How to get your Private Pilot's License
There is something special about soaring in the sky
Learning to Fly is Quite an Experience and a Challenge
Learn How to Fly (An Airplane)
I am beginning my adventure of learning to fly with a disclaimer. I know that many things have changed in the protocol of flying but have not changed in terms of safety, navigation and actual flying regulations. I am sure small airplanes have more sophisticated instruments----so you groomed and experienced pilots don't get too mad at me This is mostly about my experiences in learning to fly and accomplishing a challenging goal.You can also learn how to fly if the desire is strong.
Many years ago when my children were very young, their father decided he wanted to learn how to fly. It was kind of a midlife crisis thing--I think. He took lessons and went on to get an instrument rating and teaching certificate. Though I was panicked at the thought of flying in a small plane, I was even more frightened of being up in the air not knowing what to do in case of emergency.
My beginning plan was just to take the special course that is offered on how to take over in case of emergency and landing the plane safely. I also wanted to learn how to use the radios to be able to scream MAYDAY if necessary. Amelia Earhart I knew I would never be. If learning to fly is on your wish list, go for it.
After taking my safety course and learning how to land a plane, I thought it best I get a good education on flying and all that it entails. We had young kids and took them places in a small aircraft.
Ground school is a must for the beginning pilot. it is a requirement that is a prelude to actual flying. There are so many things to learn before settling in the cockpit. I reviewed my notes regularly even after I finished ground school and had started flying lessons. Math is difficult for me so when I learned how to read the maps and figure things out I was fairly proud of myself. I completed the course in six weeks and to my surprise only missed one question on the final exam. I was ready for the big flying lessons--- well-not exactly--and with much trepidation.
Main thrust of Ground School:
- Air craft systems
- Rules of Flying
- Aeronautical Weather
- Aeronatuical naviation
- Aeronautical regulations
Currently there are many schools you can attend online, if you do not have classes offered in your area.
Types of Licenses and Cost
.The cost varies today from around $2000 to 4000. for your private pilot license. When I took flying lessons I paid only $25.00. for each lesson. The cost is quite a bit higher today. And you pay extra for flight hours to receive different certificates.
Some Types of certificates:
- Student Pilot
- Recreational Pilot
- Private Pilot
- Commercial Pilot
- Instrument Rated Pilot
- Airline Transport Pilot
Touch and Go Landings
Touch and go landings are the first thing you learn after becoming acquainted with the instruments and their functions. Touch and go means taking off and landing several times in a row. You learn how to communicate with the tower and become familiar using the radio on the plane. I personally loved taking off the best. There was something about heading out to the sky. Landing, that was a different story. Lots of bouncing went on but eventually I learned how to land the plane smoothly. The touch and go process also helps you learn about dealing with nearby aircraft. Flying is a lesson in coordination and constant awareness.
Never Take off without a Pre-flite Check
The most important part of starting your airplane ride is the pre flight check. Take your list with you as you circle around the plane no matter how many times you have done this pre flight check. The following steps may not be complete for all aircraft.
Start in the cockpit
- Engine off
- Master on
- Instruements are working properly
- Check fuel gauge
- Walk entirely around the plane and observe and check every part.
- Check for any cracks
- Check the wings to be sure they have no problems
- Check the fuel visually
- Check the tires
You never leave anything to chance.
Flying at Night is Peaceful and beautiful
The Control Tower is Who You Contact
Learn to Fly
Cross Country and the Control Tower
The control tower is your communication center. Large airports have approach and departure before contacting the control tower. Medium size airports have control towers. Some very small landing strips have airplane to airplane communication for taking off and landing.
During the process of learning to fly you do cross country trips. You have a specific destination and you have to plot your course. You file a flight plan with the airport so they know where you are in case of problems. This is where your mathematical ability comes into play in learning how to read an aeronautical map--which you should have learned in ground school. I am quite sure that a lot of this has been simplified, thanks to the computer age.
My first solo ride was from Phoenix to Tucson. As I was approaching the airport I got a voice from the tower "Do you have the airport in Site" I answered "no", Lady you are over the airport right now. I requested a 360 degree turn to lose some altitude.
In the Tucson airport there is no separate airstrip for small aircraft. That may have changed today.
I was getting ready for takeoff from Tucson airport, when I noticed a huge 727 behind me. I tried not to panic and carefully took off. Anyway I made it back safely-- after much ado.
One thing I could never understand was when I called the tower before landing, they always asked me how far I was from the airport. There were no instruments with that information. How was I to know how many miles away? There were no signposts.
First Solo Ride
It was a scary moment when I took off and there was no instructor beside me. I did two touch and goes and that was enough for me.
The average time before your solo flight ( when I was flying) was about 20 hours. Many did it in less time than that. It took me 35 hours before I was ready. However, I quit flying for three months due to a scary moment. I was coming in for landing and the radio did not work. So I landed the plane anyway, which is a dangerous thing to do. You probably know what happened next--- the radio started working upon landing. Do you think anyone believed me?
The Check Ride
Before you are awarded your pilot's license you need to take a physical. If my memory serves me right the doctor checked to see if I was breathing, blood pressure, lungs and heart. The requirements might be more stringent now and a blood test might be required.
My instructor pronounced me ready for the check ride. The designee (the person designated to give the final check ride) called the night before the big event, and told me to fly into Sky Harbor. I had a true panic attack. I called my instructor and he helped me through the process of calling approach and the tower. I headed out for Sky Harbor airport at 4 AM to make sure there would be little if any traffic. I arrived safely. The designee told me to file a flight plan to anywhere I chose. I decided on Las Vegas which was my favorite city. I took off doing all the right things, and ended up going in the wrong direction.I thought that ended all hopes of my getting my certificate. However, I corrected everything quickly and satisfactorily and the designee was very pleased with my quick thinking. I had to land in Glendale Airport which is a challenge with high wires before the airport. I think I passed the check ride because I had such a smooth landing at a difficult airport.
You need to have between 30 and 40 air hours before taking a check ride and this varies from state to state.
I never really loved flying and was often apprehensive about getting in the plane. I had some different experiences that ensured I felt that way. For those who really want to learn how to fly it is possible, as long as you take it seriously and pay attention to details. I overcame a big fear and met the challenge and learning to fly remains one of my biggest accomplishments. And it can be yours as you can learn how to fly.
I am repeating myself a little here-- please note I got my license many years ago and left out many details. And I know many things have changed a great deal in the flying arena.