Flight Training Vacation

Use your time off to gain new flying experiences.

Alaska Floats

Alaska Floats

Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend some time in Alaska to get my seaplane rating at Alaska Floats & Skis just outside Talkeetna. I was staying at a beautiful lodge that the flight school has available for its trainees. While I was there, a few groups of flying enthusiasts came and went - some with their spouses and children, others on solo trips. It made me realize that vacations are fabulous opportunities to get a new rating or simply improve flying skills.

One of the families I met was the Lichter family from San Diego, California. As part of their vacation, the father, Kristopher, trained for his seaplane rating. While Kristopher was out flying in the Tri-Pacer on floats, his wife and children spent time enjoying the area around Talkeetna, and went paddle boating and canoeing in the lake from which the training was conducted. The family also had an opportunity to fly with Kristopher at the controls in a Cessna 185 on floats around the glaciers surrounding Mount McKinley – the highest mountain in North America at 20,320 feet, towering over the untouched forested flatlands surrounding the Susitna River west of the town of Talkeetna.

If you don’t have your seaplane certificate, it is a perfect vacation rating. The course only takes two to three days to complete, including the checkride. So you’ll still have time to enjoy the remainder of your vacation together with your traveling partners. Unfortunately most pilots don’t have a chance to land on water often, so once you have the rating you can always do refresher flights at future vacation locations. Some outfits even let you fly to a lake and go fishing or swimming for a few hours as part of your training.

Flying on floats is just one way to combine a vacation with flight training. You can take a few hours to get a BFR while experiencing new airports in an unfamiliar, scenic location. And while getting the BFR, you could get signed off to fly the airplane, rent it and take the family flying around the area for a few days.

If you have a non-flying family, there are many locations that offer a lot activities for them to enjoy while you get your flying kick. In Hawaii, your family can go to the beach while you get out and do some island hopping. Several states, such as Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona offer incredible mountain and canyon flying, where you can take a course that will really hone your skills flying into very challenging backcountry airstrips, while your non-flying crew can go hiking in the beautiful mountains. Florida is also a great vacation destination with lots of opportunities for fun flying and non-flying activities.

And if you’re looking for an international adventure, there are some incredible vacation opportunities. For example, there are flying safaris around Africa and New Zealand where you get checked out in a Cessna 182 and take the family on a pre-planned journey through very unique l landscapes. It’s a great opportunity to find out what's different about flying outside the United States.

Vacationing doesn’t have to mean taking a vacation from flying even if those you travel with don’t share your passion. Please share your flying vacation stories and what you learned from your experience.