Sunday, November 20, 2005
Looking Backward and Forward
Now that I have my pilot license, I'm looking back on the journey, which began in November 2004 (about twelve months ago). I've written over 70 posts about the lessons, most of which are pretty boring. Here are the highlights:
- Considering Flight Schools (Nov 30, 2004). It's not really a very interesting post, but it was the first one about learning to fly.
- Introductory Flight Lesson (Dec 29, 2004)
- Flying Lesson #1 (Feb 5, 2005). I laughed when I read a sentence near the end: "If I'm lucky, maybe I only have about 49 lessons to go."
- Third-Class Medical Exam (Feb 11, 2005). I had no idea it would take another month and a half to get this resolved.
- Flying Lesson #14 (Apr 8, 2005). What's funny about this one is that I say "Today, landings finally clicked for me." Ha! I would continue struggling with landings up until the week before my checkride.
- Sticking With Flying (Apr 11, 2005). This was my first post questioning whether I really wanted to continue with the lessons, or devote the time and money toward something else. I estimated it "will take about five more months and cost another six or seven thousand dollars." Ha! I'm a software engineer: I should know that all estimates need to be doubled.
- FAA Knowledge Test (Apr 22, 2005)
- Spin Training (May 27, 2005)
- First Solo (Jun 8, 2005)
- First Solo Cross-Country (Sep 9, 2005)
- Second Solo Cross-Country (Oct 14, 2005)
- Long Solo Cross-Country (Oct 16, 2005). The most awesomest funnest thing ever.
- Private Pilot Checkride (Nov 18, 2005)
After passing the checkride, I have approximately 121 hours of total flight time, with 28.2 hours of pilot-in-command time, and about 240 takeoffs and landings. I've decided I'm not going to add up all the costs, but based on number of hours in the plane and number of hours of dual instruction, the total is somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000. Note that my experience is atypical—anyone considering flying lessons should not expect it to cost that much.
(To anyone who wants to comment on the high numbers: Please don't. I'm a dangerously inept pilot. I had a terrible instructor. The owners of this flight school are a bunch of crooks. Your cousin is a flight instructor and would have trained me for practically nothing. I should have gone to _______ flight school. I should have joined ________ flying club. I should have started with gliders. You got your private, multi-engine, and instrument ratings in eighty hours and it cost you only fifty dollars and two cereal box tops. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you're trying to be helpful, but I've heard it all before, and I don't need to hear it again. I'm satisfied with what I got and what I paid for it.)
I'm still not sure what the future holds for me and flying. For a few months, I'll keep flying at least once a week to maintain my proficiency. I plan to make cross-country trips to airports in the area that I haven't visited yet. If I keep enjoying it, I'll probably start instrument training in about six months. Otherwise, I may just give it up. I have no practical need to fly anywhere, so if I'm not enjoying it, it would be stupid to keep doing it.
But no matter what I do with flying in the future, I'm glad I stuck with it. This is the hardest thing I've ever done that wasn't connected with employment. I tend to quickly give up on activities for which I don't have a natural talent. There were a few months when flying was not much fun. I'm proud of myself for not taking the easy way out.
Uh-oh. It's been two whole hours since I last looked at my new pilot certificate. Time to take another look.
If your happy with the training you recieved, and confident in your piloting abilities, these are what matters the most for you and your passengers.
You did it, you've earned your pilot's licence and now you can go fly whenever you want.
Alot of people dream about about becoming a pilot, and leave it at that. You've stepped up and did it, you got the job done and you should be proud.
You plan for the next few months is sound.
I would suggest that if you intend to continue flying for the long haul that you should look into some form of ownership. If you can plop down $500K for a new Columbia, do that.
If your requirements are more modest than 100% of the latest and greatest airplane, then look at some form of multiple ownership of an airplane that you'd like to fly.
A good partnership is by far the best way to enjoy flying at something close to an affordable cost.
Renting doesn't work well over the long run.