Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Flying Life....So Far

My Flying Life...So Far

I began my flight training in April '06 at Universal Air Academy at
the El Monte, California airport (KEMT). I trained in a Piper Archer
II low-wing airplane.

I passed my Private Pilot Certificate checkride in November '06. Just
before getting PPL my flight instructor Camron introduced me to Ron.
Camron had been training Ron in Ron's Piper Cherokee 140. Camron told
me it was a good, solid airplane. Ron and I started studying together
(pretty much 4-5 nights a week for a month).

After getting our licenses, Ron and I started flying together in a
quest for learning. Ron does not like to fly alone and had been paying
instructors to go along with him on joy rides. I have a very flexible
schedule and was looking to fly anytime, anywhere. The fact that I
have a relatively small amount of discretionary income and Ron was
enjoying an upsurge in his business was a perfect combination. Ron
won't even let my buy him lunch. I worried for awhile that maybe I was
taking advantage of him but he made it clear that he is getting more
out of it than I am.

I do all the flight planning, weather checking, flight plan filing,
cockpit cleanup, hangar door opening and closing, airplane pulling in
and out of the hangar, and more. I love doing all that stuff anyway.

Ron and I GO places. We've flown the Cherokee more than 200 hours in
less than two years (ah! My bi-annual is coming up!). We've been to
more than 45 airports. We've gone to Mesa and Yuma, Arizona. We've
gone to Jean, Nevada several times. North Las Vegas too. We've gone to
Modesto, Placerville, Napa, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs,
Gillespie Field, Ramona, and on and on and on. Next up on the list is
Salt Lake City and then, hopefully in October, we are planning to go
to Lake Of The Ozarks, Missouri to visit Ron's daughter.

Usually, Ron flies to wherever we're going while I navigate and do the
radios. Then, I fly back while he takes over the Nav/Comm duties.
We've learned each other's tendencies, habits and weaknesses. We push
each other to be better. It has worked out very well.

Ron and I have talked about me buying his airplane (and then he would
buy a bigger one...something he talks about almost daily). He won't
allow a partnership though. It's all or nothing. So I was planning to
start saving up, borrow some money from my mom, maybe also from my
best friend who's a Southwest Airlines pilot...whatever I could do to
make it happen.

But there is another airplane that will be for sale soon that might be
the perfect entry into airplane ownership for me. My CFI Camron has
been training a guy in the guy's own 140. He wants to sell it as soon
as he passes his IFR checkride. The owner told Camron he wants $26,000
for it. Camron and I could bring one other person into the deal and it
would be very affordable. We'll see.

Ron has no interest in trying to get his instrument rating. He's
annoyed by some of the things you have to do (fly to Paradise VOR
first, then on a Victor airway). He likes to cut corners, go direct,
get there faster. I've tried to set up flights that simulated an IFR
path but he doesn't want to climb that high (10,500 feet to cross the
mountains?! We only need 6500! No Way!) So I gave up on that idea. I
think the only thing that would be attractive to him about an IFR
rating would be the ability to get out of El Monte on the endless
foggy early mornings.

I, on the other hand, am attracted to the challenge of being a better
pilot. I started studying IFR on my own almost a year ago. I've bought
and read lots of books. I got to a point where I was not getting any
better though. I kept getting 82s and 83s on the practice written
test. That would pass, but I want to be in the 90s and, more
importantly, really understand the concepts. In order to jumpstart my
learning and get a better understanding of IFR flying I enrolled in an
IFR ground school class at Mt. Palomar college in San Marcos.

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