Cleared for the Option

A Year Learning to Fly

By Patrick Chovanec 

Publication Date: November 14, 2023

Available at any retailer:

Buy the book

To purchase multiple copies of this book, click here.

About the Book:

Take away that invisible barrier between cabin and cockpit through one man’s unexpected journey.

Could you fly a plane? Patrick Chovanec never imagined he could, until the COVID-19 pandemic pushed him in an unexpected direction. Climb into the cockpit with him and find out what it’s like to go, step by step, from passenger to pilot. Peppered with interesting bits of history, personal insights, and moments of high tension, Cleared for the Option is a fun and relatable introduction to the often intimidating world of aviation.

Cleared for the Option explores, in detail, the knowledge that every pilot must learn to pass the pilot’s exam and earn their pilot’s license: aerodynamics, handling the controls, reading the instruments, regulations, medical standards, weather, navigation, and mechanics. It describes, in candid and personal terms, the practical challenges—landing an airplane, talking to air traffic control, mastering precise maneuvers, passing the final checkride—that anyone must overcome during flight training to become a pilot. If you’re interested in aviation, or ever considered learning to fly, this book is for you.

For aspiring pilots, Cleared for the Option is a roadmap to the adventure that lies ahead. For the curious, it’s an invitation to sit in the co-pilot’s seat and learn the answers to questions you never thought you had. For all of us, it’s a story about the vital importance of taking on new life challenges—and never letting a year go to waste.

Meet the Author

Patrick Chovanec is an economic advisor and former chief strategist for Silvercrest Asset Management. He has spent much of his life in China and has taught courses in US-China relations at Beijing’s Tsinghua University as well as at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He appears regularly in the media on these subjects. Patrick earned his Private Pilot’s License in September 2021. Combining his interests in history and aviation, he is a regular contributor to FLYING Magazine. He lives with his wife and three children in New York City. Learn more at


Click on any genre below to view more titles!