Monday, November 20, 2006


One Year as a Pilot

I missed the opportunity to write myself a self-congratulatory post on November 18, which marked the one-year anniversary of my private pilot checkride. So I'll do it today.

Since the checkride, I've logged 20 flights, for a total of 36.2 hours. The first nine of those flights were during the first two months after the checkride; since then, they have become rarer. I try to fly at least once a month to stay sharp, but due to work, weather, and other circumstances, I've gone as long as eight weeks between flights.

My typical "practice flight" is to fly to an airport that is just over 50 nautical miles away, do a few touch-and-goes there, and then if there is enough time remaining, I'll spend some time in the practice area doing stalls and steep turns before returning home. Frankly, that's getting pretty boring.

I've been checked out in the school's glass-cockpit Archer, but I haven't flown it since. The instructors have suggested that I get checked out in the school's Arrow, which would get me my complex airplane endorsement, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

I've only given one passenger a ride so far. My Mom was brave enough to fly with me a few days after my checkride. Since then, all flights have been solo, except for the Archer checkout. One of my co-workers has taken up photography and wants to fly with me, but I can't get the weight-and-balance to work out. I need a bigger plane, or smaller friends.

I've only taken one "real trip," meaning that I actually had something to do at the other end of the flight. A friend of mine was spending Christmas in Anniston, AL with his family, so I flew over there to have lunch and spend a few hours with him. I almost had an opportunity to visit someone over in Charlotte, NC, but that didn't work out. (Women . . .)

For a while, I was studying for the written test for an Instrument Rating, but I've concluded that I'm not going to pursue that. I can barely find time for VFR flights—when will I find time for instrument lessons?

If I do pursue more pilot training, it will probably be in a helicopter. Being a private helicopter pilot is even less practical than being a private airplane pilot, but boy, I sure would feel cool.

I don't have any interesting flying anecdotes to tell. I think that's a good thing. Most of the anecdotes I've heard include sentences like "So there I was, with a total electrical failure, zero visibility, low fuel, and my kids sitting in the back seat." I'm happy to keep my flying uninteresting.

Congratulations from your first passenger! It was so exciting for me to fly with you and hope to do it again. Love you and am very proud to be part of your many achievements!!
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