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Old 10-31-2011, 01:40 PM   #1
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Any pilots here

I'm planning on taking flying lessons soon. I went up in a 172 today for my intro flight and enjoyed it. Flying is something that I always wanted to do and now I have the time and money to do it. The wife is good with it, so I plan on starting in February since we are going on some trips before then and I don't want to start and stop.

Any advise for someone just starting out?
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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Do ground school first
Fly at least twice a week if possible
If you don't like your flight instructor find another one
Get a good head set
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Old 10-31-2011, 02:53 PM   #3
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Get really, really good at learning to navigate and file flight plans.

Never come anywhere even close to needing any of your reserve fuel.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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I have worked for a few people that had a flying license...

One was qualified on passenger jets and flew for an airline before changing jobs...

The two others had just regular license.... but all said the cost of getting the license was a lot of money... you have to fly a lot of hours and pay by the hour...

I would love to get one of those cheap one on sport plane or whatever it is called, but none of the schools here taught that... at least the last time I looked a few years back....
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:06 PM   #5
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Single engine land, VFR only, not current for decades but sure loved it back in the day. Flew mostly C172's, Cardinal, Beech Skipper for training.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:06 PM   #6
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Sinjin makes good points. I did my ground school WHILE I was flying and it worked out just fine but since you aren't going to fly for a few months, its not a bad idea to schedule it before you start flying.

Just a comment...many flight schools offer 152's which are a bit small but might save you a few $$$ per flight hour. If that doesn't matter, stick with 172 since it offers quite a bit more room and higher performance. My primary trainer was a grumman two seated which was like a small fighter...a blast to fly.

Most of my flying was for pleaure but used it for business
every once in a while. My ticket is single engine land with an instrument rating. I always owned in partnerships (clubs) which worked for me. We've owned citabria and 150, 172,
two 182's and a 206 and enjoyed all of them.

Have fun!!!
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:21 PM   #7
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I earned my PPC a month ago, so I'm only a little bit ahead of you.

All of sinjin's points are spot on. Especially the point about flying often. Too many people learn to fly by paying for each lesson as they can afford it. This can lead to them flying once every two weeks, or even less frequently. These are the students who can accumulate 100 hours and still not be proficient enough to earn their license. Fly a lot--two or three times per week. (In military flight training, it's normal for students to be scheduled for two flights per DAY, or sometimes three. That builds proficiency fast).

You can save money by flying in a C-152 rather than a C-172--it's typically $25-$35 cheaper per hour, and that's quite a few pennies when you fly 40+ hours to get your license. The aircraft don't handle much different (the C-172 climbs better when there are just two folks aboard. Some instructors claim that the need to really pay attention to the rudder in the C-152 during stalls helps make students more attentive to this aspect of flying.) Either plane is just fine and if you or your instructor is on the large side, the C-172 may be the only practical choice. If you learn in the C-152 it usually only takes a single ride to get checked out in the C-172 after you get your license.

Save money and time by coming to each lesson prepared. That seems obvious, but I'm always surprised to see students arrive, sit down at the table, and ask the instructor what they will be doing during the lesson. Get the syllabus, look at each maneuver or skill you'll be practicing, and mentally do the procedure over and over until you get it down solid. Sit in a chair, close your eyes, and go through the motions. Some students like to buy and use a copy of Flight Simulator for this, I think these programs are more useful later when you'll be working on your instrument skills. Once in the airplane there will be many distractions, so if you've got the mechanics down cold (entry speed, aircraft configuration, things you'll monitor during the maneuver, etc) then your mind will be free to actually work on the skill rather than trying to remember what comes next.

Along the same lines--get to your lesson early. Have the walkaround done, your weight/balance calculations done, the plane fueled up, etc before your official lesson start time. This not only assures you aren't rushed, it also lets your instructor know your are serious about this undertaking. Also, from the outset tell your instructor you want to get proficient as quickly as possible. If a student shows a leisurely approach to the whole serious business of learning to fly, many instructors are happy to accommodate this casual pace while taking their money for each hour.

You don't need to be friends with your instructor. You want honest feedback every step of the way. Make this clear to the instructor, and heed his/her guidance. OTOH, if there's a personality conflict between you and the instructor, ask for a new one. There are no hard feelings usually, and it's your money.

Demand a good debrief from your instructor. The lesson's not over until you understand everything that you did wrong (and right--if by mistake!) so you'll improve. Take notes and review them when you get home.

Try to keep your head out of the cockpit and start right now to ask your instructor to point out useful landmarks. Many instructors (and many FAA check pilots) are adamant that you be able to find your way around using a chart, pilotage, and dead reckoning. This is a particular weak spot of mine. To the instructors, that little habitation there is clearly Haneyville, to me it looks just like Hooterville, Alphaville, and a hundred other little 'bergs that are just yellow splotches on the sectional chart. I'm a big fan of the VOR, but I do understand and appreciate the value of being able to know where you are using visual references.

Later, you may want to look into getting an iPAd and Foreflght. Don't do it now, you need to work on the basics and learn to use a chart, etc. But these electronic/GPS marvels bring a degree of sophistication to the GA cockpit (moving map displays, easy weather updates, etc) that was strictly the property of the "big guys" just a few years ago.

Don't delay in taking your written test. The FAA is now VASTLY expanding the question bank used for all written tests--they hadn't done it for the PPC knowledge test last I'd heard, but it may happen very soon. The number of possible questions will be 5x or more what it is today, and that means the current study materials (from ASA, Gliem, etc.) will have vastly reduced utility. I think this is a good change--it's too easy to simply earn the questions rather than learning the material right now. Still, if you wait things will get tougher.

Have fun out there! You'll be solo before you know it.
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:02 PM   #8
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Save money and time by coming to each lesson prepared. That seems obvious, but I'm always surprised to see students arrive, sit down at the table, and ask the instructor what they will be doing during the lesson. Get the syllabus, look at each maneuver or skill you'll be practicing, and mentally do the procedure over and over until you get it down solid. Sit in a chair, close your eyes, and go through the motions. Some students like to buy and use a copy of Flight Simulator for this, I think these programs are more useful later when you'll be working on your instrument skills. Once in the airplane there will be many distractions, so if you've got the mechanics down cold (entry speed, aircraft configuration, things you'll monitor during the maneuver, etc) then your mind will be free to actually work on the skill rather than trying to remember what comes next.
In the late 1990s at my last military training command, PCs finally gained the horsepower to run simulators like torpedo & missile launchers, oxygen generators, firefighting trainers, ... and airplanes.

While one enterprising ensign was waiting for his flight school start date he bought a copy of Flight Simulator. Then using all the free add-ons he found on the Internet, he redesigned his PC's default cockpit to look like whatever the military trainer was back then. Next he learned about the terrain he'd be overflying, downloaded it, added all the navigation waypoints and other important features, and started practicing.

He was still learning how to behave like a naval aviator, so he didn't brag about it to anyone... he just kept practicing.

On his first training flight he scored 100%.

Of course in the wake of the surprise & disbelief he was inevitably accused of "cheating", but once they got over their skepticism he lugged in his PC and showed them what he'd done. He was off to a great start.

I don't know how things worked out for the ensign after that, but his legacy lives on in today's Navy flight school simulators and mission-planning software. So maybe it's worth that copy of Flight Simulator and all of the other modifications you can find for your practice sessions and route planning.
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Old 10-31-2011, 05:03 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dm View Post
.

Any advise for someone just starting out?
Join the military....Best flight schools in the world..
.
.
.
.Oh wait, this is the retirement forum..never mind
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Old 10-31-2011, 05:31 PM   #10
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If you can find a flight school that offers primary flight instruction in tailwheel aircraft, do it. You will get a lot more bang for your buck. Learn in tailwheel and you will have no trouble with transitioning to trikes. Doesn't work the other way around.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:23 AM   #11
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Three things:

1. Decide why you are learning to fly. If it's just for "fun", any old aircraft will do to both train and use solo. There are relatively cheap trainers available (tail draggers especially).

If you are wanting to actually use an aircraft for "travel", you will need to have access to a relatively expensive one. For short distances, a 172 or equivalent will do for a couple of people with a couple of suitcases (yeah, I know it's a 4-place - yeah, right! Planning on taking any fuel with you?.) For serious travel, you may need to use a 182 or equivalent. As you know by now, the better the equipment you fly, the more it costs to rent. 3 or 4 years ago, I read an article which showed the cost of owning/operating a 182 at about $200/hour. IIRC, the 182 cruises at about 145. You do the math on the cost per mile. Yeah, it can be convenient in certain travel scenarios, but cars or commercial flying will almost always beat the price per mile. So, even if you plan to use a private aircraft for travel, you better also love to fly! Otherwise, you can't usually justify the expense. Especially when you average in the costs of getting your PPC and keeping current, etc.

2. If you are serious about continuing to fly, I would suggest joining a flying club which owns aircraft and rents to its members. Alternately, consider finding 3 or 4 partners to purchase an aircraft and form your own "club". When I learned to fly, I started with a club affiliated with the university I was attending. When I got serious about getting a license, 3 of us went together and purchased an aircraft. After we eventually sold the plane, we back calculated that our flight hours had cost us just about half of what flight-school rentals for the same equipment would have cost. I don't know if that is still possible. A lot has changed in the past 35 years or so.

3. Be careful and do things by the book (e.g., be religious about checklists). NEVER push your limits (especially weather-flying). The 3 or 4 close calls I had in my flying career were all (one way or another) due to pilot error.

As always, YMMV. Good luck and have fun!
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:15 PM   #12
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Know your limits and do not exceed them...ever. Two things to remember: 1) Take offs are optional, but landings are mandatory and 2) it is better to be on the ground wishing that you were flying than in the air wishing you weren't.
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Old 11-01-2011, 06:22 PM   #13
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Check if your life insurance has provisions for this. You may find that recreational flying is an excluded cause of death, or will raise the premium.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:00 PM   #14
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Check if your life insurance has provisions for this. You may find that recreational flying is an excluded cause of death, or will raise the premium.
I havn't had life insurance in years. So that's one thing I don't have to worry about.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:07 PM   #15
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I stopped and talked with another flight school today and I think this is the place I'm going to go with. Just seamed a little more comfortable there. They answered all of my questions and gave me some advise on things. The instructor I talked to actually owned the place and he said all his instructors are basically retired guys doing this on the side.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:30 PM   #16
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Forgot one more thing. If possible, pick an instructor with whom you click and stick with him/her. Switching from instructor to instructor may give you a winder range of backgrounds, but it will make the learning process (and teaching process) more difficult - this was my personal experience. By the way, there ARE good and bad instructors (not just "nice" and "nasty" instructors).

My personal favorite instructor owned the FBO from which I flew for a while. Unfortunately, he was rarely available. Because of my crazy w*rk/school schedule, I had to take "pot luck" with instructors. A very bad idea. YMMV.
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Old 11-01-2011, 08:55 PM   #17
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Check if your life insurance has provisions for this. You may find that recreational flying is an excluded cause of death, or will raise the premium.
My story is similar to Rich's I got my license when I was very young 17 via Boy Scouts. I actually enjoyed the challenges of learning to fly more than the actually flying after I got the license. So I haven't been current for decades.

My dad built a beautiful wooden aircraft which we had lot of fun flying to various airshows. Half the fun of aviation is meeting with fellow pilots and doing hanger flying and airshows like Oshkosh, are a great way for inexperience pilots to pick up tips from experience pilots in a less stressful environment.

Like Rich, I also thought of life insurance, and while it is not relevant to you. Despite the emphasis of safety in FAA regulations and I suspect the vast majority of flight instructors, there is no getting around it, general aviation is a pretty dangerous activity. I don't personally know anyone who has been killed in in automobile accident, but I've met at least 1/2 dozen folks who were latter killed in general aviation accidents. In other words the life insurance companies are not foolish when they exclude flying for their policies. You've probably heard the saying, "there are old pilots, and there bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots".

I don't mean to discourage learning fly because it is a lot of fun. Just understand that ain't riding a bike, you have fly on regular basis in order to maintain proficiency. This isn't cheap and something I didn't understand when I learned to fly.
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Old 11-01-2011, 09:56 PM   #18
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You've received some excellent advice on this thread, and I won't try to add to it. Wish I'd had it when I got my license. It's been 38 years since I soloed, and I can still remember the thrill of it. I loved flying. I'd go up in the afternoon and just sail around the sky trying different attitudes and testing out my abilities.
Traveling was more business like. I had several weather related experiences that finally convinced me to hang up my wings. I trained through private, instrument and commercial licenses, and logged several hundred hours. But, with all the enjoyment of being up in the air, the risks and the costs ultimately caused me to hang up my wings. But I've never regretted having done it. It's a one of a kind experience. Have fun.
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Old 11-01-2011, 10:11 PM   #19
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Philip Greenspun has written extensively on flying, and even did a piece about early retirees in general aviation.

Flying

Early Retirement: Aviation

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Traveling was more business like. I had several weather related experiences that finally convinced me to hang up my wings.
Learning to fly was one of the things I thought I wanted to do in retirement - it's cheaper to fly yourself right? Ha! Greenspun's articles convinced me it would be a great hobby, but as a serious means of transportation I was better off buying a ticket on Southwest or driving.
Quote:
"I will be there on June 5 at 6:00 pm." Pilots of light aircraft who utter sentences of that form are very high risk pilots, regardless of skill level. If you promise to get to specific places at specific times you will eventually run afoul of weather and other circumstances that are beyond you and your aircraft's capabilities.
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Old 11-01-2011, 11:15 PM   #20
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Get the syllabus, look at each maneuver or skill you'll be practicing, and mentally do the procedure over and over until you get it down solid. Sit in a chair, close your eyes, and go through the motions.

Print what samclem posted and reread throughout your training program. One of the best summaries I have ever read.

I cannot over emphasize chair flying in front of a picture of the instrument panel taped to a wall. Sounds silly but I have done it on every aircraft I have flown.

Learning to fly is challenging but at the same time very rewarding. After 15,000+ hrs of civilian, military, and commercial flyng, my most memorable flight is still the day I soloed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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