27 June 2010

The Beginning

I have resolved to earn an FAA Private Pilot Certificate (PP-ASEL) so that I can legally rent and fly a single-engine airplane, such as a Cessna 172. This is something that I have always wanted to do, but for whatever reason, I had deemed impractical. Now that I am in my early 30's, I have concluded that life is too short to put this off any longer. I created this web log to document my progress and experiences along the way. Right now, I am at the very beginning of the process. The milestones are roughly:
  1. Visit an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner and take a physical to receive a 3rd class medical certificate. This needs to be done before flying solo, but in my case, it is good for 5 years and I want to get it out of the way. A pilot friend of mine recommended a local physician, and I plan to make an appointment soon.
  2. Find a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI). My local GA airports are KHEF, KJYO, and possibly KHWY. I need to do some research here. I have read that the airspace in the Washington DC area is complex to negotiate due to the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) and the fact that most of the nearby airports are in Class B airspace thanks to busy Dulles and DCA. Warrenton/Faquier Airport is outside the SFRA and the Dulles Class B airspace, but it might be too far to drive 2-3 times per week for lessons.
  3. Pass the FAA Knowledge Test. This doesn't need to be done until just before the checkride, but I have begun to study the material. Based on many recommendations, I opted to use the King Schools course to prepare for the test in lieu of a formal ground school. I am about 1/3 through the course now--it is corn-ball city, but good. I have also been reading Stick and Rudder--a great text from 1944--in the hope that it will help me intuitively understand the flight dynamics when I first experience them in a real airplane.
  4. Learn to physically fly an airplane
  5. Solo Flights
  6. Cross-Country Flights
  7. Night Flights
  8. Instrument Flights
  9. Practical Test Preparation
  10. Pass the FAA Practical Test (checkride)
While the FAA minimum required flight time is only 40 hours, the average to receive endorsement by an instructor to take the practical test is around 55-65 hours.

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