We wish to fly ever since we were children, dreaming to become pilots. Being a pilot doesn’t necessarily mean that you transport people from point A to point B and return, in a Boeing 747 as a full time job. Some pilots just fly because they like it, because they are passionate about flying, and it’s a great way to spend their time doing something they like. Just like any other hobby or sport.
Flying as a sport is practiced by many pilots and while is very rewarding and pleasant, it comes with high responsibilities.
Flying as a sport: what it takes to be a pilot
First of all, not everyone can just fly. Flying as a sport is far more complex than that.
You need to be a pilot if you want to earn your wings. Joining an aeroclub can give you access to flying training which purpose is to give people access to a flying/pilot license or certificate. To fulfill your dream to fly, first you need to find a flight school that has the sports type of certificate available. Because of their newness, being introduced in 2004, not every flying school will have the sports pilot certificate.
There are certain differences between the certificates in aviation. The sport pilot certificate is a certificate that doesn’t require a medical certificate in order to enroll in training. It allows people to become familiar with the basics of flying. The type of aircraft sports pilots will be qualified to fly are called light sports aircraft or LSA. Other types of certificates like personal or recreational, will enable the pilots to fly in bad weather, fly an airplane with two or more engines or even fly professionally.
Taking flying classes will put people in an aircraft right in the first session, learning specific maneuvers to control the aircraft. At the end of the flying classes people become licensed pilots and they will be allowed to fly a special type of aircraft, the LSA.
The Light Sports Aircraft
Sports pilots don’t necessarily need to own an aircraft in order to fly, even if some may say otherwise, because aeroclubs offer beginner pilots the option to rent various types of aircraft for flying a couple of hours.
While buying their own aircraft is an expense larger than $40k, the possibility to rent one is very convenient for inexperienced pilots or who can’t invest in an aircraft. The renting option it allows people to pursue their passion.
A light aircraft is a small aircraft which complies with several country regulations. For example, in the United States a light aircraft has one engine and maximum one or two seats. The cabin is unpressurized and the propeller can be fixed-pitch or ground adjustable.
The maximum gross takeoff weight is somewhere between 600 and 650 kg. The maximum stall speed a light aircraft reaches is 82 kph, and in flight, 222 kph.
Safety of flying as a sport
Safety of flying as a sports is one of the most important aspects that are considered by becoming pilots and their families. Before they pursue their passion, every pilot must assess if the benefits of flying justify the risks.
Most of the times, the safety of flying a plane is compared to the safety of driving a car. While the car drivers are more exposed to accidents on the road, the sport pilots are less exposed to collisions between aircraft in mid air.
The main hazards of flying an aircraft are flying in bad weather especially if the pilot is not prepared or certified for it, maneuver and maintenance errors, engine or mechanical failures, running out of fuel in midair, and takeoff and landing accidents. If the pilots are continuously developing their flying skills, grow their experience and maintain their proficiency, the risk of errors and accidents is drastically reduced, but not eliminated completely.
Other related sports
Aerobatics is a practice of maneuvering an aircraft in loops and rolls, rotations and spins. It is practiced for recreation or as a sport, and it is part of a flight safety training for a pilot.
Gliding is a recreational activity and a sport that first began in 1920. The pilots fly aircraft called gliders that are unpowered and use the currents of the air to remain airborne.
Ballooning or hot air ballooning is an activity in which pilots fly hot air balloons. Ballooning is practiced mostly as a recreational activity or as a sport in competitions. This activity is preferred by people who want to enjoy a delightful silent ride and beautiful bird’s-eye views.
Flying is for pilots, beside being a passion, a real dedication, a true liberation from the every day stress. Compare the pros and the cons of flying a light sport aircraft, earn your wings and pursue your passion. Be free. Go fly!