Today’s Flight Plan
Today we are joined by Brent Owens. Brent is a corporate pilot, a blogger, author, podcaster, and most importantly a lover and ambassador of aviation.
Through this blog at FixedWingBuddha.com, he gives many cost saving tips on how to fly on a dime. His big push is to take away all our excuses to not fly, and just get out there and do it.
His writing style is great in that you can read a quick article or two without blinking an eye. The tips and tricks come sure and fast without a bunch of filler.
His book, “The Pilot’s Guide to Flying on a Budget” is a great, quick read for those looking to get more hours for less money. His big thing? Ask around, shop around, think creatively, and find out how to make it work.
We talk about a lot of these things right here in the episode. So have a listen to get a taster for Brent Owens and his insight into flying on a budget.
Brent, thanks so much for joining us on the show. We can’t wait to see your work continue. Thanks for all you do for the aviation community. You rock!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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Buddah says “Just get out and fly.” This is AviatorCast episode 52!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff! Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. The thought of flying is something that often gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s this amazing universe where I can be the best me and see the world in an entirely different perspective. Like you, I long to fly and long to get back in the air. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility, and a commitment to excellence. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So welcome to this, the 52nd episode of AviatorCast. And if you know how many weeks are in a year, you know that this is a significant episode and that this is our final episode of the calendar year for AviatorCast. Now, we aren’t going to celebrate quite yet, that will come in the next episode where we’ll look back on the year on AviatorCast and look at some of the cool people that we’ve been able to interview, and some of the topics that we’ve talked about. But for now, it is pretty cool that we are almost there. So we have a good episode lined up for you guys today. We have a fantastic guest. We’ll talk about that in a few moments here.
First, as always, we have a review. This one comes from actually our AviatorCast survey, usually it comes from iTunes. This one comes from Jerry Cheng. He says “Five stars. You aviation lovers must check this out. This really ignites my fire and keeps me pushing to become a private pilot.” Super awesome. Thanks for your great review there Jerry, really appreciate it. If you would like to leave a review for this show, we’d really appreciate it. Please do that on iTunes and that can let others know about the show as well.
So today, we have a hangar talk episode lined up with none other than Brent Owens. Brent is a fantastic guy. We have been trying to get together for a while now. We finally made it happen. He is partners and works closely with Rob Burgon which you heard a couple episodes back. And Rob was that F-22 pilot. Now, Brent has a different career path. Brent is a corporate pilot and works for a large corporate operator. So he is in a different world and has a lot of different perspective. He’s also an aircraft owner. He’s flown a lot of different airplanes. He’s thought how to fly. So he’s a great guy to talk to. This ended up being a fantastic interview. So let’s get into it and let’s talk to the Fixed Wing Buddha Brent Owens.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, we are honored to have Brent Owens with us today. How are you doing Brent?
Brent: Great Chris, how you doing?
Chris: Doing fantastic. So you have a couple cool big things going on. First off, you have Fixed Wing Buddha. I read your book today about flying cheaper or actually accessing flying better, and you’re just an overall involved guy online, you’re a voice in the community that’s kind of out there, encouraging us all to fly more or start flying in general. So it’s really great to have you on the podcast, I’m excited about our show today.
Brent: Well thanks, yeah. It’s kind of a passion of mine. I really enjoy it. It’s a profession and a hobby and so it’s great to be able to give back a little bit and just to share some of the things I’ve learned, so thanks for having me.
Chris: Yeah, no problem. I also forgot to mention that you are also on Slipstream podcast with Rob Burgon who talked with a couple episodes back. So you’re also doing that with him.
Brent: Yeah, me and him partnered up on a podcast, so we’ve been having fun with that. It’s been cool.
Chris: Right on. Alright, so the first question, and this is one of the most important ones that I ask every single interviewee we have, and that is how did you fall in love with aviation? Because for every pilot, there’s an aviation love story behind it.
Brent: Yeah. Well, I got one of course like everybody like you said. When I was, I guess was in junior high school, me and a buddy of mine, we decided, and I don’t remember how this came about, probably Star Wars or Star Trek or something but we decided we wanted to be astronauts. So that vision kind of fueled the fire for anything aeronautical because we quickly figured out that most astronauts were pilots, so we thought “Ah, we need to go in the military and be test pilots or whatever so we could be astronauts.” I guess we watched too much of The Right Stuff or something.
So me and my bestfriend, this was track we were on all through high school. And I ended up having bad eyesight so I had to bag the military track and basically say goodbye to being an astronaut but by then I think I’ve gotten realistic that most astronauts were MIT grads and Air Force Academy guys and stuff like that. So I kind of bagged that anyway, but never lost the love for flying and actually started training in light airplanes in high school and got my private pilot’s license while I was still in school and it was great. Some super great memories. It’s all I’ve ever done so it’s really been a great journey for me.
Chris: And now fast forward who knows how many decades, what are you doing now for a living with flying?
Brent: Well, I fly corporate now for a big company out in Ohio, and that’s what I do for my day job. In the evenings and that kind of stuff, I write on Fixed Wing Buddha and do the podcast like we talked about before. And I have my own airplane that I fly around for fun. It’s a Van’s RV-8 that I built a couple years ago. And that was another sort of thing and a bucket list thing that was on my radar for a long time and finally got to a place where I had the time and the resources to spend five years out of the garage. I’m turning a metal into an airplane, so that was quite an education and a lot of fun. I would encourage anybody to give that a go. It was really cool. So now, I just fly that around and just mostly local flights, just beating up the airspace around Ohio, so it’s good though. I love it.
Chris: It sounds like you’re involved in all different kinds of areas which I think we also do. It’s great to have that diversity in aviation.
Brent: Yeah. I mean, a couple other guys that mentored me when I was coming up were big into experimental airplanes so I sort of had that sort of ingrained and it wasn’t one of those kind of things where I had to find it later. It was always in there, this notion that you could either buy an experimental airplane in a used market for not a lot of money and fix it up, or just fly whatever, or even just build your own airplane. Because this particular fellow that mentored me, like I said, he did a lot of that. He was notorious for bringing home all kinds of airplanes and throwing them in the hangar.
So that’s the kind of stuff, I was laying around when I flight instructing, so naturally I got to fly a lot of that kind of stuff. So it has rubbed off on me and after I started flying professionally like in jets and stuff like that, I never lost that sort of passion for it, so even though I went and get married and had kinds of kind of gotten away from that part of it for about 7 or 8 years, it was a great reunion to get back to it, building that 8. That was perfect. It really got me back to my roots.
Chris: Great. I always thought of building an airplane, and I have a small desire to do it, but then I looked at how much work is involved I guess and the potential of me screwing something up and I just got a little turned off by it. But you know, it’s something I’m still turned on to because I went to Oshkosh for the first time this last year and kind of saw some of that process taking place in their one-week wonder, whatever that airplane was they were building, and then just the accessibility of an experimental and kind of the ease of it too, having that Garmin G-3X in there, upgrades like that that are a lot more simple in an experimental, so it is very attractive. Maybe we’ll talk about that more as we go along here.
Brent: Yeah. Definitely. I could fill the whole show up with that part.
Chris: It sounds like you have an interesting training story. It sounds like as a teenager, you had some mentors that were kind of helping you along, and you were maybe an airport bum or something just hanging around getting flight time. So tell us how all that process kind of unfolded and your philosophy maybe on if other kids could do the same thing.
Brent: Yeah, sure. Me and my bestfriend, like I said, we were desperate to get up in the air because we’d already decided we’re going to be astronauts. So we ventured out to the local airport and we paid for it like an introductory flight lesson or whatever. At that time, my parents paid for mine and I think his grandmother paid for his. And I’d never flown on anything, not even an airliner, I think I was 14, maybe 15. So we were hooked right away. So we signed up for lessons and begged our parents to pay for it.
So that went on for a little while. I think we got maybe a dozen hours or so, and the expense of it started to become a problem for both of our families. So we ended up quitting but we never really kind of gave up on the thought of we could do this somehow. I guess we probably took about a nine-month hiatus or something like that, it might have been a little bit longer. And then I approached the airport manager, the guy that owned the FBO, after I got my driver’s license I approached him because I could drive myself around to get to work. I approached him about maybe coming out and pumping gas or washing airplanes or doing odd jobs to barter for lessons. And he jumped on it. To my surprise, I really expected to just get shot down. But I couldn’t believe it, he took me up on it.
So I got to work. Basically I worked Saturday and Sunday all day and now we’re translating into an hour of flight time. And I involved my friend in that transaction so I split it between the two of us so he would work one day and I work another and we basically fly an hour every two weeks which was not optimal but at least we were flying. And then I had another job in the movie theater to pay for gas and take the girlfriend out, that kind of stuff.
So I did that all the way up through high school or my junior and senior year at high school and was able to get my private license. During the summer he took us on full time so that accelerated our training quite a lot, so we were able to get a knock out, because once every two weeks sort of taken forever. So it was a little bit unorthodox. The airplanes were very conventional. He had a 78, 152 and we just flew the snot out of that thing. So I got out of high school, I stayed on working there and went to college nearby and was able to get some flight time built up, get a little bit of time towards my instrument rating but he didn’t have an instrument training or a complex.
So I ended up going to a flight school, borrowing the money and I got all my ratings at the flight school. And then I came back to my hometown there and worked for that same guy but as a flight instructor. So that kind of worked out except it was pretty dry market at that time. The town I grew up in has like 25,000 people so not a lot of flying going on. If I did a lesson every two days, I was happy. So that wasn’t really cutting it. But there was a change in ownership. He got bought out by a guy who ended up being one of my mentors as a I referred to earlier, and this guy was so progressive. Not so much in the marketing sense. He’s real personable and he knows how to find a way to do things different. His idea of setting up a student would be to start him in a 150 that he had laying around and kind of get them solo, get their training done, and then he’d figure out what they want to do with their life, with their flying life if you will.
And then he would get them an airplane. He would find them an airplane, he was an AP. He’d find them a good airplane. He’d walk them through the process so they didn’t get burnt. If they didn’t buy a lemon and they didn’t too much or not enough of an airplane, he would take them through that process. And it was really smart because he was building a customer base one student at a time basically. The hangar is starting to fill up and next thing you know, this little town of 25,000 people, we have people driving in from other cities to train here and keep their airplanes with us, basically sort of under management but they’d flew them. We didn’t fly them, they flew them, but we did all the maintenance and hangar and the fuel. So you can kind of see the business model there.
And it wasn’t really because that’s what he wanted to do. His passion was he just wanted to spread the world. He owned all the airplanes he ever trained in so he didn’t know any other way because back when he learned to fly, similar to what I think before the show you and I talked, it was a little bit dry right there in that part of the world when he was learning to fly so he did bought his own airplane and found a guy to teach him, found an instructor, and that’s how he did it.
We just built up students and the flying, it was fantastic because as an instructor, I’m flying all day, everyday when the weather was good, and I’m usually flying two or three different types of airplanes so that was really good training for me. So it was really cool. It was really a neat time, just a great way to build flight time for me. And that was basically it. It all happened kind of a really small town and I went literally from there to my current job. So I’ve had a pretty lucky run on it as pro pilots are concerned.
Brent: Most of my friends have been furloughed three or four times that are my age, I’m in my mid-40s.
Chris: No kidding. Yeah. That’s a really good situation even just for family, just being around your family the whole time. That’s great.
Brent: Yeah. It really worked out. And it was one of those kind of things where you could not have even… To show up there, when I first started teaching there, you would never have expected it would change so quickly. So it was one of those situations where the right people at the right time with the right kind of attitude just totally transformed things, so it was neat to see. It was really neat to be a part of that.
Chris: Right on. Yeah, that sounds like a fantastic experience. And we can all learn from that. I think a lot of those anecdotes are actually in your book, where you had the mentorship there, you have actually buying an aircraft as an alternative to just renting from an FBO. It’s pretty attractive. With the different options there, pretty attractive option.
Brent: Yeah. I got a good friend of mine who flies for American and he just bought an 152 to train his kids and I think he paid 10,000 for it.
Brent: He’s not an AMP so he sort of stepping off a little bit off into the no man’s land a little bit but he’s pretty smart. He’s been around aviation his whole life. He’s obviously got a lot of flight time. So he kind of knows that to look for even though he’s not a mechanic, and he’s basically partnered with a mechanic locally that will let him owner-assisted annuals and owner-assisted maintenance. As long as the AMP is inspecting and supervising and making sure the work is done properly, then you’re good to go and sign it all off. So he’s got that thing flying. I think he may have spent another 3 grand getting it flying, maybe. Because it needed a couple of things and the annual was obviously a little bit more extensive. But it was a nice little airplane, perfect for what he’s going to do with it, and it wouldn’t take a lot of rental money to pay for that 13-ish grand he’s gone in it now, you know.
Brent: And he’s a scrounger. I had to be fair. He spent a lot of time before he pulled he pulled the trigger on it. He was looking at airplanes for probably a year until he found the one he wanted and got the deal he wanted but they’re out there. It can be done for sure.
Chris: Yeah. It’s wild how these old 152s and 172s are making a comeback. With the financial state of things, it’s pretty gloomy.
Brent: Yeah. And I loved that airplane. I probably still have, most of my flight time on a single type is probably still in 152 from all that training I did. That’s a great flying airplane. I would never thumb my nose at one. I would own one today if I had the time and money to have another airplane, but they’re just a hoot.
Chris: Yeah, I like them. I did my initial training in them too so I have a sweet spot or a soft spot for them.
Chris: Alright, you don’t have to answer this one but do you have a scariest moment as a pilot?
Brent: Scariest moment. Yeah. You know, I’ve had a couple of issues with, and these were like post-flight scary. I’ll try to think about have a different one, but the one that’s coming to mind is I was given rides in one of the airplanes I’ve rented, it was a Luscombe if you’re familiar. And the Luscombe has got fuel tanks behind your head basically. It’s just fuselage, fuel tank and gravity feeds and it’s got this weird little gauge that’s basically unusable. It’s kind of floating in bob and inside of a little window.
So we generally flew the airplane on time. You just knew how much time, and you look in the tank but you couldn’t see inside the tank and really get an accurate depiction of what you had and the gauge is 1940s technology so not particularly accurate. So we filled the airplane up and we would just keep tracking the flight time on it and that’s kind of how you knew when it needed fuel in addition to the preflight. I had one flight where I came in and unfortunately, the owner’s son had been out flying the airplane and he had not written it down. So your fuel planning just goes out the window based on that and that was kind of a scare. Now the airplane had plenty of fuel on it but it was one of those kind of realizations that yeah, you could have flown it two hours and I could’ve been out there flying around and it quit.
So it taught me a lesson about the accuracy of some of these systems and stuff. You got to have double check, triple check. There are certain things that will kill you and there were some things you got to check more than once. You can’t rely on a single source of information or whatever. You got to makes sure there’s a redundancy there. And we do that in a day job, when we’re talking about things like landing gear and flaps, stuff that could damage you or the airplane. Those all get a lot more of attention than stuff that’s, you know, I can’t think of an example. Do you have the lights dimmed properly. That’s not going to kill you, you know.
Chris: Right, exactly. Yeah. That decision making is so important when it comes to flying. In our last episode, we talked to Steve Thorne from…
Brent: Oh yeah, FlightChops.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. And he says hello by the way.
Brent: I know Steve. Great guy.
Chris: But he was saying, you just got to take your time, you know. You just got to take your time with this stuff and you don’t rush. It’s the old adage “If you have time to spare, you go by air.” You just double and triple check everything. It’s not to say you don’t go flying. At some point, there’s a certain amount of risk. You got to go up and kind of do it but you just got to be a good pilot.
Brent: Yeah. That’s right. And the more you fly, the more you minimize that risk because you’re current and like some of the things you’re working on, to be able to do as much as you can inexpensively like your flight simulator system or whatever, that is just money in the bank in my opinion because it’s keep your mind on the procedures and the processes that are involved in executing a flight. And that’s huge, the checklist discipline and just all that. Your scan, you know, you’re an instrument rated pilot so all that kind of stuff is really… They’re perishable skills, you know. You stay out of the cockpit for four months because you don’t have the money to go flying, and if you haven’t had the chance to practice on the sim or go up with someone else, then you really, you got to really be focused to make sure you don’t make an error.
Chris: Yeah. And you see a lot of accidents happen that way too. It’s prefaced by this instrument-rated private pilot who hadn’t flown instrument conditions in 12 months or something like that. It’s just like, man. And you went into these conditions, you’re kind of scratching your head like “What got him there? What got him to that place where he thought he could actually do this?” It’s all perishable.
Brent: Yeah. And I think it’s interesting because I grew on steam gauges and watched the metamorphosis to basically everything is IFIs, even my airplane is IFIs. I don’t have any round dials in my bird. And I think, I was sitting back kind of thinking well, this is going to really improve safety because there’s so much more information display and so much easier to assimilate and the screens are so physically large so things like vertigo and losing situational awareness and stuff like that are greatly diminished compared to what I kind of came up with and what guys came up with it. And I think we’re seeing is the accidents just haven’t really improved at all. This is my opinion but my theory on that is is that people are using that as a crutch now.
So now, we got a situation going where the technology has gotten so good that you can kind of stay out of the cockpit or you can go up with maybe less inadequate training in the conditions that you shouldn’t be in because the equipment is just so good. So it’s almost like we’ve saved some over here but now we’re losing some over here. It’s interesting kind of dichotomy. But I think ultimately the technology is safer and it’s better for everybody involved but I think it has lured a few people into situations where it shouldn’t have been because the autopilot is so trusthworthy and everything else.
Chris: I think the perfect example of that, and I hate to name a manufacturer by name, but there are some positives and negative to this and it’s mostly positive now but the Cirrus. Cirrus came out and they were one of the first people to have this highly advanced aircraft, high performance with the addition of a parachute on board which kind of added this sense of security which is great if used properly. But what was happening in those initial days is these guys that were pretty rich that had these airplanes, they would get into the clouds, and they weren’t instrument-rated, they get all turned upside down and going way outside the envelope and then they get scared and pull the chute and the chute would just rip right off the airplane sort of thing.
Highly capable airplane. It’s capable of doing all of this stuff. It even has FIKI, it even has FIKI on board but they’re not just trained properly. Like you said, like the fall sense of security. But then, the positive side to this is that Cirrus recognized all these and now they have CCIP or the Certified Cirrus Training for all of their pilots that they can take. In fact, I think a lot of insurance requires they take it. And now Cirrus pilots are coming out as some of the most qualified to fly their airplanes. It’s almost like they get a type rating in this little GA aircraft, you know. And really that’s how we should be treating it with all this technology.
Brent: Yeah. That’s huge. I have to applaud for them. They really recognized that there was a need there. And experimental market which is what I’m really most familiar right now, that’s really an open area for us. Glassair and Lancair, they have stepped up to the table on this but like the airplane I fly, it’s not as slippery as those airplanes but there isn’t like factory-endorsed course if you will. There’s transition instructors. You can go find someone and they’re great, they’re very competent but there is not like a single program which is a business opportunity for somebody I would think and there are a million RVs out there. I think it would go a long way because it’s the same stuff. It’s the stall spin. It’s VFR into IMC, it’s run out of fuel which sounds ridiculous. The same stuff that was killing people four years ago is the same stuff that’s killing people today with all that’s changed, but it is.
And those courses, they do a great job of emphasizing how to stay away from that kind of stuff. And you get that in your private training. I think about this all the time. When you fly corporate jets or an airline, every six months or a year, you go to recurrent training and they keep you really sharp on all the stuff that could hurt anybody. But when I got my ratings, when I came through my private pilot ratings and my instrument, that was like two years of really intense training and then you never hear about it again. You never go out and do a stall unless you do it on your own recognizance. You don’t go out and you do spins. You don’t go out and do, even turn around a point for that matter unless you’re doing aero photography or something.
So a lot of those fundamentals, I think about a typical, just an individual who gets his private pilot’s license, maybe gets his instrument rating, maybe gets a commercial, whatever, and he’s sort of in training mode for year or two and then buys an airplane and then has the airplane for 20 or 30 years. He is decades away from some of those things. And I know you get a VFR, you get a biannual flight review but I think we have to be honest with ourselves that some of those are just right around the patch. So again, it’s not seen any of the stuff until it needs it. The engine quits, now what? And I think we see that in accident statistics. I’m not suggesting that the FAA should mandate recurrent training but I think the industry should do a better job of, like Cirrus and some these others have done, of trying to make sure that, especially these technically advanced airplanes like you mentioned, that there is something there for people because a lot can go wrong and training can take care of most of it.
Chris: Yeah absolutely. And interesting you should make all those connections in your statement, because we had an interview with Dr. Paul Craig, I think it was episode 11 or 12. He is the author of The Killing Zone, I don’t know if you’ve read that book.
Chris: But he did an actual study, so this was an actual university study of accidents and pilot training and all sorts of things that kind of came together and studied why the same accidents were happening VFR into IMC, fuel exhaustion, things like that. The same percentage per year on those accidents regardless of the new technology. And what he came away with was students that stay with an instructor for longer are safer basically.
Chris: So those students that went on through a professional pilot program for example, they were constantly with an instructor. They weren’t building their own bad habits by just getting a private pilot and then heading out and doing these super long crosscountry flights that they never even did in their private pilot to begin with. And by the way, they’re actually making go/no-go decisions now. Their instructors aren’t stopping and they can go out and do anything. They’re not experienced with the different decisions for weather and all those sorts of things.
So that was really interesting because through data, he made that connection and showed that if you stay with an instructor, you’ll get outside the killing zone which is I think it’s 2000 hours or something like that, that beyond that point, you’re very unlikely to get in an accident or whatever.
Brent: I’ll have to pick up that book. It sounds like we think alike. I like the way that sounds. I definitely observed some of that when I was instructing, because I had students that even though they had a private pilot license, I had a couple of students that bought their own airplanes, and whenever they took a trip, they would take me with them. They don’t have to by any stretch and certainly it wasn’t cheap and it wasn’t even that convenient. But they wanted the peace of mind and they wanted the experience of how the aeronautical decision making process happens in a real life scenario, not just sitting around the desk talking about it or on one crosscountry trip for your private.
And those guys, yeah, they were the safest guys that I ever trained and they got a lot of time in their logbook with me and it wasn’t me. Part of this is is that was already their attitude. They already have this state of mind that I want to do everything I can to be safe as I can but I want to fly. I’m not going to not fly the airplane. So they took a really intelligent and it sounds like based on this, it would have been a data-driven decision to do that and they did it on their own. And I can think of other students who couldn’t get me out of the airplane fast enough and as soon as they got their license, they buy a hot rod and they’re taking off on these 500-mile tracks with a PPL and that’s it. I’m just kind of shaking my head but you can’t necessarily stop them.
Chris: And it’s super cool. It’s super cool to get your own airplane and just literally go across the country, not even crosscountry, but across a country, but man, the learning curve is so high for all the different things that you will experience in that timeframe, that for someone that’s new and doesn’t just have that breath of knowledge, something is bound to happen and statistically it does happen which is unfortunate.
Brent: Yeah. And I think like you said, the airplanes are designed really well and it’s totally feasible to do that but you’re right, the learning curve is going to be steep and as long as you recognize that going in and like you said at the very beginning, if you have time to spare, go by air. That’s the best way to give yourself all the options you need.
Chris: Definitely. Okay. So with all that said, flying at the end of the day is great and it’s something that if love it or you think you love aviation or whatever and you want to get into it, it’s accessible and it is affordable. So that’s largely what I want to talk about with you today. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the basis of your blog and a lot of what you talk about is flying affordably and that’s definitely what your book is about. So is that a correct assessment?
Brent: Oh yeah, absolutely. I actually had another blog and I still contribute over there at iFLYblog and it was more generic, just about flying, but this one is particularly focused on just anything it can help you be a better pilot without spending more money to do it or enjoying it in a different way or thinking about it in a way that’s more practical maybe. This kind of goes back and I’ve talked about this before in interviews and stuff, but this kind of goes back to if I’m interested in learning to fly and say I’m a 30-year-old guy or whatever and I go to the bookstore or the grocery store and I grab a flying magazine and I flip open the flying magazine, what’s the first thing I’m going to see? Probably a full-page glossy, and we’ll pick on Cirrus because they’re easy target and I like their airplanes, but the first thing you’re going to see is like a full page glossy of a Bonanza that costs 700K or an equivalent Cirrus or whatever, just you name your high end single or twin.
So you flip through there and this is nothing against Flying Magazine by the way, they’re a great publication, but that’s the introduction, that’s the introduction to flying for most of the population. For someone to even make it to the airport after that experience is really a miracle in my opinion. So that’s your first blush, this is really high end, this is really expensive. I don’t know if I can do this kind of thing. Maybe you google a few things and you figured out that “Well, maybe this is within the realm of possibility.” And then you go out to your local flight school and depending on who you talked to and you have no experience or anybody that can kind of help of you or hold your hand or know where to find the research, you walk in and you get told how it all works and you either can and you’re willing to or you can’t.
And what people don’t realize is that flight schools, flight instructors, different areas in the world, it can be vastly different in terms of cost and quality, and they’re not necessarily connected by the way. A person can leave in an area like Dallas Fort Worth, gosh, there might be 50 options to train at and they’re all going to have a different philosophy, and they’re all going to bring something different to the table and they’re all going to bring something different to the table and they’re all going to have different prices.
Part of that is what I want to do in the blog and what I attempt to do in the book, is to just sort of open people’s eyes. Knowing that you’re not going to be born with this institutional knowledge about how all these works, but to just try to let people know that there are options. And it didn’t have to be the Cirrus and it didn’t have to be the 150-dollar an hour 172 with a Garmin in. If you drove 20 miles down the road or went out to a country or county airport, you might find a 152 for 70 dollars an hour or whatever. And those kinds of things, I just want to make sure people have those kind of options in their mind when they’re going to the process before they have an opportunity to learn all this stuff on their own.
Chris: Definitely. Okay, so square one, they go to the airport, they talk to somebody, and this just kind of popped in my mind. Generally, someone will show you their full brochure on a professional pilot course for 50,000 dollars but they won’t tell you that they have an introductory flight for 50.
Brent: Right. And that’s the other part of this, and I have a few articles in this on the blog. But the FBOs and the flight schools, they are their own worst enemy when it comes to the general aviation training market. Really I should get them credit for some of the more recent work but certainly back when I was starting to train, there just wasn’t any marketing. They didn’t advertise, it was just literally word of mouth. And in fact, as much as I love the man that gave me my start and gave me that first job, he ran off more business than we brought in. His bedside manner wasn’t too swoop.
But you walk in a lot of FBOs and they think you’re there for them and it’s the other way around. I think we lose a lot of students just right there, people get turned off by that, and you’re right, I don’t think that they necessarily know how to go into it from a marketing perspective and try to set that hook. Honey, let’s try this introductory ride, it’s really cheap and get you up and see what you think. And that’s important for a number of reasons, not just to take a ride in an airplane. Do you mesh with the guy that’s flying with you if he’s going to be your instructor? Is the equipment right for you? I’m not a big guy but there’s some tall people out there and a 152 may not be the best fit. So things like that. There’s a lot you can get out of that little introductory ride. I think people, it gets dismissed pretty quick and you’re right. Something they should work on for sure.
Chris: Yeah, exactly. The point there is that there are places to start and there are things to kind of ignore to be completely honest to begin with, and I think that’s one point I love that you make throughout your book, throughout your blog and even just in your writing style, is it’s very brief and to the point. It’s like if you want to go fly, just go out to the airport and start to talk to people and go for your first flight. Don’t get too confused with all of the planning that goes into it and this and that, just start the process.
Brent: Yep. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, flight training as it is is going to be like drinking through a fire hose and it’s so easy for instructors like me and other people like that to make it. I can overwhelm you pretty quick. And I don’t think people mean to do that but sometimes that’s how it happens. And I know I did it when I was an instructor. There was a few times where I literally just overwhelmed a guy that could have been a great student and I just tried too much too soon.
And that’s another thing, even though it’s not really directly related to cause that I talked about. Having that right instructors is really, really essential. I had a pretty good success rate but I wasn’t for everybody. And I know I’ve had a lot of instructors that have thought me over the years and some I got a lot from and some I didn’t. Unfortunately, it’s a little bit trial and error of what meshes with your own personality, but if you prod along with the wrong instructor, you’re going to end up not getting as much from your training and you’re going to probably spend more money which is kind of a tie back. But I think it’s really easy, because most of these markets are fairly small, it’s sort of a one horse town. You got one school, you got one instructor. That’s tough. There’s maybe not a lot of options aside from driving an hour to some other location.
But for people who live in larger metroplexes, you really should explore, if it’s not feeling right, then that’s probably your first clue that you need to do something different, maybe talk to some other people and maybe switch out your instructors, switch schools or whatever. And none of this kind of stuff was information that at least I don’t feel like it’s really out there that much. Like you said, you show up at the local airport, you tell me you want a license and you get in line with your checkbook and you just do what they say.
Brent: And like I said, my goal is to at least open their eyes, open folks’ eyes a little bit. It’s a little more to it than that and you got a lot more choices that you probably think you do.
Chris: So that’s kind of a great place to start, and not that we haven’t started already but talk a little bit about taking an active role in your own training and being proactive in that process.
Brent: Yes. That’s a good point. When I was teaching people to fly, and this really dovetails to what you are doing Chris with the flight simulator work, but when I was teaching people to fly, the students, they’re controlling their own destiny. An instructor can only take you so far so fast. For a person that would show up at the airport and want to be totally spoon-fed and didn’t review their notes from the previous lesson so they have their mind wrapped around what it is that we were doing that day. I mean, we’ll go up and waste half of their flight time just getting them back to where they were from the previous lesson. And so the students that were engaged and really, they were studying, they were thinking about what they’re going to be doing for the day, they’re asking intelligent questions, those are the ones that did the best and they move the quickest. And ultimately that turns back into a money-saving deal right because you’re going to spend less time getting your license. That’s the other misnomer you know. I get my 40 hours and I’m doing. That’s the biggest misnomer there is.
Chris: Yeah. It is.
Brent: And no one really gets that until they’ve been in it for a few hours of training and then you start to figure out “Oh okay, well it’s not exactly 40 hours.” “40 is the minimum.” “Ah, okay.” I didn’t have very many students that went right at 40. Most went 50 or so just because gaps in the training, life gets in the way, etc, etc. But that is a huge thing. The people that were really aggressive, they tend to fly more too which always helps. The more often you fly, the fresher it’s going to be and that’s just how it’s wired. If you spread your lessons out, it’s going to be harder to retain and you’re going to spend more time out in the practice area redoing what you did last lesson. But the more involved you are when you’re training, the faster and the better and the cheaper, so it’s that old worn out cliché, the more you put in, the more you get out is really appropriate for flight training just like this for a lot of things because the nature of it, it’s just there’s a lot coming at you and it’s very dynamic and you got to be plugged in.
Chris: And not only in the everyday flight training while you’re actually in the thick of things, but kind of going back to what you’re talking about with the instructor but actually being involved in the direction of your flight training, who your instructor is, the quality of that instructor, what airplane you’re flying. You don’t need to fly the most expensive 182 turbo or whatever it is. You could fly the lightsport out there or whatever it is for your private rating. All these different things.
I’m not sure the word I’m looking for, but there has to be strength in that process to be able to stand up and say “Hey, I need a new instructor. This isn’t working out.” That takes strength to kind of break through the awkwardness of saying that it’s just not working out, and then also the awkwardness of telling the flight school “You know, I don’t want to pay all that money for that airplane. I just want something simple so it will be cheaper. I know you’re not running a bargain outfit here or whatever, you’re here to make money but I’m also not here to give you money” sort of thing. So those longer term decisions too are support important especially in the beginning.
Brent: Yeah. You’re absolutely right. That is really foundational and like I think I said in one of my articles, the best advice that I can give a guy that wants to learn how to fly would just go out to the airport and hang out with other pilots. You’re going to get two hours every Saturday morning to go out there and have coffee, you’re going to get a huge amount of information from just the guys that hang out and people that are coming and going. And you’re going to figure out pretty quick, if you’re starting from literally square one, you don’t even really know what kind of flying you want to do and you’re just really exploring. But you think you want to get your license. I mean, that’s going to help you get a lot of direction. Heck, you should be able to get a couple of rides with somebody and hopefully someone will show mercy and yell “Hey, I’m going to take the Bonanza out and go get breakfast so you want to go.” So hopefully you will get some free stuff like that.
And you’re building relationships too. If it’s a larger place like, I don’t know, just off the top of my head like Chino or Van Nuys or some place like that in the west coast and there is maybe multiple schools and multiple FBOs, then I’d drop in on all of them and kind of get the vibe. Personally, I would probably go with the one that made me feel the best about where it is I’m doing. If I’m into antiques and classics and these guys are all talking about Bonanzas and Cirruses, I’m probably in the wrong crowd. If I’m in the Bonanzas and Cirruses and all these guys want to do is talk about taildraggers, now I’m probably in the wrong crowd. You know what I mean, try to find your tribe if you have that kind of.
I know like some places like where I grew up and where you’re at Chris, there may not be as much to choose from but if there are these options, you could really, really get dialed in and then you’re just going to have a much better experience. Like I said, the guy that I trained with, he was so progressive. If a guy wants to buy a Sundowner, hey no problem, we’ll get you a sundowner and he’ll find it and buy it. For the guys that are ranchers and stuff because this was rural Oklahoma, they were buying 170s and Luscombes and Champs and stuff because they were flying them off their grass strips after they got their licenses. It was the perfect set-up. He really knew how to dial in for the person and it wasn’t just about a PPL that looked like the test standards and you take these steps and you get your license. He was looking at a much more holistic way. What do you want to do with all these? What’s your goal? And I think that’s what get amiss and it doesn’t get enough talk.
Chris: And that’s pretty rare these days. It’s almost like we need to recreate your mentor in our own actions. And so like you said, Van Nuys, we need to go around and shop at those different flight schools. I would even stretch and say it may even be worth your time and money to go on an introductory flight with each one of those flight schools and just see what the process is like with each one of them if you do have that amount of competition around you. But it’s almost a gut feeling right? You’re going to know when it sticks.
Brent: Yeah, I think so. Your intuition is probably not going to lie to you. You get the right feeling, you’re going to know you’re in the right spot. You’re going to look out for the duds. I remember there are a couple of guys that used hang out in our airport, they would turn away customers pretty quick if you didn’t get in front of them because one guy thought he was like the airport police guy and another guy was just super negative. That kind of stuff, you’re going to have that at different airports. But when you see people coming and going, the mannerisms and how the staff acts around the customers and how the students look and feel before and after their flights and what they’re talking about.
That’s one of the pieces of advice that I give when you’re trying to choose a school and an instructor, is to talk to the students. Don’t talk to the instructors, talk to the students. Find out how it’s going for them. If they’re all freaking frustrated, then that might be a warning sign. If they’re all having a great time, there’s a probably a reason for that.
Chris: Yeah. What I find is that if someone has the inclination to go out and actually take an introductory flight, if they have the right set-up there, the right school, the right instructor which sometimes happens by chance, if they have that right scenario for that introductory flight, they’re going to be hooked right away. And very few times will they not want to continue that process. There’s also that gap between then and solo when pilots kind of get lost too. If you get past solo, it seems like you’re kind of on cruise control unless there’s money issues but those initial days are so important. This is really good advice for the listeners because a lot of the listeners are going to be getting out and getting these introductory flights whether they are teenagers or whether they are 45, 50-year-old guys that are finally of the means to chase after that dream, the one, the first chance you have to go out and do that introductory flight, if it doesn’t go well, don’t take that as gospel. Keep looking around because when you find the right person and you find the right situation, you will absolutely love not only flying, the flying part, we all love the flying part, but you will love the experience of training. It should be an enjoyable process and a journey.
Brent: Totally agree. Yeah, spot on.
Chris: So let’s talk about different types of aircraft ownership I guess or different ways to actually get inside an aircraft. There’s the typical way of renting, we all know that. What about alternatives to renting?
Brent: Well, so there’s a couple options. The most popular one, I’ve never done this, don’t have any direct experience with this but there are people that will actually lease airplanes which is sort of like position between renting and owning, but there are some advantages to it. I don’t think most markets you would even find that kind of a scenario but it is a possibility. The other is just outright ownership and this is really attractive for a lot of reasons.
One of the things that people don’t realize is that often times, there are airplanes already on the airport that are established airplanes and it’s kind of funny to say that but when I mean establish, I mean the airplanes are in the hangar and it’s ensured and people are flying it locally, they’re at the airport and they wouldn’t mind taking on an extra owner to free some of their costs. And this gets us into the world of partnerships but it really, really makes it inexpensive to own an airplane as compared to own it outright obviously. And in a lot of cases, depending on the airplanes we’re talking about, it can be cheaper than the rental. And all the other benefits that come up with ownership which are if the costs are the same, you would always rather be trained in an airplane that you’re going to eventually fly because all that experiences really, really direct.
So you know, if I’m learning to fly, and I thought one guy in a Cherokee-6 you know. So all that primary training essentially, it was all in the complex and that was what he flew after he was done training and so he was really sharp. There was no transition training. The insurance companies were happy, except for solo but I think I end up soloing and something else, I can’t remember exactly how we did that. He might have bought the 6 after he soloed.
But the opportunity there, I mean, we had another group that had a Sundowner there and there was four or five guys in that. And that airplane was fun to train in. But you had the pride of ownership. In a partnership situation, now you’re instantly part of a group. You can identify with some other people on the airport, you have a direct relationship with them. So there’s some built in, people that give you advice, people that walk you through things that you may or may not fully get yet. So all those kind of things. And like you said, when you pop out on the other side of your training, you got the airplane.
And if you’re already a rated pilot, then obviously ownership is a great way to fly versus rental for a lot of reasons too because you’re not being held to the schedule in terms of the flight school. Usually people are renting from a flight school or a club or whatever and that can be problematic. Not all the time but sometimes. And often times, this is the biggest one for me, is that you can fly what you want. Because it’s hard to go to, hard as in impossible for me to go to the airport and rent an RV-8.
Brent: You can’t do it.
Brent: So often times, this is just to get you into the airplane that you want to fly. I mean, the trainers are fun and I know tons of people that never fly anything but that and that’s totally cool. If you’re thinking you want to do something different, you want to do, aerobatics is a great example here. Not a lot of aerobatic trainers out there to rent, especially solo, and if you want to have a Decathlon or a Pitts Special or something that can do aerobatics, maybe even competition or whatever, you’re going to need to own it because you’re going to have a hard time finding one to rent. So there are things like that that really drive it.
But if there are ways to do it that can really take the sting out of it, because ownership isn’t cheap, but like I said, partnership is that one great way to do it because it defrays all fixed costs across all the owners. So the cause of the machine, the annual inspections that you have every month, any kind of unscheduled maintenance that would occur that all gets spread across the owner base, and then you’re really left with that percentage of that and your direct operating cost which is fuel and oil and engine reserves and stuff like that. But hangar insurance, annuals, all those other things will be spread across the owners you get four or five guys in an airplane, you do the math pretty quick and again, it’s not completely inexpensive. It’s not like buying a dirtbike or something but it certainly gets you in the ballpark.
And I know a lot of people that have a second airplane as a partnership because the second airplane wouldn’t get much use. Let’s say it’s an aerobatic airplane, I’ll use that example again. Maybe they’ve got a Bonanza that they do trips in and they want to do aerobatics occasionally on the weekends, so they got their Bonanza and they have a shared partnership thing in a decathlon or something, just name it. So those kinds of options are really out there and I don’t think that people realize, especially if you’re starting out, how easily that is to do if you get out there and start asking question and do a little bit of research and read some of the things that are out there like on my blog and others and stuff and kind of see.
Clubs are good too. We talked about renting. The nice things about clubs is that often you can rent some stuff that would not be available at your typical FBO to rent so again, kind of getting your way from the trainers and getting you into stuff that get into aeros and maybe even a twin and stuff like that, that’s cool and fun. The club situation is nice because you pay the fixed costs and there is no surprise. You just pay up and you remember the club and the club takes care of the rest, it’s all built into the rental cost.
But the clubs don’t exist everywhere. They’re usually in bigger markets, so it kind of depends on where you’re at on whether or not that’s even an option to get you in an airplane. The other thing and you’ve mentioned this earlier about LSA and things like that, I think in the lightsport category, for an entry level to get into airplane, I think you get a lot of bad press early on. I think it’s 10 years old now. But because the first airplanes that came out is LSA, and there are still this way. They are 100K. It’s 100,000 bucks to go buy one and they are all brand new. And that sounds like an impossible amount of money and it is essentially.
So the thing it had going against it was is that a guy with a private pilot license could go buy a 152 for 18 or 20 and then the LSA guy is looking at 100,000 bucks for his airplane. So it’s like the math’s not right, right? It’s just a matter of it settling out. It’s a matter of these new airplanes essentially just getting more use so that way there becomes a little bit of a used market. I think a lot of people totally overlook some of the legacy LSAs, you know, the Cubs and the Luscombes, and things like that, the Ercoupes because of the age. And I think this is one of those misnomer things because I think it comes from you go to a newsstand, you pick up a fly magazine and that becomes your sort of your vision of what it looks like to be an amateur pilot or just a recreational flyer, and you don’t see. When you think about a 46 model airplane, you’re like “Wait a minute, I’m going to go up in a 60, 70-year-old airplane and do what?”
And what people don’t realize that don’t have any experience in flying is that they’re not like cars. They’re maintained to meticulous standards and there are no safety concerns at least in my mind. So it’s one of those kind of things where people don’t realize that one they’re starting so they totally dismiss it and then that opportunity to buy that 30,000-dollar Cub, they totally glossed over it and it’s unfortunate. This is one of the things that my mentor Jim, that he taught a lot of people, is like “Why are you doing that when you can buy this over here. This is much more fun and it gets the job done and it’s a third of the price.” And people are like “What?” But you just need that, someone’s got to tell you that stuff. You don’t learn it form walking into this in the FBO or picking up a plane pilot in the newsstand. It’s not particularly intuitive up a plane pilot in the newsstand. It’s not particularly intuitive.
Chris: Yea. Like you said, the math isn’t right. You got to find a way to make it right for you and there are a lot of different options to do that. Flying clubs, partial ownership, ownership outright, what else am I missing here?
Brent: Yeah, leasing like I said but it’s not really that viable. I mean, there are some other ways too I guess if you kind of get a little bit more esoteric. If you can find way to put your airplane to work, you can defray ownership costs, this is kind of getting into that. So there’s people that can go out and get a commercial which is a pretty relatively easy way to get if you get the flight time in. If you can find a way to use your airplane in your business, like if you’re aerophotography or if you do videography like you do and things like then there’s opportunity there to, and that would be for rental too. You could just write all that kind of stuff off. But talk to your tax professional first right?
Chris: Yeah. I think that more than the word airplane even, I think maybe you use that term more in your book than anything else, tax professional.
Brent: Probably so. Right, exactly.
Chris: Pretty important.
Brent: But this kind of mindset, I think people get kind of turned off is I’m not going to cheap, it’s like trying to be cheap on my surgery. I’m not going to go and look for the cheapest back surgeon or my heart surgeon or whatever. And so people think I don’t want to shop for insurance, I don’t want to shop around for a mechanic, I don’t want to shop around for a flight school, I don’t want to shop around for my airplane, and all that’s bunked. You should be shopping around.
I mean, I got two totally different quotes on my airplane, my RV, and one was double the quote I ended up going with with no material difference in the policy. So you got to be smart about it. It kind comes down to that thing we were talking about earlier. If you want it bad enough you’ll find a way and often times, it’s a matter of just being clever or keep asking the right questions and until you get to the answer.
Chris: Everyone is going to come up with kind of the cheap I guess rebuttal for this which you
answer in your book which is well, you should never cut corners in this process. You should never buy an aircraft that hasn’t been maintained well. You should walk away from a deal if there are red flags that pop up, all that sort of stuff. You got to use your common sense in this process. But you know, one example you used is you may find an airplane that was manufactured in the 40s that is better maintained and a better airplane than one from the early 2000s that was not well maintained.
Brent: That’s right. Absolutely. And then through this process, people are listening to us here, but what we’re talking about is not really that noble and you should be able to find someone locally. If you make some friends, you have to build some relationships that can kind of help you through this kind of stuff. So if you don’t know what a lemon is or you don’t know what weird model of 172 you want to stay away from because they have all these ADs on them or they’re maintenance pigs or whatever, definitely you got to do your homework. That’s where the internet and technology has really been a game-changer because now, a lot of these stuff, you just goggle it and you can find it out really easy.
Chris: Right, exactly. And even to the extent of yeah, I mean google just SCO. Someone goggle some of the terms we’ve talked about today, your blog might pop up. I do transcripts on every podcast episode, it might pop up for that. So the information is out there. You can definitely dig and you can find it. And that’s nice about today. It’s like this renaissance of information. It’s definitely happening in aviation as well and honestly, one of the best parts I think about it is that we’re digging up a lot more of the tribal knowledge in aviation than we ever had before. Suddenly, we’re not talking about maneuvers-based training anymore. We’re talking about scenario-based training and better ways to do all these stuff. And we’re taught about having deep conversations about lean of peak versus reach of peak and people are actually getting educated on this subject rather than just all these conjecture going back and forth, so it’s really nice.
Brent: Oh yeah. It’s huge. I learned before the internet and I’ve learned so much. Because my reintroduction to flying light airplanes, the internet was up, there was a lot of resources already out there when I started to get back into flying small airplanes again after my little seven-year hiatus or whatever. And boy, that was great because I could refamiliarize myself. And then I learned a bunch of stuff that I’m like “Where was all that when I was teaching?” it’s good. It’s great. There’s a lot of good news for anybody that’s either flying now or wants to start flying. It’s a great time to be involved in aviation really at any level, from an ultra light to a King Air, whatever you want to go, go out and fly.
Chris: Definitely. So here’s a big question, and this kind of wraps our conversation for the most part. So we’ve talked about all these different ownership options, talked about dollars here and there, different demographics. How accessible is flying really in today’s world? It seems like it’s just getting harder and harder to fly but from your eyes, having been through these experiences with your mentors and owning your own experimental aircraft, how accessible is it really? Are there really as many barriers as the community is putting out there?
Brent: That’s a big question. I think the barriers are just as big as you want to make them, right? It really just comes down at least in my mind, if you have a goal in mind for flying and you’re really rigid about that goal and let’s say your situation, and I’ll pick on geography because really that’s the biggest limiting factor for a lot of people. I mean there are plenty of places to fly. Central Ohio where I live, there are lots of great schools, lots of rental airplanes, lots of flying. Southern Cal, all places all over the country. But someone who lives in New York City has got to take an hour train ride to get to the closest GA airport that would be even reasonable to rent and in your stock or whatever they got. That’s obviously a tougher nut to crack and there are some significant barriers there. You just got to want that enough to really get through to those kind of barriers.
But if a person whose situation is like “You know what? I really want to fly. I want to rent a Cirrus and that’s all I want to do and I want to get my license and that’s what I want to fly because I saw that in the magazine,” you may have to modify your vision a little bit at least the situation changes to where that can happen for you. There was a guy at work and this is a fully rated guy, but he’s got all the stuff, and I was like “Hey man, have you been flying in a while?” “No, no, I haven’t flown in a couple years.” And the reason why he’s not flying is because the kind of airplane he wants to be out flying, he can’t afford to rent.
And I kind of think to myself “So is that how I would be if I was in his shoes? Would I be so stuck on a particular mindset in my flying that I wouldn’t fly anything?” And I think that’s where some people differ and I think the new folks that are coming up, I think they have a harder time with this too because their vision of what flying is is a little bit myopic because of just what’s in front of them, it’s the glossies, the glass cockpits and all that kind of stuff, and what guys don’t realize is some of the most fun flying that you can have is in a glider or in a seaplane or in a taildragger or in a 152 just cutting up. Just because you can’t afford to be in a Cirrus or just because that Baron is out of reach or the place where you rent doesn’t have a, maybe all you want to fly is taildraggers and they don’t have anything like that for you to rent. You’re stuck with a Cherokee. Well you know what? That’s better than nothing.
Chris: Right, exactly.
Brent: So my point, and I talked about this quite a bit in my blog but if my situation changed tomorrow financially or whatever and I had to sell my 8, I’d go buy a Kolb. I’d go buy a 10,000-dollar ultralight. Now, I’m a little bit better equipped to just go jump on something like that because there are some issues that go along with that. There’s no transition training, we’re talking about two-stroke power plants and that comes with its own rewards, so for me that would be fine. But there are still options out there. There are still a lot of nice airplanes that you could fly for cheap. I would hand-gliding, really anything to get the air under your wings in my opinion is I wouldn’t thumb my nose at.
So when I think about barriers to entry I really just think about, you just got to morph for what you got. So if money is your obstacle, you just got to have to come down a few notches and maybe where you had to seek out places that do it more affordably. You have to drive out to these county airports and get away from the metroplex to find that ultralight training ground or that place that trains people in an Ercoupe or whatever just to get rid of that barrier. That’s really it. It’s one of those kind of things where, and like I said, I think I’ve worn this phrase out, but I really honestly feel like this because I see it so much. If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way.
Chris: Right. I keep having this visual going through my wind. I’m kind of a visual guy. I think a lot of pilots are. I keep having these visual go through my mind of just stripping the entire cockpit around me. The avionics, whether they’d be G-1000 or steam gauge or whatever, strip everything away. Everything’s gone. I don’t know if it’s a high wing or a low wing or whatever it is, but I’m in the air and I’m flying, right? And I have this scenery in front of me, and that is really what matters. It doesn’t matter what’s around me. It just matters that I’m up in the air and I’m doing something.
Brent: Exactly. Exactly.
Chris: So I think that’s where we need to get. I know I need to fly more, that’s for sure.
Brent: Well me too.
Chris: You too, interesting.
Brent: Yeah. It’s hard to get enough. Back when I was training all the time, I was like “Okay, I got it, I’m good.” But nowadays with my current situation, I usually fly once a week or so. I wish I could fly a little more than that but money, family, time, all these kind of things conspire against me. Even people I meet, we all have our own barriers.
Chris: You have this video, I think you put it up on Instagram. I shared it on I think our twitter, Facebook or something but you have this video in your RV and you’re coming into your airport but heck, there’s like a line of trees lined up right with the runway. And not far away from the runway. It’s like right next to the threshold. You just kind of cut the corner right around the trees and then go to land. It’s pretty sweet.
Brent: Thanks. Yeah, it’s the old airport I was based at when I first got my RV flying. That was sort of the closest rural airport. When you’re flying an experimental airplane, you do test flights and stuff, they don’t really want you at the big metro airport. I mean you can but it’s just more red tapes. So I just took it out in the country and I was based out there for like a year and a half and it was fun. You taught me to land in a crosswind because that runway’s pretty narrow but yeah, I end up moving over her closer to home because it’s half the distance away from my house and it’s literally a thousand yards from work so it’s more money but it’s more fun.
Chris: Right. Well, you get to fly more that way so that’s really what matters at the end of the day.
Chris: Alright, so winding down here, I’m just going to ask you one final question, we’ll kind of end with that, and that is, what advise do you have to get to any new or maybe even a lapsed to rusty pilot to get started again, to get back into it. I think we’ve talked a lot about this already but just to summarize at the end here.
Brent: I think the best thing I would tell someone that’s thinking about flying or someone’s that thinking about getting back into it, is to go to the airport. We hit on this earlier, but just go out and just hang out. Get on the internet like Social Flight and some of these apps that are out there. You can find kind of what’s going on, and show up 1:14:53. If there happens to be something going in your neck of the woods and you can just show up there. Just because you drive there doesn’t mean you’re dishonorable or anything. Plenty of people drive to fly. I’ve even done that. When I’ve had my kids and stuff, they want to go see the airplanes and I don’t have enough room in mine to carry them all. So think like that. Go to the airport. Just spend some time out there. It doesn’t cause you anything. It just cause you a little bit of time and who knows what will happen?
You may find out they’re on a sale on private pilot’s licenses or fuel just dropped half-price or someone’s looking to get a partner in an airplane if you’re already rated and you had no idea, that would be an opportunity. You just don’t know. If nothing else, you’re building relationships with really people because I’ve run into very few pilots that weren’t just phenomenal people, so you can’t go wrong. It’s not like you’re spending your time in some place you shouldn’t be. So it’s good that way and it didn’t cost you a thing and then to see what happens.
And beyond that, like I said, if you set your intention and you really try to focus on what it is that you want to do. I think for guys that are already rated, you need to get back into it because of rusty. I think you just need to focus on what it is that you want to accomplish, what is their goal for their flying since they’ve already got a license. And for that new guy, it’s like what kind of flying do you think I will be doing once I get my license and trying to choose between lightsport and private pilot if there’s a choice to be made there. But all those things I think will be enhanced or helped if you just go spend a few days at the airport and just hang out and be a part of it, just kind of take it in.
Chris: Right. Just be involved. That’s what you got to do.
Brent: That’s it. Be involved.
Chris: Be involved and be in the right place which is at the airport or an airplane.
Brent: Yah. And I would even got a step further. We have an EAA chapter in this town where I live her now and that’s a great place to hook up with people. So if there’s any kind of like an organization for women, The Ninety-Nines… I had to be an experimental guy to be in the EAA chapter. Most of our chapters, just guys that fly regular airplanes. So that kind of stuff. Those are great ways to get involved. They’re not a lot of time and they’re social and other benefits you get from them are great.
Chris: Yeah. I mean, there are so many organizations out there. You encourage people in your book to join EAA and you talk about the chapters there but also AOPA, manly for their resources but also if you hook up with some of those communities, those are great. You got Civil Air Patrol, Young Eagles which is part of EAA but so many different areas where you can get involved. It all happens at an airport.
Brent: That’s it. That’s it. That’s the center of the universe.
Chris: For us it is. Well thanks for joining us on the show. Where can people check out your stuff?
Brent: Well thanks Chris. The website is www.fixedwingbuddha.com. And I also have a Facebook page by the same name and I’m on Instagram and twitter like everybody else and stuff. Yeah, you can check me out there. I’m pretty good about emails. So I’ve had a number of people that will fire off a question to me and I’m happy to help the extent I can across an email. That’s probably the best way to get a hold of me. I invite anybody that wants to go check it out to see the site and if they have a question, just let me know.
Chris: Right on. Well, thanks for joining us today and taking some time out of your cockpit to come with us and join us. So maybe you should get out of here and go get up the air or something.
Brent: Alright. Sounds good Chris. Thanks so much.
Chris: Alright. Thanks Brent, take care.
Brent: You too.
Alright, so there you have it, that is Brent Owens. Thanks for joining us on the show today Brent. It was a huge pleasure. Now, a couple of hours before the show, I actually went out and I got Brent’s book about how to afford flying better. Because I myself, I want to fly more and having been in a position before where my flying was mostly paid for, I’m now in a position where I need to pay for it myself. It has become more difficult for me myself to fly. And so I picked up Brent’s book and I read through it and I really just got inspired with all these different ideas. And my plan started to come together right away. And I noticed that there was definitely going to be a path where I was going to be able to do this. I already had the passion. You guys know that. I have a lot of the ideas, and I have the drive to do it. I just kind of needed someone else, someone else’s help to connect that knowledge.
I know that the work that Brent is doing is very, very useful. His book is awesome. I really love his blog there at fixedwingbuddha.com. Very short articles that just get your brain going, things that keep you thinking, and he writes on a consistent basis, so I know that he puts a lot of hard work into it. And also his work with Rob Burgon on Slipstream radio. So these guys do a fantastic job. They’re definitely people to look into and look up to, and I encourage them to keep going. So Brent again, thank you so much for joining us on this show. It was a true pleasure and I know that many of the listeners here at AviatorCast will appreciate your insight and your encouragement to just get out there and fly and take that first step and start this journey or continue this journey or pick up this journey again after many years of being out of flying, so we really appreciate all of your insight and all of the experience that you are bringing to this community freely. So we really appreciate that.
Now, for some aftershow AviatorCast actions. First is a survey. You can take a quick two-minute at survey.aviatorcast.com. Here you can give us ideas for upcoming shows. I actually got today’s review from that survey, so I do look at them and I do gather reviews from there. And this next week is actually going to be one of those times where I dive deep into that because I’m going to be coming up with a plan for this new year and making sure that we have some upgrades here at AviatorCast and we continue this forward.
Next, you can continue the conversation by joining us for this episode on AviatorCast.com or you can write me directly at email@example.com. I love to hear from you guys in either location and I do answer each and every email. Third, this is one of the most important ones. Please go subscribe to AviatorCast. If you don’t want to miss another episode, the best way to do that is to subscribe through services like iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud and more. Lots of different locations where you can go and learn about this each and every week. We put a lot of effort into make sure we have quality guest and quality topics, so this is a worthwhile place to be.
And for the last AviatorCast action, we’d also love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This helps others learn about AviatorCast so that they can enjoy it and I may even read your review right here on the show at the beginning of the show. And we have a lot of reviews that come in. It seems that they come in just perfect to match up with our episodes, it’s a high likelihood that we’d read your name on the show. And this year, I may even be planning a giveaway for each review that comes in. I may be sending something out to each person that does that.
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Many thanks also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for helping out AviatorCast. They make this episode possible and mostly by all the work that they do outside of AviatorCast, so these guys are awesome. Last but certainly not least, thank you so much truly. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things.
Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]