So what do you think girls??

Girls, here’s a message from a nice guy with a big question and he’s struggling to figure it out. He thinks if there’s a group of  girls anywhere with the answer, it ought to be here. This is your chance to be “Dear Abby” because he wants your advice.  Help “Fixnflyr” and leave a Comment.

If you've got an opinion, let's hear it!

“I am looking for some advice. I would like my wife to learn to learn to fly and get her pilot’s license. I have been flying since 1989. I have my ATP, A&P/I.A. and about 600 hrs. tailwheel.

We are in the aircraft maintenance business and she does my books and also is a nurse. Our youngest son has his private and our oldest son is 75% to getting his private. We have a private airstrip and business at our home. We just finished a 10 unit T-hangar with nice kitchen/lounge for customers, hangar storage and a new fuel farm is on the way. We are also building a new runway so we will have 2 and developing our property into a private airport. We have had about 30 airplanes since 1990 and have taken some nice trips in them together. She dosen’t mind flying if we are “going somewhere”. Her car (Honda Pilot) license plate reads “AV8RS”. As you can see we are aviation people. She has always told me she would learn to fly one day but I don’t think that will be too soon. We have been married 27 years and I have learned not to push her too hard and respect her answers. She is more important to me than any of the aviation and I don’t want to hurt her feelings in any way. I think her flying alone may be the problem with her not wanting to learn to fly. I really think she would love it (as I do) once she gets her confidence built up from her solo flights. I would love to buy or build her whatever taildragger she wants.

What should I do?

Can you post this for me so I can get a ladies only opinion?

Also I would love to host a fly’in for your group when the weather warms up.

Thank you very much,


  • Faith D
    Posted at 23:11h, 28 December Reply

    Fixnflyer, I’m on your side of the equation, although I’m the wife and it’s my husband that doesn’t fly. I had been flying for over a decade before I met him, and while he enjoys going up with me, he has no interest in getting his own license. My entrance point was the Pinch Hitter course, which AOPA sadly no longer offers, but you could easily design your own. Explain that you just want her to know enough that she could communicate and land safely should you be incapacitated. It’s a logical argument, and it’s my guess that once she gains a degree of her own confidence in the cockpit, she just might be hooked. Also consider working with a different CFI rather than trying to do it all yourself, as you and your wife already have established roles when flying together. It isn’t easy to both foster confidence and change the dynamics of power in a pre-established routine at the same time!

  • Neroli
    Posted at 22:07h, 27 December Reply

    Dear FixnFlyer

    My husband taught me to fly and is still teaching people to fly in taildraggers. Our 20 year old daughter is learning to fly the cub with him and just loves it. Our 22 year old daughter has had some lessons too and loves flying but she has decided that she would rather fly with us as a passenger, which is still great with us. She struggled with the idea that she was letting us down by not becoming a pilot too. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. She loves to fly and is a flight attendant with Air NZ and she is good at so many things. Not everyone has to be a pilot to have fun flying.
    Because your wife has been so involved with aviation and your families flying, she has probably thought quite a bit about taking lessons herself over the years. I also think the decision to learn to solo stage is hers to make 🙂 If she wants to fly, she definitely will, and she will love it!
    I think it is lovely that you want this so much for her but whatever she decides, just enjoy being in the sky with her.

    Blue skies and tailwinds 🙂

  • Kim Clark
    Posted at 14:30h, 27 December Reply

    It’s very sweet that you are looking for outside advice.

    I am a reluctant pilot. I was afraid of flying when I met my husband, Bill, 17 years ago. It took many false starts to get my private pilot certificate, but now that I have it, I truly enjoy it and even occasionally fly solo. I will share with you what my husband did that helped me.

    First of all, Bill was not my only instructor. A good friend volunteered to fly with me. This instructor was more of a teddy-bear type of instructor who gave lots of positive praise and took the time to get me to relax. For example, before take-off, while we were scanning final for traffic, he would say, “Now, just take a few deep breaths, sit back, and relax.”

    Second, Bill acted like he truly didn’t care if I earned my pilot certificate or not. It was something for me to do for myself. He was always encouraging and supportive, but if I told him I was quitting, he would just say, “Okay. Do what you need to do.” A relationship with a spouse is complex. I didn’t want to disappoint him, so he took that out of the equation.

    Third, Bill told me that as soon as I logged my ten hours of solo required for my certificate, I would never have to solo again. Never, ever again. When I flew that last hour, I was ecstatic. I even did a little happy dance in the airplane. One of the great things about earning a pilot certificate is that you get to make your own choices about flying. We have a friend whose mother learned to fly but she hated talking to controllers. Once she earned her pilot certificate, she never talked to a controller again; she just flew around any controlled airspace. Not the most fuel efficient method, maybe, but she just added more fun flying to her day.

    Fourth, I did most of my training in a C-150, not a taildragger. We tried for awhile having me learn in a taildragger, but it was too frustrating for me. I transitioned to a taildragger after I earned my certificate, and it turned out to be a fun, new challenge.

    Being around you, and your sons, and your business, your wife probably knows a lot more about flying than she realizes. It sounds like she is very supportive of your flying and your sons’ flying. She is willing to go with you on trips. She may never want to fly herself, but I hope someday that she will take a few lessons and try it. Bill’s ability to support me but not push me was the winning formula that allowed me to learn to fly, and I’m really happy that I learned. Blue skies!

  • tina thomas
    Posted at 11:09h, 27 December Reply

    Fixnflyr…It’s wonderful your whole family is involved and you are so sensitive and supportive of av8r. I learned to fly before starting a family and then didn’t fly for quite a few years while they were little. I had no background in aviation but loved the passion and energy of everyone involved. When I started I was also in nursing (there are many parallels with medicine and aviation). I was hesitant to fly for a long time because I thought I was not a “natural” and I never did it as well as my husband and his friends who had always been involved with aviation their entire life. I also thought on many occasion I would make a better right seat passenger than pilot. Finally, with the support of my husband and others, I realized that it didn’t matter how “good” I was. It didn’t come easy for me and I had to work for it, but it is the best thing I ever did! The important thing was I was doing something for myself and doing it my way, not my husbands or anybody else’s way. Once you stop being intimidated by other sharp pilots and just start doing it for yourself, it’s a breakthrough. I decided that I would just do it to enjoy myself and feel good about meeting a challenge. It went from there…try small goals like just solo first and don’t worry about the whole rest of the process yet. I was very overwhelmed and felt really stupid at first, but still made it work. It will be the best thing she has ever done if she can shoot for one small goal at a time with the right instructor like Susan mentioned. We would love to suppport her. I tell everyone you don’t have to be a natural and be smart to learn how to fly ( she’ll figure it out if she’s a nurse)….just PERSISTENT. Don’t wait for her to sign up for lessons, just get her started and give her a gentle push. She’ll have frustrations and ups and downs but never be the same again once she is in charge of the controls herself. Now I am happy to report, I fly way more than my flying husband and he loves that. The only regret she will have is that she didn’t start sooner …

    • Susan
      Posted at 07:44h, 29 December Reply

      Well said Tina! And — your rock the flyin world girlfriend!

  • Judy Birchler
    Judy Birchler
    Posted at 18:30h, 26 December Reply

    I also agree with all of the above but it’s time I got my 2 cents into this discussion. I REALLY hope your wife wants to fly enough to get that solo behind her and go all the way to getting her PPL. With your kids growing up and moving on, she may be ready to have some fun of her own – and I do mean FUN. She may not believe this, but it can actually be fun to solo and accomplish something you are very proud of. With kids moving on, it’s time for her to shine. Our group can help encourage and support her as she takes on the challenge.

    So Fixnflyr, my advice to you, if you want to be married to a confident pilot who is comfortable in the air alone, is to fly with her, be supportive, be calm and encouraging, and then get out of the airplane! Let her build her confidence. Encourage her to fly solo every chance she can. Around the patch. To the next airport. Anywhere and everywhere. A right seat/back seat pilot is great for a while, but at some point, the instructor’s got to go and you’ve got to go. It’s completely normal to struggle with confidence, especially after riding around with you for years, and she needs to feel capable to succeed.

    Please tell her we are behind her 100% no matter what her decision is. If she chooses not to pursue flying, that’s OK too, you’re still a very lucky guy! Trust me on this!

  • Posted at 14:36h, 26 December Reply

    All of the above. Some people are just happier as passengers and some of thought we were, but turned out differently, so all you can do is put the opportunities there, try to get her to meet ladies who also felt like this and go with the flow.

    As she evidently is immersed in aviation already there’s not much new for her except to get her to some small, friendly fly-ins and up in a Champ or Cub or whatever, with minimal complications, preferably with one of us who remember (just) life before the obsession. If she still remains happy only as an involved passenger, navigating or whatever, you have it made – your bank balance will thank you.

    Have fun

  • Lisa Martin
    Posted at 12:06h, 26 December Reply

    My husband and I sound very similar to you and your wife. We’ll be married 27 years in 2012. I did get my private before we had kids (I was 7 months pregnant with our first when I took – and passed – my private checkride), because I knew it would get hard to find time during the child rearing time. For about 15 years, the only concentrated flying time I would get was when my boys would go stay with grandma and grandpa for a week every summer. It is really hard to do when we are trying to piece together bits of time. When they got into high school, I committed to getting my instrument rating about a 3 month chunk of time one fall. Then, with the arrival of ’empty nest’, I’ve been able to pour myself back into flying and it’s been wonderful. Getting together with women who fly is a fantatic inspiration. For years, I didn’t have the confidence to fly without my husband. I told myself it just wasn’t as fun without him. But after much encouragement, I started hitting the sky by myself to meet up with other women pilots and I’ve found that I absolutely love my own company :0

  • Anne Wright
    Posted at 09:40h, 26 December Reply

    Fixnflyer, talk to your wife (and really listen hard) and find out what the reason is for not learning to fly. Not everyone wants to be a pilot, even when they love aviation. It would be great if she learned to fly, but is it really necessary? If she’s happy to be a passenger, maybe that should be good enough. If she’s afraid, then I agree with Susan – find an instructor who will help her overcome that fear.

  • Susan
    Posted at 09:04h, 26 December Reply


    That first step is a big one…

    I think it is imperative to find the perfect flight instructor for her. Someone who exudes a calm confidence and will make flying fun for her. I was so fortunate to have Emerson Stewart as my instructor and he made everything so much fun. Never critical… just a “Let’s try another one…” and when you did well.. “I like that!” No pressure just an easy way of making everything fun. Once you find a great instructor (and I can’t emphasize that enough) buy her a gift card with a series of flight lessons.

    Getting her involved with other women pilots is also a great way to help her move toward learning herself. The above doesn’t indicate where you live — but I KNOW there are some of us nearby! Bring her to an LLT fly-in! Or a smaller gathering near where you are.

    Does she have an interest at all in helping you work on the airplanes? If so, then buying her own cub or champ and helping you work on the plane might peak her interest too. Or heck — just buy her one and put a big red bow on it… 🙂

    I really hope she will take the step and learn to fly! Good Luck!!

    • Elaine Kauh
      Posted at 19:41h, 27 December Reply

      Dear FixNFlyr:
      These are wonderful insights posted here and I wish your family well in whatever aviation-related endeavors you pursue. I’m a flight instructor who has had the pleasure of working with ladies introduced to flying through their spouses. Here are 2 common experiences we’ve had, and hopefully they will help you with some new ideas.
      – We offer a ground/flight lesson program for the frequent right-seat passenger, such as a spouse, daughter, etc. It’s mostly to help that person understand what’s going on during flights so they feel safer and more comfortable. Some of those right-seaters grew interested enough to start private training in the left seat. Your wife already knows a lot about flying, but a good instructor can come up with a program that helps her take it a step further. She can do this from the left seat if she wants to. No solos, no requirements…but you never know where it’ll lead.
      – Many spouses who pursued the Private Pilot certificate never saw the need to solo after their checkrides, as discussed above. But during training, they gained so much confidence and skill that when the day of First Solo came, they were ecstatic. I think it was the change in perspective from the observer in the right seat to the do-er in the left seat, receiving instruction…it can be a totally different experience, and what might seem complex or mysterious quickly becomes clear, doable, and even fun. Again, an instructor who understands this would be a great help.
      Best wishes!

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