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Mar 8 2015

Flight Plans Shyness

Transport Canada requirements aside, in a real world of private flying, filing of a flight plan is a fairly rare occurrence. Some people do that regularly and almost religiously, others do that occasionally, but apparently most of the private pilots (and the whole ultralight crowd overshadowing them massively) never bother.

Why so? Isn’t it good to have a caring government eye watching you flying, ever so ready to lend a helpful hand if you are in trouble?

Apparently, most people don’t think so.

And there is certain logic in their reluctance. For example:

Flight plan includes estimated time of arrival. Are most of the people that confident as to estimation of their time on route so as to be 100% sure in the exact time? Obviously not – as this type of estimates requires solid navigation skills by pilotage, which most of the people only use during their student pilot days – and replace with GPS herding as soon as they can.

Similarly, this precise timing calls for airport-like schedule following – as you absolutely must take off and fly your waypoints as planned. But what if you want to double-check your plane condition during preflight? Or heard some weird noise while running up the engine? Or a buddy stopped by your hangar and wanted to chat, effectively delaying your departure by solid twenty minutes?

All that breaks your fragile planning schedule from the very beginning!

And then, while in the air – how many of us actually stuff the trusty E6B under their butt and regularly measure the ground speed while passing the checkpoints? C’mon, don’t lie – most of you don’t even remember how to do that since, again, our flight school days! GPS is more reliable in that sense, but how many of us, again, are comfortable dialing the right frequency (which, by the way?) and giving the flight service (what’s the name of these guys?) an advisory on your flight plan amendment, while in the air?

Radio which are you going to tell that your arrival at Bob’s Crooked Leg Airfield is delayed by an estimate of 17 minutes? Do you know if they’d actually listen? Would that surely prevent sending a Hercules to search for your plane if you arrive in 18 minutes instead?

Questions, questions…

And the outcome of such uncertainty is obvious – people simply go flying without flight planning pains. No schedule – you can spend any amount of time you want doing whatever you wish… Fun! No radio calls talking to authorities and having your skills challenged… Joy!

Nothing will happen anyways, right? I mean, unless you’re flying a century-old transport hulk over some serious arctic ice, do you really expect to get lost in the wilderness, hiding from bears and bitter cold inside the wreck of your airplane, wounded and bleeding?

Unlikely, I’d guess.

Mind you, that’s again – as almost everything in aviation! – about decision making. And decision making is almost always about “human factor”. And human factor is based on your own personality traits, thus entirely diverse and unreliable.

My personal suggestion would be to keep your teeth sharp – being able to file the plan and fly as planned. Have enough discipline to get in the air without unnecessary delays, and be able to communicate your trouble if required. I find this type of “always learning” activity improving my self-esteem.

Most people go for self-entitlement, though – relieving themselves from a burden of self-improvement, and ending up in the air with no flight plans, and a very remote notion on whom to call if in trouble. And trouble they often get, as that’s exact the type of attitude that’s spawning them.

So many of us – being quietly conscious of their true capabilities – fortunately chose to remain on the ground. Coming to the hangar for some important work like wiping the windshield and chatting with buddies about past adventures. That’s why there are often old couches and chairs in each hangar – you know, to “socialize” rather than fly.

And frankly, I can only endorse such behavior. Those who can’t fly shouldn’t try. Their true fear may be that they can’t land – which may be an absolutely valid expectation – yet reality being that they won’t be able to find their way back to their own airport from five miles apart, if not for GPS. Whatever keeps them grounded, be it blessed.

Those who are planning to get up, though, should rather be able to plan in advance. Or become short-living news one day.


Nov 2 2011

Wallet Pressure: Plane Rental

Being an avid airplane renter for the past couple of years, I’ve tried a dozen of different locations in two different provinces of Canada. I’ve been renting from the private individuals, flying schools and clubs – smaller and bigger scale. Conditions resulted to be pretty much similar for the same type of rentals, though the base level prices and taxes varied significantly according to the province. I decided to summarize the typical cases and analyze them.

Here are six representative options for the airplane rental, based on my own experience and using Toronto and GTA prices as a model:

  • Homebuilt Ultralight – registered advanced ultralight rented from an ultralight flying group north of Toronto;
  • Piper Cub – restored and certified vintage airplane, rented from an aircraft type club west of Toronto;
  • Cessna 150 – private certified airplane, rented from the owner, based at the downtown Toronto airport;
  • Cessna 150/152 – commercially certified, rented from a downtown Toronto flying school;
  • Cessna 172 – commercially certified, rented from a downtown Toronto flying school;
  • Super Cub – commercially certified, rented from a flight club west of Toronto.

Certain conditions apply before you would be able to rent. For example, an infamous “currency” requirement: This could be seen as a lack of respect to the Transport Canada pilot certification, or a client abuse with financial goals in mind – but honestly, it makes certain sense to ensure that a renter is actually able to fly on his own. In general.

Now, I can’t agree with a typical approach that requires the renter to “stay current” with a renting entity by flying with them at least once a month, unless you are sporting something like 500 hours of flight experience. Than the “currency” limit would be raised to maybe two months. But seriously, a guy may have 5000 hours of a VIP passenger duty in the right seat of a transport plane – this does not make him any better in flying a Cub, or any worse in driving a Cessna. Currency must be based on the actual skills, not just time logged. Some people become rusty if not kicked into the air at least twice a week. Others may remain grounded for three weeks, and then go flying without any negative consequences.

Frequently there is a “currency requirement” for even a specific make or model of the plane! For example, I can fly a Cessna 172S for months, and then attempt to rent a 172M – would that work out? No, because the flying school will insist that I pay for a checkout before they can let me drive a “different” airplane. I can stretch my imagination to understand such approach if one is going from Cessna 172 to Piper Warrior, or even from Cessna 172 to 150, or vice versa, but still – this is an obvious case of a “currency rule” abuse. It just cancels the whole idea of the blanket rating.

For the above cases, Super Cub and J-3 required the most extensive checkride with 10 hours minimum of the tailweel time. Homebuilt ultralight has to be flown with its owner as a passenger as the club can’t put a renter on the insurance to go solo. Private 150’s owner was able to add me to his insurance, and only requested a checkride with a CFI we both know. Downtown flying school requires a monthly minimum recency, and introduces a $2500 deductable in case of an accident.

Such conditions need to be kept in mind while you are thinking about renting a plane. Even with that “currency” nuisance alone, you will be pretty much tied to one and only rental entity, unless you wish to jump over the expensive checkride hurdles again and again upon changing the locations.

Then comes the actual rental expenses package…

Initial look at the pricelist says that I will be charged $100 for the ultralight and privately owned aircraft, $160 for a 4 hour block time in the Cub, $140 for a 150 and $160 for a C172 rented from a flying school. Now let’s see how the numbers look like if we add all the “infrastructure” expenses, including the taxes:

Plane

Transport

Block

Member

1 hr

Ultralight Homebuilt

80

0

0

100

Piper Cub Club

80

160

20

24

Private Cessna 150

0

15

0

100

Cessna 150/152 Rental

0

0

0

160

Cessna 172 Rental

0

0

0

180

Super Cub Rental

80

0

25

155

Interesting… So first of all, for the airports outside of the city (and I live in the downtown) introduce a hefty transportation fee. I put $80 which is actually a price of the train/bus/cab travel back and forth, or a typical weekend rental in a cheap location. Zipcar for a day would be $105, for example, but eighty is good enough to get an idea. Or you may own a car, but then you may not have an extra thousand bucks or so to throw away monthly for the flying fun, right?

Another important detail to understand is a block rental concept. Block price is an absolute bare minimum you must pay just to get the airplane – besides all flying! Wet rate (fuel cost included), or dry rate (pay apart for fuel) is a different story. For a private 150, the “block price” used in the table is actually an airport landing fee, mandatorily added to the rental price. Taxes add yet another dimension to the claimed list price – and I assume that a pilot AND all passengers have their own headsets, otherwise those should be added to the expenses list.

Now, who ever flies for just one hour? That’s a useless time. If you go for only a “hop and circle the airport, then land”, it will take 0.3-0.5 or something like that (and your renting entity may impose a minimum rental time, for example 0.5 at our downtown flying school). Upper airwork in the nearby training area will be 1.7 at the very least. So let’s say we are going to do some reasonably useful flying – either working the time we need in the practice area, or go sightseeing further from home, or do a nice little cross-country to some 90 miles away airport. That should cost us around 2.5 hours of the Hobbs time, and here is the updated pricelist:

Plane

1 hr

Minimum

2.5 hrs

4 hrs

Ultralight Homebuilt

100

180

320

480

Piper Cub Club

24

284

320

356

Private Cessna 150

100

115

265

415

Cessna 150/152 Rental

160

160

400

640

Cessna 172 Rental

180

180

450

720

Super Cub Rental

155

260

493

725

Woopsieeee! Now we are talking! Just look at those numbers – how’s your wallet feeling? Like shrinking? But that’s what you must expect from the actual flying day – aviation is no cheap a hobby…

First and obvious observation is that all the flight club and flight school rentals become unreasonably expensive even for a 2.5 hours of flight time. Taxes are also eating a very significant part of what we pay for flying, but oh well. From my experience, Alberta had the lowest prices and taxes, compared to Ontario. I’m wondering why…

Membership is more of a pain than a charge – not because it’s really augmenting the price, but because it looks like an unwelcome extra to the pricelist. Especially when some clubs charge the membership fee for a couple of months the first time you register! I would rather have a percentage included in my rental price upfront, and done with that – no need in additional nuisance. But that’s just my customer opinion.

And then, the transportation is a huge thing, as mentioned. Either you spend hours and hours commuting, waiting for the trains, buses and cabs, or you drive a car. Save a lot of money or a lot of time – your choice. In any case, if there is no airport next door to your home, your flying will be significantly more expensive, and you can’t do anything about that. Long live city airports anyone?

Resuming:

  • Block-time rental Cub is not cheap for the short hops, but the more you fly – the more cost-efficient it becomes. However:
    • You can’t go cheaper than the block time, plus surrounding expenses – even if you won’t fly at all;
    • You are forced to spend as much of the block time in the air, as possible, to make the long-term economy work for you;
    • You can’t really go places, as Cub is the slowest cross-country machine of all available (though it’s a legend of an airplane to simply enjoy flying around);
  • Ultralight is cheaper in a short run, and stands strong all the way to the “magic” 2.5 hours, when Cub by-passes it in being more economic way of flying. But:
    • It still doesn’t fly that fast – though significantly faster than Cub;
    • In our case, one can’t carry passengers due to the insurance restrictions, making it only good for the training flights;
  • Privately owned Cessna 150 results to be a clear winner – cheaper for almost any given timeframe and rental condition! Also:
    • Being located next door from home, I only pay a $15 extra, that’s all;
    • Cruise speed of a 150 is high enough to actually go places.

Is there any value in renting a Super Cub? It is a wonderful machine giving you precious experience, but pricing is a real killer – it is simply the most expensive for any possible condition in my list, from minimum to maximum. Add to that a duplicated membership for the first month, higher deductible (I think it was around $5500?), and the most expensive checkride of all – $70/hr for an instructor for ten mandatory hours. Not fun…

Cessna 172 looks pretty dull – though a bit cheaper than Super Cub for a short hop, its rental price grows ridiculously high on anything longer than circuits or a city tour. One may think about packing it with passengers and making them pay for fun, but that’s a commercial operation, requiring a corresponding license and owner’s approval – not an option for a private pilot from a legal perspective.

And though it’s great I have a friend who rents me his Cessna, this is not a solution for everyone – and there are no rules in regard. Some rich guy may give you his plane for free, simply to show-off, but that won’t be a regular flying activity. Or some nasty dude may try to drain you better then a flying club, and mess up with the insurance. Maintenance of the private planes is quite uneven – no guarantee here.

Looking at the big picture, airplane ownership starts looking attractive… Maybe not a certified airplane, rather a registered ultralight – one of those modern birds that can beat the venerable 150 in any aspect? Or a restored Aeronca C-3 registered as an ultralight – I don’t know. What I know for sure, though, is that it’s impossible to spend less than 150-200 dollars a weekend to get any sort of useful flying – and that’s a bare minimum. Which still sounds reasonable if you don’t have a car and other things to pay for, but if you do…

ICP Savannah

ICP Savannah


Nov 7 2010

Farewell Super Cub!

Such a beautiful machine… It’s hard to believe until you try it – but Super Cub provides simply the best feedback I have ever experienced in the plane. Everything – from stick forces, to lateral and longitudinal accelerations, together with excellent sound and cabin layout provides an incredible feeling about everything what happens with a plane.

I loved every minute flying it.

Just imagine – you are in the climbing turn and something feels wrong. Maybe you can’t tell exactly what it is, but as soon as you move your feet and coordinate – weird feeling disappears and suddenly you feel comfortable. What was that? Touching the side of the tight cockpit with your shoulder, sliding slightly sideways on that ugly but comfortable seat, hearing some sort of shady whistling of the wind – a lot of small details were just telling you: “Coordinate!” If you listen, and you do what you should – you will feel better. If you can’t feel or don’t notice that – you are too dumb to fly.

Everything else is like that with Super Cub. Landing attitude, stick force and height of the gear is just exactly what’s needed to consistently make good three-pointers. Track is narrow, which forces you to work with your legs on landing, but there is plenty of time and control to correct until it’s too late. You can handle much more crosswinds and gusts that anyone can imagine. Super Cub lands on a dime and leaves enough space to take off from it straight away. What a magic airplane…

And the walk around, when you discover that flaps are not fixed in the down position? Or that crazy concept of checking the tension of the cables holding the stabilizer and fin together, requiring you to play on them, like if those were the bass-guitar strings? Everything, from the control cables running outside the wing struts, to bungee cords in “streamlined” cowlings of the landing gear is breathing history – with all the decades of development that followed the birth of the legend.

There is each and every reason why the Cub series were so ridiculously successful. If you are any good, this plane will teach you to fly better than most of the instructors can. It is also able to filter out the useless “airplane drivers”, maybe paying for that with broken wingtips, but leaving the suckers alive and well, talking smartly about “sudden gusts” and ground loops. I love taildraggers exactly for that – they separate those who fly from those who drive. There is nothing wrong with the “drivers”, they can get airline job and such, but I just understand flying totally differently myself – hence perceiving the Super Cub as an essential joy…

But just think about it, in all freaking Toronto there are only two Super Cubs available for rent from the aero clubs! One in Brampton, and one in Burlington. Both clubs impose usual, albeit a bit stricter requirements on the renters – those are expected to get checked and signed off by the club instructors, and if they don’t fly frequent enough – depending on the number of the hours flown, they should be re-checked before being allowed to rent. Currency compliance depends on the total hours flown by the renter, and there are also thousands of dollars deductibles, in case they break something – even though rental price includes the insurance.

So I went and passed the required tests in Brampton Flying Center. Got everything completed in five flights, seven hours, at the total cost of 1710$ (130 rental + 70 instructor + HST tax per hour, adding 25$ monthly membership and 50$ “administrative fee to set up the club account”). Now guess what? The club requires a minimum of 10 hours dual on PA-18, even if you have passed all the tests!

So I am forced to spend about 700 dollars more, rising my expenses to the range of a full-blown rating, just to be able to rent a plane from the aero club… Hell no. And to make things even nastier, my check-out instructor refused to at least sign an aircraft flown in my log book, until I complete those three hours – even after recognizing the other requirements already met! What a bad, tasteless move.

I’m done with this crap. As much as I love the Super Cub, I’m glad that at least I didn’t try Burlington – not only they are located twice further from the city, but also impose even stronger restrictions on the renters than Brampton. I seriously don’t understand how those guys stay in business, unless they are lucky to drain some occasional money bags, which compensates for the ridiculous costs and anti-customer attitude.

Farewell, Super Cub… I have touched my dream and enjoyed a lot, but there are more important things to do apart from flying a dream plane. I need to work on my night rating, and later probably get an ultralight instructor rating as well. Just overall, I prefer to spend my money in something more feasible than crappy business practices of the local aero clubs.

Super Cub

Super Cub


Jun 14 2010

Gliders, Dream and Lie

There is nothing like soaring. All other forms of aviation are crude – they spend lots of energy, they are noisy, they smell like everything from filthy rental cockpits to avgas – but not the sky they are thrusting through. Airplanes could be compared to gliders as motorboats to the yachts.

I always loved the idea of soaring in the sky, making ascending currents of air silently lift me up, accelerating without any sound except for the wings cutting through the air, looking to the world around from that long and hi-tech cockpit of an aircraft that weights less than some motorcycles…

When that dream finally came true, surprisingly, it still kept all the witchcraft intact! Flying the aeroplanes at some point becomes a work. It is utterly difficult to find the way of going through the controlled airspaces and still enjoying the magic of flight. But soaring retains the miracle which never ends.

I remember my very first flight in the basic glider. It happened during the fifth or sixth attempt of the “fast taxi”, when the torque is pulling a glider fast enough to make the controls work, yet slow enough to prevent a take-off. I hated that, I wanted to leave the ground and dive into the sky – but instead my bumping and jerking machine was painfully swaying through those hundred yards of boredom.

And then the moment of truth happened. That big guy controlling the torque was apparently so bored with my attempts to keep the wings level and stop wandering from side to side, that he accelerated his cable-puller a bit more then necessary – and I took off! Only to realize that the power was reset and the cable disengaged from the glider – leaving me without any thrust in a climbing attitude, dangerously close to the ground.

From the 14-years old pilot prospective, it was all simple. I thought:

–        “Burying the nose into the ground, as that jerk instructor told me to do, is wrong. It is very hard to maintain the directional control that way. Let me lift the nose and balance the glider on its only wheel…”

–        “Hey, it works – it works! So much easier to control it this way!”

–        “Aha, the ground is somehow going down… So am I… Am I… Flying?! Me! I am flying!!!”

–        “No airspeed. Nose down. Descending.”

–        “The ground is approaching, nose up. Not enough airspeed but I will do a cushion.”

[bum-crack, hrsh-shk-shk-shk-shk…]

–        “I’ve landed… Ha-ha… Uhh… Something cracked; it could not be by any mean soft…”

And that was it – my incredible first flight. I haven’t been to the air even as a passenger before, still I flew my first solo right away. It still surprises me how calm and smart I was at that moment – I could not even think about myself being so cool!

Then there was lots of fighting for a privilege to fly, which I was understanding as my right. And I have lost that battle and was banned from flying for a long time. But my eventual return to the world of rudder and stick was – surprise! – through flying the gliders, again.

It was back in Argentina, glider flights were the cheapest aviation thing available, and even though for the local authorities I was still a discard, that dream of slicing through the air on those long and flexible wings was definitely present, surrounding me. In total I’ve made seven flights, total time probably about four hours. Nevertheless, the magic of soaring was there! Same as in the childhood book, I was spiraling up to the clouds and going from stall to Vne in seconds…

Economic crisis in the beginning of the century effectively killed my flying, and I was only able to return to gliding after making it to Canada and achieving a PPL. To the following horror and pain, I realized that whatever used to be cheap and beautiful sport remained stunning, but become prohibitively expensive. Prices in a soaring clubs, scarcely spotted around Canada, are soaring higher that their gliders, and not good even for the joke.

I mean, when you calculate the cost of aero-towing the glider for fifteen minutes, it should not be possibly as expensive as flying a rental aircraft for an hour. But it is. And those “towing tickets” sound even more ridiculous, taking in account that to start spending your money on them you are supposed to buy this soaring association membership and that insurance, and also pay half a thousand bucks for some “club membership”… Overall, sucks. I tried a couple of places, but they are all the same. Only Air Cadets somehow have that differently, but I am not an Air Cadet.

Whatever was an open road to the skies for countless thousands of young pilots back in 30s, or a popular aerial fun all the way through the 50s and 60s is now a rich guys’ timewaste. Yes, most of them barely have skill to go safely even through the basic 300 km triangle, but at least they have enough money for all those business-smart wallet killers imposed by the gliding club owners.

And there is no surprise most of the records in this sport were either established like forty years back, or – if recently – by some rarely talented money bags, such as Steve Fosset. Gliders were yachts of the air aerodynamically, now they are the yachts of the air financially, too. So stupid…

I am still dreaming about some sort of the old-style motorglider taking off from the turf runway of some homebuilders’ airport. Just a privately owned piece of personal joy! But that is remote – and in any case I will prefer to spend money on something more practical, like a “normal” airplane. It would be easier to cope with the weather, or take friends for a ride.

But still, that memory of the wildly hissing air, incredibly steep climbing turns, woop-wooping variometer and the sun dancing around me in circles is so alive, so attractive… Probably I can’t help but go and pay for yet another “introductory flight” in some soaring club. Just for the crazy magic of life that only could be felt when flying a glider.

Schleicher ASK 21

Schleicher ASK 21


Feb 27 2010

Mountain Check

Passed my mountain check today. That was beautiful! Mountains are an incredibly powerful sight by themselves, and flying next to them adds much more to the feelings… Loved it. Bumpy, openly dangerous at times, but so completely gorgeous – there is just nothing like that.



Oct 13 2009

Rental Pilot – First Experience

Just imagine that. You face is staring so confidently from the main page of the sky-blue Aviation Document booklet, while one of the following pages contains the sticker-like image confirming – you are now an officially licensed Private Pilot. The whole sky is opened to you, free to fly and explore it, going from point to point with incredible speed (at least compared to the highway speed limits), making stunning photos from the birds-eye-view… A dream comes true!

Your friends are already making queues for you to fly them to Niagara, and even your mother in law suddenly feels an unusual urge of pride for that asshole of her daughter’s choice. Very few people on Earth (or at least those off the ground) can ever get close to such heights.

Now, thrash talk aside – where’s your plane, dude? Have you bought one already? Don’t tell me that you didn’t. That will mean – welcome to the rental pilots’ club! No way to escape, you have one more set of hurdles to jump over or crawl below… Or just stare at before you turn away.

Maybe you’ve made a wise choice to rent from the same flying school where you’ve earned your wings? Smart you! That 180 turn will save your flying life. Or maybe, like me, you had to move to another city and you’ve decided to explore it from the air – you know, joining the local flight club and enjoying the privileges of your new license? He-he-here’s where the real fun begins!

First of all, do you really believe that the plane’ owner (yes, that aero club) will trust those Transport Canada exam results of yours? Or respect your impressive 50+ hours of flight experience? Worse, if you are not even a PPL but need to complete a very last part of your training to get the license? I think you already start to guess that it ain’t gonna be that simple. Very well. Here is how it looks in the real life – in a close transcript of two actual interviews with two different aero club representatives from the same airport:

Me: Hello sir, I am a student pilot from Toronto, have passed all the exams and training, only need to fly two hours cross-country solo to comply with Transport Canada minimums and get my license!

Dispatch: Uhm… You should talk to our CFI… Meanwhile, would you like to book a flight with one of our instructors?

Me: Oh, so that you can verify that I actually passed those exams and could be signed off to rent and fly solo?

Dispatch: Yes, yes, sure – it is our club rules, you know, for safety.

[Safety! The magic word]

Me: Ok. Let’s book a dual with one of your instructors. Can we book for this weekend?

Dispatch: Ehm, you know… Looks like there is no planes or instructors available… Let me see… You should have actually call at least two weeks in advance but it’s okay for now… Hmm… Can you call John-The-CFI and ask him? He’s the boss, he’ll tell you.

Me: Ok.

[calling John-the-CFI]

Me: Hi, I am a student pilot from Toronto… [repeating the scenario]

CFI: Hmm. So you are new to this area?

Me: I guess so.

CFI: Aha. So you will need a dual before you would be allowed to go solo.

Me: But… Exams… Certified PTR… Almost done flying… Just two hours solo…

CFI: Well, you know, that should be actually 1.2… or better 1.5 dual before we’d let you go in the most happy scenario.

[Sigh]

CFI: Which plane you were flying? 152? No-no-no, we only have the 172-s or Diamonds here, so you should do a Check On Type first.

Me: Ok. Let’s do a check on type. May I expect other checks later on?

CFI: Well, you will definitely need some dual time to familiarize yourself with local airport… You know, our ATC are one of the most fast-speaking, and our airspace is so complex!

Me: Ehm, actually my home base was a D airspace right below the Pearson’s C. So I am rather accustomed to complex radio communications and being aware of the altitude restrictions.

CFI: Oh yes? Well, whatever… You know that we have some mountains next to us so you will need to pass a special mountain flying preparation and test before we’d let you go! And then, if everything is okay, you may go solo… Potentially.

[Those damned two hours. Just two stupid hours]

Me: Ok, let’s book the first dual.

He arranges with dispatch, I get the confirmation, and the weather this weekend turns unflyable. Rebooking for the next one. Writing the new club’ tests for the C-172 (V-speeds, etc). Learning the new checklists and local rules. Weather is still unflyable – it’s autumn now. No, wait a minute – here’s a sunny day, and I still have a booking open – let’s go flying! Now!!!

And we did. I managed to show-off – flying the map, homing to NDB, tracking the VOR and estimating the diversion with precision to one degree and one minute… Still that was not good enough for my assigned instructor. The ceilings were too low for the upper-level air work, so it got postponed. The time was too short to do the circuits. My crosswind landing this time was crappy, have to admit it. More flying was required before I could finalize the check on type. More flying will be also required later on to let me go cross-country – actually I was told by that CFI that I should fly a dual one before they’d let me go solo. 282.00 dollars has been spent today, and counting…

I’ll tell you one thing. Buy a plane. Or better, just fuck it – with your own plane you’d have a handful of other restrictions, such as insurance or maintenance to worry about – not that difficult to imagine! Honestly, it looks cheaper to just stop it all right here. People around will soon forget, and may just occasionally joke about that flight to Niagara that never happened. Your mother in law will confirm the fact that you are worthless – nothing new about it anyway.

Or, as an option, just prepare to fly from your home base for the rest of your life. Accept the prices; reject the non-existent freedom of choice. It will look more like a jail, not home, but at least you will be free to go around your cell in the same machine you’ve used while learning to fly. Other pilots will greet you and ask whether you are going to go commercial soon? Better then nothing.

I’m stubborn, I wouldn’t. That cost me, and will cost me more, but I’ll find a way to fly away from the home base. Just follow the news.