June 6, 2000. That was the date of my first flying lesson. Learning to fly is about ten times harder than learning to drive a car. As children growing up, we watch our parents driving. So by the time it is our turn to learn, we already know what the brake and accelerator pedals are for. We already know how steering works and what the gauges represent. But flying is a whole new animal. So it becomes a lot harder to learn. I received my student pilot certificate on June 19th. It took me until December 17, 2001 to get my private pilot license.
Why did it take so long? I wanted to learn to fly since I was a child. I was always reading books about flying. I subscribed to Flying Magazine for years. When I was 42, my wife Anke said that I had better start taking flying lessons while I was still young enough. That gave me the last shove I needed. I finally had the money, and I was ready to learn.
My first instructor was Rich Baker. He was a Navy pilot. I really liked his style of teaching. He signed me off for my First Solo on July 31, 2000.
From that point on, I spent about half my flying hours in the air by myself practicing. I couldn’t carry passengers until I had my private license. I really looked forward to that day. I flew all summer and into the fall. I was getting close to being ready to take my practical exam when I ran out of money.
If I had it to do over again, I would have just charged the lessons on a credit card and kept on flying. I started taking lessons again the end of April 2001. The break set me back a bit and I had to re-learn a few things. Then, the end of June my instructor got another job. I had trouble finding another instructor. I finally got linked up with Joe Fishbum and the flying club. I was back flying again the beginning of July.
I was ready for my practical exam the beginning of September. I scheduled the exam date and then the worst happened on September 11th. All aircraft in the United States were grounded. I had to wait till September 24th to get back in the air. Then I had to reschedule my practical exam for October 31st. The day came and I flew to La Crosse for my test. After I left the house the examiner called to tell me not to come. He canceled the test due to high winds. So, when I got there I had to fly back home again. We rescheduled for December 17th. When that day came, the weather was perfect. No wind. stable and haze. I aced the exam. I was very pleased. I just crossed off a big accomplishment for my bucket list.
The fun begins.