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Old 05-14-2019, 09:15 AM
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Flight School with Beautiful Views Near Chicago


i am looking to take a lesson where the terrain is not flat, and there is interesting stuff to see from above. What are the closest options (I know they won't really be close...)?
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:19 AM
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"Where the terrain is not flat" doesn't really describe anything close to Chicago (at least, not within 200 miles or so). You can thank the glaciers for that.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:37 AM
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I'd say a LOT further out than 200 miles if you're talking about Chicago (speaking from experience)

As someone who is a Chicago pilot, I'd argue that there is plenty of interesting stuff to see from the air around here.

I would NOT recommend taking lessons at an airport there is a lot of traffic or a requirement to deal with ATC a lot - with a possible exception being an airport like the Gary one, where even though there is a tower there are no commercial airlines and times when the traffic is low enough you don't burn through your lesson time waiting for take-off clearance (I was based at Gary for several months when the runway at my real base, Griffith-Merrillville, was being repaved a number of years ago).

I had a lot of fun at the Morris airport with Sky Blue Aero - I was taking tailwheel lessons there but they have plenty of opportunity for just-off-the-street beginners.

Hey, OP - weren't you also interested in RC airplanes, too?

If you live inside Chicago proper you will have to leave the city limits. But you have multiple choices within 50-100 miles of the city limits.

If you just want to try flying out budget around $200 for an introductory lesson including getting to the airport, any pre-flight stuff, the actual airplane time and instructor fee. Yes, you can probably get one for less than that, but aviation is one area where low-balling costs will get you into trouble.

Not sure much lessons are costing these days if you want either a Sport Pilot or Private Pilot certificate.
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Old 05-14-2019, 09:52 AM
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Hey, I looked up that zip code you sent me in PM - closest options to you I suggest for lessons would be, in no particular order

Lansing, Illinois (both fixed wing and rotorcraft)

Gary, Indiana

Griffith-Merrillville, Indiana (not sure if their contract with China is tying up all the lesson slots or not these days)

Clow, in Bollingbrook, Illinois

Schaumberg, Illinois (disadvantage - you are right under O'Hare's airspace)

There are others, but I am not familiar with what they're like. Call any of these places and they will let you know what's offered at their location and they'll give you info on any places I've forgotten to mention or just aren't aware of.

If you have transportation issues (lack of car) then you might want to look at Gary, Indiana - the South Shore railroad has a stop near there from which you could take a short Uber/Lyft to the airport (the websites mention walking but I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with that myself). The South Shore actually goes all the way into the South Bend airport, but I don't know if you can get lessons there (I was there a couple times via airplane. There is a an airplane/railroad crossing which is a lot like a regular road crossing except it's designed to accommodate vehicles with 30-40 foot wingspans. Otherwise, crossing gates and flashing lights, but it still seems a little weird from either the train or the plane)

For the rest of them - you'll need road transportation of some sort to get there.

Last edited by Broomstick; 05-14-2019 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I'd say a LOT further out than 200 miles if you're talking about Chicago (speaking from experience)
I was thinking about areas like the "driftless area" in western / southwestern Wisconsin (which is more rugged and hilly than the rest of the southern half of the state), and southern Indiana (which is also more hilly and rolling than northern Indiana), but those are probably more like 300 miles or so away (and I have no idea if there are avaiation schools in those areas).
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Old 05-14-2019, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
I was thinking about areas like the "driftless area" in western / southwestern Wisconsin ...
Recently drove from Chicago burbs to Madison. As soon as you get N of Rockford, the terrain may not be dramatic, but it certainly isn't most-of-Illinois flat. Lots of lakes and rivers in S Wisc.
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Old 05-14-2019, 01:32 PM
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As for whete the terrain is not flat - one doesn't want to fly too close to the ground when there are hills, mountains, cliffs, etc. around because of rotors (unstable, rolling air) on the downwind side. Also, in general, if you're taking lessons you should be focused on what's inside the airplane & not on the sights outside. (Spatial awareness is not the same as sightseeing.). Your goals seem somewhat mutually exclusive.
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