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I thought about learning to fly since I was a teenager, but it took a move to California to get me to do something about it. In May 2001, I took my first left-seat flight in a Cessna 152 at the Sundance Flying Club at Palo Alto Airport, midway between San Francisco International (SFO) and San Jose International (SJC). In March 2002 I passed my Private Pilot checkride - the story is here. In May 2002, coincidentally a year to the day after my first lesson, I started on my Instrument Rating, which I obtained in November 2002 after almost exactly six months. 

wpeD.jpg (9611 bytes) In October 2002, I bought my own plane - N5296S, a 1980 Cessna T182RG. Originally I hoped to get something more expensive, but this is the perfect plane for me - fast enough (160 KTAS or so, 170 up in the flight levels), and can carry four normal people plus baggage, with enough fuel for a good three hours with generous reserves - or for over five hours with two people. For a 22-year old aircraft, she's in excellent condition. She now has a beautiful leather interior by Aviation Design (you can see pictures of my interior in their adverts). With some avionics upgrades she's as good as the best of new planes, with Skylane take-anything, go-anywhere dependability. 
By Spring 2003, I was getting a bit bored by the absence of flight training from my life, so I started my tailwheel transition in a Citabria. It was a lot of fun, though a bit of a struggle at times.

Even more fun, I started on aerobatics at Attitude Aviation in Livermore, first in their Grob aerobatic trainers and later in their Decathlon. It started as unusual attitude recovery, but somehow turned into aerobatics along the way. I quickly covered the basics (loops, rolls, Immelmans) but after a year or so I just couldn't resist the lure of the Pitts. I'm incredibly lucky to have close by somewhere that lets you not only fly the Pitts, but also solo it.
Then one day I went to the annual helicopter show at San Carlos ("Vertical Challenge") and decided it was about time to turn that dream into reality too. So at the moment I'm learning to fly this very nice R-44 Raven II with Sirius Flying at Palo Alto. There's nothing quite so humbling as the first five hours in a helicopter. But once you get past that, it's great fun and not that difficult. And after flying the Pitts, even autorotations seem quite tame.

Last revised: 28th February 2009.