Learning to fly and stories from the lives of pilots.
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II. BEING A PILOT
Being a pilot is the most fun you
can have in life, right there in the
sky, midway between earth and heaven.
You've done it. Got up one morning, looked out the window and thought it was the best day of your life. But there's something missing. You've always wanted to take flying lessons. Whenever an airplane passed over, especially a small one, you imagined yourself flying it. Being a pilot is not difficult. It is just like anything else. You find out where to start, go there and begin.
You probably want to know what is expected of you and how long it takes. Be sixteen years of age, in good health, and able to speak and read English. You log at least forty hours of flying time and pass a flight test.
The flying is not done eight hours a day, all day long, five days a week. And two weeks later you are a pilot. Your flying is combined with book learning. You may think books are not exciting. But books about flying really are, especially while you're learning how to fly. Here's why. While you're practicing and perfecting your aviation skills, the books are explaining what's happening.
Maybe you've taken a trip on the airlines. Maybe not, but anyhow, your first ride in a small airplane is something else. First there is the sound, and two other things.
When the engine first starts, you think it sounds somewhere between a motorcycle and a lawnmower engine. That's because they're all air-cooled, no radiator. No anti-freeze to check. And you may think it is loud.
As you begin your first takeoff, you have a sensation of speed. In fact, you have to move faster than the normal highway speed limit of fifty-five. You get up to around seventy or eighty miles an hour, then up comes the nose.
But the sensation of speed soon disappears. You seem to be hanging there, things on the ground getting smaller. Then when you make that first turn to leave the traffic pattern, it's like the earth tilted. There, out the window, you can see the ground.
There are no frightening lurches, nothing like a roller coaster. But what a view! You can see forever. Houses and cars, people and things, they look like little crawling toys.
All your apprehension and fear of the unknown disappears as you begin to control the airplane. It's a magic carpet. You could just point it anywhere and there's where you'd go.
You can't believe it. Your first lesson is over. That couldn't have been an hour. But, yes it was. Time really goes by when you're having fun.
You're on your way. You'll be certified as a Private Pilot. All you must do is log forty hours of flying time, pass a written test and a flight test. And how exciting those hours will be. It is something you always wanted to do.
Nothing is scary about it. The way you do certain things, what the activity is called, how to pronounce words, it is all new and exciting. Very soon you'll be talking like a pilot.
The purpose of this book is to tell you about being a pilot. After 10,000 hours flying time, I still have trouble answering these questions, "How do you learn to fly? How long does it take?"
The last part of the question is easiest. It'll take you the rest of your life. You'll always learn something new. And you'll never want to do anything else but fly.
The part about "How To" stops some people. Anyone can tell you "Where To." Just go to the nearest airport. When you get there, you will find new and mysterious things going on. You need a guide to escort you, a Flight Instructor.
Well, go ahead. Explore this aviation activity we call, "Being a pilot." At small airports we can find our way to a flying school with no problem. But at those huge airports with airliners, we have to find where the private and corporate airplanes are parked. It's a place called the "FBO."
And right there you encountered a strange name, the "FBO." It is pronounced "Eff Bee Oh." FBO is the Fixed Base Operation. That is where you will find General Aviation, the all-inclusive name for everything not associated with the scheduled airlines.
Look in chapter V., FLYING WORDS. There is a list of definitions.
You might wonder why a place is called "FBO," or "Fixed Base Operations." In aviation many things have the names given to them not too long ago when the airplane was invented, right after Wilbur and Orville Wright first defied gravity.
Let's imagine aviation activity is starting to bloom. Fuel and mechanics are hard to find. Then somebody goes into business providing services to other pilots and stays with it for more than a few days. They become known as the "Fixed Base Operation."
It is called "Fixed," because a "Mobile Operation" might not be too dependable. Leave your propeller or engine with such an operation and the next morning it could be gone. They might escape in the darkness with your property. A good name for them might be "Fly-by-night."
Your airport FBO can be compared to those automobile gas stations forty years ago. That was a place where you bought gas and could have almost anything on your car fixed while you waited. And in addition to fuel and repairs, your local airport FBO will have Flying Schools and Air Charter services available.
Let's walk into the FBO. Go up to the counter and announce, "I want to learn how to fly airplanes."
You will be met by some very courteous and friendly people. Pilots and others who work around airplanes are a happy band of folks. They know the joy that awaits you, right up there with the clouds.
There are three ways to take flying lessons:
A. Enroll in a flying school.
B. Privately with freelance Flight Instructor.
C. Buy yourself an airplane.