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      Learning to soar in the sky

      How can you learn to fly in the U.P.? It's a topic our Facebook viewers wanted to know more about.

      Local aviation enthusiasts say the process of learning to fly is actually a lot like learning to drive a car, but with more controls and procedures.

      The first thing you should do if you're interested is actually ride along with an experienced pilot or instructor. Our camera was invited to do this Wednesday morning.

      Fred Joyal has clocked about 500 hours in the sky in the last ten years, and he took us on our maiden voyage.

      "It's the feeling of freedom, being able to sort of go anywhere, fly like a bird," said Joyal.

      Some may be concerned it's a dangerous hobby, but members of the Marquette County Chapter of Experimental Aircraft Association say that's not necessarily true.

      "When there's an airplane crash, it makes big headlines. I think it's because it's so rare of an occurrence," said group President Ted Kirkpatrick.

      There are two basic licenses most new pilots aim for: a private license or recreational pilot license. The private will allow you to take passengers on a variety of planes and calls for more hours logged in the sky; a total of 40, 20 spent with an instructor. The recreational will allow you to fly small planes in the area; you need a total 30 hours, 15 spent with an instructor for issuance.

      Learning to fly is an investment.

      "To get a private license, historically it has been between $5,000 and $8,000," Kirkpatrick said. Often, potential pilots don't own a plane so they have to pay rental fees as well as the hourly rate instructors charge for training.

      But enthusiasts say it's all worth it. Facebook fan Skip Loebig writes: "Once the flying bug gets you, there is no turning back!"

      For the first time ever, the Marquette Co EA will be offering adults rides, as well as children, on their Young Eagles program at Boreal Aviation in K.I. Sawyer. It's a rare chance for an adult to get onboard with a pilot and take a spin around the area.

      To find an instructor in your area, you can contact your local airport manager who may be able to put you in contact with local organizations. Visit www.aopa.com/learntofly for more information about additional licenses and regulations.