Among my favorite movies is The Seventh Seal, by famed Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman. In the film, an aging knight recently returned from the Crusades plays a game of chess for his life against Death personified. Just as the knight is about to win the game and achieve immortality, he intentionally makes a bad move and loses.
“Why did you throw the game?” asks Death, surprised. “You’d have beaten me.”
“Because I wanted to learn your secrets,” says the knight.
“There are no secrets,” replies Death, grimly. “I shall return to take you away.”
What does that have to do with financing your flight training? Since it’s expensive, aspiring pilots often invest a good deal of time and energy seeking some sugar daddy in the form of a person or company to pay for their training.
It’s simple, “There are no secrets.” If the excitement of piloting is what you crave, odds are that you’ll have to come up with a way to pay for it. That’s really no different than other careers or avocations. Like everything worthwhile in life, one must decide whether to dedicate the energy and tackle the risks required to play the game, or not. Per the old saying, “If you think getting an education is expensive — try not getting one.”
If you can earn scholarships to pay the cost of your training, or if you or your family can afford to cover the costs of your pilot education, more power to you.
But for many of us, it may not be that easy. You may have to go without a new car for the next several years, wait tables in a restaurant, or share a bedroom with a roommate. You may need to invest hours and days and months pursuing scholarships and loan opportunities to help finance your dream. There will likely be interruptions in your training while you work an extra job to save money, or you may need to borrow and pay it back later.
This is not intended to be flip, or harsh, or mean. It’s just a statement of reality to ease a few people’s nail-biting and speed them on their way. The vast majority of pilots will agree that flying whether for fun or profit is worth every ounce of dedication and effort it takes to get there. Some would even argue that the harder your route along the way, the more you’ll appreciate the ultimate accomplishment. But if you really want to do it, lay out a plan, roll up your sleeves, and make it happen.
But to everyone’s question about the secret to paying for flight training, there truly is only one honest answer, “There are no secrets.”
©2012 Gregory N. Brown