The winter seems to be a hard time for many private pilots, but some factors can be there at any time.
I’d say a lack of a social scene.
Not because of the benefits of the social scene directly, but it makes it harder to meet like minded people who you can share trips with.
I’ve done a lot of my flying with one other club member. We share the legs, which allows us to go further and make more interesting trips. Without this I might well have given up long ago, for the in ability to do anything interesting.
But how do you met those people? For most schools/clubs you turn up at the appointed time, take the aircraft and go. You later return it, sign the log, pay and leave. You meet nobody apart from the receptionist and perhaps a flight instructor. This is also true during the training.
It becomes very hard to meet other school/club members to make friends with and learn together.
Those schools/clubs that have a social scene, no matter how small, are much better places to be, in terms of long term development as a pilot.
The wife yelling at you that you forgot to do something.
You make a great point @dublinpilot ! I’m struggling with the same problem. Additionally I’m under 30 years old and can’t find anyone close to my age. All the young pilots go to commercial schools with an integrated ATP course and therefore never join an aero club. So what’s left in my club are pilots aged 45+ and this definitely makes it harder to do trips with (I don’t mind camping or sleeping in a hostel for example).
Apologies for again highlighting the advantages of low profile private flying – plus perhaps getting too epic again – yet:
Winter is only the time for other kinds of activity, but no less frantic. Now is the time to finally get that stupid factory-conceived instrument panel out and replace it with something fit and designed for this very plane and for this very pilot. A hundred details will be wrong the first time round, so this must not be done in the flying season. With any bad luck, the plane will be grounded for a couple of weeks – but it might equally be grounded by weather, for at least as long.
Now is also the time for some repairs on epoxy work and on paint – the low temperatures make for a slow and steady cure, but it must be done on one of these cold but sunny inversion days with dry wind from the northeast, and these are SO tempting for a rare day’s flying.
Finally, there’s no lack of a social scene: before, in between, and after a lot of tinkering, all of us will merrily meet in the airfield bar for various drinks and food, and for endless discussions on matters long discussed up, and even for some practical planning of next season’s flying.
Dominik: Agree. Difficult to find other “young” pilots. When you do find them, they usually have very little experience and won’t do anything beyond boring local runs.
@Dominik: you’d be surprised at the average age of pilots sleeping in a smallish tent under their wing at the larger fly-ins: I daresay only few are under 50. But I can imagine you’d like to meet younger pilots, and most of those seem indeed to be spoiled by comfort. More’s the pity, for themselves most of all! Allow me to suggest you should consider yourself as much more grown-up, so that you better fit a company of people generally older than yourself.
No 4, 8 and 9 on your list Peter. Well for me.
@Dominic – good point. I’m also under 30 – and while I get on very well with other people at the airfield (and the hangar where I am based has a very friendly group of people), I’m the youngest person around by about 20 years…
The biggest issue for me is definitely 9, on that list. Flying with others is far more fun.
Other points in addition to those mentioned above:
- availability of a/c when TIME is available (especially if renting and to a degree sharing)
- proximity or transport to airfield so that if TIME is unexpectedly available together with a/c, it can be done.
Of course, one can make flying time but work / family competes. Perversely, I exceptionally negotiate flying time with family on the basis that currency is a contributor to safety but try to be judicious on that one…
Social scene is indeed a motivator – I estimate that non-flyers will politely tolerate not more than 4.25 mn of aviation conversation – so it’s pleasant and educational to be surrounded by people from all walks of life with a similar interest/passion.