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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

FLYOSOPHY - Discussion Forum: 'Significant Others' & More Fun Flying

FLYOSOPHY - Flying, as in most other activities, can be more fun when shared with someone you care about. Does your significant other share your feelings for flight? If not, is there anything you can do to increase their participation?

This is meant to be an open forum topic. Please add thoughts, ideas, questions, solutions, anything you want on this subject and let's see where this goes. Frankly the subject is vexing and challenging to me as well! A reader recently suggested writing about Significant Others and getting them to fly. The reader also recommended it in a forum format, and I agree; that might be the best way to get to the bottom of this subject.

Why don't wives and girlfriends like to fly as much as the men? It is undisputably true, most flights in GA aircraft are made by guys, either on their own or with a few friends. When I was a Chief Instructor and hundred's of students showed up to learn to fly, guess what? Mostly guys. Why is that? Do they not have as much fun flying? Is it because they are brought up differently? I have a son and a daughter and I must admit, despite all attempts at equality in exposure, education, and the types of toys we allowed, my daughter increasingly gravitates towards experiental drawing, role play games and reading, my son increasingly gravitates to understanding how things physically work. He would far rather play with a toy he can take apart and reassemble, or help me with tools in the garage, or sword play with plastic light sabers.

In a nutshell, my son clearly prefers to play and experiment with how physical objects are made and how they move about in the world, While my daughter displays a desire to explore the social interactions of objects, real or imagined, in her play. Are these universal truths? Are we simply hard-wired this way?

When my daughter was two, I began giving her toy airplanes. My own social experiment. She enjoyed playing with them, but at age 4 asked me why I liked them so much and shortly thereafter dropped airplanes for cats. No explanation. It was a hard-wired and to me, inexplicable, preference.

In college, flying girls to lunch or a trip to an exotic island or mountain location was always a good show-stopper, but they always preferred looking out the window to actually touching the controls. My wife, who once worked for the NAA and on her first day on the job was in the back of a chase plane with a clipboard and stopwatch timing a time-to-climb record attempt is a rare exception to this trend and I was lucky to find her. But even she, when it comes to touching the controls, would prefer 'getting there' over 'doing it.' I must admit this is a surprise to me, as she enjoys driving a stickshift car and is an excellent driver who likes to drive. Why not fly?

- Is it a difference in our brains? Do we have different hardwired predispositions about flight?
- Is it cultural? Does our society set us up in ways that it's difficult to change?
- Is it how the money is spent?
- Is it a fear that we don't get; a fear of not being able to do it?

I'm not creating or supporting a sterotype; far from it. I am completely aware there are many women pilots, fighter pilots, aerobatic pilots and commercial airline pilots and flight instructors. What I want to know however, is why don't they match the population demographic? Why isn't the ratio of male:female pilots the same or even close to the same as the distribution of male:female individuals?

Let's hear some thoughts and experiences, ideas, solutions and frustrations on this topic. Please add your comments to this post.

Onward & Upward! ~ rfb


pfflynn13 said...

Early on in my post-private checkride flying, my daughter became my most consistent flying partner. My wife HATED the experience both of the times we flew together. The two boys in the middle teens at the time were mildly interested but never smitten with it. My daughter on the other hand loved it. Once we were in the air, she'd take the controls and hand fly for 30-45 minutes at a time. It was complicated somewhat by the fact that she couldn't see over the glareshield very easily.

My wife began to fly along with me first to go places. The end justified the means so to speak. Being able to fly from Seattle to Victoria, BC for the day instead of needing to have an entire weekend available was a big enticement. Since then she's taken lessons and soloed. She's acquired very good stick-and-rudder skills but the ground school, book work? Not so interested and mostly because maps, mental math and the "geometry" of learning to fly today just doesn't suit her desire.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately at least my wife likes to fly with me. On nearly every flight, I offer her the opportunity to fly. She's done this exactly twice and just didn't seem that interested. Oddly enough, she was ecstatic over an intro flight in a helicopter.