Diary Of A Pilot


New Member
I took my first lesson today! Very exciting. I found an instructor that I liked in Long beach ,Ca. and took the big step. I thought I would keep a posted diary of my progress from 0 Hours to the hopeful completion as a professional pilot. I have been studying these boards for a few weeks now, and have pared down all the information to what I thought would work best for me. The school I chose offers both Parts 141 and 61. I decided to follow their Part 61 course, as it was more adaptable to my situation. Today was a basic introduction to the course requirements and to the aircraft itself. I flew a Cessna 172. I could not get the smile off my face.
I cannot wait until tomorrow to do it again. Right now I have to study. Thank you to everyone who offered advice to me here on JetCareers. It all helped. See you tomorrow.

Pretty exhilarating, huh? I still remember my first flight very well. Good luck training out of LGB; I did my commercial single add-on out of SNA (and still rent out of there twice a week) and have found the entire SoCal area to be second only to Florida in terms of being a great environment to train in. Just be extra diligent of that "offshore Long Beach training area" as both it and El Toro tend to get very busy any time the weather is nice. I flew over Long Beach yesterday on my way back to John Wayne from Hawthorne and heard departure warn a departing Jet Blue flight that there were no less than 20 targets working that area. Yikes!
I'm still gonna give it a try.
I agree about the traffic out of LGB. It keeps my CFI busy while teaching me to keep my head out of the instruments and looking around. That is part of the reason I wanted to fly out of a busier airport. I thought it would only help in the long run.
Anyway, 2nd flight was as great as the first. Weather is starting to be a factor. Ceiling was 1900 ft. Made it tough to find a horizon over the ocean. Digging into the course material.... Should have done this years ago!

See you soon.

Flight #3
Kind of a hazy day today. Climbing to 3500' to do all the slow flight maneuvers got us out of it and into the fresh air. Lots of book work is keeping me busy. Alot of it is still in my brain from 20 years ago when I took Aeronautics classes in college. Looking forward to tomorrow and stalls.
Until then, good night.

A fellow ppl student at the flight school where I trained kept a detailed narrative type diary of every lesson and then had it bound when she finished. That's going a little overboard, but it would be cool to have something written down to look back on. I just tried to write down whatever I learned from each lesson if I remembered to.
keep a running tab of the costs too. i lost track after my private...should be interesting to see
Flight #4

Well, after missing a couple of lessons due to horrible weather conditions and then going away for a week and then my CFI being sick, I took off today under brilliant blue skies. Well, as brilliant as L.A. skies can be anyway. Learned how to do power off and power on stalls. The first one was a bit scary, not knowing exactly what it was going to feel like. But after trying a few more, I became comfortable with the recovery. After that I got to put the hood on. It does take a little while to get used to just staring at the instruments. You want to peek so badly, just to see if you are doing all right. Once I learned a system of cross checking the instruments it felt a lot better. As if it would actually be possible to fly without being able to see. I think it gave me that much more respect for the pilots who fly around all the time in bad weather.
Well done guys. Perhaps every passenger should have to experience this before being allowed to get on a plane. I bet that would stop the complaining about the price of air fares.

I like the idea of keeping a cost ledger.
Since I am still fairly new to this, I will get together all the reciepts so far and post it here. I think it will be very informative to those who wish to take the leap. I know I would have been very interested to see what it actually costs to get from 0 - MEII, and then some.

Back to the books..... flying tomorrow. ( i like the way that sounds)

Flight #5

My instructor was again sick, so I went out with a new instructor today. A recent graduate of FSI. He has been at the school only a couple weeks. I thought he did a great job. The difference in the teaching styles was apparent, but he helped me through steep turns and some more stall work. We had a great flight, amazed by the wild fires now filling the LA basin with smoke.
The book work is very time consuming at this point. I probably spend 3-4 hours a day reading and taking the quizzes and then re-reading things that I feel I need to understand a little better.

I'm surprised you can even get out of there VFR. The other day I was out there on a TEC route from Camarillo to John Wayne, and we were borderline IMC with just the haze and smog on the approach into SNA.
Flight #6

Started heading out on tuesday, got to the run-up area, and listened to an updated ATIS. Seems the smoke that was covering pretty much all of LA was starting to cover most of Long Beach. We got a special vfr to get out and hopefully find clean air out over the ocean. Heading up to 4000 feet, it did indeed clear up. It was quite an amazing view. It looked as if all of LA was on fire. The billowing smoke off in the distance looked as if a bomb had went off. Quite bizarre. So as we headed out over the ocean, it did not get any better. we were scheduled to do ground reference maneuvers but had no ground to reference. Instead I got to put the hood on and did a good amount of instrument work. I was amazed at the concentration level that had to be maintained during this time. With the smoke below and some very high clouds above, there was no horizon. With an instinct to want to peek, it would not have mattered. There were a couple times where I would have swore that I was flying level, but my instruments were telling me otherwise. My CFI, Derek, reminding me to trust them and not the off balance feelings I was experiencing.
After the hour was up we started heading back only to find that we would have to make an instrument approach. I will admit that I was pretty excited to give it a go. With Derek doing the radio work and having me repeat what I was hearing from ATC, we began. At the point where we actually went into the thick haze I again realized what a great respect is do to the airline pilots of the world. As my concentration level rose even higher, I could feel myself getting very tense. I had to remind myself to relax and let the plane fly. No forcing the issue. Due to some other traffic in the pattern ahead of us, we were put into a long final approach. It seemed like forever that were waiting to break through the clouds. When we did and we were on a perfect line for the runway, though a touch higher than we wanted, I again got that big smile on my face that I always seem to get when accomplishing something new. It was amazing. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Lesson #7

Took off today again looking to do ground reference maneuvers. The ceiling was about 2500' so it looked good. We flew out over the Queen Mary and over to the breakwater. At 1000' we picked a spot on the breakwater as a reference and began doing S turns. After a couple of not so close attempts, I started to get the hang of correcting for the slight wind and began completing them fairly well. Moving on to turns around a point, the wind had picked up a bit, and again it was a few times around before I could get a handle on it. After about 8 or 9 times around the same point, with at least a few of them within limits, we noticed that the clouds were getting lower and made the decision to head in. Upon getting into the pattern, Derek took the flight controls and started walking me through the correct procedures for a landing. Having been landing for all of the previous lessons, I felt like I was just missing the correct sequence of when to do certain things, so this was really helpful to just sit back and watch him talk me through it. As we touched down, I took over the flight controls and took us back up and into the pattern. Now, with a sense of the sequence of events to go through, my confidence level rose slightly. Abreast of the end of the runway, powering back, losing speed, first notch of flaps, turning base, still descending, 2nd notch, decelerating, turning final, lined up nicely with the VASI, 3rd notch, still slowing, nice smooth decent,
little bit of a cross-wind, staying calm, shifting gaze to end of runway,
nearing the ground, power to idle, flare..........touchdown.... it was my best landing yet. It is amazing what a nice landing will do to brighten your day. Again, with the big smile. We here this a lot on these forums, but I can't believe I waited this long to fly.
Can't wait 'til next time.

A note about costs so far:

7.3 hours flight time-
10.9 hours instructor-
= $790.00

Books(Jeppeson PPL Kit/ w flight bag, computer, fuel tester,etc.)
= $230.00

David Clark Headset 10-13.4( bought online- no tax, free padded case)
= $280.00

Medical Exam
= $60.00

Total to date

= $1360.00
Flight #8

Take-offs and landings today under beautiful blue skies and in a 8-10 knot crosswind. I guess it could have been a better day without the crosswind, but I felt like I learned a lot more by doing 9 landings in it.
A few of them were a bit rough, but I got a little better once I started getting the feel for using the rudder. I am also getting more comfortable using the radio. Today I didn't have to use my script.
A nice long week-end and then back on tuesday.

Flight #9

More take-off and landings. Very busy pattern today. Had to do a go-around, and a few really long approaches waiting for the tower to call my base. Smoother air today, but just could not get the feel for the flare. Maybe I need a crosswind to land nicely.

Still heavy into the book work. Trying to get a little ahaead in preparation for the pre-solo exam.

Flight #10

Again a day of take offs and landings. I felt much better about today than yesterday. I noticed I am feeling a lot more comfortable in the plane. Following a sytem for landing sequences, it has begun to feel
smoother. I don't feel like I am one step behind it and trying to catch up all the time. This has helped me to relax and have a softer hand on the controls. Radio communication is also more comfortable. I can actually understand what all that mess is out there. Nothing too unusal about today, except being asked to make a right 360 by the tower once on our downwind. I was looking in the pattern wondering why they would ask that and what we were trying to avoid. I then scanned over and saw the C-17 coming in on final. Awesome sight that is. I wanna fly me one of those!
In the meantime, my 152 will do. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Flight #11 and #12

Both days were take offs and landings. One day was on a right hand pattern. Most landings wer in a non conventional configuration. Flaps-up, Power off, etc. Talked about the emergency procedures procedures during take-off. One option in an emergency landing just past the 25L runway at LGB is a cemetary. Not exactly my first choice, but it is nonetheless a choice. I am feeling much more comfortable during landings with no wind. For some reason I still seem to land better with a slight cross-wind. In the last 4 days, i have done 35 take off and landings. I must be learning something.
Looking forward to my solo.

Flight #13

Woke up today with a smile on my face and a few butterflies in my stomach as I headed down to the airport. I got there a bit earlier than my CFI, Derek. I did my preflight check and waited anxiously as Derek finished grading my pre-solo exam. When he was done we again went over all the emergency procedures and headed out together for a few take-offs and landings. After the 3rd one, we taxied back to the school and Derek got out. After asking me how nervous I was, he told me to have fun and try to relax and sent me off. I was excited and nervous and a bit frightened all at once. I called clearance and stumbled through my call sign, called ground after a deep breath, and taxied over to the runway. After holding short for what seemed like hours, I was cleared for take-off........Pushing the throttle in and telling myself out loud that this was what I have dreamed of, I headed down the runway. Going through every checklist in my head, I immediately noticed that I was at rotation speed very quickly and started to climb. And climb I did, by myself, I was climbing so much quicker alone than with Derek. We had talked about this fact, but I did not realise how much quicker it would be.
About this time I could feel the adrenaline pumping. I had the biggest smile on my face and could not help but give out a little "YEEEHAWWW!" Coming around onto my downwind leg, the tower notified me that my transponder was not working. Oh great, I thought murphy's law kicking in.I checked it and it was on and I wiggled the knob and called the tower to see if it was working yet. It was not. I was downwind abeam and waitng for them to call my base. A bit worried about the transponder, but focusing more on the task at hand.
Turning on to final, I was a touch high, and made my adjustments. As I descended for touch down I felt a slight crosswind kick up. That made me smile, since I seem to land a little better in a cross wind. Sure enough, it may have been my best landing yet. After taxiing back to the school to talk to Derek about the transponder, he giggled some knpbs and sent me back out. I still had 2 more t/o's to go. During the second time around I asked the tower to confirm my transponder and they said it was fine. I was happy to hear that and proceeded to complete my 2nd landing almost as well as the first.
The third time I was asked to execute a short approach. The first thought I had was to ask to be taken out farther and not try the short approach, but then I realised that I had been trained well for this type of landing and confirmed that I was turning base. I was a bit higher than I wanted to be when I leveled out on base and started to corrct for that. It hit me how well Derek had been instructing me at that point. I knew that he had the confidence in my abilities to do the right thing up here, and he had done a good job of training me for this type of approach. Another very nice landing and a "Congratulations" from the tower, I taxied back and shut it down. I am still smiling some 8 hours later. I can't wait untill next time.

congrats on the solo! If I were you id print your post about your solo and save it. That way when your an FO in a widebody one day you can look back and remember this.
Flight #14

Went in today for ground school and then to fly. I was scheduled for the same plane that I have been using, but it was out of service for a faulty transponder. Imagine that. I had to reschedule to fly a bit later in the day. I have been flying every day at noon. As the sun was nearing the end of the day, I once again got to kick Derek out of the plane and head up into the sky by myself. This time it was into the most beautiful sunset in the smoothest air I have had yet. It was AMAZING! I felt lucky to have been there at that moment in time, and though I was soloing again I wished Derek could have been up there to see it with me. I got in 2 more take offs and landing and called it a day. I can't wait until tomorrow.