Aircraft: C172 N52654
Flight Time: 1.7 hours
Total Hours: 42.8
I passed my checkride and am now an officially licensed pilot!
I felt confident and relaxed during the morning segment, and I took my time making up a cross country flight plan and completing the other tasks that Dick Ardiaz gave me to make sure that I’d be a safe and knowledgeable pilot.
At around 1:00, I rode my bike over to the other side of the airport and got the plane. After taxiing over to Aero Tech, Dick jumped in and we were off flying. He didn’t have me do that many maneuvers, and we actually spent the majority of the time on VOR navigation, which is what I’d heard that he was likely to his main area of focus.
I am fairly confident about VOR navigation, at least I thought I was, but during the ride, I got a little nervous and forgot to correct for the wind, which kept blowing me off course. I started to confuse myself a couple of times, and that’s when Dick took the yoke and explained it in very easy to understand terms. I listened to his brief lesson and it began to click a little better.
After that, we flew back to Merrill, did a couple of landings, and then he told me to make a full stop and taxi back to Aero Tech. When we got back, he told me that I passed, but to make sure I go up and practice the VOR stuff by myself when I get a chance. I would have through that he would ask me to do more things in the air, but I guess someone who has that much experience doesn’t need very much time to assess your overall piloting and safety skills. When it was all finished, I taxied the plane back and got a big congratulations from my instructor. I feel fortunate to have had such a good teacher and can easily see how not having the right fit could make this all a much different type of experience.
The really cool thing was watching him fly the plane. He’s in his 80’s, and moves slowly on the ground, but he has more years of flying experience than I have years in my entire life and he handles the plane with incredible confidence. Here I was trying to be gently and do these gentle, standard rate turns and when he flew, he made these deliberate turns with more skill and agility than I have ever seen. The guy is a legend and now I have my signature in my logbook. Next to his name, it says “Private Certificate Issued.”
It’s all a little bit surreal right now, and I’m sure that it will take time for the realization to sink in that I have actually attained my lifelong dream of becoming a pilot. It will probably start to feel different when I fly somewhere new, as it did when I flew my cross countries. There’s alot of air to cover up here in Alaska and I’m excited to start exploring and putting my license to good use!