Sunday, September 24, 2006
On September 2, 2006, I fulfilled a long-time dream, and became a private pilot. After over two years of flight lessons (a longer time than average, but I was pretty much restricted to flying on weekends) I took my check ride at Sugar Land Airport, under the watchful tutelage of Joe Kapocsi, Chief Flight Instructor at Anson Air. Joe is also a pilot for Continental, and he has over 23,000 hours in the air.
The FAA Practical Exam consists of two parts: the oral examination, where the designated pilot examiner tests the applicant's knowlede of aviation, and the check ride, where he evaluates how the pilot actually flies the aircraft. The oral portion took about and hour and half, and he covered the basics - areodynamics, weather, regulations, navigation, use of charts, etc. I thought that part went all right.
I then pre-flighted the aircraft (N75897, a Cessna 172) while Joe watched and asked questions. We got in the plane, got the ASOS (an automated weather report of conditions at the field), and taxied out to Runway 35. We took off for our planned cross-country flight to Waco. After we cross the Katy Freeway, he announced that Waco was closed, and asked me to divert to another field. I fumbled with charts and plotter, but I eventually got the course and time to our destination.
I won't go into details. We did the basic manuevers I've done a hundred times in lessons - slow flight, stalls, turns around a point, all accompanied by a constant commentary from Joe. During the flight, I thought I was doing terribly, but apparently it satisfied him. I did okay on the most important thing: don't scare the examiner. My airwork was within tolerances.
We did a few landings, then landed to a full stop and parked at the Anson Air ramp. I was dreading the briefing, but it turned out to be quite positive. He told me about some things on the flight to watch out for, and said that I had passed.
I passed. And like the pilots like to say, I had earned my license to learn. I've had a few flights since then as a Private Pilot - Airplane Single Engine Land. Linda went up with me the next day for my inaugural flight carrying a passenger while I was pilot-in-command. (Technically, I was pilot-in-command during the checkride, but I didn't feel that really counted.)
I am looking forward to the flights ahead.