I wanna get high – so high!

Ever since I was a young kid, I was into flight. I remember trying out my first Flight Simulator II on the Commodore Amiga. It came with a Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH), an Aeronautical Chart complete with VOR frequencies, and a large manual. I recognized that this was not a “game” but there was an art to learning how to fly properly and safely, while imagining shuttling people from one airport to another. I was 12 years old.


Along with learning from that sim, I always imagined “someday” I would get my pilot’s license. I just never really set that as a real goal… until now.

On my birthday Halloween 2013, my girlfriend, Arielle, told me not to make plans in the morning as she would be taking me out to breakfast. We headed out to John’s Island early in the morning and while trying to guess what breakfast place might be out that way, we passed the Charleston Executive Airport (KJZI). It realized that this was not breakfast, but I was being taken on a Discovery Flight.

This was the push I needed to get me actually on track to getting my pilot’s license. I no longer was just talking about it all these years, or flying my simulators, like X-Plane. I went up and did a couple maneuvers, and I was sold. Although, I didn’t feel ready with a lot going on over the holidays, so my second lesson didn’t come until January.


Since then, I have been going for my instruction a few times a month, including a trip to Cincinnati to get away from all distractions and focus on 4 days of getting a different perspective and instruction at Sporty’s Academy, Clermont County Airport (I69).

These have been the keys to me learning and getting MUCH closer to getting my license:

  • I’ve always had a desire to learn about flying. My Flight Simulators and reading over the years has certainly helped a good bit. Although the sim really isn’t the same as the real thing.
  • I had originally purchased the Sporty’s Learn to Fly App which has been great to watch instructional videos, prep for the written exam, learn procedures for maneuvers, and overall getting engrossed in the world of flying. It’s a good go-to for getting answers or just reviewing past videos repeatedly to really allow things to sink in.
  • Foreflight App is WITHOUT A DOUBT the best piece of technology for Pilot’s in this day and age. Loaded on an iPad it contains pretty much everything a pilot needs in planning a flight and while in flight. I bought a knee board to mount it while I’m flying. I’ve even taken it on commercial flights and can track what our plane is doing during taxi, takeoff, routes, and approach. The app has helped me incredibly to just play around in my free time (when I’m thinking about flying) and learn about other airports, conditions, charts, etc.
  • Making sure I keep up with my instruction and flights regularly. I’m so busy all the time, I knew I had to allow flying to take over my life if I want to succeed (and live!). I have made sure to push myself to keep on it and not let several weeks lapse between flying or even just finding the answers to questions that pop up regularly.
  • The trip to Sporty’s in Batavia, OH was great as it was a completely new perspective. Different instructor and approach to teaching, different terrain (higher elevation, hilly, and inland vs. the coastal region), different planes (newer Cessna 172 vs. the older Cessna 150 and 172 in Charleston), away from distractions to focus solely on my flying, different airport (much shorter and only one).
  • The last key piece is GOING to be, as I haven’t done this enough, to concentrate and spend some quiet time away from people and the TV to really study almost nightly for an hour. The books that will help prep me for the written test, and obviously to know more about flying in general, is the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. A free publication from the FAA that you can download. Then Gleim makes a lot of good learning guides, but the Knowledge Test Prep seems to be a good one. FAR AIM is the book that should be on every pilot’s bookshelf, if just for a reference manual when needing to look up specific FAA Regulations and Code.

So, here’s where I’m at right now. I recently completed my first solo, which consists of going up with my instructor and doing 3 touch-and-go landings/takeoffs. I then came to full stop and dropped him off. Back-taxi’d and did the same thing ALL ALONE! That was amazing. Since then, I have done two more solos where I was given the keys, and went and did it all myself, flew around the area much more, and practiced landings.

I’m about 55 hours in. Technically you only need 40 to qualify for your test, but almost no one does in in 40. I need a few more local solo hours, mainly to keep practicing my landings. Then I’ll be flying “cross-country” with my instructor, which is 50 miles outside of my local area, to another airport for a touch-and-go, then another airport 50 more miles away, then back to KJZI. I’ll eventually do the same thing on my OWN. I’ll also need to land at a towered field (which technically I’ve done already), in order to talk more to ATC and getting clearances. Lastly, I’ll do a night flight locally.

When that’s been done, only really in maybe like 5-10 more hours, I’m good to go for my written exam and check-ride (a 1 hour test with an FAA Examiner). Annnnnnnnd…. I’ll have my Private Pilot’s License. Ready to fly myself and friends around, grab an (expensive) burger at another airport, fly to KSGJ to see my parents, and plan a trip to the Keys or Bahamas for a long weekend!

You think you’d be willing to fly with me?