Private pilot license

So, this story starts in the early spring of 2016 with my husband, who obviously had too much time on his hands. He was busy researching the cost of flight simulator seats for his home computer when it dawned on him that a pilot license might in fact not be that much more expensive. A couple of minutes later he was out of his room to tell me he was going to get his pilot’s license. A couple of seconds after that I was like – ok, me too!

After that, it didn’t take long for us to find us sitting in a class room at the local Hohenems airport. Getting a grip on the basics is quick business – the feet control the rudder at the tail of the plane (yaw), the stick controls roll (by moving the ailerons on the plane’s wings) and pitch (through the elevators, which are also placed on the tail section). So far so good. Now you just need to get a handle on the details – like landing the plane.

You start slowly, flying straight, taking turns with the correct alignment, climbing and descending. Then you progress to lift-offs and landings.

It takes about 30 hours of flight time with an instructor before you move on to solo flights. At first, those are only circuits to practice landing the plane on your own. Then you move on to cross-country flights.

At the same time it pays to invest some time in the theoretical aspects. Apart from the practical flight exam, 3 theoretical exams are required:

  • the radio exam, which is required before taking your first solo flight
  • the theoretical exam (flight dynamics, some legal aspects, etc)
  • the language exam, which is supposed to assess your grip of the English language

The last one is quite important because your level decides how often you have to retake the exam during your life as a pilot. Level 4 is the first pass level and means you have to retake the same language exam every 4 years (which is quite expensive). Level 5 means retaking the exam every 5 years. The highest level, level 6, means you never have to retake the exam. Thankfully Matthias and I both achieved level 6. I can’t tell you how relieved we were!

In all it took us about 3 months to finish the training. I really enjoy flying, and I love that your radius for day or weekend trips expands so much. You just get much further in a plane than in a car in the same amount of time. Plus, no traffic jams. And I really love sharing these trips with Matthias. I think flying is even better if you can do it together.

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