• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

How would I, as a broke college student, get friends in full scale aviation?

#1
I have been a huge aerospace/aviation fan for about 10 years. Last week was the first time that I actually flew (Robinson R44). Every second of it was pure joy and may have been direction change of my future. 2 people over that 2 years (Bell 206, Cessna 182) told me they would take me up but I never heard back from them (I understand that it is expensive and am not mad at them).

I currently am a broke 27 year old student and I would love to make aviation friends that want to share the hobby/life with people like me. Obviously aviation is expensive so I wouldn't expect to be taken up all of the time, but I would like to go up when I could afford to help fuel and I would like to hang out in the hangar and do aviation things and listen to aviation stories.

I commented on a YouTube video of a video of a local guy at a local airport going through helicopter training and he responded that I should go up there sometime..but I think he is an employee or possibly a CFI, so I am not sure if it was an invite or advertising.

How does a person get in on this without coming across as ungrateful, entitled, or rude?
 
#2
The best way is through organizations such as EAA or the Commemorative Air Force. Show up, meet everyone, and volunteer to help out wherever possible. People notice when someone is willing to go the extra mile, and some EAA chapters even give out scholarships. If you put in the effort, it really helps you stand out and many EAA chapters are already excited to see younger folks join up. The Commemorative Air Force is a similar network of people, but you get to work around some amazing WWII aircraft, and meet some incredible people. The stories I heard from WWII vets blew me away when I was there. And, if you’ve put in the time, once a year, they do member appreciation day, and CAF members might get a ride in a Warbird.

Hope this provides a step in the right direction!
 

Piotrsko

Well-known member
#3
Couple of other ways, some more reliable than others. Hang out at airports. A lot. Go to work / volunteer at a mechanics hangar or a flight school. Work weekends at a glider operation. Some flight schools and glider places trade work time for flight time. Civil air patrol. My daughter got a glider ticket for free that way
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#4
Couple of other ways, some more reliable than others. Hang out at airports. A lot. Go to work / volunteer at a mechanics hangar or a flight school. Work weekends at a glider operation. Some flight schools and glider places trade work time for flight time. Civil air patrol. My daughter got a glider ticket for free that way
CAP (Civil Air Patrol) is a great way to get involved; as others have mentioned, doing volunteer work for air museums or events is another great way.

My parents were friends with an aircraft mechanic at a municipal airport here in San Diego, and I was CONSTANTLY hearing about events being held at the local airfields - Wings Over Gillespie, Montgomery Field Airshow, etc., as well as hearing about volunteer work at the museum at March AFB in Riverside County.

That may be something to look into; see if your local airfield has events/airshows, and volunteer for them. It might not be AirVenture at Oshkosh or the Miramar Airshow (where Top Gun school USED to be, but moved to Fallon, NV in 1996 when the Marines took over Miramar), but that might actually be a benefit to meeting pilots and getting involved - the bigger airshows tend to be a little less...receptive, open, friendly? I mean, they're happy to talk to you if you can get their attention, but it's a little less inviting than at the smaller airfields, at least in my experience.
 

Piotrsko

Well-known member
#5
@sprzout : you need to go to Reno with a pit pass. Except for Bob, Chuck, Lance, and only a few others, EVERYBODY is friendly and wants to let you experience their stuff up close and personal. You do need to be polite and ask first however.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#6
@sprzout : you need to go to Reno with a pit pass. Except for Bob, Chuck, Lance, and only a few others, EVERYBODY is friendly and wants to let you experience their stuff up close and personal. You do need to be polite and ask first however.
Understandable. Most of my airshow experiences have been at Miramar - which, because it's a military base, it's restrictive on where you can go and what you can see. You can get fairly close to the pilots and their planes, but because they're parked JUST off the flight line, they're fenced off to prevent people from walking into the path of aircraft landing and taking off. They have static displays, but most of those are things like a C130 (which, while spectacular to see, are not things where you have muni/private pilots flying).

And being polite and asking to see the planes goes without saying, as far as I'm concerned. :) I find just sharing general knowledge and showing interest and asking questions about their flights and passions gets them started and they realize they have 1) a receptive audience and 2) a person who shares or wants to share their same passions.
 

Piotrsko

Well-known member
#7
Actually the polite and ask was more along the lines of sitting in the Wiley Sanders P-51 cockpit. Which I found out I dont fit in.
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#8
Actually the polite and ask was more along the lines of sitting in the Wiley Sanders P-51 cockpit. Which I found out I dont fit in.
Oh man...Lucky, LUCKY man. :) I have a feeling I'd have the same issues with most of the planes. I have broad shoulders, and when I had to have an MRI in Feb, I ended up having to keep my arms above my head the entire time it was being done because I couldn't fit into the machine otherwise...
 
#9
Thanks guys. I wish there were more airshows locally..but I will try to attend the ones that are local. I will also check out a EAA membership
 

Piotrsko

Well-known member
#10
Thanks guys. I wish there were more airshows locally..but I will try to attend the ones that are local. I will also check out a EAA membership
Not necessarily looking just for airshows, small local airports have been the traditional places to catch a ride/ get a mentor, commit heinous, un-repenative acts of aviation.
 
#11
The glider club recommendation is a good one. It's how I got started, and is pretty affordable. My club was 600 buy-in, $125 quarterly, and $29 a tow. So basically I'll spend $30-60 for a few flights on a good weekend. My club is great. Most guys that show up stay all day to help and chat.
Other clubs may not be as nice, having schedules flight times, and people who show up just to fly, and only fly.

You can also see if any local flight schools or FBO's need people to do the jobs nobody likes. Sweeping, mopping the floor, detailing airplanes. There is a younger kid at the place I got my ASEL add-on who did that in exchange for flight hours.