Learn to fly in one week?

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Can a person off the street learn to fly in a week? An experiment at this year’s Sun ‘n’ Fun aviation convention in Florida, US, is seeking the answer.

Three people— a motorcycle engineer, an advertising manager and a former US Navy medical specialist – will undertake an intensive combination of ground study, simulator sessions and dual instruction. Despite having no previous aviation experience it is hoped they will be ready to fly solo by Saturday April 25.

Their journey from complete aviation innocence to pilot will be filmed and edited into webisodes showing how, in one week, a person can go from zero aviation experience to solo flight.

The project is sponsored by simulator maker Redbird, which has arranged for nine simulator sessions and nine flight lessons, along with other activities, for the three students.

After six days they will be able to make a supervised solo in a Redhawk 172, a remanufactured diesel-powered Cessna 172. The program is a collaboration between Redbird Flight Simulations, the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Jeppesen, Sporty’s pilot shops, Garmin, headset maker LightSpeed and Sun ’n’ Fun.

Sun’n’ Fun is described by Florida media as the world’s second largest fly-in after the annual Summer AirVenture in Oskhosh Wisconsin, US. This year’s show is expected to draw about 200,000 visitors.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is absolutely ridiculous, and what is to be expected from the US.
    It will instil a false sense of confidence into those undertaking the program – with no experience of turbulence and cross-winds, plus other variables associated with flying. Dangerous really.

  2. A dangerous stunt that has no bearing on properly supervised student orientated courses.
    Although a student may well be sent solo at 20 hrs. or so in ideal weather conditions as a confidence booster, the real training starts afterwards as every pilot knows.

  3. Thank you for your comments. This was an interesting experiment that investigated several possible ways to improve flight training and better market general aviation. Our position at FSA is that we look on with great interest, while not necessarily endorsing it.

    It’s too early to say whether or by how much the experiment was a success. What the three participants do next will decide that.

    All three students made successful unassisted flights but an important point is that these were supervised solos, if that’s not a contradiction. There was an instructor with them at all times but the instructors, by all accounts, kept their arms folded and their mouths shut during the supervised solo flight.

    Our interpretation was that this was marketing exercise that said ‘let’s think about new ways to train zero-time pilots’ rather than ‘anyone can learn to fly in a a week.’ That was a good headline, but not the whole truth. As anyone who flies knows, learning never stops, but as anyone who runs a flying school knows, the dropout rate is disastrous. A scheme that could get students to pre-solo standard in a week (or to a new benchmark of ‘instructor silence’) might do much to address this wasteful leakage.

    Flight Safety Australia will take a closer look at these issues in the July-August edition.

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