Not too long ago, I repeated my morning routine of scanning the newspaper before heading off to work. That day was different however, as I saw a picture of a single engine airplane on the front page of the business section. Naturally, my focus was drawn to the article. The gist of the story was that the economy was negatively impacting flight schools and aviation in general. There were no surprises in the facts presented, but there were statements from student pilots that caused me to take pause.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, so I didn’t see it as the smartest move to put $10,000 into something that isn’t really considered a priority. It’s kind of frustrating. But the dream is definitely still there.”

“It’s not something that motivates you to stay in a hobby like aviation. I miss it. There is nothing more rewarding than the flying.”

The conflict in each of these thoughts is profound. How can a dream of an individual not be a priority? How can someone walk away from a hobby, when they feel there is nothing more rewarding?

Mr. Maslow taught us all about the hierarchy of needs (i.e. priorities). It would be tough to argue against prioritizing physiological needs and things like food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, and education. The question is where do dreams fit? If nothing is more rewarding than your personal dream, shouldn’t that dream find a home on your list of priorities?

We all know flying is expensive. But there are ways to mitigate that cost. Those of us passionate about aviation, share a common bond. And I venture to say most pilots would be happy to have someone who dreams of flight, sit in the right seat as they head off to a $100 hamburger or to build proficiency. Hangar flying is another way to “scratch the itch”. Put a bunch of pilots in a room; add the obligatory food, and everyone’s spirit “takes off”.

So if you have the dream and have the passion, you are already a member of a very special family. Get involved and find a pilot buddy who would love to have you tag along. If you are able, an offer to buy lunch would be your total investment. Don’t overlook the fact your presence can add real value by acting as a safety pilot (if legal to do so), work the radios, or simply be an extra set of eyes out the window. Beyond the sheer enjoyment of the right seat, your communication, navigation, and even your piloting skills will benefit.

And for those that find themselves able to fly despite the economy, look for opportunities to bring others into the cockpit. Beyond the common bond we feel for aviation, we also share a responsibility to build the community through our words and actions. Introducing or reintroducing someone to flight is an easy way to bring joy into their life, and to yours as well.


Give The Dream; Share The Dream; Live The Dream.



Marc Epner is an instrument rated private pilot who earned his rating in 1976. After a 25 year hiatus, Marc rekindled his love of aviation in 2004 and has become a part owner of a SR-22. Marc looks for opportunities to be an advocate for general aviation through presentations, writing and flying.