22.5 hours (time in both Cessna 152 and Cessna 172)
79 Takeoffs and Landings
Currently working on:
Stalls, Steep Turns, Unusual Attitude Recovery, Instrument (hood work), Radio Communication with Control Tower, SoCal Approach, Ground Control, Clearance Delivery and Flying the Traffic Pattern at KSNA (John Wayne, Santa Ana).
About to work on: VOR Introduction, Solo Traffic Pattern, Dual Cross Country
Airplane Flying Handbook, Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, 1981 Cessna 172 Pilot’s Information Manual
I get the feeling that it takes longer for a student to solo at John Wayne because it is such a busy and complex airport. Many students learn first at a non-towered airport, or a towered airport in class D airspace, or one that doesn’t include commercial airline traffic. At John Wayne, the runways are technically too close together, and it can be a challenge landing amongst the jet traffic. I am starting to get the hang of it, and am feeling more and more comfortable each time that I go up. When I am not flying, the most productive thing for me to do is to practice and memorize procedures in my head and rehearse them while sitting in a chair as if I were flying. I also practice at the same airport in the same way on the computerized flight simulator game which does help.
In terms of maneuvers, I find doing stalls, and engine out practice the most fun and exciting. Steep turns (turns made with at least 45 degrees of bank) are demanding and require precision to correctly execute, therefore they are not my favorite. Altitude wise, we have done just about everything at or below 3,000 feet MSL. The John Wayne airport is only 56′ above sea level, so we get decent aircraft performance. I really like flying from the practice area back into the traffic pattern and landing. Touch and goes are also really fun because landing and taking off are two of the most exciting parts of learning to fly, and I get to do both of those a bunch!
I’m also studying how to decipher the weather reports. Weather can be complex, but then for pilots it is increasingly complex because it is disseminated in an extremely esoteric coded, and abbreviated format. Reading and interpreting it seems like a skill just short of learning morse code. I am getting in the habit of checking the weather report called a METAR two to three times a week and comparing that report to what I see outside my window to practice identifying how those codes describe clouds, wind, rain, ceiling, sunshine, smog, mist, fog and everything else. When I think about it, there are a lot of different types of weather.
So far sponsors have contributed over $1000 in either money or materials to help me reach my goal of getting my private pilot’s license! Thanks very much to them! I was hoping to solo before the end of 2010, but it looks like that will likely come next year unless someone sponsors my next lesson. 😎