Private Pilot Single Engine Land (PPSEL)

Before I start rolling on aircraft maintenance, I'm going to back up a bit. By about 20 something years. You see, I began this fascination many years ago. What fascination? Well, if you're a pilot or have ever taken flying lessons you'd know what I'm talking about. The fascination with operating a small (or not so small) aircraft around the skies. The fascination with being alone, or having a friend along as you climb out into the open wild blue yonder to just cruise around at thousands of feet in the air. Away from cars that threaten to collide with you or that block your path. Away from crowds that force their noise and movement upon you. Away...

I had a casual interest while in high school, but never really thought I'd end up flying. While living with a college roommate, I recall one of those odd conversations about nothing. The cost of getting a pilot's license. We debated until one of us suggested calling the local flying school to get the answer. $1,200. That was the answer. Wow, that's actually not bad! That was in 1979 sometime.

Well, about a year later I was calling around for liability insurance for my latest $600 car purchase. Everybody seemed to want $1200 to insure me. That number clicked for some reason. "For $1200 I could get my pilot's license!" Hmm, that's when the young adult logic began to set in. Why not! Insurance isn't required anyhow! (remember this was 1980) So, I took a ride out to the airport to learn more about it. I think that was in the fall of 1980.

The flight school was one of those Cessna Flight Training centers, Part 141, I believe. I introduced myself and bought a $25 introductory flight. The instructor took me out, showed me the Cessna 152, and got in the right seat. I recall wondering which seat the pilot actually flew in. It wasn't until we were climbing out on take-off that I realized I was in it! At about 200 ft off the ground I looked down and said "Damn, that ground looks hard!". That, by the way, was my first time flying in any sort of aircraft. That thought has rarely occurred again and I never looked back. . . . (to be continued)

Do you have a story about your first lesson or aircraft? Feel free to leave a comment and share your aviation experience.



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