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These blog entries describe my experience from knowing next to nothing about flying until i got my pilot license. It serves as a permanent reminder about the whole experience and it acts as a guide for people who want to get their pilot license, especially if you pursue training in the US to get an UK issued private pilot license (PPL)

17 March: Test flight

The story begins

The story begins On March 17th my father, Jan and I went to Eindhoven Airport for a test flight in a Cessna 172, the same airplane that I'm planning to train in. We were welcomed and were "processed" by the soldiers as the airstrip was on the military part of the airport. I met my trainer and we went to a training room to get a pre-flight briefing. Here he explained how an airplane can move around the 3 axes.

28 May Exams Exams Exams and the UK

Alright. I have a huge smile on my face still. I went to Wellesbourne, Mountford airport. Take flight aviation has its home base here. It is here where I will take 4 theory exams for the PPL.

The goal for this trip was to take 4 theory exams + eye exam + medical exam. It took a few tries emailing flight schools who were willing to accept a student for just the exams. Eventually I found one and the instructor and examiner's name is Sat. He told me where to go and he'd pick me up from Leamington Spa train station. I flew to Stansted and took the bus to Baker street in London. From there I took the train to Leamington Spa.

17 July Getting the visa

Alright, a little update about the visa application. To study in the US you need a M-1 Visa. The I-20 form is issued by the school and this is the basic document to apply for the visa. One also has to pay a SEVIS fee which costs 200 USD at this time of writing. You pay it after you get the I-20 and pay it online. Then you fill out the d160 electronic form on the website of the US consulate. It takes about 1.5 hours to complete.

22 September Intro guide into the PPL


Hieronder volgt een korte introductie in de vliegwereld en basis informatie over vliegtraining

Eerst even wat achtergrond info.

27 September The Windy City

Soo by now I made my way to Chicago. I arrived at 9 am. I dropped my luggage off at the luggage lockers and I went to the city. I had no idea what to do in Chicago because I didn't do any preparations besides making a planning how to go from the Union station to Midway airport in Burbank where I'd be picked up by my host.

03 October San Diego, before the flying

Alright when I woke up it was still dark outside so I went to the viewing cart to see the sunrise. This was again beautiful to see! I arrived in LA in the morning and I had to transfer from the Southwest Chief to the Pacific Surf liner. After a short while riding the new train we were driving along the west coast. There was a blue sea with rather big waves and palm trees on the beach. This was what I was expecting and it even looks better then on tv! The pictures tell the story themselves.

9 October first landings

Today is the day that I'll be going flying! We booked the flight from 6 till 8 pm. For some reason we started at 5 pm and we went over the traffic pattern (circuit) and the landing and take off configuration. It was interesting stuff to learn and I should make a cheat sheet for the traffic pattern and the configurations. He wrote it down in paper and I decided I'd make a copy of it in Word for easy reading. After all that has been done we went to the apron to find our plane. No plane was there!

13 November cross country preparations

These post are in retrospect because on the 6th of December 2012 I had my skill test. More about this in the post when I'm up to date with my blog again. The flight training is way more intensive then I originally expected. Flying isn't as easy as learning to drive a car for example. It is a lot more complicated and not only because of the extra dimension. That's the reason why the blog got a bit behind but I have 1 week of no flying to catch up so here it goes.

27 November maneuvers, night flying and Las Vegas

Ok! All the requirements are fulfilled to start the exam.  It has been a while since I practiced the maneuvers. The steep turn and the emergencies we only practiced once with my first instructor. The stalls are quite okay. There are three different ones. I mixed them up a few times but overall I got them down pretty well after a few times. The steep turn, a 45 degree bank angle, took me a lot more afford to learn.

17 December reexam and radio test

Finally it’s time for my re-exam. This time I only had to do the three landings and if they were good I’d pass. I was scheduled for Tuesday 18 December but the Belgium guy’s exam was canceled so I could do my retest one day earlier. On Monday the weather was horrible. I went to school anyways. I looked at the weather and there was overcast at 1000 feet with light rain. We only had to stay in the circuit for the landings so even the examiner was surprised that we had to wait until 1 pm until the weather was good enough.

29 March Books and the plans

Hello all,

Today the books that I ordered arrived. My mom received the "very heavy package". It is a complete student kit with books, nav. equipment etc. It also came with a real pilot carrying case, you know the once you see in the movies. It looks a bit bulky and weighs a kilo on its own but it looks professional so we'll see if I'm gonna use it. 

08 June School enrollment and I-20

Now that I have the class 2 medical certificate I'm ready to enroll into flight school and book the flights to and from the US. After a lot of research with the pre and after travelling in mind I decided it's cheaper and more practical to book 2 single tickets from Brussels to NYc and from LA to Amsterdam. The M1 visa does not require having the return ticket booked before you go. So far I only booked 1 single ticket to NYC, its official now I'm leaving on the 23rd of September 2012.

04 August Aquila Trial flight

Hi there,

Time for a little update. By now I got everything sorted for the flight training and the first part of the holiday. I also managed to get a couch to stay at in Chicago, about 30 minutes from the city centre.

This weekend I went to Lelystad airport where there is an Aquila A210 aircraft demonstrator. It's the plane that I'm considering to participate in, meaning that I buy 1/50th of the aircraft and get to fly against cost price and if there's a profit at the end of the year because of non participants fly at a surcharge of 20 euro per hour it's distributed back to the participants. A little complicated construction but it looks solid and the numbers are realistic.

23 September The Big Apple

So yes, I made it to New York in one piece on the 23 September. I arrived at Brussels airport 3 hours early, checked my bags in and got an exit seat. It was great, it was right next to the entrance door so there was no chair in front of me, thus I had a lot of leg room, but no fold down table, just a little version of it. The aircraft was a 787, which was tiny tiny. The passengers were like, "is that it"? I didn't expect that for an international flight either, but it is what it was. 

30 September Albuquerque

Welcome back people! I'm in the train from Albuquerque to Los Angeles now and so it's time to write about the past few days. Albuquerque is a city in New Mexico. As the name implies there are a lot of Mexicans. The people look great! Most of them could come straight from a movie! The landscape is amazing.

6/7/8 October First lesson

During the weekend (6/7) there's not much to tell, did some groceries, studied a bit and we, the Dutchies, went out to Pacific beach to see how life is on the west coast. It was nice, only thing that sucked was they require passport ID's for clubs to get in and I didn't know that so I wasn't allowed in with just my Dutch drivers license.

3 November First solo and more

Alright. Time for a long overdue update of what has been going here in El Cajon. By now I have completed my first solo flight and also my second solo fight has been made. The landings took a little longer to perfect so I didn't solo until my 29th hour of training. The next step is to go on the cross country flights.

23 November solo cross countries

Hello again,

This entry is about my cross country flights. I did them first with my instructor and after those I got an endorsement to do them on my own It took about 3-4 days for each trip for the weather to be good enough.

06 December skill test

All the training has come to this. The PPL exam. The school only has 1 UK examiner for the JAA PPL. Martin Lloyd is his name.  The first part of the exam is navigation which is followed by aerial maneuvers. After that it is time for emergency procedures. The last part are the landings. It takes about 2 hours and the examiner takes the radio after the navigation part. He gives you the route for the navigation part 1 day before together with his weight and baggage.