Encouraged to fly, even after 49 years old (Part 3)

Any healthy person can learn to fly. Even at age 57 and beyond. You just need persistence and patience.

There’s no age limit to learning to fly, as you’ll continue to hear me say. A few days ago, I introduced you to Jeanne Peterson and her concern about perhaps being too old to earn her pilot’s license. Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend Phil Ferdolage and the message he sent to Jeanne about her concern.

Phil’s message is about persistence and patience toward his goal of flying.

Dear Jeanne,

Learn to fly with persistence like Phil Ferdolage

Learn to fly with persistence like Phil Ferdolage

Greg asked me to share some of my thoughts and experiences about flying. There is so much to tell that I don’t know where to begin. I will say that learning to fly and getting my pilot’s license is the greatest thing I’ve ever done. (Next to getting married, of course, in case my wife is reading this).

I earned my license at the age of 57. Now I am 59 and am determined to earn my instrument ticket before I turn 60. I’m currently taking IFR lessons from Warren Crain at Pigs Can Fly in San Luis Obispo, Ca. I mention his name because Greg probably knows Warren.

I went through three instructors before I earned my license. The first had a bad temper, the second, who was only 19 years old at the time, went to work for an airline before I finished up, and the third finally got me to the finish line.

Above the clouds – Phil’s reward for patience in his flight training

Above the clouds – Phil’s reward for patience in his flight training

Like everyone else I had a problem with the flare, but Greg Brown was kind enough to give me some pointers that really helped. Plus he hooked me up with Chevy who had recently got his license. Hi Chevy.

I fly mostly to Sacramento Executive and to John Wayne to visit kids and grandkids. There’s nothing like flying. Keep your eye on your goal and don’t get discouraged if you have a little setback. You will feel so proud the day you get your license.

I’ve attached a few photos you might enjoy. One is of beautiful clouds that I flew around on my way back from SAC. The other is of two young eagles that I took up one day last summer. They loved it.



For Phil, even turnover among his flight instructors couldn’t stop him from learning to fly. You too can overcome obstacles. Whether it’s your age or unforeseen challenges, flying is worth it. Just be persistent and patient and you’ll achieve your goal.

What are some of the challenges you worry about in the process of learning to fly? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below.

About Greg

Greg Brown is an award winning flight instructor, pilot, author and columnist. In 2000, he was the National Flight Instructor of the Year. Greg writes the Flying Carpet column for AOPA’s Flight Training magazine and co-authored You Can Fly! with Laurel Lippert. His other books include Flying Carpet, The Savvy Flight Instructor, The Turbine Pilot’s Flight Manual, and Job Hunting for Pilots. Visit Greg Brown’s own blog at

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 7, 2009 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    This is a really encouraging story. I’m so glad that Phil shared his story.

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