Well finally after four months, my 3rd class medical certificate and my student pilot certificate showed up in the mail! Some of you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Well I’ll tell you. First of all your 3rd class medical serves as your official student pilot certificate. Kind of like your learners permit when you’re learning to drive a car. “But John, you’ve BEEN flying, so why do you need that?” That’s true, I have been flying. According to Part 61.109 of the FAR/AIM I need to have a minimum of 40 hours of flight training, of which 20 hours must be dual instruction and 10 hours must be solo flight. So I’ve been doing my dual instruction flights in the absence of my Student Pilot Certificate, so technically I haven’t been a student pilot until now. I must have my Student Pilot Certificate to Solo. So that’s the big deal. I can’t solo without it. And until I can get my minimum of 10 hours of solo flight time in, I can’t officially get my Private Pilot’s License (PPL).
As of now, I think I have more than 20 hours of dual instruction. (I’ll have to total up my log book to be sure) That’s not to say I’m done with that portion, I’ve got quite a bit of learning left to do. Just looking at the requirements for my license under Part 61.87 there are three things at least I know I need to learn before my instructor will sign me off to solo: Forward Slips to a Landing; Approaches to a Landing Area with Simulated Engine Malfunctions; and Go Arounds. I’m hoping on today’s flight lesson we practice a couple of those as well as get some pattern work in with a couple of landings in there as well.
That’s just what I have left to learn to solo. Beyond that, I’ve still got some night flying left to do, both dual instruction and solo. That night flying must include 10 take offs and landings to a full stop, and at least one flight greater than 100 nautical miles. I have to tell you, the night flying is one thing that both thrills and scares me at the same time. It’s one thing to look out the window and figure out where you are during the day, but a whole other thing to figure it out at night! But I can’t wait to do it!
Ultimately this is just one more milestone towards getting my Private Pilots License. Just as were Ground School and Passing my Written Exam. Up next will be log book endorsements for Solo Flight, Cross Country to Specific Airports, Cross Country without limitation during daytime, Night Flight, Operations in Class B Airspace, and I’m sure more I’m forgetting or don’t know about yet. Then at some point, I’ll be preparing for my Oral Examination and check ride with an FAA designated examiner. That will be stressful and exciting all at the same time. At that point I’ll really be taking up my first passenger. Assuming they think I do everything correctly, they’ll announce the newest private pilot at the end of the flight. I can say that will be one of the most proud days of my life. Lifetime goal achieved! But lots of work to do between now and then!