Learning To Fly

I've wanted to learn to fly for years. I flew control line model planes when I was a kid in Bakersfield, and my Dad flew radio control planes. He had a job, and stuff, so he could afford it. ;-) Some of the guys involved in the club we were in flew real planes, and once (just once, sigh) we got a ride in one.

Skip ahead a few years... a lot of years... and one of my coworkers turns out to be a pilot with this place called American Aero Club, who flies out of Natomas Airport, which is a couple of miles from work. I can even see them taking off out my window! He took a couple of us up a couple of times. I loved it! But I couldn't afford the lessons... yet...

Skip ahead a few more years. I've been telling everyone I know that someday I'm going to learn how to fly. I guess my wife got tired of hearing it, and one day said "Well, go do it!" So I did! They'd closed down Natomas Airport to build houses on that land (waste of real estate if you ask me ;-). American Aero Club had moved to Rancho Murieta, CA. Rather than a few miles away, they were a 45 minute drive away! But I had also changed jobs, and was now working about halfway there, so I walked into their office one day and spoke those immortal words: "I wanna learn to fly!" They got me started by signing me up and giving me a list of instructors. I was to pick one and call him, and if we decided we could work together, he'd teach me to fly.

I called Donn Sheeders, partally because he had more hours flying than anyone else on the page... maybe more than EVERYONE else on the page... and met with him a few days later. He asked me why I wanted to learn, and I told him I'd always wanted to, basically because I though it was fun! He liked that answer, I guess, and he agreed to teach me to fly. He went over what was going to happen over the next several months, and some of the requirements. He's a great guy, I've recommended him to a few other people in town that were looking to learn.

Here is a list of some of the things you do along the way:

1) A minimum of 40 hours of flying time. The average is (I think) 55-60.

2) You have to take and pass a written test. This isn't a "which side of the road do you drive on" drivers test, either. You have to display a knowledge of the rules, the instruments, airspace, etc. Your instructor has to go over any questions you miss with you, then sign off that he's satisfied you are ready to take the checkride (flying test). You don't actually know the specific questions you missed, just the topics.

3) A minimum of 10 hours solo time.

4) A minimum of (I think) 30 hours dual recieved (instruction) time. I'm not positive about that number, it might be high.

5) Three supervised solo flights before you can solo without the instructor present. More on that later.

6) Two dual cross country flights, which consist of flying to an airport more than 50 nautical miles away from your starting point. Dual as in with the instructor.

7) Two solo cross country flights, again more than 50 nm away.

8) 10 landings at night, with an instructor.

9) A dual cross country at night in addition to the two during daylight.

10) The dreaded Checkride! :-)

I'll add more boring stories about all of these as time goes on.

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