Photo courtesy of Pixaby
By CRISTINA JANNEY
Have you ever dreamed of soaring among the clouds? A new Hays club wants to help you make your dream come true.
Hays chapter 1655 of the Experimental Aircraft Association had an informational meeting last week at Gella’s to spark interest in the club and flying.
The meeting was standing room only. Twenty-eight people signed up for a free discovery flight from Hays Aircraft. Aiden Debey won the drawing for the free flight.
The association is an international organization comprised of more than 900 chapters, representing virtually the entire spectrum of recreational aviation. The local chapter is one of the newest in the association.
Gary Shorman, Hays chapter president, said the association covers flying, as well as building your own aircraft.
You don’t need to own your own plane to learn to fly. Some of the association’s licensed pilots rent airplanes at the Hays Regional Airport.
“If you learn to fly an airplane, whatever it is, you can transition to others,” Shorman said.
You have to be at least 16 to fly solo and have a medical exam from an FAA certified examiner.
It takes 40 hours of flight time to earn your private pilot’s license. Written, practical and oral tests are also required.
A new license classification is the sport pilot’s license. This only takes 20 hours of flight time to earn. However, there are restrictions including number of passengers, maximum aircraft speed and aircraft weight limits. You also can’t fly by instruments only, multi-engine planes or at night.
“When you take off and you realize that you have to land, it helps you get inspired to be a pilot,” Shorman said. “When you take off on that first solo flight, you are supposed to fly around and then land — that is a big thrill. After that, you’re kind of hooked on it forever.”
Several of the members of the local association said they flew for work trips, which cuts travel time by hours. Shorman regularly flies to Kansas City for business. It is a one-hour flight and a four-hour drive.
“This past year, I gained 135 hours difference between flying everywhere than driving,” he said. “That’s about three weeks of your life that you get back to be able to do other things you want to do.”
Todd Taylor, instructor with Hays Aircraft, said during flight instruction, you will learn how to recover from potentially dangerous situations, such as a stall.
“I taught for a lot of years, middle school and high school, and I always tried to teach people the right way to do it,” he said. “We go out and do stalls, which is not something you want to do every day, but you have to show them how to do it wrong, so you can show them how to fix it and do it right.”
Taylor said learning to fly will cost about $7,000 on average. Flight time runs about $175 per hour.
Shorman said he learned to fly over several summers. Taylor said most people take six months to a year to earn their private pilot’s license.
Chapter activities range from monthly meetings to airport open houses, fly-ins, educational programs, and special events that share aviation with the community and build a stronger bond between local aviation and the public.
For more information about the local chapter of the association, contact Gary Shorman at 785-301-2082. You can also contact Hays Aircraft at 785-628-8881 about flight lessons.
Disclosure: Gary Shorman is chairman and chief development officer of Eagle Radio, which owns and operates the Hays Post.