Desi Crunch

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Private Pilot License. - Part 1


Hi there!
Ever wondered, if you could fly an aircraft?
Virtue of flying is big one and is achievable. I am using this space to share my personal experience over how I went about doing Private Pilot license course.


I work as Consultant for one decent Desi consulting company. I reached USA 2 years back and always wanted to find out if its possible to learn how to fly an aircraft, may be become certified Pilot and if at all one can make some place in field of aviation.


There are many common misconceptions amongst Desi junta, one of the popular one is "I would have thought of becoming Pilot, but after 9/11 things have changed.
Ahh...Well. I have a story to tell.


Private Pilot License
I was surfing profiles on orkut and came across one Desi chap flying small Single engine aircrafts. I scrapped him and spoke to him. This guy sounded real cool and normal. I dont recollect what I spoke to him, but he gave me a feeling that if you want to become Pilot there are no hassle, just go for it. Biggest confusion in my mind was how tough security clearance stuff is; I got assurance from this person that it was easy thing to get started.

Alright! that one call was enough for me to make my mind. I always wanted to become Pilot. I started asking for brochures from different flying schools since I came to USA, but just never went all the way.


Some of the reason that stopped me:

  1. I was previously in East coast, bad weather.
  2. I didnt have a car to drive to these flying schools, which where usually located at small remote airports.
  3. I always thought it must be lot of paper work and heck of thing to get security clearance.

Well things are greener in this country. This is one of my personal experiences why I believe this country is rich and successful in material world. If you want to do something good, there are no hurdles no government bureaucracy to drive you nuts.

I got my clearance from Federal Aviation Administration within 3 weeks and there was no paper work, except for I had to make photocopy of my passport and visa and give it to them. Major part of the process is online and easier than feeling form to buy LIC policy. I will be doing my first solo flight in next 2-3 weeks and in March 2007; I go for Check ride and written exam. I am sure everything will go fine and I will be Pilot for rest of my life.

Private Pilot License: this is first basic Pilot license you have to get. It doesnt allow you to make any money. You can rent or buy an old second hand aircraft and fly with friends and family. Any Pilot in this world has first gone through it i.e. first he worked to get Private Pilot License.

Let me tell you what it takes to become Pilot step by step.

Step 1: Look for flying school in your area

Private Pilot License
Visit www.AOPA.org and locate flying schools in your vicinity. In my case, biggest challenge was, I dont have a Car. I have compromised by not buying car, delaying buying a Car by year or two and use that money in doing something different. Ahhh!!!...I know... I have heard people talking in USA there is no life without car. I know all that, but I have different plan and thats just me.

So to fit my condition I started looking for some flying school which is close to or reachable to Public Transport. I found one at Oakland International Airport. I have to take a train to Oakland BART Train station. Take bus to airport; take another bus to flying school. When someone tells me, "You dont have car!!!", I tell them, "I dont drive, because I fly".

Of course you have heard "If there is will theres way", my Instructor was kind enough to offer we car ride to & fro flying club to Train station. Life cannot get easier than this.

Step 2: Meet Instructor.

Take your time; meet 2-3 instructors. Be honest by letting them know that you need to speak to multiple instructors before starting course. Tell them how good or bad is your schedule and how much money you can spend and get an idea on how much experience instructor has. Feel free to ask him about his experience in flying and as instructor.

In my case first instructor I met, had already instructed 50 Private Pilot students. He gave me 2-3 tips on how can I save money or delay buying certain things. I founded him very humble and helpful. I didnt speak to any other instructor. I was all decided in 10 minutes.

Step 4: Introductory flight

This step could be step 1 i.e. you can just go to some flying club and take an introductory flight, and you can do this even if you dont have any plans of becoming Pilot. Its fun and its great experience. The usual aircrafts you will use are single engine Cesena 152 or Cesena 172. Cesena 152 is 2 seater, Cesena 172 is 4 seater. And these planes are most forgiving, best planes for students. Any Pilot in this world, including those who fly Boeing or Airbus, started their aviation career with single Engine Cesena aircrafts.

Step 4: Security Clearance.

All you need to do is visit
flightschoolcandidates.gov

I dont have to write much about security clearance because there is not much you have to do. This was a most interesting experience about dealing with USA government department and it cannot get easier than this.

All I had to do is, fill online form, where I give all my details including my address information in last 5 years. There are no rocket science questions; everything is very straight and obvious. You also mention the flying school you plan to join. Once you submit form, these people check with flying school about you. You get email notification every time anything gets updated with your process. I was done in 15 days I guess, and was asked to print my Email and go to nearest finger printing office of "Transportation Security Administration". I was all set within 20 days.
Read below for more FAQs
FAQ at flightschoolcandidates.gov
Private Pilot License

Step 5: Start flying.

Oakland Ground 757 Mike Juliet! at Kaiser Air, request runway two seven right, vfr to San Pablo bay with information charlie, waiting for squawk code!!!

I have worked out schedule with my instructor and we keep on adjusting as and when needed. The best part of flying school in USA is. You pay as you go i.e. if my Consulting contract gets over and my lovely Desi consulting company doesnt give me bench salary, I take a break from course.
I pay as I go. I need to do lot of ground training, where my instructor teaches me all important things about flying planes, rules and regulations. I need to fly 40 hours with instructor and then 20 hours solo. Once I have done 2-3 cross country flights all alone, my instructor will set me up for Check ride with a Government Examiner and I will get my Private Pilot License.

What do you do once you become Private Pilot?
Can you become commercial Pilot?
Is it worth to become Pilot and fly planes for recreation purpose?
How good or bad is scope for Pilots in India or other countries?
How much does it cost to become a Pilot?

There are many more things I would like to share if you people are interested. I will come up with 2 more articles on same topic if you people like this one, let me know if you want me to write more on this wiki page Private Pilot License on desicrunch.com website



Oakland Tower 757 Mike Juliet, holding short of runway two seven right, READY FOR TAKEOFF!!!



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