The past few days have been positive for me in "flying land." I took advantage of some great weather and approximately 8-knot winds aloft on Tuesday to fly for about an hour and practice all the maneuvers (except those requiring me to be under-the-hood, of course) required for my private pilot check ride. After flying in 25+ knot winds and attempting to do something close to accurate maneuvers the other day, flying them in 7 or so knots was relatively simple. I felt good about everything I flew: stalls and recoveries, slow flight, steep turns, slips, rectangular patterns, turns about a point and s-turns. I also practiced some engine-out checklist drills and did a go-around procedure from the final approach. All went fairly well.
On Thursday afternoon, after some work meetings, I drove over to the Troutdale airport, dropped $90 on the table, and took the computer-based FAA knowledge test, which I passed with a reasonably wide margin. I'm sure glad to get that out of the way, as I've been procrastinating on it for about a month. It's been hard to find the time needed to study for the exam, but I forced myself lately to make the time and knocked it out.
So, now I need to do at least 30 more minutes of night flight with my instructor, which I think we are going to do by flying from Twin Oaks to PDX and back (PDX is a Class-C airport, so that will be a good experience). After that I believe I will technically have more than the minimum number of hours of flight time in each of the required flight categories (like night, dual, solo, cross-country, etc). I think I'll need to do some more check-ride prep flying before being ready to fly with the FAA examiner, though. I want to be truly ready.
I'm getting close, it seems. I know I am feeling better with each flight about my progress and abilities. If all goes well, pretty soon I'll be able to fly with passengers. Wow, how's that for scary eh? :)
Some people have been asking me lately how much this training costs. It depends on the person, as everyone's development is a little different. For my own training, to date, I've listed the numbers below. Your expenditures could be more, or slightly less. I've flown solo quite a bit to practice, so my aircraft rental costs are higher than if I'd just flown the minimum hours - And I'm glad I've spent that valuable extra learning time. These figures are provided in the interest of educating anyone who might be interested in learning to fly (and if you're in Portland, you should call Twin Oaks and Kelly Wiprud to inquire about training, tell 'em I sent ya). There's a real financial commitment, to be sure, but it's not horrific by any stretch of the means. Find a good location and a good instructor, plus be sure to fly frequently, and you'll keep the costs down.
Greg's costs to-date:
- Instructor time (flying): 34.9 hours @$35/hr = $1221.50
- Additional Instructor time (ground): $400.00
- Aircraft rental time: 53.4 hours @$75/hr = $4005.00
- Books, plotter, E6B calculator and charts: $200.00
- FAA knowledge exam: $90.00
Total expenditure so far is approximately $5915.00, give or take. Considering I'm close to finishing (I hope, heh), I'd say I'm on par to hit the lower end of the scale as far as how much money and time it typically takes to get a private pilot certification. I have a few more hours of airplane and instructor time still to add on before I finish, plus the costs associated with the check ride and a few other various things.
I also had to purchase renter's insurance during my training in case I ruined an airplane while flying solo, plus I bought a few other things that were not mandatory, like a noise-canceling airplane headset and a few additional study materials online. But those items are all above and beyond the basic stuff that's required.