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Learning to Fly

ATR 42 about to land, Africa

I'm a student pilot who started late in life ( after age 50 ).
This section is a documentation of how I got my license, and what methods I am using. 
Because of my work in aerial photography I get the opportunity to fly with a lot of different instructors,
some young, some old.   I give them tremendous credit for doing what they do.

No matter who your instructor is, how well you learn depends on your aptitude, attitude, and diligence.
These days there is amazing technology and information sources to help you become a pilot.    You can't have enough practice when it comes to safe flying.    Every thing you do helps.  
Someday you might remember something very important when you are in a difficult situation.
On the top of that list is the use of a modern flight simulator.    The more complex the aircraft ( and more expensive ),
the more time is spent learning in a simulator.   Now, we don't start training on a 737, so we don't need a
multi-million dollar simulator to get a private pilot certificate.    Small planes, small simulators.

click on the small photos below for larger views

               On complex aircraft, flight simulators are used for as much as 90 percent of the training.

                You can get a very sophisticated home flight simulator setup these days, but don't forget the most important part -- your brain.    Get serious if you want to make the best use of your simulator.   Get real charts, and set it up for highest realism settings.   If you set it up right, you will definitely crash unless you do things right.    You can learn all of the instruments in most planes by using a simulator, real charts, and the air traffic control feature on FSX,  Microsoft's flight simulator, and get the deluxe version.



Get serious  -  

           Use real charts to fly simulated flights.   I also download real weather, and look at wind directions, corrections, load and balance, etc.   Apple's iPhone has an "app", or application available that is a full E6B aviation calculator.    I also research aircraft I "fly" online, to find out performance characteristics, stall speeds, limits, and more.   You can often find short videos of many aircraft on YouTube. 


All kinds of weather

         Practice very challenging scenarios and dangerous weather.    In FSX flight simulator you can set the weather to whatever you want, winds, clouds, precipitation.   Or, look on a weather map and pick a place that has IFR only weather, and give it a try.


 Learn Air Traffic Control
Use flight simulator's Air Traffic Control feature to get directions, clearances, vectors and altitudes


Night flying --  something many private pilots rarely do.    Flight simulators give you a chance to practice a lot.


            Learn how other aircraft behave.

           Practice "flying" aircraft you"ll never do in real life, like jets, vintage planes, or military aircraft.   Discover what's similar about them, standard flying techniques, and how to handle the extra speed, power, and weight.

Atlanta, GA

"Fly" into large Class B airports, using ATC, test your skills without
bothering the real controllers or paying a huge landing fee.  
 Use real online international weather data to "fly"

You can learn all the instruments
in a simulator

Read books and watch videos

    You can buy used DVD's, and videos, and textbooks very reasonably on eBay.    I got dozens of them really cheap, and they help a lot.  
You can also buy expired old charts for simulator use.

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