Learning to fly in the golden years

This forum has been developed to discuss aviation related topics.

Moderators: ahramin, sky's the limit, sepia, Sulako, lilfssister, North Shore, I WAS Birddog

Post Reply
ricky tick
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:29 pm

Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by ricky tick » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:43 pm

My dad's nearing 70 and thinking to get his license and fly for fun. He might buy a plane, but I'm suggesting medical first, then PPL then plane.

I read some stats in Plane and Pilot recently...
- Oldest person to get a pilot's license: Lt. Col. (ret.) James Collins Warren. 87 Years old. He was a former navigator with the Tuskegee Airmen.
- Oldest active pilot in the US: Ernest Eli Smith, 100 years "young". He soloed in 1943.

He did some training years ago but he's basically breaking into this game from square one without much of a relevant background, unlike the dudes mentioned above. He's decently healthy, the only real consideration is age. Without anything in the experience bag, you wonder how much is left in the luck bag at this stage and if it's worth the risk, effort, investment, etc.

If anyone has any personal experience or knows someone who started later in life please share, I'm sure there's some good stories out there.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
Bede
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3050
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:52 am

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by Bede » Sat Jul 14, 2018 4:31 am

I think it's doable, but to be honest it may be exceedingly difficult. That old adage about old dogs and all. I did a CPL once for a guy that was 73 and it was very tough.

From my understanding there is a correlation between age of license attainment and accident rate.

It's worth a try though but I'd set some clear goals and if he doesn't achieve them on schedule to drop it. No use chasing bad money with good.

Good luck!
---------- ADS -----------
  

photofly
Top Poster
Top Poster
Posts: 7020
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:47 pm
Location: Making aviation exhausting, everywhere

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by photofly » Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:44 am

Respectfully I disagree with Bede. If he’s having fun, being well taught, and getting a sense of achievement, who cares how long it takes? Or how far he gets?

A common feature of ageism is young people feeling the need to make decisions for old people. It’s up to him whether it’s worth it, not you.
---------- ADS -----------
  
Kirk: This is a dangerous mission. Likely, one of us will die. The landing party will be me, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Ricky.
Ensign Ricky: Aw, crap.

Eric Janson
Rank 8
Rank 8
Posts: 778
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 10:44 am

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by Eric Janson » Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:48 am

There's also Ultralight and Recreational Pilot Licences.

May be worth looking into.
---------- ADS -----------
  
Always fly a stable approach - it's the only stability you'll find in this business

User avatar
JasonE
Rank 7
Rank 7
Posts: 525
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:26 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by JasonE » Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:53 am

I'd suggest the medical first, then have at it. You don't need to decide where you're going for RPP or PPL in the early stages. That can wait till later. The flight school I went to suggested everyone took the PPL written in case they changed their mind.

Even if he can't pass a medical, if he's interested why not take a few lessons anyways for fun.
---------- ADS -----------
  
"Carelessness and overconfidence are more dangerous than deliberately accepted risk." -Wilbur Wright

User avatar
PilotDAR
Rank 10
Rank 10
Posts: 2859
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 6:46 pm
Location: Near CNJ4 Orillia, Ontario

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by PilotDAR » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:13 am

If fun is the goal, go fly with an instructor, go have fun.

But, I agree with Bede, that older people pick up the skills more slowly, and are more prone to errors. I have type trained a number of pilots on more advanced types, and I have found it to be nearly universal that a young pilot will pick things up faster, and demonstrate skill more consistently than much older pilots. Worse yet, are older "type A" people as new pilots - they've conquered everything else in life their way, they're going to conquer flying their way too! No, you're going to achieve piloting skills the same patient way every other successful pilot has, or you're going to hurt yourself trying!

As long as the older student regards the activity as fun, and has no timetable for achievement, fly dual for fun. I knew an older fellow who came into money, and wanted to fly. His instructor told me that he had over 200 hours, and had not gone solo yet. Okay, who cares, he was flying for fun, enjoying himself, employing an instructor, and not complaining - go for it!
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
Bede
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3050
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:52 am

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by Bede » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:20 am

photofly wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:44 am
Respectfully I disagree with Bede. If he’s having fun, being well taught, and getting a sense of achievement, who cares how long it takes? Or how far he gets?

A common feature of ageism is young people feeling the need to make decisions for old people. It’s up to him whether it’s worth it, not you.
You're right. I think the guy should give it a shot, but there is a very distinct possibility that it won't happen. I try to be realistic about these things. I never tell people to "follow their dreams" because the opportunity cost of doing so may be so massive.
---------- ADS -----------
  

tps8903
Rank 3
Rank 3
Posts: 151
Joined: Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:40 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by tps8903 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:42 am

ricky tick wrote:
Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:43 pm
My dad's nearing 70 and thinking to get his license and fly for fun. He might buy a plane, but I'm suggesting medical first, then PPL then plane.

I read some stats in Plane and Pilot recently...
- Oldest person to get a pilot's license: Lt. Col. (ret.) James Collins Warren. 87 Years old. He was a former navigator with the Tuskegee Airmen.
- Oldest active pilot in the US: Ernest Eli Smith, 100 years "young". He soloed in 1943.

He did some training years ago but he's basically breaking into this game from square one without much of a relevant background, unlike the dudes mentioned above. He's decently healthy, the only real consideration is age. Without anything in the experience bag, you wonder how much is left in the luck bag at this stage and if it's worth the risk, effort, investment, etc.

If anyone has any personal experience or knows someone who started later in life please share, I'm sure there's some good stories out there.
If you stick with an Advanced Ultralight I believe the medical is still a Category 4 (Self Declared Medical).

So it gives him an easier time with the item which might prove the most difficult. Advanced Ultralights often are much more fun to fly than a generic Cessna in my opinion anyway.

https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/ ... 5-6470.htm
---------- ADS -----------
  

Big Pistons Forever
Top Poster
Top Poster
Posts: 5024
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2004 7:17 pm
Location: West Coast

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by Big Pistons Forever » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:28 am

My oldest student was 72. Everything took a bit longer but he more than made up for it by being well prepared for every lesson.

He had no previous flying experience and had always wanted to learn to fly but life got in the way. His wife told me one day he was moaning at the dinner table at how he missed his chance so she just told him to get off his ass and go do it!

He was a wonderful gentleman and one of my favourite students. After he got his PPL he flew for 5 years before voluntarily grounding himself because he felt it was time
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
HiFlyChick
Rank 5
Rank 5
Posts: 370
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:27 am

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by HiFlyChick » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:01 am

PilotDAR wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:13 am
If fun is the goal, go fly with an instructor, go have fun.

But, I agree with Bede, that older people pick up the skills more slowly, and are more prone to errors. I have type trained a number of pilots on more advanced types, and I have found it to be nearly universal that a young pilot will pick things up faster, and demonstrate skill more consistently than much older pilots. Worse yet, are older "type A" people as new pilots - they've conquered everything else in life their way, they're going to conquer flying their way too! No, you're going to achieve piloting skills the same patient way every other successful pilot has, or you're going to hurt yourself trying!

As long as the older student regards the activity as fun, and has no timetable for achievement, fly dual for fun. I knew an older fellow who came into money, and wanted to fly. His instructor told me that he had over 200 hours, and had not gone solo yet. Okay, who cares, he was flying for fun, enjoying himself, employing an instructor, and not complaining - go for it!
I think PilotDAR is spot on - fly with an instructor and have fun, if he gets a license, fine, if he just has fun and never gets a license, also fine - fun was had...

A crucial thing is to really encourage him to stay within his limits if he gets to the stage of going alone. Years ago, we had a super experienced pilot in his mid-70s that had come out of retirement to fly a Navajo for fun. I was close to being captain qualified and was flying with him when ATC mis-timed their instruction, and cleared us to join on a left base, in front of Air Canada on a long final. As we were about to turn final, ATC realized his mistake and (rather urgently) instructed us to continue straight through final and not turn, because AC was coming up fast. The Captain started to turn final as he said to me, "What did they say...?" and I pointed and said "Straight! Straight! They said to continue straight!" while watching AC get large in my window. I don't think it was classed as a near miss or anything, but it could have been had he been on his own, or with an inexperienced F/O who didn't want to speak up. He stopped flying shortly after that, and I quietly told management not to try and convince him to stay.

Encourage your dad to fly for fun, and depending how it goes, even encourage him to go solo and get licensed. But when it's really windy, a high traffic area, close to dark or not great vis, encourage him to hang on the ground with other pilots and tell stories, or take an experienced (in those conditions) person with him. I won't say an instructor, because quite frankly, some instructors are inexperienced in certain conditions themselves, and having a student that demands an extra amount of attention can exceed their capabilities as well.
---------- ADS -----------
  

ant_321
Rank 6
Rank 6
Posts: 476
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 8:43 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by ant_321 » Sat Jul 14, 2018 10:26 am

It's doable. When I was an instructor I flew a few times with a gentleman in his 70's. He may have taken slightly longer than average to get it done but nothing crazy. If he wants to do it tell him to give it a shot. You know, one life to live and all that stuff. If he discovers it isn't for him tell him that's no big deal either. There are plenty of 20 year olds who have trouble getting a ppl as well.
---------- ADS -----------
  

User avatar
Cat Driver
Top Poster
Top Poster
Posts: 18921
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2004 8:31 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by Cat Driver » Sat Jul 14, 2018 12:06 pm

A lot depends on the individual as we all age at a different rate.

I retired from flying for a living when I was seventy because I wanted to be home instead of half way around the world doing something that I no longer enjoyed, not because of age related issues. I was flying for " The French Flying Legends " in airshows all over Europe and had no problem with passing my annual flight test for my unlimited airdisplay license I held at the time.

I will be eighty three in October and I can see no difference in my reflexes now than when I retired.

Bob Hoover one of the best pilots that ever flew was flying in air shows until he was seventy eight and his flying was still spectacular when he retired.

So learning to fly at seventy should be no problem for your dad. :mrgreen:
---------- ADS -----------
  
The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no


After over a half a century of flying no one ever died because of my decision not to fly.

co-joe
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3364
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:33 am
Location: YYC 230 degree radial at about 10 DME

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by co-joe » Sat Jul 14, 2018 6:11 pm

Eric Janson wrote:
Sat Jul 14, 2018 5:48 am
There's also Ultralight and Recreational Pilot Licences.

May be worth looking into.
The ultralight thing is great if the Cat 3 medical turns out to be a problem as I believe the medical requirement is a "self declaration of health" or something like that.

For older students I had tonnes of problems getting them to finish. They want to start flying June 1st or whenever the first nice day comes up but then have a month of vacation in July, and a busy schedule. Life gets in the way, september rolls around and they're finally getting the PSTAR done so they can go solo and then another vacation. Pretty soon, they have 100 hours and 5 instructors names in their PTR and are getting frustrated. They finish usually some time in year 2, or give up entirely.
---------- ADS -----------
  

ShawnR
Rank 1
Rank 1
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2015 11:28 am

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by ShawnR » Wed Jul 18, 2018 5:06 am

If I understand correctly, the same medical is required for an ultralight or a Rec License. A class 4 so basically, if your father can get a drivers medical, he can get a Rec license. No need to see an Aviation Examiner, only his regular doctor if he wants to carry a passenger.

https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/ ... 5-6470.htm (Edit, sorry, I see this document was previously referenced by tps8903. A local pilot, aged 83ish just received his Cat 4 and was downgraded to a Rec license but is happy as can be to be flying again. He rents or borrows. )

It does limit him to carrying one passenger, and not flying to the states. And should he excel, the hours can count towards the PPL, should he go that route.

No ground school required either, although still an exam to study for. If this still appeals to him, then you might want to ask an insurance company if they would take him on at this point as a newly minted license and what they would require in minimum hours and what the fee will be. (unless buying a plane is not an option)

Maybe a few, exploratory flights before too much commitment to see how well things go...?

I firmly believe that buying a plane to get your license in is financially better, more convenient and more rewarding than renting, although I will admit, that a good purchase is key to this. Bad luck could set one up for a financial disaster, should the engine go. C150's can be had for fairly cheap these days, if size allows it.

Good luck!
Cheers,
---------- ADS -----------
  

ricky tick
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:29 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by ricky tick » Wed Jul 18, 2018 1:35 pm

Wow thanks everyone, I didn't expect many responses that quickly and I think you covered all the bases, especially with the real life examples.

I think some takeaways are:
- set clear goals/objectives
- set time aside to be able to train on a regular schedule
- prepare well for each lesson
- if not meeting goals etc., re-evaluate... if enjoying the process, why not keep doing it for fun in a safe way
- be realistic about personal limits, ask for input from another experienced instructor

I'd forgotten about the Cat 4 medical too. Surprised that TC is cool with it, but I bet it keeps the dream alive for a quite a few people.

And Cat, I hope we all make it to a voluntary retirement like you. Do you miss it, or are you still flying for fun and trying to set a record in Plane & Pilot?
---------- ADS -----------
  

co-joe
Rank 11
Rank 11
Posts: 3364
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 2:33 am
Location: YYC 230 degree radial at about 10 DME

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by co-joe » Wed Jul 18, 2018 3:15 pm

All great takeaways. Go for a discovery flight, do the medical, do the groundschool, and do the PSTAR. After that put the time in, and put everything else on hold until licensed. What a cool thing to do in retirement.
---------- ADS -----------
  

C.W.E.
Rank 8
Rank 8
Posts: 989
Joined: Mon Dec 18, 2017 2:22 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by C.W.E. » Wed Jul 18, 2018 6:54 pm

And Cat, I hope we all make it to a voluntary retirement like you. Do you miss it,


No I do not miss it after fifty years doing it for a living it gets to be very boring and going to an airport today to travel by air is a true pain in the ass.
or are you still flying for fun and trying to set a record in Plane & Pilot?
I found one copy of General Aviation News a general aviation magizine from the USA that featured me as their pilot of the month with a story of my career..... It is unusual for a magazine to feature a pilot from another country as their pilot of the month but I had no reason not to co-operate with them and supply them with all the info they wanted...hell free advertising for my business was great. :mrgreen:

Looking through my collection of aviation magazines I found one issue of Plane and Pilot with a long article about one of my flights in it.

There are also four issues of Aeroplane with articles of my flights.

And there are three issues of FlyPast with stories of some of my flights.

I have not flown for about three years but I renewed my medical a couple of months ago so I can fly a Hughes 300 we are getting for a lodge a good friend of mine owns.

I am not really interested in flying fixed wing any more but I love helicopters. :mrgreen:
---------- ADS -----------
  

ricky tick
Rank 0
Rank 0
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:29 pm

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by ricky tick » Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:38 am

Glad to hear you're staying busy. Good luck with the helicopter!
---------- ADS -----------
  

astroguy
Rank 2
Rank 2
Posts: 59
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Learning to fly in the golden years

Post by astroguy » Thu Jul 19, 2018 9:29 pm

Hello, New UL pilot here.
I am not young.... I am not old.... For my 56th birthday this year my wife purchased me a discovery flight and the books for ground school.
I did the 40 hour PPL ground school and absolutely loved it while I flew. I now have my ULPP and 24 hours logged. Looking to get my PAX rating shortly.
My point is... I can vouch that at age 56 I was a bit worried about my ability to pick up on things but it seems that I'm still my old self. I wont get it first try all that well but with repetition it is etched in my mind forever.
I am doing it and loving it.... go for it...
BTW check out some of my training in the Ikarus C 42 Advanced Ultralight by seaching..... David Pianosi ....on YouTube.
or check
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzr0ekP-I0w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gS9dpADgVw&t=25s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYK0Yo2WF0w&t=9s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt-g937ApRM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZDcH03lMnE
---------- ADS -----------
  

Post Reply

Return to “General Comments”