My Flight Journal

Thursday, July 12, 2001 8:24pm

In order to receive a pilot's license, you must complete a ground school in addition to the flying lessons. After talking with several pilot friends, I've decided to do the ground school on my own. King Schools offer videos and CDROMs that allow you to self-study ground school. All that's required is to take the FAA written test when you're ready. The tapes and discs may seem expensive at first, but compared to the price of a "real" ground school, the cost works out to be less. Plus you can work on the lessons at your own pace and when it's convenient for you. This seems to be the way to go.

The next but most important step is finding an instructor and a place to fly. I happen to live just ten minutes from my local airport -- The Orlando Sanford Airport. However, it's a really busy place, handling over a million passengers a year. The thought of practicing touch and go's while bracketed by 757s didn't appeal to me. Unfortunately, the next nearest airport is 25 miles away. With my plan of flying only weekends and some weekdays after work, that distance would make the weekday flights more difficult. I'll need to think about this one.

After much thought, I've decided that I'd rather fly from the closer Sanford Airport if possible. I figure that if I learn to fly at such a congested field, I'll be able to handle flying into other big airports with much less anxiety. Plus there's this Lockheed Constellation that's been parked out there forever that I've been ogling to get a closer look at. I called the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) where the Connie is parked to see if I could talk my way into getting a tour of it. I got the cell phone number of the owner. "And, oh yea, do you know of any clubs or flight schools on the airport where I might learn to fly?" I discover that there is a school based out of that very same FBO and got their number too.

I rang up Eagle Flight Center and asked the obligatory stupid opening question, "Do you teach people to fly?" The first words out of the man's mouth on the other end were, "yes, you're looking about three thousand dollars to get your license." Its apparent that they get a lot of calls from curious would-be pilots who don't realize the costs involved. I quickly responded that I have a pretty good idea of what's required and move on to more intelligent questions. "What types and how many aircraft are available for students?", "How many instructors are on staff?", "How long have you been in operation?", "How many pilots have you trained?"

I think aviation people have some sort of 'radar' whereby they can recognize each other after a short time, or maybe it was just because I was asking all the right questions. The man on the phone, Bill Viega, one of the owners of Eagle Flight Center, quickly softened up and we began talking and joking about airplanes and flying and pilots. He answered all my questions satisfactorily -- they have plenty of aircraft (single engines, twins, simple and complex, and even a jet on the way), and plenty of instructors. There would be no problems with my doing the ground school on my own, nor with my plans to fly only weekends and some weekday evenings. But most importantly of all he convinced me that they train pilots because they love flying. This isn't a corporate 'pilot mill'. He even mentioned that they don't advertise, yet still get lots of students mainly through word of mouth. I make plans to head out there this coming Saturday and check the place out.

Maybe I'll get to climb around in the Connie as well.

Back      (2)      Next

  1. In the beginning   (pages 1 - 5)   6. Hurricane Season Begins   (pages 42 - 47)
  2. Pre-Solo   (pages 6 - 21)   7. Hurricane Season Ends   (pages 48 - 54)
  3. First Solo!   (pages 22 - 26)   8. Solo Cross-Countries   (pages 55 - 58)
  4. First Night XC   (pages 27 - 32)   9. Checkride!   (page 59)
  5. Longest Flight Yet   (pages 33 - 41)  
Email me! Visitors