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Father's Day Gift
Something that I didn't take the time to mention yesterday was the gift that I got from Jess for Father's Day: a form for flying lessons. I've wanted to learn to fly for years, and have never felt that it was worth it, because it was always too expensive. Thanks to her though, I finally get to learn to fly! :)

I'm really excited about it, and need to pick a day to go do it.

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Is that the $49 fly thing that was in the Hippo?

It sounds really cool, and I wouldn't mind trying it. But it's not much more then when you were a kid and you got to sit on your parents lap and take the wheel.

"Learning" to fly and actually getting a pilots license takes a lot of time (as in months, both on the ground and in the air) and money. And you have to fly to keep up your license, and that gets VERY expensive. Just to rent a plane and fuel and stuff, even if part of a co-op.

And since 9/11 it's even harder to do because of background checks and whatnot.

It's still cool if it is the $49 intro lesson, and I was thinking about trying it out myself, but make no mistake, it's not going to get your your license anytime soon.

Yep, that's the one. (At least, I assume. I don't read the hippo. but it is the $49 lesson. :)) Honestly, I've just wanted to be in a cockpit for a long time - I'm aware (having had a number of friends who did it) that learning to fly isn't quite that simple. ;)

Jess's dad is a pilot, who apparently has an instructor's license. I wasn't aware of this, but he's offered to Jess to teach me to fly: still not the cheapest proposition in the world, but at least would probably save to some extent on the instructor cost and bring it more to the level of paying for supplies.

I'm pretty clean as far as just about everything goes, so I highly doubt that any background checks would find anything of any importance. I don't exactly have the largest quantity of free time in the world though, so even assuming that I was filthy rich and fully approved, I'm not sure that I'd have the time and so on to actually learn to fly.

Still, like I said, just being in a cockpit should be extremely awesome. It's something I've wanted to do for years.

Dad's a member of the flying club, where he pays an annual fee and fuel for the flights. TBTH, I wouldn't have him teach you a lot -- but he'd probably help you after you had the basics down and were just accumulating hours. God help you, you'd get the $200 breakfast regularly. (Flight time there and back plus $10 at an airport café.)

When you go to Boire Field and take the lesson, ask how expensive it is to keep up with it, and then talk to my dad. Dad is not the most patient person when teaching things.

But it's not much more then when you were a kid and you got to sit on your parents lap and take the wheel.

Disagree -- you'll be taxiing, doing the takeoff, piloting the plane out into the practice area, doing some practive maneuvers, joining the circuit when you return, and performing the landing with a bit of control inputs from the instructor to guide you. If everything goes well, you can fly the plane alone about 2/3 of the time (the rest, you'll be getting things demonstrated to you). If the weather conditions are such that the landing is difficult, you might not get to land the plane yourself this lesson, but you would the subsequent lesson.

The mechanics of the experience aren't much different than driver's ed in high school, but that's because that's what flying lessons are like; someone who knows how to fly and knows how to teach flying is showing you how to operate an aircraft and plan flights and so forth. Well, except that driver's ed in high school is a drag, and flying is a blast.

It's not really about just getting your license, anyhow — you never stop learning about flying when you start, both through more and more ratings (up here, night then maybe VFR Over-The-Top then instrument then multi-engine then maybe float then commercial, usually, and sailplane and rotary-wing often show up in there too) and through more and more challenging flying.

It's not cheap -- I have a hard time figuring things out with the exchange rate and with different rental rates, but I'd budget six to eight grand for a private pilot certificate renting a plane. The time thing takes care of itself, really, because you're going to keep progressing; the difference between flying before you have your cert and after is that you've got a very well-defined set of goals on one side, and you have to set your own on the other.

I stopped flying two flights after my first solo, mostly by accident — a Montreal winter doesn't have a lot of daylight hours to fly, and less so with good weather, and after a couple months of cancellations I didn't bother booking the next lesson, choosing instead to wait until spring, and then I never got going again. I'd thought about starting again here, but my cost of living in Ottawa is much higher than it was in Montreal, so it would've been a bit tight. (I bought a motorcycle instead.) I don't regret having done it and stopped. I expect I'll just start up again in five or ten years.

Seriously, even if you just take that intro flight, or do what I did and take it all the way to solo but no further (because really, "I can fly and land an airplane alone" is the best milestone of all of them), you'll have a fantastic time. Staying current is expensive, but you're only required to stay current if you're going to keep flying.

That said, you'll know by the end of your first flight whether or not you want to continue, and I suspect it'll be a really strong feeling one way or another. (Don't feel too bad if you feel like you don't want to continue; some people just aren't comfortable in small airplanes.)

Also, if you do want to fly, get your medical now; if there's a medical reason you can't fly, you'll want to know about it before you've invested much time, money or emotion into the project.

God knows that my father will help Chris find a flight doc. Dad used to tell me stories of a flight doc who weighed four hundred pounds, smoked cigars, hit you on the back, had you cough, and then signed you. Apparently pilots came from hundreds of miles around to see this guy.

The only thing that would concern me for his flight surgeon's signoff is his bronchial asthma. His eyesight can be corrected to WNL, so that's not an issue.

My grandfather had a pilot's license for years and for a little while right after he retired his own little plane. He sold it when he moved to Minnesota and I don't think he took up flying again there, because I don't remember them every talking about it up there. He loved it. It was expensive but he said over and over again it was the best money he ever spent because there was nothing else like it. He would take us flying when we went to visit in the summer's. He really enjoyed having that freedom.

Where do you find flying lessons around here? *curious*

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