Hitting the sky… and the books.

I’ve been wanting to fly since I was a kid. Now, at 35, I’ve finally taken the plunge…err… no plunging, I hope.

Some people may be interested in the process and my progress, so I’ll log my adventure as it happens. “How much does it cost?” is an often asked question; I’ll keep a record of it for myself, but I’m not going to post details here. If you really want to know, you can contact me privately.

About 20 miles south of my home in Apex, NC is the Sanford-Lee County Regional Airport (KTTA) and home of the Wings of Carolina Flying Club. In addition to other benefits for pilots, the club offers flight training. So, Aimee, the kids, and I went down there so I could take care of the paperwork and get the process started.

I met with the Club Manager, Jim Bauer, with whom I’d spoken before to get all the details. I gave him the necessary documentation (and money) and he added me to their system and gave me all the materials I need to get started:

  • Club Handbook for Members
  • Pilot Logbook
  • 1979 Cessna 152 Information Manual
  • Federal Aviation Regulations/Aeronautical Information Manual
  • Charlotte Sectional Aeronautical Chart
  • Private Pilot Handbook (it’s really a thick, hardback, textbook in true college style)
  • Private Pilot Maneuvers book (a supplement to the above Handbook)
  • Private Pilot FAA airmen knowledge test guide

Wow! What a load of material. Looks like I’ll have my nose in the books more than in the air for a while, though getting started in the air with an instructor doesn’t need to wait for any particular level of book knowledge.

I’m expecting a call from an instructor in the next few days to set up our first lesson and work out our plan. The instructors work independently of the club, but the club oversees the process and provides the facilities and aircraft. There is a formal ground school starting in September that I plan to attend. While not required, it should be beneficial in many ways, including helping me prepare for the FAA knowledge (written) test.

A third class FAA medical examination is also required before flying solo and they have a club doctor that does that on site once a month, so I’m signed up to take care of that in a couple weeks.

I was also given a quick tour of the facility. There’s an entrance lounge, a flight planning area, a couple briefing rooms, a multipurpose room with a small kitchen, a flight simulator (mostly for instrument training), restrooms, a shower, and a hanger for maintenance and bad-weather storage of 3 (comfortably) to 6 (crammed) planes. It’s pretty nice.

I’ve been reading through the C152 manual. It’s fun (I love manuals), but now I have one of those “learning” headaches I get when I try to take in too much at once. I have a feeling I’ll be getting a lot of those over the next few months.