Tuesday, April 29, 2008

62.5 hours.

I'm all signed up and ready to go. I chatted with the guys at the flight school today, turned over a significant amount of money, and scheduled my first flying lesson for 8am Friday morning. I'll post a nice fat diatribe Friday night.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Shoving into overdrive.

Financing is all squared away. I sign up for lessons tomorrow. It begins.

Hard numbers.

One thing the government is good for is crunching numbers and creating reports and related documents. As I'm waiting for my flight training funding to free up, I've been studying various FAA statistics that are freely available to the public. Here are some FuN fAcTs (all numbers are from 2006):

Number of private pilots: 219,233
Number of women private pilots: 14,111
Number of rated airline pilots over the age of 80: 1,562
Number of student certificates issued per year: 61,448

The interesting part is that you, dear reader, have no use for these numbers, and I've just wasted your time. Sorry!


Friday, April 25, 2008

Carcass inspection.

So, to become a private pilot you have to have an FAA physical exam. I went to the doctor's office today to have one, and while I was waiting in the exam room, I spied a nice new tube of "medical lube" sitting on the counter. 'Now, what is he planning on doing with that', I thought. All sorts of horrible procedures ran through my mind as I sat there, each possibility more horrific and embarrassing than the last, and each one requiring more water-based medical lube.

Happily for me, and sadly for you, dear reader, the lube went unused. The exam covered vision, hearing, and a very quick check by the doctor (lung and heart sounds, glands, holes in my head). It was easy and painless, and I left with as much medical lube in my orifices as I arrived with. The doc said I qualified for a 1st class medical (for commercial pilotry) but I only needed a 3rd class so that's what he gave me.

Next week: signing up for lessons!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The pilot neighbor.

My brother and I went for a jog near my house last night since the weather was so nice. We went a mile or so then turned back. As we were jogging past my neighbor's house, I noticed he was working outside so I stopped to talk to him. When he moved in a few years ago, he mentioned buying some of the land in between our houses and putting a landing strip in. So I talked to him for awhile about flying and told him I'd be taking lessons soon. Turns out that he is a former commercial pilot! He offered to help out with any questions I might have. I think he'll be a good resource. It would be nice to put that landing strip in!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The watcher.

I grabbed a piece of pizza today and headed on down to the airport to watch takeoffs and landings while I ate. I parked at the flight school and hoped they didn't chase me away (they didn't). My trusty scanner (ham radio with scanner freqs) let me hear the tower and airplane chatter. The planes were landing right over my head, it was awesome.

My flight physical is Friday at 11:15. I know the doctor so I don't think it will be too stressful. Also, I think I'm in pretty good shape so I'm not too worried.

Two weeks...

When I was 7 or 8 my dad took us to the airport for an open house and he got my brother and I a flight in a Cessna 172. I was too short to see out of the window except for when the pilot was banking but it was a lot of fun. Later, my dad got my older brother and I model rockets for Christmas. I still have my first rocket!

So, a year ago I bought a Honeybee FP remote controlled helicopter and figured that mastering RC aircraft would be enough - but becoming a private pilot was never far from my mind. So about 6 months ago I started buying airplane magazines and books, and researching local flying schools. I struck a deal with my wife that if I sold our ne'er used sailboat, I could take the lessons. I used a PowerPoint to make my case.

I also started doing some heavy research into the reality of getting a PPL (private pilot license). One of the main areas of research was the FAA's accident database. I have studied almost all of the fatal light aircraft accidents since 1993 (the database goes back to the 50's but the reports aren't very detailed). I found that the main cause of small plane crashes was the pilot being a dumbass. Running out of gas, flying into bad weather, taking drugs, being drunk - all very avoidable stuff.

So, in two weeks I will begin my flight training. I will post my progress here. Stay tuned!