Monthly Archives: September 2017

22 Money-Saving Ways To Keep Flight Training Costs Down

Category : Education

Learning to fly is an investment in yourself. It may be for a future career, it may be to expand your current business or it may be for the pure excitement of freedom and fun. Whatever your reasons, it’s an investment.

Here is a list of 22 different ways to keep your training costs down.

Prepare for each lesson

The more you know about what’s going to happen at your next lesson the more you can affect your training. Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a good meal. Have all the material you need for your flight. It’s amazing how difficult it is to learn when you don’t have the basic needs covered. If you have to repeat a lesson because you were too tired or hungry to focus you can add an exponential amount to your overall training costs.

Study your checklists

Know what procedure is done when. Know what task comes it what order. The more you fumble with your checklists because you don’t know them, the less confidence your instructor may have in your ability to solo. This means more repeat lessons.


Now, while you should study them, and memorize them if you can, we don’t mean don’t use them. Your memory is not a steel trap. You can forget things, and sometimes it can be a life or death step you missed. So, know your checklists, but use them to be sure you don’t miss a critical step.

Do your homework – study

There is a LOT of information you need to know to learn to fly safely. Most of it is learned on the ground. The more you study your books, the concepts, the maneuvers and the regulations the less time you spend with a flight instructor ‘teaching’ you.

Armchair flying – watch videos, fly in your mind, study your cockpit

“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head” – Jack Nicklaus (Golfer)

Armchair flying, or practice of visualization is a tool that many professional athletes, successful business people and actors use to become better at what they do. It saves them time and money because they can do it over and over and over again in their mind, perfecting as they go.

This isn’t limited to only doing it in your mind, though. Watch videos and learn from other people. Take a picture of your cockpit, put it on a poster board, sit at your desk and simulate flying. The more ways you can learn a concept, the more it solidifies in your very fiber.

Take caution though, as practicing something – even in your mind – is only effective if you practice it the right way. So, learn the fundamentals and learn them properly. Practice makes permanent – perfect practice makes perfect.

Record your flight lesson

Grab your GoPro or your Garmin Virb and an audio cable and record your flights. This will help you relive your flight when you aren’t so overwhelmed with flying the plane. You can see your mistakes and think about how to correct it next time. You can pause your flight and really solidify your sight-picture for a maneuver. You can practice your radio communications while you don’t have to focus on controlling the plane.

Another note of caution on this one as well. DON’T let the recording of your lesson compromise your safety of flight. It is better to not have this feature, than to be so worried about your recording that you forget to fly.

Talk with other pilots

Pilots love to share their stories. And most of them will have a lesson or two to learn. Some of our stories are when we had the smoothest touchdown ever, that one time we dealt with turbulence or even that time we forgot to remove the tail tie down. Regardless of it being a good story or a lesson learned, talking with other pilots can be an amazing way to increase your own confidence.

Also, the more you talk with pilots, the more chances you may have to go up in a plane with another pilot. The more you are around planes and pilots the more you learn. And it only costs you some time and an exercise in listening.

Share flight time

Similar to talking with other pilots and taking the offer to go up in their plane is the ability for you to share flight time with other pilots. If they are instructors they may let you fly the plane. If you find another pilot who isn’t an instructor then you can be their safety pilot. Or you can have the company of another pilot on your flight as you build your confidence.

As always, whether you’re flying the plane or just in the front passenger seat, you are learning.

Spend less time on the ground – fly often, stay current, train consistently

The more you fly, the more you retain. It’s like riding a bike. When you first started out learning to ride you didn’t get on the bike once ride for a bit and then put the bike away for a month and try again. You got on it a little bit every day. And practiced riding. And soon you picked it up.

It’s the same with learning everything, and flying is no exception. The more consistent you are with your lessons and the closer they are to each other, the more you will learn in less time.

Show up – even if the weather is bad

Following our last point, show up to your lessons. Regardless of the weather. You can still have a ground lesson with your instructor. You can talk about the weather and what makes it ‘bad for your flight’. You may even get a chance to fly anyways as the weather may clear up for you.

Use a simulator

If your flight school has one, use the simulator. It costs less than taking a plane up and you can build on your skill. You can even fly it in bad weather! It’s also a great way to get experience flying into an unfamiliar airport. And most importantly, you can work on a specific skill repeatedly without too much wasted time getting set up for your maneuver.

Communicate issues early

A simple way to ensure that you are not wasting money on your flight training is to talk with your instructor. Tell them what’s going well, tell them what you’re worried about. Tell them what you think you need to work on and any problems you may be facing.

If you keep your instructor informed to your struggles they may have new and creative ways to help you overcome them. Need to rearrange your flying schedule…let them know. Need creative ways to reduce your training costs…let them know. Need to build your confidence before a checkride…let them know.

Consider a recreational or sport pilot license

Many pilots only execute a fraction of their private pilot privileges. Most ‘weekend’ pilots could get by with a recreational or sport pilots license. Both licenses allow you to fly and both licenses can be upgraded to a full private pilot license in the future. Check out the regulations and what you can and can’t do with both licenses and see if it’s right for you.

Get a job at the airport

The more time you spend at the airport, the more chances you have of meeting interesting people, seeing interesting planes or picking up on opportunities to learn. If you can totally immerse yourself into aviation you may find other ways to reduce your training costs. And the paycheck doesn’t hurt either.

Reduce the amount of “stuff” you buy

We’ve talked about it before, but there are a lot of gadgets and gizmos out there to help you fly. But they all separate you from your money as well. The latest and greatest pilot jacket may help you look cool but it doesn’t help you fly better or save you any money. Some ‘stuff’ is needed to fly and your flight instructor will be able to tell you what you need and what you don’t.

Apply for scholarships

There are several scholarships out there, and some go un-awarded because no one applies for them. Scholarships are designed by their very nature to help you save money, reducing the cost of learning to fly. Take some of your time to research what scholarships are out there and apply. You never know, you may have a large portion of your flight training paid for.

Choose a flight school or flight instructor with a good reputation

In the world of online reviews, social media and the internet there is no reason to get yourself into a school that has a bad reputation. Do your due diligence and research your school and their instructors. Check out the good reviews and the bad. How the company responds to negative reviews is a great way to know how they may handle any situation you find yourself in.

Take advantage of discounts and freebies

Some schools offer block pricing, where you pay for a chunk of flight time up front but save a little in the long run. Some schools offer special gifts when you sign up for different classes. Or they may offer a free seminar. Take advantage of these. They are designed to help you learn at a reduced rate.

Join the civil air patrol

Again, this falls into the category of immersion into aviation. While you can fly a CAP plane, if you meet the requirements, for a reduced cost there are other aspects of being a member of CAP. Check out their website and talk to some members of the Civil Air Patrol and see how they may be able to help you.

Have a good credit score

Many students have a loan to help them pay for training. Having a good credit score doesn’t directly reduce your training costs but it can reduce the interest rate on your loan. And that can save you big time!

Become an instructor

This is last on our list for a reason. It requires you to have some pretty significant flight training already accomplished. But if you want to get paid to fly and build your flight time while teaching and inspiring future pilots, this isn’t a bad way to go.

There you have it. A nice list of 22 ways to keep your flight training costs down. How many of these have you done? Are there other ideas you’ve tried that we didn’t list? Feel free to let us know about it.


Category : adventure

Congrats, you’ve gotten your pilots license….now what? There are many different reasons why someone wants to get their pilots license. Some want to fly professionally, some to get places faster, to reduce the stress of traveling or just for the fun of it.

things to do with pilot license

Whatever your reasons for learning to fly you can always have a list of things to try. A list of fun and exciting ways to use your license when you’re not traveling from point A to point B.

Call this the pilot’s bucket list.

$100 Hamburger Flight

Almost all pilots have done this. Jump in the plane and fly somewhere just for lunch. Or breakfast. It’s the total sense of freedom. There is no agenda around your flight, other than to grab a bite to eat. Flying for flying’s sake. This is the simple and basic essence of flying.

Why $100? Well, if you add up the cost of getting your hamburger from about 100 miles away… you get the point. But the experience and enjoyment is well worth the cost.

Night Flight Over A City

You’ve seen your town or city during the day from the air and that is impressive and awe inspiring. And I’m sure you’ve seen your city lights from the ground at night. But imagine what it looks like from the air!

Peaceful, beautiful, amazing and down-right magical are the best way to describe the view. The twinkling lights and lack of thermals make night flying a must do on every pilots list.

Learn A Different Type Of Flying

In the United States alone there are several different climates and altitudes that you can fly in. If you’ve only ever flown at sea-level during the summer or fall then you are shortchanging yourself.

Take a lesson or two and learn how to fly in different environments. Some of these include mountain flying, bush flying, backcountry flying, high altitude flying and cold weather flying. Expanding your knowledge and experience will make you a better and safer pilot. And will add even more stories to your book as you talk with other pilots.

Fly In Actual Instrument Conditions

If you are instrument rated and you have not flown an actual instrument flight you are selling yourself short. Flying through grey clouds and completely unable to see what’s around you while trusting your instruments and your knowledge to get you right where you need to be is a thing of pure skill and delight. If you’re not instrument rated go flying with someone who is and experience the awesomeness of what is possible in flying.

Fly Something Different

Don’t get stuck in a rut and have only one type of plan in your log book. Part of the fun of flying is trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone. Tail dragger? Yup. Learn the real use of the rudders. High wing vs low wing? See the difference in views and handling. Seaplanes will give you the experience of landing where most planes try to stay away from. Whatever you currently fly, take a lesson or two in a different type of plane and open your world. At the very least you’ll get a new perspective. You may even discover a new passion.

Take A Kid On A First Flight

Introducing a young child to flying is a rewarding experience. The future of Aviation relies on pilots like you to keep the up and coming generation interested in planes and flying. Taking a child up in the air for the first time and seeing the smiles and joy is worth a few hours in your log book.

There are many organizations that put on a “first flight” event and you can volunteer for them, or you can find family and friends who want to experience flight. The memories you make will last both you and the kids you fly a lifetime.

Go On A Family Flying Vacation

You’ve taken the family in the car. And spent hours on the road in traffic getting to where you want to be. Pack them up in the plane and get there quicker. Or better yet, try going to a place that roads don’t go!

Fly Low To See The Fall Colors

In today’s world of speed and getting to the next place it’s nice to stop and smell the roses. Or in aviation sometimes it’s fun to go slow and see the changing of the leaves. Fall brings beautiful colors with it and a well-timed flight over the foliage during the peak of colors is a breath-taking experience.

Fly In A Different Country

Do your research, plan your flight and fly out of the country. Experiencing aviation in different countries can be a fun and rewarding adventure. It’s not as hard as you think and most places will cater to you as the pilot.

Fly In To A ‘Fly-in’

A large gathering of like-minded people all in one destination location to celebrate the joy of aviation. What better way to exercise your privilege of flight? Joining other pilots at a fly-in is one of the best ways to see different airplanes, talk with other pilots, learn something new and test out your skills at a new airport.

If you’re brave enough to give the “world’s largest fly-in” a shot then Oshkosh, or EAA AirVenture should be a bucket list item for all pilots. Just remember to read the notams before you attempt this one.

Learn Aerobatics

There is almost no better way to learn the limits of what a plane can do than aerobatics. Taking your skills and your plane to the limit is thrilling, heart-pounding and a rush of adrenaline that you can only get with flying. Become a safer pilot as you learn the techniques required to handle your airplane like a pro.

And if you get good enough at it, you may find yourself entering a show or three. But please, not in our planes. And make sure it’s done in a safe environment.

Join A Flying Club

Or at the very least check one out. Flying clubs are great ways to meet like-minded individuals and talk aviation. They usually have two or three different planes that you can get checked out on. They can be a way to reduce the cost of flying while potentially making lasting friendships.

Volunteer For A Charity Organization

Donating your time and costs to help someone in need is always a rewarding experience. There are several organizations out there that are looking for pilots. Some help patients get to their appointments and some help relocate animals to places where they are wanted. The list of these organizations is quite broad so there is guaranteed to be one that suits your fancy.

Explore Non-Paved Strips

There is a long list of non-paved strips around the country. Some can be found in fields and other in destinations so remote you can only get to them by plane.  Make sure you understand your plane’s performance data before you show up at these strips as they can be shorter than you are used to.

Fly In A Different State

Each state has its own beauty and things to experience. You could compound your flying by setting a theme to your visits. Maybe you are trying to hike the tallest peak in each state; Or land on a grass strip in each state. Or even grab a $100 hamburger in each state. The possibilities are endless and you build hours, experience and memories with each one.

Bonus: Become a CFI

This is the only one on our list that requires you have an advanced certificate which is why we’ve listed it as a bonus thing to do. We believe that teaching something to someone else is a little way to pass on your legacy. And teaching another person to fly is like sharing freedom and excitement with them.

There you have it. 15 interesting things you can, and should, do with your pilot’s license. Was there something we missed? How many of these types of flying have you done? Let us know in the comments.

10 Simple Things Flight Instructors Wished Their Students Knew

Category : Education

Learning to fly is one of the most fun, most exhilarating activities you can do in your lifetime. It is the ultimate freedom as you break free from the grasp of the earth. While your instructor is doing their best to train you in all the aspects of flying there are a few unspoken simple things that most instructors wish you knew before you started flying.

wished flight students knew

Flying with an instructor is real flying.

You are building hours and learning how to be a safe and competent pilot. Just because you have an instructor in the right seat of the airplane doesn’t mean that the flying isn’t “real”. You are at the controls and you gradually increase your responsibilities of flight as your training progresses. Take advantage of the knowledge you have next to you. Don’t think of your training as a means-to-an-end but rather a flight with another skilled aviator.

Somethings just need to be memorized.

Yes, there are some old technologies that are no longer in use. And Yes, there are some things that are easy to look up on the latest technological device. In fact, there are some things that may not make sense to you at all and you think you can get away with “letting those questions go”. Much like anything you’ve ever done in life, some tests are just to test that you know certain things.

There is a difference between knowing something for a test and knowing something because it may save your life. Understanding this difference can be extremely beneficial to your flying career.

Mistakes are the best teachers.

When life is easy you don’t learn as well. Mistakes keep pushing you to improve until you get something right. Analyzing your mistakes after the fact will often show you something you missed. This is what teaches you to be better next time.

If you pulled off the perfect landing, but had no clue how you did it, how can you repeat it? Landing left of centerline is frustrating. But, evaluating your use of rudder and ailerons and trying again making little corrections will get you right where you want to be. The experience will help you grow as a student. It also helps you to recognize those scenarios in the future and correct them before they happen.

Don’t cancel flight lessons.

Your time is valuable. So is the instructor’s. The more consistent you are with your training the easier you will pick up the lesson. The faster you learn, the faster and less expensive your training will be. Make the commitment to learn to fly and stick to your commitments. Extenuating circumstances will happen, but they don’t happen for every lesson. And they don’t happen on a regular basis. The more professional you are in your training, the safer you will be as a pilot.

Show up prepared.

Flying is money. Time is money. The more prepared you are for your flight the less it costs you. If you pay for an instructor’s time while you check the weather, you are increasing your costs. When the instructor must teach you all the nuances of a chapter you should have read before your flight your wallet pays for that. Have your flight plan ready. The longer you take to get in the plane and start flying the longer it will take to complete your license.

Create a checklist for all the things you need to have done before your next flight/lesson. Taking care of those items on your time makes your lessons that much more efficient and your flying that much more fun.

Use the checklist.

Speaking of checklists…use them! They are there to make your life easier; and your flying safer. While learning the sequence of events for a certain period of flight will help to increase your speed and efficiency, don’t forget to check your memory against the checklist. It is sad to see how many accidents happen because a certain step was missed. Rudder gust locks anyone?

Take care of the equipment.

Planes are investments. The better you treat them, the better they fly for you. So, please, be gentle when moving your seat forward or backward. Be smooth on the inputs to the controls. Buckle your seatbelt back up when you are done so it doesn’t get caught in the tracks when the seat is moving.

Your equipment is an investment too! Don’t lose your fuel tester. Ensure your headset chords are carefully wrapped up when you put them away. The equipment you use will treat you right if you take care of it. And it will save you money in the long run because it will last longer.

Supplies – what you need and what you don’t.

There are a few things that all beginning pilots need. There are many things that they don’t. The best, latest and greatest gadget is not required. Neither is the super expensive pilot watch. Or the leather pilot jacket. Keep your initial costs down by getting what your instructors list as required items and save the do-dads for after you get your license.

Be a partner in learning

Your instructors have put a lot of time and effort into creating a path for you to get your license. Based on their knowledge and experience they are working to give you the best chance at success. However, for you to have the ultimate success you should be involved in your learning process. If you don’t understand something, ask a question. If you want to repeat a lesson to get a better understanding of it, talk to your instructor. Their lessons are based on data and best practices. The best way for them to customize your training to suit you is to be interactive with them and talk to them about your training.

Enjoy the view and keep your eyes open

Learning to fly provides the opportunity for you to see the world from a whole new perspective. The view of a pilot is amazing. And if it isn’t, fly somewhere else to change your view. Remember this during your flight training. Don’t forget to look out the window. Your first certificate is for visual flight rules anyways, so don’t get bogged down in staring at the instruments.

Looking outside the plane is more than checking out the scenery. Most collisions are because the pilot was looking inside the plane when they should have been looking outside the plane. Watch for other planes and obstacles while you are flying and stop trying to fix the GPS while you’re moving.

Flying is an amazing experience. These few important things your flight instructors wish you knew will set you off on the right foot. What are your thoughts? Did you learn something the hard way after you started your flight training? Instructors, did we miss any important items you want your students to know? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.

Find Your Freedom Beyond The Road

Category : adventure

Freedom, excitement, adventure. These things and more are waiting for you when you learn to fly.

A discovery flight with Del Sol Aviation is the most thrilling hour you can give yourself for under $200. Come and check out what we’re doing and what all the excitement is about. Call us at 505-242-2701 to book your flight today!

Guaranteed Interviews With Sierra West Airlines

Del Sol Aviation Partners with Sierra West Airlines to Provide Guaranteed Interviews to Qualified Pilots

Del Sol Aviation is pleased to announce its new partnership with Sierra West Airlines. As one of the top flight schools in New Mexico we pride ourselves on generating quality training and therefore, quality pilots.

In an effort to provide maximum value to our customers and our amazing flight instructors we are constantly working to provide an easy path for advancing careers.

Sierra West Airlines, located in El Paso, TX, was started in the early 1990s and has over 25 years of experience with charter transportation. They fly you or your cargo anywhere in the United States with some international locations such as Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

SWA has opportunities to fly aircraft such as an Executive Lear 55 and a Falcon 20 to name a few. Their services range from On-Demand flights where they strive to be wheels up within an hour, Private passenger flights and medical and animal transportation.

Pilots who meet the following will be given a guaranteed phone interview.

  • Must be recommended by Del Sol Aviation management
  • FAA Commercial Pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings
  • FAA First Class Medical (or ability to obtain prior to reporting)
  • FAA-regulated Drug and Alcohol program
  • 800 hours total flight time
  • 250 hours pilot-in-command time
  • 150 hours cross-country
  • 50 hours multi-engine
  • 50 hours night time
  • Applicants must meet all above criteria and complete online application with “Del Sol Aviation” referenced.

All applicants who interview with Sierra West Airlines from this agreement must meet the same standards for employment as other candidates of Sierra West Airlines.

We at Del Sol Aviation are proud of our instructors and their continuing dedication to providing the highest quality training available. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with Sierra West Airlines and can’t wait to watch our students move on to such an amazing career opportunity.

Benefits of Training At Higher Altitudes

Category : Education

Altitude is one of the most important aspects of any flight. The “height above” a given fixed point is one of many things pilots are required to know. Most of the Continental United States is between seal level, or 0 feet and 3,000 feet above sea level. Few single engine piston pilots will ever have a need to go above 5,000 feet above sea level.

However, there is an entire section of the country that sits at 5,000 feet or higher. What happens if you need to fly in the “mountain time zone” of the country? How does that area effect the performance of your plane? What about you as the pilot, are you affected?

Learning to fly, or training at higher altitudes has some very specific benefits to every pilot.

Greater Mastery of Your Aircraft

Flying your plane at sea level gives you full advantage of all the performance specs the manufacture designed. Flying your plane at altitude comes with a performance hit. Learning to operate your aircraft at the limits of its performance envelope helps to fine tune your abilities.

Understanding Aircraft Performance

Density altitude is not just a question you see on the private pilot exam. It’s a real factor that effects every aircraft flying. In the higher altitude states density altitude effects your climb performance, take off distance, and weight and balance considerations to name a few things. Try flying a Cessna 172 at a field elevation of 5,600 feet and a density altitude of 7,400 feet. What do you think your take off distance to clear a 50-foot obstacle would be?

Learning with a qualified instructor will help you to really understand your aircraft’s performance and how to read those performance charts in your manual.

Step One for Mountainous Flying

While mountainous flying is different from higher altitude flying, the first step is learning to fly at altitude. Leaning your mixture for best performance is a must before you even start taxiing your plane. Many airstrips in the mountains are shorter due to space concerns. You must understand your performance data before you take off for that flight.

Understanding Pilot Performance

Much like your aircraft, you as the pilot are affected by the higher altitude. There is less oxygen to begin with at 5,000 feet so your body will feel those effects. High Altitude sickness can occur in individuals who are not acclimatized to the altitude. The symptoms of high altitude sickness are headaches, nausea, dizziness, slower reaction time and nose bleeds to name a few. Add to that your need to take more breaths because there is less oxygen at 5,000 feet should paint a picture on what performance hits you can take as a pilot.

The Dangers of Hypoxia

Many different articles have been written about hypoxia and the different variations. Here is one from AOPA. With the very real threat of hypoxia at higher altitudes, learning to fly in this environment with a qualified instructor can significantly reduce your risk of becoming another statistic.

Bragging Rights

Almost every pilot we know likes to talk about flying. Where they have flown, what planes they have logged in their log books and special areas they have flown. Add a story or two to your hangar talk and impress your friends with your higher altitude flying experience.

Have you flown at higher altitudes? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.

Learning to fly in New Mexico is a fun challenge that will make you a better, safer pilot. For more information or to schedule a flight call us at 505-337-3398. Our friendly experienced flight staff are ready to show you the joy of flying at higher altitudes.