Daily Pilot's Journal

Read the complete day-by-day flight log of an actual student pilot, from the first takeoff to the signing of his private pilot's license. Written promptly at the end of every flight, each entry is completely unedited - detailing the successes, failures, and mistakes we all encounter along this long road. Learning to fly can be difficult but it's well worth the time and money invested. Becoming a pilot will open up new career opportunities which a career counselor can advise new student pilots on.
Day 1 - First Lesson
Monday, 5/22/06 7:00am Republic Airport - my first lesson. I was excited but nervous about the wind, which seemed pretty strong all night. Stan showed up cool and collected, drove us through the gate and showed me 8081Golf for the first time. It's a nice-looking plane, a little cleaner and well-used than some of the other planes on the ramp. After unlocking it I was glad to see there was more room inside than I thought. We sat through 20 minutes of pre-flight checklist and then did a 360 walk-around. Bled the fuel tanks to check for water, inspected the engine, checked for oil... there are a lot more things to do than you first realize. Finally it was time to put on my headset and start the engine. I got the hang of taxiing pretty quickly although I need to remember to brake with equal pressure on both feet. We did a run up, checked the RPM's, magnetos, and a bunch of other stuff. After holding short of runway 32 and listening as Stan talked casually with the tower we were cleared for takeoff. I taxied to the runway and pushed the throttle to full, working right rudder to keep the plane as close to the center of the runway as possible. Pulled back gently on the yoke and a few seconds later we were airborne.

My stomach dropped right out as we left the ground and got jolted around a bit. For several minutes I wondered if I'd be able to do this - flying looked complicated and scary. I imagined how it would be to go solo and not have Stan in the seat next to me and for a little while I wondered if I had it in me to finish this kind of training.

Leveling off around 2000ft the wind died down and the bumpiness stopped. Turned north on 110 and then crossed the LI Expressway. I heard the tower tell us we were clear to proceed on course, and then Stan pointed me in the direction of the Northport smokestacks. Flying over them was easy and I felt a little better. Flying over the Long Island Sound was even smoother. I practiced some 90-degree turns with rudder and then Stan had me fly two complete 360's in each direction. Have to remember to check visually before turning, something I keep forgetting. The turns seemed smooth enough and I learned approximately where the level glide path of the aircraft was located (about six inches below the horizon). In no time at all we were flying back to Farmingdale.

Although visibility was near unlimited I couldn't see the airport until we were almost on top of it. Seeing everything from the air is overwhelming and it's going to take some practice to learn how to pick things out. As we dropped altitude the wind got choppy again. Stan got clearance and paralleled runway 32, pointing out that we needed to begin our third leg once our wing was in line with the runway numbers. I'd always imagined landing would involve a long, slow straight-on approach so it all seemed pretty short and steep to me. Suddenly Stan was in a descending right turn and we were dropping altitude quick, with me shadowing the controls. On the final approach he lined the aircraft up with the runway and touched down with a nice flare of the nose in the end. Landing happens fast. It seemed like Stan did 100 different things with throttle, flaps and the rudder pedals. It's going to be hard to learn all that stuff.

Stan gave control back to me and I taxied us to the echo ramp. Pulled past 8081's berth and killed the engine. Stan pulled a metal jack-looking thing from the back of the plane and used it to guide the aircraft back to its chocks. I helped push from the leading edge of the left wing but it really wasn't necessary - the plane is surprisingly light on its wheels. Stan told me I did very well, and that I had a 'nice touch'. Looks like mom was wrong - all those years of playing video games might finally pay off after all.

Flying hours today: 0.9       Total: 0.9

Day 2 →