Fly until the money runs out 26 May 2013
aviation flying vfrstudentpilot

If you were to ask me whether I wanted to fly when I was younger, I would have said “duh”, not because flight has been a life-long goal, but rather the question struck me similar to “would you like to be a millionaire?” Of course, who wouldn’t want to fly? The two kinds of people who I knew as pilots growing up were airline transport pilots, a profession I never wanted, or insanely rich people.

Just before my intro flight

Some time last September, I was talking with one of Lookout’s advisors Mike Starkenburg, about his experience as a pilot regularly commuting from Southern California to the bay area. In talking with him, I realized how cheap (relatively) general aviation actually is, and mentioned it to my wife (ET).

Last October as a gift, my ET set up a demo flight with a flight school out of Hayward Executive Airport.

The picture to the right is a photo of me just before we took off for a bay tour demo flight.

I was incredibly fortunate that my demo flight was with the man who would ultimately become my ground school instructor, and is now my flight instructor.

I decided to do ground school, the classroom-based portion of the training first.

My reasoning was that if I really wanted to spend the thousands of dollars necessary to acquire a pilot’s license, I should first demonstrate, to myself at least, the discipline to do the class work. For 6-7 weeks, I would hop on BART and commute right after work from downtown San Francisco to Hayward for 3 hours of ground school every Monday and Wednesday. Sundays, Tuesdays and sometimes Saturdays, I would study at home to prepare for the next lesson.

April 15th was the last day of class, and I received my log book endorsement to take the FAA Knowledge Test. Today (May 26th) I took the exam and passed with a 98%. Bolded because I’m over the moon happy about it.

My flight milestones list is currently:

  • Ground School
  • Airman Medical Exam
  • FAA Knowledge Test
  • Solo Flight
  • FAA Checkride for License

From here out, I need to maintain my knowledge (of course) but it’s really just flying that I have left. That means I’m going to spend a lot of time with the Ugly Duckling, pictured below.

Ugly Duckling

Ugly Duckling (my name for 737GM) is the most under-appreciated plane in the flight club, which means it’s almost never checked out, so I’ve already put about 10 flight hours in with it.

Despite ground school being over, I’m still making the lengthy trips to Hayward twice a week, except now I go down to pile into a plane with my instructor to fly towards the Mt. Diablo area for manuevers and flying.

It’s pretty damn fun.

In the future I’ll be blogging a lot more about my flight experiences, I didn’t want to share too much until after my written exam, due to my fear of failure.

Truth be told, this has been by far one of the most humbling experiences of my adult life, and my fear of failing at it was/is very real. What if I fail my medical exam? What if I fail my written exam? What if I step on the wrong rudder during stall recovery practice? What if I screw up a cross-wind approach?

There’s a lot to lose sleep over if you’re not careful.

Flight isn’t for the indecisive or the over-confident, something I’m trying to stay aware of and ride that middle ground.

I’m looking forward to the remainder of my training and many more hours/years after that of flying.