Learning to Fly

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Basic pilot training is the bottom end of the ladder of aviation. Pilot training is difficult, intensely stressful, action-packed and information rich. On an average it takes about 60 hours of in the air practice, 20 hours of grueling ground instruction, and countless hours of abuse from the instructor. It is a skill that stretches physical reactions and mental sharpness to its limits, along with the need to comprehend and memorize a staggering amount of scientific and legal knowledge. Man was not born to fly, but we can learn how to, with a lot of difficulty.

I took more time than average. By the time I was done, I had clocked 73 hours of instruction, 23 hours of solo and about 350 landings. 

Often I would go out on a lesson and then could barely drive home. Sometimes I would come home and sit around for several hours, just flaked out. But it was well worth it. My training was done at Chandler Air Service. I recommend these people with no reservations, they are a great outfit.

Information on getting flying lessons and what to expect, are plentiful on the Internet, and I will not duplicate that material here.

A CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) is a different kind of human being. They are folks who have spent a fortune to get a low paying job. In that job, he or she is continually dodging death at the hands of imbeciles who do not know how to fly (I was one such imbecile).

No one can teach you how to balance  on a bike. Similarly no one can teach you how to fly. A CFI has two important function:

Prevent you from killing yourself

Helping you learn

The real skill of flying is acquired by practicing alone. When there is no one holding your hand, you really find out what flying is all about. Of course you make mistakes and you watch you life almost come to an end. You learn how to never do it again. And soon, you learn how to really fly, and then the fun multiplies.

My lessons started in April 2001. On July 10th I was told to go fly by myself. The story is here: The First Solo

Since the first solo was quite a disaster, I  swore off of flying by myself for a while. I trained and trained, focusing on landings, till I was much more proficient in touching down. Then I did my second solo. Then I got hooked.

I found the fun of flying by myself. It is quiet, serene and a close partnership between man and machine. So whenever I got the chance, I took a plane out for a ride. After some time of solo practicing, we got onto the night flying and cross-country sections of the training. That eventually led to solo cross country flying.

A few notable events during the training were:

First Night Flight (Sept 28, 2001)

First Solo Cross Country (Oct 6, 2001)

Second Solo Cross Country though Phoenix Class Bravo (Oct 13, 2001)

Finally, there is a grueling written exam covering a world of stuff including aircraft systems, aerodynamics, legal issues, weather, procedures and such. Then there is a practical test called the checkride.

I do not want to talk about my checkride, apart from I passed (Dec. 6th 2001). Ever since then, i have been practicing hard and honing up my skills. I have also had fun on out of town trips.

Be safe up there.