A how to post: getting your pilot’s license

A lot of people have asked me how I got started in flying. So I figured why not write about how to get your pilots license.

For me, I was very fortunate to have grown up with an Uncle that owned an FBO(Fixed Base Operation) , a place to rent civilian airplanes, starting when I was 6 years old. My very first flight (at age 6) I knew this was something that I had to do for the rest of my life. I had caught the “flying bug”.

So I grew up around airplanes practically all of my childhood. I worked at my Uncle’s business during the summers to pay for my lessons starting around 14 years old. I started taking official lessons when I was 11, but by that age I probably had a couple hundred hours of flight time non-recorded in a logbook. Also at that age I had trouble reaching the rudder pedals, so I didn’t really get into flight lessons until around 13 years old. I literally had to grow into the airplane. (In my case, a Piper Tomahawk)

I flew my first solo at 17 years old and received my license at 21. I had a lot of breaks in training during my time getting my license, basically because I was paying as I went along, but realistically you can earn your license in about 2-4 months if you make a plan.

Up front do this:
Come up with a plan to get your license.
Get an orientation flight.
Get your flight physical done. (you need this to fly solo)
Investigate which schoolhouse and instructor is best for you. Find an Instructor that matches your personality.
Buy block time to get a discount.
Keep your “breaks in training” to a minimum.
Treat every flight as a checkride.
Go to ground school and study for your oral/written test.
Act like a pilot during your FAA checkride. (because in my book, you already are at this point.)
Enjoy the notion of being a pilot.

Here is some more pertinent pilot info.

Proper lingo:
As a pilot, I can instantly tell if the person I’m speaking with is also a pilot, just by the terminology we use. Mind you, even if you are only a student pilot, in my book, you ARE a pilot.

Use the term Charts, not Maps. Maps are what non-pilots use to get to the grocery.
Your instruments are not on a dashboard, but the panel or under the glare shield.
The definition of a “stall” is this and only this: when you exceed the critical angle of attack. Keep it simple.
When you make a smooth landing, it is called “greasing it in”.
Before you start the engine in a piston aircraft, yell at the top of your lungs one of these 3 things, CONTACT, CLEAR, or CLEAR PROP! Then wait 3-5 seconds before turning the ignition.
Yes, airplanes do have keys, and they are used to switch different magnetos. Fighter jets do not have keys, and yes, anyone with the proper knowledge could start one…easily.
Learn the phonetic alphabet. It is easy and you will use all the time on the radio.
Practice your radio calls. Remember this, every time you key the mic, you will say, who you are, where you are, and what you want to do. Example: Tomahawk 90K, 10 miles west of Little Rock, request touch and go runway 18, option.
“Option” means that you would like to have the option to do another touch and go, leave the airfield and go back to the airspace, go back to RADAR pattern, or come back for a full stop landing.
If you have any other questions, please let me know. I will update this post in the future as necessary. Please ask me questions, as this is one of the most important things in my life, after my wife and kids.


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