Checkride Ponderings, et al.........  :0)


September 1, 2005,

As the late afternoon begins its journey to evening I find myself thinking about (what else? <g>) the Commercial Checkride.  I don't know if it's because I've gone through two 'almost- Commercial Checkrides' already, but I feel a pretty good dose of resolute, calm.

While I will definitely be studying and flying in preparation for the upcoming checkride it occurs to me that I know what needs to be done and that the checkride is just an opportunity to demonstrate that!

I've developed lots of flying friends and they have all been terrific at wishing me well through the whole process of working through my Private Pilot certificate, my Instrument rating and now,,, the Commercial certificate.  Just beyond the passing of the checkride is the one thing that I have been working through for these past couple of years - my training for the Flight Instructor certificate.  I remember thinking when I made the decision to work for my CFI how 'far away' it seemed.  I had to complete the Instrument rating (one of the arguably hardest of the pilot ratings), then the Commercial Certificate and then after leaping over those obstacles I would be at the beginning of the final part of the 'race',, or perhaps quest would be a better choice of words.

I remember sweating through the initial phases of instrument training working hard to wrap my mind around the new concepts and techniques.  Though there were certainly times that were hard, not for a moment did I ever doubt that I could make it through - I had the drive and very strong desire and it carried me through and continues to serve me well.  When I got to my Commercial training I remember wondering how was I ever going to figure those Lazy 8's out - but I did!

Now, here I am looking at the last of the 'gates' I have to pass through to begin my Flight Instructor training and I feel a resolute 'calm',,, not overconfidence or inappropriate over-assuredness; rather, confidence that I know what I need to know and can exhibit the flying capabilities necessary to pass the checkride for the certificate.  Part of the 'calm' (if you can even really call it that) is knowing that I need only do the very best I can do and I should do well.  Just like my instructor told me, minutes before taking my Private Pilot checkride; "Me, just fly that plane just like you know how to!".

So, it's not to say that I won't be nervous, but I'm ready now to do my very best and will likely be successful in passing my checkride and attaining my Commercial Certificate.  Still have some polish-up flying to do in the next couple of weeks, but I will be ready and as confident as is 'safe' <grin> to be! :)

As with most of us, we eventually get to the point where we start thinking about our own plane.  Many of you have emailed me asking me what I would pick for my first set of wings.

First of all, before thinking about getting one's own plane, one has to put in place the sound underpinnings of a good means of making the acquisition.  In the latter regard, I have designed two possible venues:  The first of my ideas for methods on making a personal airplane purchase was to take on a millionairess as a second wife, however my current wife told me in no uncertain terms that such a bigamous solution would not be acceptable to her.  That leaves my second and current method which consists of one $1 Super Lotto ticket and one $1 MegaMillions ticket per week...  No,,,, you shouldn't laugh, this is very sound, why just this week I won a free ticket and am now well on my way to buying my first plane! :) <wink>

Seriously though, I've also been asked by a few of you (probably 'cause you are starting to think about getting your own planes) what I'm looking for.  I've spent the past year fielding lots of advice but one of the best bits of advice I got from my CFI when I was returning from the practice area yesterday (after our spin session when I got my spin endorsement in my logbook) to Reid-Hillview.

John told me the best way to judge which plane I should get would be what kind of 'missions' would a majority of my flights be.   He pointed out that having a plane that has more capability than a majority of one's missions require just wastes the additional investment and increases operating costs.  He said that should there occasionally be the few missions that required a great capability or capacity of aircraft that it would be best addressed by simply renting a plane for that mission.  Others had told me the latter, but I guess it hit home when John said it 'cause one I know he's been a plane owner for MANY years and since I know him personally I trust his judgment, even more.

John hit the nail right on the head and now my choice is crystal clear:  I really have to fit the plane with the majority of the 'missions' I'll be flying. Quite honestly, most of them will involve flying with myself and some with one other person. While I wish it were different the truth of the matter is that (if I'm honest with myself) my wife is only comfortable for very short flights and even those take quite a summoning of her will on her part to get herself to go. No comment on my flying, it's just that flying isn't the same experience for some as it is with others. I do want to fly some LONG (REAL!) cross-countries and except for the flights with my stepson (who LOVES being in the sky) most of these will be solo or with my dad, stepson etc. 'cause it's unlikely that my wife would ever want to be in a small plane for that long .  People either like small plane flight or they don't and there's no fun in making someone suffer on a LONG cross-country flight, just so you can make a flight with them.

So basically the plane which I'm looking for as a time/experience builder, need only seat one other occupant at the very most which is quite capable of cross-country flight.  If I'm honest about the overall nature of most of my 'missions'
a Cessna 152 easily fits the bill (or a Cherokee 140 which has 2 +2 seats - which means it has two seats in the back, but whether you all the seats is tied to its' maximum loading envelope  ((maybe 4 TINY people <grin>)).   The Cessna 152 is a plane that I have much experience with and fly exceptionally, well (and the Piper Cherokee 140 is very much a trainer with similiar docile characteristics in  design).  No sense burning an extra gallons of aviation fuel just to drag some air around in the back seat of a Cessna 172 or larger. Besides, many of my flying friends who have them (Cessna 152's and Cherokee 140's) have taken forays (solo or with a passenger) all across our country. One client of mine who is also a CFI has a C-150 that he's had outfitted for IFR (a pretty impressive panel he has, too). As most who have flown the C-152, know when you compare it to the C-172 it is actually 'over-powered' for its' size (which of course is to really say that the C-172 could use better than a 150 or 160HP engine <grin>). Even the service ceiling is higher in a C-152 than a C-172. Not to mention that I can be burning 6 gal or less per hour versus 9 gallons an hour in a C-172 (the Cherokee burns around 8 or so).  Not to mention a C-152 can be had from 15,000 to 20,000+ (a Cherokee 140 is only about 5K to 10K more) and what a capable machine and such a bargain for a lifetime of adventure! :)

My choice of planes:  A Cessna 152 with a 110 HP engine and two seats  (pictured above)

or (for about 5K to 10K more) a Cherokee 140 with a 150HP engine and 2 +2 seats  (pictured below)


I will fly to other states with this plane I don't have yet, but somehow will.  For instance one of my first long flights in my plane will be a flight to Arizona and visit some old college friends that live there and then head off from there across our country and visit my relatives in Indiana, Illinois and West Virginia - but mainly just to see as much of our country from the air as possible.   Since my dad is retired (although he still keeps very busy) I'd really hope to make this first long journey with my dad (if he'd be willing to be gone for awhile), I want to be able to take a few weeks (maybe a month) off and fly with him along some of the old 'blue highways' stopping at small airports and getting to know the little small towns that most of us never get to see or hear about and keep a journal of our experiences and unexpected adventures and upload the pictures (as we traveled; where I have an internet connection to upload from) and written experiences to my online flying journal for others to 'hopefully', enjoy.   Perhaps in another trip getting FlyKid (my stepson) to his grandparents one summer; perhaps dropping my stepson off with his grandparents that he visits during part of the summer.  He generally returns from his visits with his mom on commercial carriers, so that would remain the same.   Such trips would represent one heck of a planning challenge and by the time I had returned from them, I know I would glean a wealth of experience from my travels than even thousands of local flights could ever provide.

For those of you looking at prices for your own plane, I have found the following website; Aircraft Shopper Online at:   (just click the link on this page and you will go to their website).   Their website is great (most listings have multiple pictures of the interior and exterior of the planes) because you can search by airplane type that you are interested in - like for me it is a piston engine with a single engine prop.  The website is very easy to navigate and search under.  Trade-a-plane magazine is another useful resource and I've just bought a subscription to their print magazine which gives me access to their airplane search website, as well.

Well, I've gone 'on' quite enough <grin>.  Hope you found the information and insights interesting!  Keep your fingers crossed for my lotto numbers <grin>!  Seriously though, somehow I will have that Cessna 152 or Cherokee 140 and will experience enough adventures that would light up and fill a thousand lifetimes - living to the fullest, each precious moment we have in this life; don't you ever let yourself forget,, it is such a precious gift! :)

Good Flights!


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