Mar 07 2008

About Dan

Daniel @ 10:02 am


Thank you for visiting my website!

I was born and raised on the northwest side of Chicago. Since childhood, I always had the urge to fly, but never really new the logistics of how to become a pilot.

I knew about flight schools at Palwaukee Airport, but always thought it was exorbitantly expensive (which it is indeed ridiculously expensive there). After getting married we moved to Volo, Illinois. During my new work commute I would pass the sign for Campbell Airport and I checked out the website one day. I was surprised to find out they had a “Discover Flight” lesson for only $59! For $59 I figured I’d give it a shot and see what flying in a smaller plane is like. Well, about 3 seconds into that first flight, I knew I had to get my license at this time in my life. Campbell was tons less expensive than Palwaukee, but it still would take a substantial investment. After “Google-ing” around some more, I found out there is Westosha Airport just slightly farther away from my home. After checking out their website, I realized how affordable it could be to actually get my license. Shortly thereafter, I started lessons in Westosha and the rest is detailed here on my blog.

On this site you’ll find my thoughts and experiences on my journey to getting my private pilot license.  UPDATE: If you’ve been reading posts since October 2008, you’ll notice that I have indeed earned my private pilot license and loved every minute of my training experience.  I will continue to journal my experiences around flying and I hope you enjoy the blog!

Thanks for reading,

My disclosure policy
This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. For questions about this blog, please contact me.  This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.  The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog.  That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.  The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics.  Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for posts or advertisements, the owner always gives honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers’ own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.  This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content may not always be identified.

17 Responses to “About Dan”

  1. Todd says:

    I noticed you are flying out of Westosha. I flew by Westosha on Saturday. It made me think that I should make a t-shirt for Westosha for my line of aviation t-shirts at I thought you might be interested in the Westosha T-shirt design:

    Safe flying!

  2. Daniel and Pastora Gandor says:

    I just read your “blog” today and I have to admit you make a compelling arguement for the merits (and safety) of flying. Many years ago (I would guess 1966), my brother (your Uncle John) was attending Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois; which is well known for it’s aviation program. In fact, all the athletic teams at Lewis University are called “The Flyers”. One weekend, my brother had one of his friends, who was in the aviation program, take your grandfather and me for a flight in a private airplane. It was a horrendously windy day and the flight was terrifying. Fortunately, we landed safely and I’m alive to write this. When you first told mom and I you were taking flying lessons, I was mortified. But after reading your blog, and becoming reassured at how thorough the pre-flight inspections are, how air-worthy the planes are constructed these days, and how thorough the instruction is, I’m captivated once again about taking to the skies in something other than a commercial airliner. I’m looking forward to the day when you complete your instruction, get your license, and take mom and I (and Lisa)on a journey we could never have imagined. Dad and Mom.

  3. Frank Pipitone says:


    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I just completed my checkride and am now an “official” pilot. Thanks for the information – if you’re OK with it, I would like to add a link to your blog on my own.

    Happy landings,


  4. Pastora Gandor ( Mom) says:

    Daniel – Congratulations on your first solo flight, I am sure yor are exxxtra careful, but keep being that. How exciting it must have been for you. I would loved to have been there, bitting my nails and praying the Rosary. Soon, Dad and I could come over and see you in person doing it. We are proud of you always, and love you very much, Mom:)

  5. Theresa says:

    Dude that is soooooooooo awesome what you are doing!!! I started to read your last entry and then
    read all the experiences…really interesting. The fact that you are already doing solo runs is crazy!
    Not that I want to fly or anything now that i’ve read your journal, but its pretty amazing that you are
    flying into major airports like madison and milwaukee…i see the passion in your writing….you must
    love it! great job with your website…your words, your pics, the design, its excellent!

  6. Brian says:

    Dude we love you in that special kinda way. Look what no kids and wife that doesn’t care get yea. You lucky man you!!! Call me some time. Oh yea website looks good.

  7. Paul says:

    Great blog! I’m getting ready to start my flying and I’ve found your posts to be very informative. I was thinking about blogging about my experience as well – what software do you use and how did you put up your “flight metrics” sidebar? Do you track your flying online or do you manually update the stats?

  8. Wayne Jacques says:

    Great blog Dan,

    It’s always fun to read about student pilots, or pilot stories about going for that add on rating.. the experience that goes with it. Prior to taking my instrument checkride, i searched for insturment checkride blogs.. just to read the many experiences, and how every pilots checkride experience is a little different..

    Great Reading Dan.. Please check out our website Jake’s Pilot Shop if you are in need of anything..

  9. Nate says:

    Hi Dan,

    I stumbled across your blog through google, and I had a lot of fun reading through all of the posts. Congratulations on getting your private pilot certificate, and keep up all the good work!

    I had a couple questions for you. Once you’re through all of the costs associated with actually getting your license, how expensive is it thereafter to continue flying on your own time? I noticed you belong to a flight club – so do they charge by the hour on the use of their planes? Also, if you fly out to another airport and park (say you’re going to a restaurant, for example) does that airport also charge some hourly fee to have your plane parked there?

    Essentially I’m just wondering about the costs associated with flying after you’ve already acquired the license. Feel free to shoot me an email if you’re up to shining some light on the subject for me (I believe you have my email address, as it’s required to leave a comment).


  10. Kent Van Galder says:

    When you have a passenger that is feeling woozey, and if they are in the right seat that is a good time to start teaching to fly. Get their mind off of being sick. That is what most of airsickness is about. This has worked for me a couple of times.. kent

  11. Barbara & Khaleelah says:

    Daniel – OMG – you haven’t changed since you were a little boy in the Oral Path. Dept. when your father was doing his Ph.D. Please, tell, Dan and Pastora that Khaleelah and I think of them often. You are married now!! Wow and handsome as ever. What are you doing with your life because you have the smartest genes running through the veins!! I want to leave my phone # for either your mom/dad but sort of afraid it will be out there “lost” in cyberspace. Khaleelah and I were just talking about your family today and this is probably what prompted me to do a search of your father. I see he is still publishing. You may remember me from a million years ago because I gave your father my old Lower organ to practice/play on. I hope you will have the opport. to tell them both hello and pass along and get back to me through e-mail my phone number. I hope all of your are well and wish you all a very Happy New Year. I cannot believe you are now married, but I guess it makes sense. How old are you; can’t wait to share with Khaleelah. Barbara Adamick GRILLI /Khaleelah Azeez – please share with your mom and dad!!!

    • Dan says:

      Yes, I remember you guys! It’s great to hear from you! I’m 30 now… I’ll share this with my Mom and Dad and I’m sure he’ll email you soon! -Daniel

  12. barbara grilli says:

    Daniel – I made my way to your website and saw all of the wonderful pictures – engagement; wedding; mom and dad!! And as I said to Khaleelah, before I read your bio, I just knew you had to have some SCIENCE in you, too. What a wonderful and beautiful wife you have and congratulations so very much to the two of you!!! Congrats. on the license, also. Your mom and dad look great and just the same!! So glad to see you are such a “perfecto” son, husband, friend, colleague, etc. I am so happy for all of you.

  13. Carlos says:

    This blog it`s very interesting for every body to dream with to be a pilot……….Thanks a lot DANIEL

  14. Jim says:


    I hope all is well, not sure if you are still maintaining/monitoring the site, but wanted to reach out after reading your blogs. I am planning to start the process of working toward my pilots license and am located in Chicago. Not sure if I can make the trip to Westosha for lessons (I live downtown), but would be very interested in if you have opinions on other schools in the area – priorities are (as you would expect) (1) safety, (2) quality of instruction, and (3) cost. Also, if you find yourself downtown, let me know, it would be great to connect and hear about your journey.


    • Daniel says:

      Jim, very cool you are thinking about earning your pilot license – it’ll be a great and awesome journey no matter which training school you choose! All the Chicagoland schools have great safety, that’s a give-in and one of the perks being such a big metropolitan area. Quality of instruction I feel is based on the individual instructor. Ultimately you are going to spend potentially 30+ hours with this person in a very small plane – so your relationship and report with this instructor will make a huge difference. Call around, talk to instructors, feel them out. Find one that fits your style. I can confidently say all the instructors at Westosha are excellent, but they have very different personalities. Find the one that meshes best with you.

      One definite difference school-to-school will be cost. Westosha flying club is a non-for-profit club (and in Wisconsin), so the costs are quite low/reasonable. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I recall when I was learning it would have cost 3x+ as much to learn at Chicago Executive, for instance. Here too, call around. Living in the city, you’ll definitely have to balance commute costs and convenience with the varying plane rates across the area.

      Anyway, I hope that helps! Best of luck, and I would love to have you guest-blog a few posts about your journey here!

      Great flying,

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