How young can my child start learning to fly?
Parents often ask what is an appropriate age to expose children to their first flight lessons, and Matt Dahline said there’s an easy, if inexact, answer.
“I tell everyone that kids can be ready at any age as long as they’re mature enough to listen and take direction,” said Dahline, who owns and operates Crosswinds Aviation. “I’ve had kids as young as 6 or 7 come out and they’re really gung-ho, excited and interested.”
“It’s just a matter of making sure they’re ready.”
The first step Dahline recommends is signing up for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program, which seeks to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation. Dahline, who volunteers his aircraft and time with the program, offers to take children on their first flight for free.
There’s no easing in on that first flight, either. Dahline offers children a brief overview of the plane during a ground check and then they will get in the air, with the kids getting a chance to take the controls and fly the plane themselves after he handles the takeoff.
During an approximately 20-minute flight, he will try to take students over their house or local landmarks.
“Most of them love it and that fascination with flying takes another step,” he said. “It’s fun to see to see that look in their eyes and smiles on their faces.”
Flight regulations allow students to fly solo at 16 and claim their private pilot’s license at 17, so students who start young will engage in a gradual progression of flight school. Older students can take a faster approach, if they’d like. Dahline said he encourages learning at an individual pace, but one that is regular enough to continue building a student’s knowledge base.
The first flight experience can also be a time for parents to discover the benefits of flying and potential lucrative career paths. Dahline and Crosswinds Aviation instructors are always happy to talk about a future in flight.
Have questions about learning to fly? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (517) 552-1101.