Dear Passengers, Copilots, Flight Instructors and Mentors,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
In April 1993 I passed my flight exam for private pilot. Since then, I am the owner of a “Private Pilote License – Airplane” or “PPL-A” for short. The last 25 years are literally “as if in flight” passed.
In this post I would like to share some personal experiences and impressions from that time.
How it all started
If I had not made the decision 25 years ago to scrape together all the money that I had at that time and pay the training costs in advance, then today I would be a good deal of knowledge and many experiences poorer. Aviation has broadened my horizons. In theory lessons, I learned a lot about technology, flying weather, navigation, radio, air law, airspace structures, behavior in special cases and flying in the mountains, just to name a few topics. During 35 hours of practical flight training, I got a flight instructor to show me how to operate the plane and how the different phases are flown. After taxiing on the ground, the takeoff follows with a transition to climb, horizontal flight, descent, approach, landing and taxiing to Parking space including engine shutdown. There is a checklist for everything!
Something about rolling
Airplanes do not drive but they roll. It’s not that easy to follow exactly the yellow lines on the apron and the taxiways to the runway. Unlike in the car, the nose wheel on most types of aircraft is controlled with the rudder pedals and not with the control wheel as might be suspected at the first moment. I even learned on a plane without directly controlled nose wheel. The changes in direction on the ground can only be achieved by pressing the individual brakes on the left or right wheel of the main landing gear. I tell you, this is a slalom in the beginning.
On the road I have to drive the car on the track between the mostly solid white border line and the dashed center strip. A perfect pilot steers the plane so that the nose wheel runs exactly on the yellow line. But how does he do that if he does not see the wheel under the engine at the front? A good trick is to imagine that the line has to go right through between both feet. The result is surprisingly good, although I’m not sitting exactly in the middle of the plane but on the left seat in the cockpit. Learned is learned, because after almost 25 years, I still have a briefing on the Katana made. The so-called “handling” on the ground I have mastered surprisingly well to the surprise of my flight instructor.
A long way
How far have I come with my flying? I have a total flight time of 318 hours and 29 minutes. That may not be much compared to other pilots who have tens of thousands of hours in the log book. But for me it’s a big number. The earth has 360 degrees of latitude and at the equator one degree, ie the distance between two degrees of latitude, corresponds to 60 nautical miles. This results in the circumference of 21,000 Nm. Converted, are the 40’000 km known to us. A four-seat sports plane moves at cruise level with about 110 Kt (knots) forward. That corresponds to 110 Nm / h. Thus, I have covered a total distance of almost 35,000 Nm in the cockpit in the last 25 years. This corresponds to one and two-third of the circumference of the earth. Of course, this is not comparable to the pilots who boast of circumnavigating the world in single-engine airplanes and exploiting it in the social media. It’s a great achievement for me personally to have come this far without serious incidents. I never had to make a safety or emergency landing. Fortunately, procedures that were practiced so intensively in regular refresher courses with flight instructors were not used.
Practice creates masters
The distance covered is only a small aspect of aviation. Routine arises through constant repetition. Overall, I started 694 times and landed 694 times. Takeoff and landing are critical phases in flight and require special attention. I started or landed with and without extended flaps. I have made steep approaches and altitude for exercise purposes also reduced by the so-called “slipping” or I flew very flat and the plane has long floated over the runway until it touched down. And as befits a perfect landing, the stall warning came mostly shortly before touchdown, the well-known “huiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiuuu” as we know it very well e.g. from the Cessna 172 know.
My darling in the sky
Most of the time I spent flying in the four-seated Cessna C172, also known as Skyhawk, or the two-seated little sister, the Cessna C152. Following is the picture of a four-seat plane with modern diesel engine which is low-consumption, has a low-noise variable pitch propeller and in combination with the FADEC, the automatic engine control, ensures easy operation by the pilot and good performance.
These high-wingers are wonderfully good-natured and are great to fly. And aerial photographs can also be done very well with it: aiming for the object in a slight descent, reducing the speed, for the photographer to open the window of the right door and a few times around it with a humming sound. And then, of course, close the window again and nothing like away, so that no one of the population complains.
I like to fly the Beech Bonanza. For me, she is still the queen in the sky among the single-engine sports aircraft, even though she has been built for more than 50 years: a six-seat, high-performance and complex aircraft with variable pitch propeller and retractable landing gear. The six-cylinder has 300 hp and the cruising speed is beyond the 300 km / h. If you want to get an impression of this great aircraft, you can watch the following showcase video (duration: 2:29).
I would like to sincerely thank all the people who have flown or supported me in one or another way: passengers, co-pilots, flight instructors and mentors.
Special thanks to my wife for flying with me and the long wait until I was safely on the ground again from my trips.
Thank you also to Peter, who gave me the opportunity for an internship and great flight experiences in the United States.
By name, I would like to name the following people who have spent time with me on the plane. The list follows the order in which they appear for the first time in the logbook after my flight test on April 25, 1993: Jens, Udo, Ingo, Lorenz, Jochen, Dirk, Jan, Thomas, Sabine, Andrew, Diego, Jochen, Andrea, Ingo, Norbert, Alexander, Michaela, Sandra, Frank, Thorsten, Carsten, Thomas, Volker, Claudia, Nuno, Janko, Andre, Viepke, Trevor, Byron, Hans, Andreas, Toby, Kornelia, Bruno, Martin, Markus, Roman, Henk, Heinz, Sebastian, Philipp, Hendrik, Manuel and many, many other sight seeing passengers whose name I unfortunately do not know.
It was a great pleasure for me to share flying with you! Thank you very much.
Your pilot, aircraft mechanic, aviation ambassador and engineer,