Likely my favorite C172 in Galvin’s fleet
This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly.Â You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.
March 20 marked the one-year anniversary of my having started flight training; my first ground-school class was already more than 12 months ago.
Deciding to pursue a private pilotâ€™s certificate has been, simultaneously, the most fiscally irresponsible thing Iâ€™ve ever done, and the most rewarding thing Iâ€™ve ever done. Iâ€™ll leave that to the reader to reconcile; Iâ€™m totally OK with the decision.
Progress has been sporadic, mostly due to a particularly bad winter with consistent low clouds that precluded flying and resulted in dozens of cancelled training flights. On the upside, now that spring is here, Iâ€™ve started to make progress again, although COVID-19 holds the potential for future disruptions. Our governor here in Washington state was kind enough to declare flight training to be among the exempted activities during the lockdown (at least for now).
Since my last post, Iâ€™ve completed both my day and night cross-country flights with my instructor, have been working a lot on navigation and flight planning, and now have returned to practicing basic maneuvers to kick off the rust from a winterâ€™s worth of very little flying.
In the traffic pattern at Boeing Field. The view doesn’t suck – that’s Mount Rainier on the horizon, and the airfield is on the lower-right side of the image.
This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.
After six weeks, which went past in a seeming eyeblink, I’ve completed ground school. Drinking from a fire hose is an appropriate analogy. Still, I passed all three written stage tests, and just passed the written comprehensive finals, which consisted of two separate tests over two class sessions. Next up will be scheduling and taking the proper FAA written exam before all this hard-earned info leaks out of my brain.
I’ve also been flying quite a lot with my CFI (aka my instructor) – two or three hours a week on average. I’m learning new skills like crazy, but am also burning through money like a Silicon Valley startup. In contrast with most of my stories, I don’t have very many photos to share for this series, not at least so far. Learning how to fly is hard, and if I’m on the controls the whole flight, there’s no time for taking photos. I’m considering finding a way to mount a GoPro either inside or outside the plane so there’s at least some video to share.
Anyway, we started doing pattern work a week or so ago; that means pretty much flying in the airport’s prescribed traffic pattern, doing a touch-and-go, then re-entering the pattern. Lather, rinse, repeat. At Boeing Field (BFI), you can get about six laps around the pattern into a one-hour lesson.
The first time we did this, it was utterly demoralizing. I’m flying a plane, which is amazing and fun, but landing is *hard*. Especially when dealing with BFI’s notoriously squirrelly crosswinds.
That’s us, coming in to land at BFI following my first training flight with Galvin Flying – Photo: Huy Do
This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the introduction here.
As of now, I’ve completed the stage one and two ground-school exams. These exams are administered by the ground-school instructor at Galvin Flying and serve as checkpoints; they don’t count toward the FAA exam.
I’ve passed them both, which is encouraging (a passing grade is 70% – I did quite a bit better than that).
We’ve already covered basic aerodynamics, powerplants, flight instruments, airspace, airports, communications, and flight safety. We just wrapped up the comprehensive weather and FAA regulation sections; now it’s on to flight planning, which is where the math starts. We’ll learn to compute things like fuel consumption rates, time/speed/distance, endurance, airspeed, density altitude, and wind correction angles.
Believe it or not, this weather stuff is starting to make sense
Ground school wraps up on May 25th with a comprehensive knowledge test, which is basically a full-on practice version of the proper FAA exam.
Theoretically, if we’ve successfully completed the course, we’ll then be prepared to plunk down the roughly $165 to take the FAA written test; a grade of at least 70% is required to pass.
I’ve also started flight training. I didn’t mention before, but basically my butt is a bit too heavy for the Cessna 152, which is the aircraft I’d originally planned to train in, primarily for the $60/hour cost savings over the larger C172. Putting two 200 lb. adult males (my CFI isn’t a small guy, either) in a C152 means no cross-country flights, as the aircraft’s maximum payload limit leaves room for no more than 1/2 tank of fuel. I won’t lie, though, I do like the larger plane.