is commercial aviation. Commercial aviation began in Germany in 1910. Commercial aircraft provide public air transportation to approximately five hundred locations throughout the country into every part of the globe. Commercial aircraft may also carry cargo, such as mail. Commercial aviation is the most common type of aviation. The third sector is referred to as general aviation. General aviation is all civil aeronautics with the exception of commercial air-transport operations. This includes sports flying, business flying, and crop-dusting.

Around 80 per cent of all active civil aircraft are classed as general-aviation aircraft. These aircraft range from gliders, ultralight aircraft, and small two-seat, single engine trainers to plush business jet aircraft equipped with turbojet propulsion and extensive electronic installations. Although general aviation is frequently overlooked, it is a vital part of air traffic ("Pilot", Grolier). Pilots who are in general aviation can expect a salary from 50,000 to 100,000 dollars a year. Due to the day-to-day change in technology pilots are constantly "re-learning" techniques of flying. To obtain a private pilot’s license one must only pass the required instruction. To be a flight instructor of a commercial pilot, on the other hand, one must pass the required training and obtain a Bachelor Science degree. “More than 250,000 people in the United States have licenses to fly private planes.”

One who is interested in flying must first obtain a student pilot certificate by passing a medical exam. These certificates are only given to persons who are sixteen years of age or older. After obtaining a student pilot certificate one must receive ground instruction. Ground instruction will help the student to understand how the plane works. Students will learn the basics in aerodynamics and navigation. He or She will also be taught about meteorology so that he/she may better understand the plane's condition in certain types of weather. After ground instruction, there will be an exam. After the exam, the student will proceed to flight instruction. Flight instruction will consist of a number of flights in which the student will watch and help to fly the plane. The student will learn the basics and overcome his or her fears of flying. After all the flying sessions have been completed the student will fly "solo". This is the final test needed to become a private pilot. Some areas in which the student must become skilled are taxing, taking off, carrying out various flight maneuvers, navigating, and landing. About one half of the students solo time hours are spent in cross-country flights ("Learning", elec.). During this time, the student becomes proficient in use of aeronautical charts, much in the same way that we use road maps. However, the aeronautical charts are more detailed in that they show the location of various landmarks, airline routes, landing fields, and radio stations that broadcast airplane navigation signals. A student may only receive his or her license after his/her seventeenth birthday.

Piloting is a goal that can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. It offers thrills, breathtaking scenery, access to exotic places, and satisfaction of achievement.