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Thread: 90% Done, 50% to go...

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2013
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    New York City
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    90% Done, 50% to go...

    Hi,

    I'm a recent joiner of EAA, although I have a decades-long love of flying. I've been reading Kitplanes for almost as long as it has been publishing. I'm 57 and have finally reached the stage in my life where it's possible to fulfill my pilot dream. What follows is a brief description of my experience as a student pilot.

    I asked for a Discovery Flight for my birthday last November and my wife was so sweet to get it for me. I live in Manhattan and did the flight out at Republic at Long Island. In the following two months, I managed to accrue a total of 3.1 hours in my log book. Between trying to find time on weekends and crummy weather, it was very frustrating.

    Then a miracle/disaster happened. The very large bank laid me off. I found myself with time on my hands. I decided that the right thing to do was to go down to Florida and train intensively. I located a school I liked and made the arrangements. My wife and I drove down to Florida, we went to visit her mom, I dropped her off at the airport and, for the next week, it was me, my instructor and the airplane. Well, at least until my job hunt got in the way.

    In about a week, I managed to add 22 hours in a 172. This got me to the point where I was getting started on landings. I also mastered VOR navigation and got much of my hood time as well as about half my dual cross-country. I also learned the other maneuvers (stalls, slow flight, steep turns, ground reference). I flew out of both towered and non-towered airports. Then I headed back up to New York to get back to the job hunt.

    About three weeks later, I got a job offer. So I arranged to start in two weeks and booked a flight back to Florida. I had nine days booked. I wanted to try out the school 152 and, after seeing if I fit (barely), I got my chance. I fell in love with the little Cessna and we resumed where we left off, mostly working on a mix of everything, with an emphasis on pattern work. About four days in, I was reliably landing the airplane. That's not to say they were great landings. Some were pretty good and they were all safe, but my instructor wanted me to be smoother and more consistent. This and the weather delayed my solo until the next-to-last day. On that day, conditions weren't great, so we stayed at the towered airport (KFPR) where the school is based. KFPR has both 10L and 10R runways. 10L has no taxiways connecting it to the rest of the airport, so we departed on 10R and entered the pattern for 10L where we practiced. Then my instructor told me it was time. I dropped him off, and soloed! I only got one time around as it was actually beginning to rain on final. I made my best landing yet, picked up my instructor and we headed back to 10R and the FBO where I got my shirt cut.

    It was just as satisfying as everyone told me it would be. And something else happened. I'm still a student, but I'm at a different level, no longer in doubt of my basic abilities. The next day we had scheduled a pre-dawn start to get in some night flying, but the weather had other plans. So I reluctantly headed back up to New York. I have almost 50 hours in my log.

    This past weekend, I got an hour in a 152 out on Long Island and it felt great. I did three crosswind landings. I'm back to work, so I'm limited to weekends. That's terribly frustrating. If one has the time, training intensively is enormously rewarding. Without distractions and with the time to really work on things, you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of calendar time.

    I still need to do my night flying, some more hood work and do my solo cross-country. I really want to complete this by the end of June. We'll see.

    By the way, I did my studying on my iPad. I used Sporty's iPad app and I bought an e-book copy of the Jeppesen course. I also read Say Again (which I highly recommend). I got the written test endorsement via the Sporty's app, so I can take the written at any time.

    Now let's talk cost. All told, I'm about $10K into it. I expect to spend about another $2K exclusive of the checkride, which, it turns out matches what I've been told. One word of advice I have for students when shopping schools is to enquire whether there is a fuel surcharge. The school in Florida was very upfront about this. The one out on Long Island didn't mention it and I found out about it when I got the bill for the day. Also, I have about $500 in other expenses (books, charts, kneeboard, E6B, headset, checklists, POHs, etc.).

    I'm really looking forward to completing my training. After that, I might look for a share in an airplane so that I can build time. To be honest, my biggest handicap is where I live. Getting to any airport with training or rental aircraft is a pain given the traffic. This will persist so long as I continue to live here. Florida really spoiled me. There are airports *everywhere*. I'd also like to pursue an instrument rating as soon as possible.

    Well, that's my story so far.

  2. #2
    Hiperbiper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana
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    98
    Bunkie;
    What you described above are the trials and tribulations of almost every student pilot I know (including myself). Weather, changing CFI's, weather, job constraints, weather, airport distance, and did I mention weather?
    In my case I even bought an airplane (a Grumman AA1B) due to the lack of available airplanes when my instructor and I (and Mother Nature) were all in a row...
    Learning to fly will try your soul but danm brother it's worth it! Make your plans but don't get depressed if they fall thru; you'll get there...remember; if it was easy, everyone could fly!

    BTW:
    Never talk cost. Ever! Flight costs what it costs. Dollar to distance. Dollar to time. Dollar to seat-mile. Private GA doesn't make much sense if viewed in the constraints of cost because you can't put a dollar figure on the pure pride and enjoyment of being able to walk up to a plane, hop in and fly. (Fiddly bits required by the FAR's and common sense should come somewhere in between the walking and the hopping in phases...).
    Welcome to the board, keep us updated and keep the move to Florida in your plans. You could finish your flight training with what you save in taxes!

    Chris in Shreveport
    You Tube only proves that more airplanes have crashed due to Video Camaras than any other single reason...

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    64
    Hi HiperBier!

    You're right, of course! It costs what it costs. My point is that it might be better to bite the process off in big chunks. I've done a bit of local training here and there and, frankly, I just don't feel that it gets me where I want to be which is makes it costly both in time and money. I think that has a lot to do with the awful dropout rate. Down in Florida, I was 6 miles from the airport, I had all day (we flew until I was tired) and I was really able to *concentrate*. In my non-flying hours, I was thinking about what I had learned, what I had done wrong and what I needed to do to correct my behavior. I also had the time to build a working partnership with my instructor. I feel that we did it together. He really helped me to understand what I was learning and gave a lot of great advice based on his many decades of flying.

    My wife put up with my absences and was really a sport. But it was hard on her. I was off having fun and she was alone. We've agreed that I'll fly every other weekend so that we can have some personal time together. Of course, once I get my license, she can come with me and everything changes.

    Here's a little background on me. My dad worked for a European airline. I practically grew up at JFK. He really didn't have any love of aviation, but I was bitten hard from as far back as I can remember. My first seat time was at the age of nine when the captain of the DC-8 I was on invited me to sit in the left seat high over the Atlantic. I worked on the ramp at JFK during summers when I got a little older. I loved being around the 747s, L-1011s and DC-8s on which I loaded food. It was always in my plans to pursue my license but life and obligations got in the way. Last year I got to fulfill another almost life-long dream when I was a contestant (and damned-near a champion!) on Jeopardy. After that I realized that anything was possible and the dream moved to the front burner. That brings us to now.

    I have felt some frustration and it was surprising to me how much of early flight training has to do with conquering fear. There's a definite inverse relationship between terror and acquired skill. My instructor had me practice flying level down the runway and it took a while to develop the rudder and aileron control to do it properly. Not feeling in control that close to the ground really made me sweat. When we progressed to actually landing, the cold sweats continued. Landing practice left me soaked and worn out. Part of me was terrified. But almost without noticing it, that passed and it became something that I knew how to do. The terror went away, replaced by concentration and a determination to get it right. I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here, but that transition and the feeling it gave me was worth all the effort, money and time. Why fly? I can only think of JFK's remark about going to the moon: "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard". We grow by facing our fears, developing skills and understanding and, hopefully, wisdom and a bit of humility as well.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    1,541
    Good for you, and don't give up now, when the mountain top is withing reach.

    What school did you go to in Florida and what town is it in, please?
    By the way, if you flew the plane solo, you are already a pilot; there wasn't anyone else in there doing it for you. You just aren't yet a fully licensed pilot.

    As for as fear goes, there is really not much logical reason to be afraid when just doing basic flying. The accident rate for a student is not high, and it is super low if you are dual with an instructor.

    If you are just flying a basic trainer, on a simple flight which is planned out in good weather, it is low risk.
    And a with a C-172, it might be a little boring, but not dangerous. It was designed to allow most pilots to safely learn in and it does that well.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 05-18-2013 at 10:55 AM.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    New York City
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    Hi Bill,

    I trained at Tradewinds in Fort Pierce. The owner, Ernie Carnahan, was my CFI. I trained under part 61, so I did all my own book learning. I wish I had the time to back there to finish up, Ernie was great.

    I was never afraid while up at any altitude. Who among us hasn't resisted our instructor's command to "point the nose down" on final. There's a part of the brain that is screaming " No! We'll crash!" it takes a conscious effort to overcome that fear.
    Last edited by Bunkie; 05-20-2013 at 10:11 AM.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    20
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Greenwood View Post
    Good for you, and don't give up now, when the mountain top is withing reach.
    Bunkie, Bill's advice is correct. You're almost to the mountain top. Congratulations.

    You may find that the summit isn't quite as close as it seems, maybe it's 1/2 mile away when you thought it was less than a quarter, but either way, you ARE almost there. Persistance will be rewarded.

    Blue skies, to you Bunkie.

    CDS

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    New York City
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    I sat down today and calculated how much time I need to complete my training. It's about 20 hours, 11 hours of dual and 9 hours solo. That will get me ready for the exam. What I need now is a plan to execute all of the remaining tasks. Since I've self-directed my training (part 61), it's my responsibility to make sure that each hour matches my plan.

    I'm really driven to complete this. I find that I have a *need* to fly. I want to get better and better at it. These days, I only have weekends and of those, only every other weekend do as to keep my wife happy. Sunday was a scheduled lesson day where I was going to be checked out so that I could solo up here at Mid Island. On the way there, they called to cancel because there was an issue with the airplane. That was frustrating. I think I'm going to take a day or two off from work so that I can get multiple hours in each day. The drive to Mid Island is almost 60 miles, so going out for an hour lesson isn't very time-efficient.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Ok, what is your update, did you fly this past weekend?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    64
    Hi Bill, Last weekend was a non-flying weekend. I have a lesson scheduled at Nassau Flyers on Saturday. The weather looks good, so I expect to fly. I'm going back to a 172 to make the cross-country a little easier. With the long summer days, I'm going to try to get some after-work flying in. My job lets me telecommute and has flex time, so I should benefit from the improved availability of both aircraft and instrucors.I promise to post an update this weekend. In the meantime! I've been reviewing my Jeppesen pilot course book, going over some of the sections that I felt needed more attention.

  10. #10
    Joe Delene's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Location
    Wisconsin
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    249
    Bunkie, sounds great, keep it up.

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