Local flight schools on Saturday joined the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and aviation entities across the globe to introduce more people to flying through the celebration of the second annual International Learn to Fly Day.
Reno Flying Service Inc. and the Aerobatic Company and Flight School Inc. each hosted learn to fly events on Saturday to help get northern Nevada’s future pilots off the ground.
“Not enough people are learning to fly,” said Chad Lichty, Reno Flying Service (RFS) pilot and flight instructor, adding that now is a good time to train because there is a lot of movement and opportunity in the industry.
For $170, Lichty or one of the other five RFS pilots will take anyone interested in flying for an introductory voyage in a Cessna 172.
“We always tell people to bring a friend or a family member along,” Lichty said.
The Cessna 172 will hold four people, weight permitting, so three people can usually enjoy the introductory flight along with the instructor, he said.
One does not need to have the lofty goal of becoming a pilot to take advantage of the introductory flight, Lichty said.
“It can even be purchased as a gift,” he said. “Really people should do this even if they don’t want to get a license.”
Lichty and one of his students, Kasey Stevenson, 18, took a Sparks Tribune photographer and me on a flight over Lake Tahoe Saturday. Stevenson, who has been on one solo flight so far, piloted the four-seat plane.
As Stevenson walked around the Cessna 172 conducting a pre-flight check of the aircraft, Lichty assured us the flight would be safe.
“We are the only full-service public maintenance hangar,” located at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Lichty said. “Anything that needs fixed on our planes gets done right away, therefore all our planes are very reliable and safe.”
Pilots who learn to fly in Reno have the advantage of training with top professionals and learning about the many facets of the aviation industry, Lichty said, because the Reno-Tahoe International Airport sees everything from cargo planes to military craft to passenger aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires pilots to complete 40 hours of flight time and to pass a written exam and a practical test administered by an FAA official. Those who train at RFS can complete all those requirements in one place, Lichty said.
“We have an FAA examiner that has been flying for something like 60 years,” Lichty said in reference to flight instructor Dave Ruth.
At about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Lichty, Stevenson, our photographer and I climbed into the plane, fastened our safety belts and donned headsets for communication during the flight. As Stevenson taxied the plane down the runway, Lichty said people who go with him on their introductory flight actually get to fly the plane on their first outing.
“You take off and you land,” Lichty said as he explained that he can take over if necessary from the copilot’s seat. “That might not be how the other instructors do it, but you are actually on the controls the first time you fly with me.”
Stevenson, who is about one-third of the way through her training to become a pilot, took us on an excursion from Reno south to Carson City, over the mountains to Lake Tahoe, then north to Truckee and back east to Reno. She practiced a number of maneuvers over Lake Tahoe, including what Lichty called “a rollercoaster ride.”
“Now Kasey is going to take you on a rollercoaster ride,” Lichty said as Stevenson turned the nose of the plane upward and then downward. “This is important because the student needs to know they are in control of the plane at all times. The plane is never in control of them.”
Upon landing safely back at Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Lichty said he really hopes people will give flying a chance.
“It’s all about having a good time and being safe,” he said.
The RFS office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but flight instructors are available at all hours, he said. RFS also rents planes for $125 per hour. More information is available online at www.renoflyingservice.com.
For information on courses available at the Reno Stead Airport with the Aerobatic Company and Flight School, visit www.aerobaticcompany.com.