Apr 16 2010

Guest Blogger Post #1 – Starting Out

Category: Guest Blogger,Lessons,RamblingsDaniel @ 8:55 am

It’s finally becoming a reality.  After wanting to learn how to fly for so many years, I’m finally taking lessons.  4.7 hr down and hopefully many more to go.  Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamt about becoming a pilot.  However, when I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and I thought my dream of flying was out the window.  The other thing that kept me from taking lessons, was the expense.  That’s all until I started causally talking to somebody I work with and he started explaining to me that his son (Daniel) became a private pilot recently.  He directed me to this blog and I found basically all the info that I needed.  Daniel’s farther also showed me the pictures that they took when they were flying down the Lake Michigan shoreline to downtown Chicago.  This was the convincing point for me.  I decided to look more into it.  Like Daniel explained, Westosha Flying Club www.directwfc.com is one of the least expensive places (if not the least expensive) to fly.  Their rates are very reasonable compared to other places around Chicago.  I have looked into Midway and Aurora and basically when I did the math it would cost me around $10 000 to get my private pilot’s license.  Westosha seems to be almost half of that.  Please understand that it all depends on how fast you learn.  Some people need more time than others, so this is just an estimate.  For example, Midway charges $120/hr wet for a Cessna 172, at Westosha you can fly a Cessna 152 for $59/hr wet or 172 $74/hr OR 172SP $86/hr (new rates effective 04/01/2010, the website is not updated yet).  I know that everyone would like to fly big airplanes but for just learning the 152’s are just fine.  Especially when you are beginning and you have to buy headsets, books, pay the instructor, gas money to the airport, etc. every dollar helps.  Plus the instructors are not Commercial Pilot wannabes, so they are very reasonable.  They have a lot of experience.  The new rate for instructors is $45/hr.  This includes flying and a little bit of ground lessons.  At Westosha they do not offer ground school and you are responsible for studying for the written test.  Some people take classes at colleges, others buy DVD courses and there are also some that study from books (least expensive alternative).  The disadvantage about Westosha for me is that it’s 65 miles from my house.  So I have to schedule multi hour lessons to make it worth driving to the airport.

But before I started taking lessons I wanted to make sure that I can get a FAA medical certificate.   My condition is disqualifying but I was eligible to get a Special Issuance Medical.  All this means is that you are getting the medical under a special condition.  I got my private pilot medical for 5 years with the condition that I have to provide an update on my condition from my doctor in the form of a letter stating the current status of the condition.  As long as my condition doesn’t worsen, I can still fly.  You do not have to get another medical exam, just provide the letter at the 3 year mark.  This can be a little discouraging.  You invest so much into flying and you are loving it and then somebody tells you that you can not fly anymore.  However, my doctor has been doing medical certificates for 30 years and I talked to him a lot about this.  He explained that the FAA became more lenient with the medical and that most conditions that were disqualifying in the past, are now OK for flying.  If you decide to do this just be patient because it might take some time and some paperwork.  I had to provide a letter from the doctor stating my condition and recent blood work results.  It all depends what the FAA needs.  The doctor that did my medical assured me that he has patients that fly 747’s across the world with a special issuance medicals.  So it’s not a big deal, but it’s something extra that you might have to deal with.  The best source for info on your condition is the FAA website www.faa.gov OR a FAA Medical Examiner.  I just started out by typing my condition OR medication is the search box.  This is the most accurate information.  I do know that there are companies out there that want to charge you thousands of dollars to help you get your medical but this is a complete waste of money.  Do the research yourself and you should be well informed about your condition for your own good.  Talk to a medical examiner and see what he/she suggests you do.  These guys are doing so many medicals that they are usually well informed.

If someone has any questions, please let me know.  I will try to answer if I can.

Daniel thanks again for your blog.  It has helped me a lot.  I’m scheduled to fly again this weekend if the weather permits.  Will keep you updated as I go through my training.

[This post authored by Dan’s friend Kenan]

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One Response to “Guest Blogger Post #1 – Starting Out”

  1. Dan says:

    Congrats again for starting on your journey of learning how to fly! And thank you for sharing your experiences with my readers as well!!! Best of luck and can’t wait to hear more after your next lesson(s). -Dan

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