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25 items every pilot should have on their Bucket List


25 items every pilot should have on their Bucket List

A few years ago while watching TV one evening, I came across The Bucket List, a great movie with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Ever since that moment, I’ve been thinking about my bucket list, things I want to do before I die. It was one of those movies you can watch over and over again, without ever feeling like you’ve seen it often enough.

Everyone’s bucket list is different, depending on people’s priorities, dreams and goals.

Here are 25 items we suggest you put on your bucket list! How many can you tick off?

#1  Fly gliders

Of course, gliding had to be on this list. As a passionate glider pilot myself for the past 7 years, I can only recommend flying gliders and getting your sailplane pilot license. For me, it is without doubt the purest and most fulfilling form of flying you can experience and it will absolutely make you a better pilot. You learn to become one with nature and feel the airplane you’re flying like never before.what’a

Welch and Irvin explained it beautifully in their book New Soaring Pilot:

“The soaring pilot is flying one of the most beautiful products of modern technology, relying on his skill to extract the necessary energy from the atmosphere. The process involves a remarkable spectrum of skills: planning, calculation, inspiration and physical coordination. It requires a knowledge of terrain, weather, the machine and its instruments; above all, it demands initiative and self-discipline. The rewards are immaterial but great: delight in a task well done, self-discovery, or perhaps, simply the contemplation or beauty.”

gliding, sailplane, glider, bucket list

#2  Fly in a real warbird

Fly a warbird, p51 Mustang, pilot bucket list

#3  Fly something with a good ol’ radial engine

Radial engine, Boeing Stearman, pilot bucket list

#4  Go island hopping

Island hopping, pilot bucket list

#5  Get your seaplane rating

Get your seaplane rating, pilot bucket list
Simon Blakesley

#6  Get your Night VFR rating

Night VFR flying, pilot bucket list 

#7  Go on an airplane/helicopter camping trip

Airplane Helicopter camping trip, pilot bucket listPhoto from the Recreational Aviation Foundation

#8  Get your tailwheel endorsement

get tailwheel endorsement, taildragger, pilot bucket list

#9 Go aerobatic flying

If you want to increase your skills as a pilot, aerobatic flying is the way to go. Not only will it make you a better pilot, following an aerobatics course will also make you better prepared for when something goes wrong.

Alvin ‘Tex’ Johnston, former Boeing test pilot, took aerobatics to a whole level by barrel rolling a Boeing 707 over Washington in 1955.

Aerobatic flying, pilot bucket list

#10  Fly through the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon helicopter tour, pilot bucket list

#11  Visit the world’s greatest airshow:  EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 

Every aviation enthusiast should go to Oshkosh at least once in his/her life. Gathering the most amazing airplanes and pilots from around the world, this really is the place to be for every pilot. Don’t forget to take your camping gear with you, put up your tent under the wing of your airplane and tick off item #7 of this list!

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, pilot bucket list

I’ve had the pleasure multiple times to take someone who wanted to go flying for the very first time on a glider flight. Giving someone their first taste of flying is one of the most beautiful things a pilot can do. That’s why those are some of those moments you enjoy to the fullest and get great satisfaction from. It’s something every pilot should experience.

#13  Fly for charity 

Fly for charity, Mission Aviation Fellowship, pilot bucket list
Mission Aviation Fellowship

#14  Get your IFR rating

IFR rating, pilot bucket list
François Sutter on Youtube

#15 Skydiving

I have often heard people say “Why the **** would you jump our of an airplane that’s perfectly fine?”. Well, although I have personally never done it myself, it’s something that’s been on my bucket list for years and I hope to have a chance to do it soon. As a glider pilot and having to wear a parachute for safety during every flight, I would feel a lot more comfortable to wear it when I know how to use it safely and make sure I know how to survive when the unthinkable would happen. 

Go skydiving, pilot bucket list

#16  Fly a jet

Flying a piston engine airplane can be fun, but nothing can compare to flying a jet powered airplane when it comes to performance. Flying a jet is absolutely something for your bucket list if you’re a piston engine airplane pilot who’s never flown a jet.

Fly a jet, pilot bucket list
Jessica Ambats

#17  Build your own airplane

There only a few things more fulfilling than flying an airplane you built with your own hands. An airplane you’ve spend hundreds and thousand of hours building from the ground up and knowing every square inch and bolt. Building an airplane requires some budget and mostly a lot of time, but it can be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences one could talk and dream about for the rest of their life, enjoying every minute of flying in the machine.

#18  Get your multi-engine rating

Two is (almost) always better than one, that also applies to airplane engines. Although two engines burn twice as much fuel as one engine, multi-engine aircraft provide advantages other airplanes just can’t. The extra level of safety, comfort and performance can often be great reasons to get your multi-engine rating.

multi-engine, diamond da42, pilot bucket list
Nexgen Aviation

#19  Go for a $100 hamburger

100-dollar hamburger is aviation slang for the excuse a pilot might use to get out flying. This often involves flying to an airfield and eating in the local restaurant before flying home again. It’s one of those awesome things you should absolutely do after receiving your pilot license! 

#20  Go bush flying

For the adventurous pilots, there’s nothing that goes above bush flying. Taking off and landing from almost anywhere on big tires, floats or skis and flying from and to the most remote regions of the world is what makes this kind of flying something totally different and awesome.

bush flying, pilot bucket list

#21  Go fishing off a seaplane

If you can combine two of your hobbies and do enjoy them at the same time, why not do it?

Fishing of an airplane, pilot bucket list

#22  Land on a glacier on skies

For those pilots who love mountains and snow, landing on a glacier will be an absolute thrill!

Denali Glacier landing, pilot bucket list
Carl Sheffer

#23  Take part in a competition

People like to compete. Some people a little more than others, but everyone likes to measure themselves against other people, especially pilots. So if it’s an air race or just a small cross country navigating competition, participating in competitions can considerably improve your piloting, planning and other skills in aviation. Participating is most of the time more important than winning so when you’re getting a beautiful experience, some extra skills and a great flight from it, why not do it?

#24  Take your family on a flying trip

Flying is only starting to get really beautiful when you can share it with people you love and care about. Taking your friends and family for a flying trip can be an amazing experience and something they will be talking about for weeks, months and years to come. Having the ability to just take people on a flying trip is a great advantage of having your pilot license.

#25  Become a flight instructor

What’s more beautiful than sharing your passion and knowledge of aviation with other people? Teaching someone how to fly is one of the greatest rewards being a pilot can give you. Seeing your student pilot take-off for the first time all by himself can be an incredible feeling. I’ve spoken with a lot of flight instructors but never met anyone who doesn’t love doing it.

Become a flight instructor, pilot bucket list

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