An Active Vacation Redefined

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By Anna Serbinenko, In Flight USA, April 2015

Some pilots spend their precious two weeks annual break from work frying themselves in the Hawaiian or Mexican sun. 

Others climb Jomolungma or hike on the North Pole. Most spend a less exotic period of time at a major theme or national park.  When back, we aviators often pack up family and friends and drag them to the nearest airshow, for nothing else but to promise ourselves – like every single one of the previous ten airshows – that ONE DAY I will become an aerobatic pilot.

Let’s start with those who simply say “One day, I will become A PILOT”. I am going to bust two myths here – about time and about money.

  1. “Pilot license is expensive”. I often hear that from people inquiring, and instead of avoiding the topic, I ask them straight: “Ok, how much do you think it costs?”. I’ve heard anything from $10,000 up to $200,000 dollars. Many people are actually surprised how affordable becoming a pilot license is, often cheaper than your next house repair and a fraction the cost of the next car you buy.  Depending on location, less than $8,000 dollars can get you to a private pilot license! The new Sport Pilot License (“Recreational Pilot License” in Canadian terms) can drop that cost to under $4,000.  There are a number of scholarships and grants available, especially for women in aviation.
  2. “It takes a long time to become a pilot”. Actually, not that long. Doing it full time, a private pilot license can be completed in 6 to 8 weeks. If you are doing it on weekends in your local flying school, count on about 6 months or so. Again, the Sport Pilot license can take half as long.  If the flight school of your preference is far away from home, plan on combining vacation time with flying and come home with wings.

Many of us entered a flight school for the first time inspired by the likes of “Top Gun” and other adventure films or books, only to end up flying straight and level for that $100 dollar hamburger for the next ten years. Only at airshows, are we sometimes reminded why we got into flying. For me personally, aerobatics was a second breath of air, a fresh wave of excitement after the first 1000 hours of routine professional flying. The problem most face in wanting to pursue aerobatic flying – how do I start or find an “Acro Club” or flight school that can help me realize the original dream?

Even though aerobatic aircraft and aerobatic instructors are rarer than the stereotypical “Cessna 152 Specialists”, some of the well-known performers that you have seen at air shows are accessible for flight training. Your flight with one of them is perhaps just a phone call away! 

Take a look at this short list I have compiled of the top 5 destination for your next “make-your-coworkers-jealous” vacations:

  1. Florida - Patty Wagstaff Aerobatic Instruction. Aerobatic instructors or Patty herself teach in a Decathlon or an Extra 300. https://www.facebook.com/Aerobaticschool
  2. Arizona – Flipside Aerobatics. Will Allen provides upset training and aerobatic instruction on his Pitts. http://flipsideaerobatics.com/
  3. Alabama – Sky Country Lodge. Greg Koontz himself trains you on a Decathlon out of his bed-and-breakfast lodge with a private grass strip. http://www.gkairshows.com/
  4. California. Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety, Sean D. Tucker. The school offers aerobatic training on a Pitts and an Extra. www.tutimaacademy.com
  5. British Columbia. Canadian Flight Centre. Anna Serbinenko (that’s me!) provides aerobatic training on her airshow Super Decathlon. The school offers all range of flight training, from tail wheel to turbine. After your loops and rolls in the decathlon, consider taking a CFC’s Citabria for a beach landing picnic. Your BC vacation promises to be unforgettable! www.cfc.aero and www.annaserbinenko.com

And what do real pilots have to say about the acrobatic experience we offer in beautiful British Columbia? This is what Ryan Abel, a commercial student pilot Anna met in Fort MacMurray airshow, Alberta, says about his aerobatic training experience in Canadian Flight Centre:

What a great place to learn to fly! Especially if you like aerobatics, or want to learn! Anna is a fantastic aerobatics pilot and instructor, and is well connected in the aviation community! I had the opportunity to spend a week doing aerobatics training with Anna in July 2014 and it was the most fun I've ever had!!! It is a true art!!! 

Thanks Anna and team!!!

Safe flying!!!

- Ryan Abel-

Opportunities for a true flying adventure await those who are willing to see the world from a different angle.  Stop dropping your dreams into a bucket and, fire up your computer and make a contact that will change your life.  You have earned it!

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