Aerospace Blog Blog

Aerospace Blog

The Aerospace Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about aeronautics, astronautics, fixed-wing aircraft, future space travel, satellites, NASA, and much more.

Previous in Blog: Pre-Launch Images of the Space Shuttle Endeavour   Next in Blog: Street-Legal Airplanes?
Close
Close
Close
17 comments

Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

Posted June 22, 2009 7:00 AM by tinypilot18

Hello, CR4! It's tinypilot18 here. I'm a 19-year old student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where I'm studying Industrial and Management Engineering. I'm also a pilot. This is my first blog entry, so I'll start by writing about how I began flying. I'll also discuss how I became interested in flying, and describe the steps I took to obtain a pilot's license. In future blog entries, I'll probably delve into some AOPA and FAA articles and give my take on a few pilot issues.

Getting Started

I decided to pursue flight lessons because I'd always had an interest in aviation, especially military aviation. My father was a pilot during the Vietnam War. As a child, I had paintings of various World War II aircraft in my bedroom at my parents' house. I'd also flown in a 1942 T-6 Texan, which was an Army training aircraft.

Aside from my flight in the T-6, I'd never been on an airplane before - not even a commercial aircraft. But this made me even more anxious to get in the air. I wanted to serve in the Air Force as a pilot, and had been in the ROTC program for almost 2 years. Then I found out that, due to my height, there was no way I could fly planes for the U.S. military. So I left the ROTC program but still considered to pursue civilian flying - and love it.

I really got into flying when I attended a course called "ground school." This is where you learn all of the written aspects of flying from a book- everything from rules and regulations to navigation, and even some of the technical aspects of flying. Ground school also prepares you for one of the three tests - the written exam - that you must pass in order to obtain a private pilot' license.

Scheduling Flights

After I passed my written exam just a month before I turned 17, I started flying. As many of you know, flying can be quite a burden on your wallet. So I started flying only once a week, something I don't recommend. Let me explain why.

When booking a flight schedule at even a moderately-used airport, you need to book two flights - even if you only plan on flying once. If bad weather or a scheduling conflict occurs, you can fly on the second day that you booked. If there is no conflict, then just cancel the second flight. In most cases, as long as is the cancellation is made within 24 hours, there's no additional charge.

Sometimes it takes weeks to book a simple 2-hour flight. If you don't reserve two timeslots in advance, you might not be able to book another spot if a conflict arises. In other words, you won't be able to fly. Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge about scheduling flights reduced my already low flight times even more.

Choosing a Flight Instructor

My flight schedule was also affected by my flight instructor's unavailability. I had chosen to fly with the same instructor who had taught my ground school, but this wasn't the best decision. Because of his personal and professional difficulties, I could go 2 weeks without a lesson. My flight instructor also canceled lessons for no real reason, and was sometimes unable to give me his full attention during the lessons that we did have.

After almost 6 months and 10 flight hours later, I found a new instructor. He older and more professional, but still had his flaws. Because of them, my flight hours were extended well beyond what they needed to be for a pilot's license. With the economic recession, fewer people could afford flight lessons. So my new flight instructor responded by keeping everyone he was teaching for as long as possible -even at their own financial burden.

But in the end everything worked out well. I soloed a week after my 18th birthday and was licensed 9 months later. And I still enjoy flying today!

Next Entry:

Learning to Fly: Ground School

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
Engineering Fields - Systems Engineering - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Borrego Springs
Posts: 2636
Good Answers: 62
#1

Re: Learning to Fly

06/22/2009 8:53 AM

Congratulations on your determination and success!

__________________
"If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Tech Valley, NY
Posts: 4366
Good Answers: 15
#2

Re: Learning to Fly

06/22/2009 9:11 AM

Congratulations - what an amazing feat!

__________________
Sharkles
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Popular Science - Weaponology - Organizer Hobbies - Target Shooting - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 3464
Good Answers: 32
#3

Re: Learning to Fly

06/22/2009 9:31 AM

Welcome to CR4, tinypilot18! Glad to have you with us.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1160
Good Answers: 36
#4

Re: Learning to Fly

06/22/2009 10:35 AM

Very interesting. I can't wait to see future entries. Even though I have no interest in flying, it was a very good read.

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 57
Good Answers: 2
#5

Re: Learning to Fly

06/23/2009 5:48 AM

Your story makes me thankful for my experience- small country strip, almost unlimited access to an airplane during the week, and an instructor available every weekend, and occasionally during the week.

CFIs from the city airports (Chicago was 100 mi NE) would bring their students to my field (DTG) for landing practice as the runway pavement was only 12' wide with a 50' grass buffer to the lights.

That was good for us learning in the country because Saturday was the only day that we could fly in "traffic" unless we did a cross-country ourselves.

Your story brought back some good memories for me, and I enjoyed reading it.

Reply
Power-User
India - Member - ROBOTICS Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member;I believe in integrating several disciplines of engineering.

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: CHENNAI, INDIA
Posts: 302
Good Answers: 6
#6

Re: Learning to Fly

06/23/2009 10:04 AM

Dear tinypilot18, 230609

Pilots need a lot of grit and you have it.Congratulations. Your revelations are an eye-opener for me. I thought it's only in India that we have these extended times to get a flying license.Even in America?? The grass is not so green on the other side, after all.

I too am a son of a Pilot (An airline Captain and Instructor on Airbus a300, Boeng 737, Caravelle, Viscounts, Skymasters (DC 4?), Dakotas (DC 3), Tiger moths (DH 80?)).

My apirations of becoming a Pilot got dashed when I had an unfortunate difference of opinion with my Dad. He wanted me to get into Commercial (Civil) Aviation and my heart was set on Aircraft Carrier (Naval aviation) flying. I couldn't be a disobedient son. I compromised my career by just serving in the Navy as an engineer. I still crave for flying though I am now nearing 69 years of age.

I guess you're doing the right thing, pursuing a course in engineering and flying. Please accept my best wishes.

D.Ramakrishna Naidu

__________________
Design & Build HOMOPHILIC Suprahuman ROBOTS
Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Work Hawaii, Home Connecticut
Posts: 67
Good Answers: 4
#7

Re: Learning to Fly

06/24/2009 3:03 AM

Tinypilot,

Congratulations, welcome to the flying fraternity. Keep forever the shirt (Pieces) you wore on solo day.

Continue on and work your way up through the ratings, have some fun, get aerobatic instruction and sign off "Can't have more fun with your clothes on".

CEKM CSEL aerobatic

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 61
#8

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/07/2009 12:28 PM

Hi Tinypilot,

To accomplish what you have by 19 is an amazing feet.

I have only had the privilege, as a kid of holding onto to the yoke in a Cessna flying over the Thousands Islands on the St. Lawrence river.

I've also been a passenger in a float-plane that flies onto the numerous lakes through-out the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York and loved the experience of flying over and into the wilderness. I have a couple questions about the requirements for taking off and landing a float-plane on water.

Do you know if it is easier or harder to land a plane on water than on a tarmac?

How many more hours of training does that require and what other training does that entail?

Thanks and looking forward to reading about more of your experiences!

John

Reply
Associate

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 26
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/07/2009 12:54 PM

I've never flown in a float-plane myself, but from what I hear, it's definitely trickier to fly a float-plane than a land plane. It is possible to take all of your lessons only in a float-plane, and to get a license to only fly float-planes, but then you wouldn't be able to fly a land plane. No one really does this. If you already have a private pilot's license, then all you would need is about 10 hours of dual instruction and a signoff from an instructor and a checkride. This would be to learn all of the additional methods of flying a floatplane, such as docking, taxiiing on the water, taking off with the additional weight of two huge floats, finding a landing area and landing, etc..

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 61
#10
In reply to #9

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/07/2009 2:40 PM

Thanks for the info, I thought it might be a little bit more difficult, but I really didn't know.

I've thought about learning to fly (dreamed of flying?)a bush-plane in Alaska or Australia or be able to fly onto a secluded lake in the Adirondacks. That's the adventurer in me I guess. For now I'll live vicariously through your postings.

John

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Transcendia
Posts: 2963
Good Answers: 93
#11
In reply to #10

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/10/2009 11:32 PM

Apparently one of the dangers of seaplane, floatplane landings is how the eye can be fooled by the lack of ground references, like trees, etc. What it is reported to threaten is that the pilot will misjudge and smack hard against the water, instead of lightly skimming in.

-point of flare for the floatplane is of concern, for to not be in flare means you may dig in and flip in. Apparently, one then must pay particular attention to your altimeter settings so you are using that indicator along with visual references. (Edignan is a good one in the Forum to keep in touch with as far as Avionics and flight instrumentation is concerned.)

Most of my time was in Tomahawks, which I preferred over 152s, since I liked the ground effect landings, over some perfections that a high wing plane call for.

Most all seaplanes will be of the high wing sort, for obvious reasons.

New York State can be a very challenging environment for flying as opposed to Florida where I did most of my dangerous early time.

(The joke is a trained monkey can fly in Florida. The tallest thing in the State is a Radio tower in Stuart- or was.)

I myself feel that it is crucial to always know your altitude above the ground.

Stupid of me to even mention it, but I was not, and will not ever be a particularly good pilot.

__________________
You don't get wise because you got old, you get old because you were wise.
Reply
Associate

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 26
#12
In reply to #11

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/11/2009 3:33 PM

You're right, New York state does pose a challenging environment. I spent most of my time flying in the NY state, CT area, and the hills and terrain do make spotting airports and checkpoints very hard, as well as landing. The main airport I did my training out of had a runway in between two large hills that was horrible landing on. I flew out of an airport on the CT coast a few times, and was surprised at how easy it was. After flying out of my home airport so often and being so used to flying with obstacles, it was a pleasant experience not having to deal with that flying over flat land. Whenever I fly in the NY state area, I would not call myself a particularly good pilot either. I'm extremely cautious with flying around here, I do not fly at night and do not venture too far away from the areas I know without a plotted out course.

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Work Hawaii, Home Connecticut
Posts: 67
Good Answers: 4
#13
In reply to #12

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/12/2009 1:03 AM

Hi Tinypilot18,

Where in Ct did you fly into? I flew from GON many times, HVN, Westerly, Fishers Island, Block Island, most difficult strip I encountered in CT is Chester, approach creates an illusion, never could nail a good landing there.

I started flying in California, did all primary training at Torrance.

Got a commercial to do fish spotting, great fun spending all night 500 feet over the water at ten kts over stall speed.

Did some charterwork, mostly black suits with heavy suitcases to small airports along the Mexican Border. they all said "See you in an hour", most got back in two or three, and wanted to leave immediately, was sometimes hard to get a clearence quickly, was too much like being a taxi driver.

Took some newlyweds to Grand canyon for their honeymoon, got to play with the airplane for a few days, flew about 2000 ft down into the canyon, great fun.

Can do lots of "Hanger flying" but won't bore you with my stories.

Am now sailing as Chief engineer on a Research ship in Hawaii.

Enjoy yourself, flying is great fun, you're young enough to work your way up to an ATR, and fly for the airlines.

Regards CEKM

Reply
Associate

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 26
#14
In reply to #13

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

07/14/2009 2:11 PM

I flew mostly from DXR, I did Bridgeport a few times, Waterbury; I flew to GON twice once as a rest stop on the way for my longer x-country solo, and once as my first x-country solo and then a bunch as training. Its a pretty flight there along the coast. I also did a lot of flying into the nearby NY state airports, some up in the Albany area, and some in Mass.

Reply
Associate

Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 40
Good Answers: 1
#15

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

08/21/2009 1:55 PM

Just for your information, the plane you first flew in was an Army Aircorp Plane called the AT- 6 Texan. The Navy version of the same plane was called the SNJ. They were one of the primary trainers for both services for many years

Rich

Reply
Associate

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 26
#16
In reply to #15

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

08/21/2009 3:02 PM

Oh thanks for the info, when I flew it I was at a former Naval Air Station in Quonset Point, RI, where there was a military vehicle show featuring planes from that era. I knew it was a trainer, but I guess since it was at an old Navy base I thought it was from the Navy aswell. Thanks for the correction I will edit my blog.

Reply
Power-User
Hobbies - HAM Radio - VE6LDS Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Canada - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 284
Good Answers: 10
#17
In reply to #16

Re: Learning to Fly: Meet Tinypilot18

09/30/2009 2:23 AM

Up in Canada it was called the Harvard.

__________________
Semi-retired systems analyst, part time Ham radio operator, full time grandfather.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 17 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

CEKM (2); D.RAMAKRISHNA NAIDU (1); edignan (1); hurdent (1); Jaxy (1); John Loz (2); mkruger21 (1); Sharkles (1); Steve Melito (1); The_curious_one (1); tinypilot18 (4); Transcendian (1)

Previous in Blog: Pre-Launch Images of the Space Shuttle Endeavour   Next in Blog: Street-Legal Airplanes?

Advertisement