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Earn My Pilot's License, notes

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
Leonardo da Vinci

This page is fairly long, so I've divided it into the following sections:
Why in the World do I Want to do This?
How Do I Do This?
Websites I've Found Interesting Enough to Bookmark
Related Book I've Read or Plan to Read
Safety Information (mostly to calm Mom)

Why in the World do I Want to do This?
I have never much been interested in planes. Sure, I love traveling, and I like traveling in planes, but I mostly viewed them as a method to get from point A to point B. And getting a pilot's license? Never crossed my mind. Only did I think about it after I started dating an aerospace engineer; I figured I'd eventually get a pilot's license in the far, far future, simply to become parallel to him.

That was before I went up in a tiny little four-seater airplane, a Cessna 172, with his friend, Nick. This is the kind of plane that would freak out the majority of mothers worldwide (or at least my mother, and her mother, too).

So we took off from the Charlie Brown airport and did a touch and go (landing and taking off without stopping) and then flew 53 nautical miles away to the Jackson county airport, where we did another T&G. Meanwhile, we talked over the headsets and I got to listen to the radioing back and forth. He showed me a little about how to read the flight charts and I started to get really interested in what he was doing.

On the way back we swung over Stone Mountain (ancient sacred Indian place turned into 1915 KKK revival gathering site, a giant hunk of granite with the world's largest bas-relief work, featuring Confederate soldiers). While aiming for Stone Mountain Park, Nick let me take over the stick for a bit. Although I was terrified to do so, I got to bank left and right and tilt the nose forward and back.

That is when the bug really bit.

We were in the sky for over an hour and a half. When we landed I got off the plane and said to Mr. Aerospace, "I am SO GETTING my pilot's license!!" In fact, I followed that up with, "We could break up tomorrow and I would still get it, because now it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me!"

Perhaps that doesn't answer the "why?"

Perhaps the why can only be answered by going up in a plane with a window view from the cockpit for the first time.

How Do I Do This?
I have gleaned much information from the Internet, which can be boiled down to:

  • There's more than one possible way to do it (part 61 vs 141 rules of the FAA, for example)
  • The training takes approximately 65 hours for most people
  • You don't want to spread the training over too much time
  • Practice, practice, practice I found two websites in particular to be helpful, both from Hamish Reid. His Learning to Fly diary is a great read, followed up by his Instrument Training Diary. I enjoyed reading his diaries, which gave me insight into the trials of learning to fly.

    Websites I've Found Interesting Enough to Bookmark
    Solo Flights Around The World
    This is a website with records of completed solo flights around the world. Although I'm not sure I'd ever want to fly solo (landing in the Middle East as a solo female would be a bit of a hassle, don't you agree?), I'm inspired when I read about those who have.

    Melmoth2, written by Peter Garrison is quite the site with photos and articles about his homebuilt planes. He and his partner, Nancy, were the first in a homebuilt airplane to fly from Cold Bay to Japan.

    The Ninety-Nines, Inc.
    The Ninety-Nines was founded in 1929 was 99 female pilots, to advance and support aviation, especially as it relates to women.

    Aviation Communications
    This is a great over-all general resource for information on becoming a private pilot. At least, it seems to be from this eager-not-yet-learned-anything onlooker. They also have information about becoming a commercial pilot and message boards used by a variety of pilots...

    Related Books I've Read or Plan to Read
    Nothing currently.

    Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
    The author of The Little Prince was also a pilot who flew mail routes and went MIA in 1944 while serving for the French. (In fact, the French tried to keep him from serving, as he was a national treasure.) This book details various adventures while serving as a mail pilot. The chapter where he crashes into the Sahara is amazing. Although I knew he lived (obviously), while I was reading I kept catching my breath, wondering when he was going to die. Any author that can suspend reality for the reader so completely is worth reading.

    Truth North by George Ericson
    This book, written by a Minnesotan, was given to me by my uncle Mike for Christmas. It's about a bush pilot's adventures through (mostly) Canada and Alaska. It's a really interesting read, peppered with comments about religion and the history of science throughout. It also came with a CD full of beautiful images from his trip.

    Amelia Earhart's Shoes by Thomas F. King, et. al.
    Mr. Aerospace and I went to a session at AirVenture where a gentleman was describing The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and their work with trying to locate Earhart's crash site. It was a really interesting discussion and I decided to pick up this book to learn more. The book is utterly fascinating, and I think anyone interested in Earhart or the science of aircraft recovery/archaeology would be interested in it.

    Plan to Read
    Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche
    Nick mentioned this book as a classic in aviation and I ran out the next day to buy it. I hid it from Mr. Aerospace, because I thought he might think I was being silly; when he found out he merely laughed long and hard.

    20 Hrs., 40 Mins. by Amelia Earhart
    This is a book about Amelia becoming the first woman to cross the Atlantic (as a passenger), as well as a bit about why and how she became a pilot.

    Your Pilot's License by Jerry A. Eichenberger
    It's a book that's been around for over 25 years and in it's seventh edition. Any book with that staying power should be pretty good.

    Biplane by Richard Bach
    One has to wonder how much being a pilot influenced his book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I am especially interested in reading this after our biplane ride.

    Safety Information (mostly to calm Mom)
    General Aviation Safety
    There you go, safer than driving. When you drive, you have every other idiot to deal with. The sky is less dense with people and mostly depends on the pilot.

  • © 2005-2006 Amanda Takes Off