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PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Aviation in the USA

Happy Birthday America! 

What will your Aviation future bring?


In honor of the 4th of July this week, Blogging In Formation is all about the future of Aviation in the USA. But so close to the 4th of July I drifted on course to the independence and freedom of our country. Today is about the opportunities we have in America that we sometimes take for granted. 

Aviation is a gift. 

I decided to shift the discussion from what the future is, to what we have in the US.  Sometimes when we take something for granted, it goes away. We also can see a pattern of where we could end up one day. There is no time like today to make a difference, pay attention to and love what you have.

We are the Aviation Nation. Our roots run deep in the sky as the love of flight grew with the American dream. We spread our wings. We flew our colors. And like all things we love, sometimes we forget how special they are.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet several aviators from around the world who have come to the US to train, or have dreamed about it. So I had to ask them why we have it so good.

Cecilie Larsen From Norway:

Cecilie tells me that a C172 in Norway costs $300 per hour, verses $100 in the US. Did you know that in Norway, not only do you pay for your 1st class medical but they get a bill from the Civil Aviation Authority (The FAA of Europe) annually. They pay to reinstate their license! We don’t. 
In Norway they have to apply for slot times and landing fees. Imagine the expense of doing touch and goes during training. 

Cecilie says, “The US is the ultimate General Aviation country. It is organized in a way that I think attracts foreign pilots to fly there.” 

Jun Nishioka From Kobe Bay Japan  

Tells me that in the US the airspace is not as congested, which eliminates the frustration for the students. Renting a Cessna 150 in Japan costs $400 per hour! In the US there are more areas to land in the event of an emergency—In Japan the cities are vast and landing on a skyscraper would not be a good option.

Jun says, “In Japan, flying is a hobby for the rich. I haven't felt this way when I was trained in USA. So this means USA provides more freedoms to the people…. I won't give up chasing my dream to be a pilot.”

Ryan Lock from the UK

Tells me the benefit of training in the US that it’s significantly cheaper than in Europe. This appears to be a central theme. Speaking of cost, we do have areas of exceptional weather all year around. We have flight schools in the sunniest states of the USA…Florida, Arizona etc, and training can be conducted year round. He say’s, “Training expense would be reduced by a quarter of the average duration per pilots' license…. Remember, in this industry time is money.”

Ryan further states, “International students are required to leave the country once they have gained anything up to and including CFI/CFII --yes, I worked out that there is going to be a pilot shortage in the US in the coming few years! The GA community is aware of this and it is believed that the FAA are too, but try taking an issue like this to congress when they have so called other 'more important' issues to deal with and it will be laughed at.” 
Mona Nasser From Iran  

She had dreamed from childhood to be a pilot, but in Iran as a woman it was impossible without the right connection, like a father who was a pilot. And to her knowledge those who got through their lessons with a connection, weren't allowed to fly. Mona moved to the UK and tells me that they allow her to fly, but once again…she is flying in Europe where the expense is extremely high.

Mona is an Artist too.
Alex Wood From Brazil

Alex tells me there are two main elements lacking in the Brazilian aviation industry—education and infrastructure.

Only a few airports are equipped with ILS CAT-III, terminals are old and poorly built, and their airspace is not fully operational with ‘silent zones ‘ over the Amazon area. Alex tells me they have landing strips across the country, but they aren’t equipped with basic aircraft communication. They also lack universities that offer undergraduate courses in aviation.

What does Alex think of Aviation in the US?

“In the United States, the situation is completely different. Education is strong in the field. There are numerous high quality flight training facilities across the country capable of training proficient pilots, a great number of universities offering degrees in different aviation segments, all at a national level. Infrastructure was also invested wisely and we see large hubs, medium hubs, small hubs and simple landing strips fully equipped with systems corresponded to their category. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) works in a Federal basis (as the name suggests) – fully functional and flexible enough to correspond to the demand with low numbers on reported corruption cases.”
We have it great in the USA and I feel very fortunate to live in America with the ability to travel the world. Sometimes when we think we have it tough, but we must step back and realize that we are living in the land of opportunity....and are very lucky. This is something we must not take for granted. And think of the future.

Everyone must become involved to keep Aviation alive.

Blogging in Formation: 

Dan at Airplanista shared a powerful post with statistics of what is happening in General Aviation.
Andrew at Smart Flight Training highlighted technology with some powerful solutions for Aviation.
Brent at IFlyBlog identifies the crossroads to aviation and how to keep it alive by flying it forward.

Eric at Cap'n Aux will post on July 3rd, and Ron at the House of Rapp will post on July 4th. I'm excited to see where they go with this.

The real question is... where will you go?

We have it great. But what can we do, to 
help the future of Aviation in the USA? 
Have a safe and  Happy Holiday! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Karlene,
    What an awesome post! The flight school that I went to after High School was out in NM and it catered to foreign students just for the reasons you describe above - that was 25 years ago and it's still true today. Of course, the graduates were allowed to stay 2 yrs back then on a visa.

    We do have it good! Thank you for reminding us of that.

    1. Thank you Brent. They are still catering to international students, and then send them home. I think they get two years for training, too. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. What a great view of our freedoms to fly (among other things) - directly from the eyes of folks from around the world, taking advantage of the freedoms we have!

    Excellent post, and fabulous way to celebrate Independence Day!


    1. Thank you so much for the comment Andrew. I'm always amazed when I hear the price of flying overseas. We do have it good. Sometimes we forget.

  3. Great article! I love your idea to assess what we DO have, esp. Compared to the rest of the world! I had no idea how much freedom and access we really do have !

    1. Thanks Eric, that is the truth. While things could always be better, we do have it pretty good.

  4. Excellent read Karlene! Doesn't that just make it more and more of a reason for, if we live in the USA and want to fly, just to go for it! It does me!

    1. Mark, yes it does! And something we should take advantage of. Thank you so much for the comment.

  5. I've never had a chance yet to fly in the US but indeed it is the cheapest we can find and that is a great chance for all of us who are in the US. However, I've heard many times that for commercial pilots, conditions are better in European companies - unfortunately I cannot tell myself, but it is the only thing I can report from talking to many pilots on both side of the Atlantic Ocean!
    And if some want to fly further and higher... America is definitely the place to be!!! ;-)

    1. I'm not sure, as I've never flown in Europe. But I do know many Europeans come to fly in the US. I think wherever you can make it work, it's all good. Thanks so much for your comment!

  6. 'Merica ;]
    I am proud to be an American.
    Thank you Karlene for sharing this post.
    Makes me realize how much we can and do take for granted...And I thought $105 was bad an hour $400 wow....

    1. Thank you so much Melissa! Yes, I am too! And if $400 is not enough, multi-engine is $2500 per hour in some international locations. Fly safe and Happy 4th of July!

  7. Spot on! You certainly do have a lot to appreciate and be proud of. I was able to do with all my primary training, along with an aviation degree; and after college, I was able to stay for a year on my visa and work in the training department of one of the majors - opportunities I would never have been afforded in my home country (Barbados), and certainly at a fraction of the cost if the the opportunities were available. Just like the Europeans, we have to pay to renew our ATPs every 6 months (up to $220 US a pop in some areas of the Caribbean). I know it seems tough when you are in it; but you do have a really admirable aviation system. Definitely don't take it for granted!

    1. Chetwyn, thank you so much for the great comment. I would love to know more... where are you, what are you doing now? Send me an email at And keep up that great attitude! I'm sure whatever airline was lucky enough to have you work for them that year, misses you greatly. Fly safe!

  8. Sometimes I am baffled by people who live in America and yet voice its faults. This post proves that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Thank you for presenting the distinguished individuals above and their experiences with how America can accomplish a dream. Yes, the "American Dream"

    I hope everyone had a great July 4th!


    1. This is so true. The grass is not always greener. And we definitely need to appreciate what we have. While it's not cheap...could be worse. Thanks for your comment and I hope you had a great 4th!


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