Flying on my birthday and preparing for the checkride
My journey began when I was 10 years old. As a birthday present back in 2012, my parents purchased me an introductory flying lesson. Since my parents had to travel for work, I would fly with them a lot, which helped to establish and develop my interest in different transportation vehicles, especially airplanes. I would sit in the window seat, fascinated with what the airplane’s wing was doing. This introductory flight was my first chance to actually be at the controls of an airplane, which helped solidify my strong interest in aviation.
I continued taking flying lessons as the years went by and finally got serious with flying in 2018. With my interest in aviation growing, I manifested the goal of earning my Private Pilot License with the ultimate goal of earning it before I graduated high school. In April 2019, I was able to complete my first solo flight. This was an extremely exciting experience for me, and after it was done, it took me a little while to fully process what just happened… a significant amount of hard work and practice had to be put forth to get to that moment, and once I completed that flight, I realized that my upcoming milestones and the dream of earning my license were not-so-distant realities.
Taxiing during my first solo flight
Following this accomplishment, my next step was to complete my first 50-mile solo cross country flight. This flight was scheduled to be completed in March but unfortunately, the airport FBO closed due to COVID-19 and I was unable to do the flight. I was a bit disappointed, mostly because I was on track to complete the rest of the requirements for my license in the spring, and then pass my written exam and checkride going into the summer. Thankfully, our governor granted the airport permission to open back up again in June, and then I was able to continue my flight training.
On the ground in Nashua, NH
With each flight, I got closer and closer to my goal, and at the end of July, I was able to complete my 150-mile solo flight to three different airports (7B2-KCON-KLEB-7B2). I was a bit nervous at first, with this being my longest solo flight yet, but I was able to just rely back on all the practice I had done, I got more comfortable, and enjoyed the flight.
On the ground in Lebanon, NH
Going into September, I was at the point where I was completing the tests necessary to earn my license. I passed the required written test, and even though I was a bit nervous and lost some sleep over it, the extra bit of studying was extremely worthwhile. With the written exam under my belt, my final steps were to complete my required 3 hours of test prep and then take the checkride. As I was before, I was quite nervous leading into the exam, mostly because I hadn’t had one before and didn’t know what to expect - but talking with my instructor, my examiner, and other newly-minted private pilots beforehand helped to calm those nerves and make me feel more comfortable.
The checkride itself went great - the oral portion was about an hour and 15 minutes, and then I ended up logging 1.7 hours for the flight portion. I thought I messed up severely on my soft field landing I was required to do, but I suppose that it was within the Practical Test Standards since I was able to progress past it. After completing all my maneuvers, landings, and then securing the aircraft, my examiner asked me a few more questions about the airplane, and then that was that. I went back into the FBO, got my Temporary Airman Certificate, and then I was on my way! I still had the aircraft booked for a few hours, so I took the opportunity to bring my grandmother and father up for a flight, and I plan on going with my mother this weekend.
Flying over the Quabbin Reservoir with my family
All in all, even though my journey to my PPL was extensive and required a lot of hard work, I found it to be very rewarding. I have learned so much about myself, improved myself as a person, and have set into motion possible career paths, being lucky enough to complete this training before my high school graduation. In terms of flight training, and many other things for that matter, the main thing that would hold back my progress was myself, whether I was doubting myself, not being confident, etc. Eight years ago after my first flight in the cockpit, getting my pilot’s license just seemed like a dream to me. That one flight, at 10 years old, set into motion my entire journey as a pilot, making me realize that earning my license was what I wanted to do, something that I could do, and now, something that I was able to do. My advice: keep chasing after your dreams, because with the right course of action, they are achievable.