learning to fly in a cessna

Achieving the goal of a Private Pilots Licence

learning to fly in a cessna
We rarely needed cockpit shades in Hampshire

Learning to fly didn’t come easily to me. I was not a quick learner and took more than the average amount of hours to reach each milestone. I consoled myself with the thought that people who take longer to learn things learn them more deeply.

I wasn’t particularly confident either. Many were the times that I enjoyed the guilty relief when the cloud base was too low or the visibility too poor for my next lesson. Sometimes it felt like being told you’d got an unexpected day of school, which in effect it was.

When I was in the air there were times when I sat, tense and nervous, wondering what I was going to do wrong next and how could I keep control long enough to avoid some kind of disaster or the shame of screwing things up in front of instructors and spectators.


solo navigation flight
It was a rare day that it was CAVOK

Money was always tight too. Lessons were delayed because I ran out of cash so progress was delayed while I earned more or found some way to borrow enough to continue.

The lack of continuity made learning to fly a longer process than it needed to be. It took seven long years, not seven weeks, or even seven months.

And having finally taken delivery of my Private Pilots Licence from the CAA in 1991 I asked myself, “Was it all worth it? Was it all worth the sleepless nights, money worries, nerves, and anxiety?”


2CV
This was not my car. I had an Austin Allegro – far worse

The answer is of course yes, it was all worth it. Nothing can take away the feeling after the first solo, or the times I drove away from the airfield in my beaten up old car (or one I’d borrowed for the day) feeling ten foot tall, with a big stupid grin on my face because I’d just returned from a solo flight, there and back, with map and stopwatch.


Practice would have made perfect. For a number of reasons I didn’t get the chance to fill my logbook with PIC entries, building on these foundations. Repetition nurtures confidence and develops skills. I wanted to be the kind of pilot you see side-slipping an aircraft in to drop the wheels gently down on the numbers having flown a relaxed flight over hundreds of miles.


Truck driving
Trucking didn’t pay for many flying lessons

Driving a car eventually became effortless, and I made some progress driving lorries but there weren’t enough opportunities to practice reversing 40′ trailers onto loading bays to get it down to a fine art.

Navigation for truckers in the 1980s wasn’t easy either, without the ubiquitous apps and satnavs of today. If your map book didn’t pinpoint your destination you had to muddle through with frequent stops to ask for directions, which wasn’t convenient for the drivers in the queue that had built up behind you.


People who fly a lot or fly for a living become such experts, possessing skills that I have no chance of mastering myself, but goals such as this are personal and relative. Once that licence has your name on it nothing can take away the achievement and what it means to you personally.

I passed the exams, I passed the navigation test, and I passed the general flight test (GFT, as it was then known). If I never fly solo again at least I know I climbed one mountain and was rewarded with the view on the summit.

Private Pilots Licence – Further Flight Training After Obtaining A PPL

Private Pilots Licence – Further Flight Training After Obtaining A PPL

Private Pilots Licence – Flights and further training after you gain your certificate

Whether, like me, it took you several years or just a few months to obtain your own PPL (Private Pilots License) what are you going to do now that you have your pilot’s licence?

The post PPL phase is an important time for the recently qualified pilot. You have learned to fly up to an acceptable standard but this when a new phase of learning begins.

Assuming the funds are available and you can afford to fly on a regular basis you might find yourself giving pleasure flights to friends and family until the novelty (for them) wears off. What then?

If you have not planned ahead you might find yourself flying less often. If you don’t form the habit you might stop landing away at other airfields. Without this practice your confidence will lessen and eventually your flying might be confined to short trips in the local area.

There is a risk that the fall in your confidence level may lead you to stop flying altogether. It would be a great shame to withdraw having come so far but it’s all too common for PPL holders to abandon it at this early stage.

To maintain your interest and continuity of learning, and build your confidence, set new goals. Consider the variety in aviation and stretch yourself to reach each of these objectives when you’ve built up enough confidence and ability:

Join a flying club and socialise with other aviators.
Join AOPA and enjoy hotel, fuel, and pilot supply discounts.
Join the LAA and build, maintain, or restore aircraft.
Visit other airfields. Land on grass, concrete, and tarmac.
Fly throughout the year and study the weather.
Convert to different aircraft types.
Convert to a taildragger, or vice versa.
Learn to fly vintage aircraft.
Learn to fly aerobatics and take part in amateur competitions.
Go to fly-ins and air rallies.
Take part in air races.
Fly around the UK.
Fly across water. Fly to the Channel Islands.

Fly to the continent and visit other countries. Lachlan Smart, an 18 year old Australian pilot has just flown around the world. His advice, “Don’t be afraid to dream big and when you have a goal – go for it.”

If the PPL was the first step on a professional career then you’re probably already aware of the path to further training. You may be heading for a CPL/IR, ATPL, or a Flight Instructor rating.

Pilot’s Licence – done, but the cash runs out

For any number of reasons you may find, as I did, that the money just isn’t available for flying. The Pilot’s licence had to be put aside while I took care of other responsibilities.

However, if it’s obvious that you’re hooked on aviation then you may find your Christmas and birthday wishes are fulfilled and you continue to add entries into your logbook. They may not be entries in the Pilot in Command column but you can still experience flight in all kinds of ways.

Since obtaining my PPL I have had to confine my logbook entries to dual instruction but I’ve chosen flights that are memorable due to the aircraft type and the maneouvers flown.

Harvard T6G
Extra300 – aerobatics (five times)
Piper PA-28-161
Cessna C172 – around Barbados
Cessna C172SP – glass panel
De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth
Harvard IIB – aerobatics
Bulldog – aerobatics
AutoGyro MT-03
Piper Cub

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