Flight Schools Soaring High Amid Downtimes
Pilots Are Using COVID Quarantines to Improve on Flight Skills
During an unprecedented year for the aviation industry, some pilots are finding ways to make the most of a reduced work or social life. Despite endless canceled air shows and restrictions on in-person gatherings, flight schools are exploding with a surge of new business as pilots sign up for a variety of online and offline programs.
You’d be hard pressed to find a fixed wing pilot that hasn’t dreamt of adding endorsements and ratings—like tailwheel, multi-engine, or glider—to their repertoire. It’s no surprise that many pilots are using the time freed up by the cancellation of airshows and fly-ins to chase ratings and check endorsements off their bucket lists.
Beginner to advanced pilots are causing a boom in flight training business. “We have had a big increase in aerobatic students,” says Michaela Satter, an instructor at Warbird Adventures of Kissimmee Florida. “It comes down to people wanting to try something new because they see that an original path can take a quick turn at any point. If you’ve always wondered about turning upside, go do it!” As pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and their families cancel vacation plans for the nearby crowded theme parks of Orlando, they have flooded Warbird Adventures for a different kind of experience. Like her students, Michaela also plans to rack up new flight skills. This month, she’s completed CFII, a mountain flying course, and seaplane rating. “Because, why not?” she says with a smile.
Jamie Mitchell, Method Seven Pilot Brand Manager, has joined thousands of other pilots in flight training online. “In need of a rusty pilots’ course to prepare for my biennial flight review, I wanted to find an alternative to streaming video courses.” Mitchell signed up for live streaming webinars at a Southern California flight school, and found the first live class attended by nearly 2500 students. Though the audience numbers declined as the lessons increased complexity, the attendance never fell below 900 people for the duration of the six week program. “I really appreciated that, unlike other online courses, the lessons were essentially interactive,” Mitchell says. “If you had a question you could ask it immediately. If the instructors noticed students were scoring low on a particular topic, they could address it in a following lesson using a different method or approach. If you needed to duck out early or miss a class, you could watch it later on YouTube with the ability to ask the instructors questions in the comments.”
Whether you’re just starting out on your flight training journey or looking to reinvigorate a lifelong passion for flight, now is the perfect time to enroll in flight training. Take an online class, take an intro lesson or an add on rating course you’ve put off for too long. You might just find a new love for an aspect of aviation you just didn’t have time to look at before!