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More about flying

I was hoping to write a bit more about flying but with night classes three days a week it was proving to be difficult. Now that that is over I hope I can write a bit more about it.

Flying is going well. I am about 27 hours in at this point. I’ve solo’d, gone on one dual cross country and one local night flight. Next up is a night cross country, but so far the weather has proven to be uncooperative.

I took my FAA written exam last week after studying quite a bit. It’s not too bad. I definitely recommend picking up a Gleim Private Pilot study book to study. There are also quite a few places online to help study as well. I used exams4pilots.org. Now I’m turning towards studying for my oral exam, which I know will be much more difficult. I was recommended a study guide to help with that, which I’ve started reading. I think the most helpful thing you can do when learning to fly is practice, practice, practice. Time spent in an airplane is so expensive, so it’s good to know in advance. I felt bad but I asked to postpone flying lessons last week so I could study for the written exam. I think it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve been able to fly and I’ve had to mentally run through the process a few times to jog my memory. Hopefully I won’t be too rusty.

Here’s a bit more about recent flights. I really enjoy night flying. The smooth air, the city below…it was pretty amazing. You can still see pretty well at night, although this was on a full moon so it could only get worse. I was surprised how many lights were in the country…you still had a good reference for how far away the ground was at all times. Also one of the neater things is using pilot controlled lighting to light up uncontrolled airports…the lights slowly appear out of the darkness. Pretty cool. Also I need to keep better track of my flashlight, since I dropped it during the flight and couldn’t find it until we landed.

I also got to fly a day cross country. We flew from Norman to Ardmore, to Ada and on the way back from Ada my instructor diverted me to Shawnee. The diversion was very busy because there are several things that need to be done in a short time. I learned the importance of cockpit management, because it’s really easy to have papers, pencils, charts, etc. falling all over the place. Talking with flight following was also something new, and I’ve used some of AOPA’s tools to help me learn and get better with that.

I only have a few more flights until my stage two check. Hoping everything goes okay and hope I can write more soon.


I’ve found something to write about. For quite some time I’ve been enamored with flight. When I was in the 4th grade, if you asked me what I was going to do when I grew up, I would say, “I’m not sure, but probably something in aeronautics.” Since then my life has taken me elsewhere, but as soon I as graduated and got a job, I enrolled in flight school. I want to detail my experiences and hopefully these writings can serve as a guide for others who might be interested in aviation.

Flying Basics

First of all, what does it mean that I will be a pilot? Do I get to fly big jets? Can I fly anywhere I want to? Isn’t it really expensive? The answers would be no, sort of, and not as bad as you would think. I will be getting a private pilot certificate, which means I can fly when the weather is good and I can’t be paid to fly. I’ll be flying small, single engine airplanes. There are thousands of small airports that I can fly to across the US. And so far, there’s no TSA or security to hold you up for hours…you just hop in a plane and go! There are a few restricted airspaces here and there (military bases, etc), so I have to avoid those unless I want to see a F-16 up close. Learning to fly can be pretty expensive, but it is doable. Getting your pilot’s license costs somewhere in the range of $5000 to $7000  depending on how you do it. The FAA requires you to have a minimum of 40 hours flight time before you can take your checkride. Usually students average 65-75 hours of flight time before they feel they’re ready, however.


I really started researching in the middle of the summer of 2009. I started reading, asking questions, and putting money away for flight school. I started learning what the regulations where, and about flying–aerodynamics, traffic patterns, sectional charts, airspace, maneuvers, etc. I would recommend that if you do want to get started in aviation, just start reading about it! A good book that I kept seeing recommended is Stick and Rudder by Langewiesche. Even though it was written in 1944, it’s fairly easy to read for beginners and introduces some basic concepts and misconceptions of flying. I also read the Proficient Pilot II by Barry Schiff. I didn’t realize that it was a series of books; I just thought that the “II” meant it was the second edition, heh. It was a little bit more advanced, but I appreciated it giving a bit more math behind the aerodynamics of flight. There are also thousands of sites and forums online to learn from. This was probably my greatest asset. I checked out a ground school book from the OSU library and started to learn all of the ground knowledge I’d need to learn how to fly. There are two parts to your flight training. Ground school is all the head knowledge you need to know about flying, such as aerodynamics, airspace, the FAA, procedures, etc. To show you’re knowledgeable, the FAA has you pass a written exam. The second part is actually flying (Flight School), and showing that you have the knowledge and the skill to pilot an airplane. To pass this, you must pass an oral exam, where an examiner quizzes you about flying procedures, and then pass a checkride, where you demonstrate you’re capable of flying a plane safely.

Flight School

My original plan was to put myself through ground school. You can do this on your own. There are quite a few materials available for the student pilot who wants to do ground school on their own, such as books and videos. From what I found, the only issue of DIY ground school might be getting into a flight school. Usually the ground school endorses you to fly. The flight school sees that you have had ground school training and will agree to teach you how to fly. I reasoned that I could pass my FAA written exam and that would be proof enough.

My schooling situation turned out a bit differently than I expected, so I ended up not doing ground school on my own. I graduated from OSU in December with a degree in Computer Science, and found out I was only a few hours away from getting a second degree in Mathematics. I already was offered a job in Norman, so my wife and I moved there and I enrolled in ground school at OU to finish up the hours needed. I was planning on doing ground school and passing the FAA written exam before starting to look for flight schools to start training.

I began to look around and saw that OU was a little bit more expensive than others, but it offered a few things others couldn’t. Firstly, they had more planes available for flying. If I had flown with a smaller school, they may only have a few planes. If the planes had to be taken out of service for maintenance, I could be grounded for weeks before getting to fly again. One thing I read over and over again was that you want to make sure you fly as often as you can (three times a week seems to be pretty standard. Also, set aside the money so you won’t run out of funds in mid-training!). If you’re grounded, your skills atrophy and you end up spending time relearning what you should already know. When you’re spending $110-$130 per hour to learn to fly, wasted time can get expensive quickly. So, going with a larger school had it’s advantages. The second reason for going with OU was purely financial. Even though it was slightly more expensive, since I am still seeking a degree I can deduct the cost from my taxes.

After a few weeks of ground school, however, I think I’m glad with going with a more formal ground school. The first part of the course has mostly been a review of concepts I already covered on my own, but being able to ask questions and learn the little asides of flying have been beneficial. Personal experience can be hard to get from a textbook sometimes.

This seems to be quite a lot to digest, so I think I’ll stop here and will write soon about my first four lessons!

These were too big to post in Twitter, so I’ll put them up here. These are questions I hope Dave Ramsey answers in the upcoming Town Hall for Hope event on April 23rd.

  1. In Financial Peace University, you state a good target interest rate for mutual funds is 12% to 18%. What is a rate we can realistically expect in the next two to five years? Ten years?
  2. With all the money being dumped into the economy by the U.S. government, we’re sure to see some serious inflation coming in the next few years. What is the best way to protect ourselves?

Thanks, Dave! I’m very excited about #THFH and am looking forward to it.

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    printf("A fact about Brian: %s\n", brian.RandFact());

A quick note, I’ve ditched XP 64-bit edition and moved to Ubuntu 8.10. At times it feels like a great release, I enjoy the free software and the neat things that come along with it. Specifically: I love the compiz desktop effects, mainly the “expose” clone. I’ve also installed the Avant Window Navigator, which is a clone of the Max OS X dock, and it works really nicely. I also love the package manager, where new software is very close and easy to install. But there is a few things that drive me up the wall, such as getting my printer and scanner working. And sometimes things just don’t work for apparently no reason at all. But, I’m determined to stick with it and challenge myself to learn how to use it. I can always run Windows in a VM for when I need it (but even that is having some problems right now). It’s frustrating and I don’t have a lot of time to mess with it because of school and work, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

See this previous post about looking for last semester’s online information before it’s taken down. You might find study guides, homeworks, etc. Always worth a shot.

If you’re getting a little tired of classic Christmas music, you might try The Christmas Lounge streaming internet radio station. I found it last year and I really enjoy the modernization of all the songs I grew up with. So far I’d have to say my absolute favorite song is Cathedral Brass – Joy to the World (Mocean Worker Remix) (30 second sample).

I know I’m late, but here’s some thoughts. I’m generally optimistic about Barack Obama. Two big reasons:

  1. He is a much better role model to young minorities than rappers and athletes.
  2. He understands technology and I think that’s good. There’s a lot of potential to use technology to improve government and I hope we see progress in this area. Also for policies like net neutrality.

I was generally optimistic until I saw that Obama was bringing on lots of old Clinton people. I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. One way I’ve heard it explained is that as someone who is inexperienced, he needs to be surrounded by people who know how to use the system, and hopefully he will ditch them after two years or so. Otherwise this wasn’t so much the “change” that was promised. I definitely think having Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is a big mistake, because I don’t think she is capable of allegiance to anyone except herself. If a situation arises where it’s either her or Obama, she will put herself first.

Well, finals are over so I can return to blogging for a bit. I have some thoughts I’ve been saving up, so expect to see those soon.
And also, the new WordPress (2.7) is very nice. 🙂

Somehow I thought it was two weeks away, but I just looked at my calendar and realized it’s next week. To get you ready to vote it’s a good idea to look up some sample ballots. Ones for Stillwater are located here, but I think you should be able to find some for your area by searching for “[your county name here] county election board.” It’s a good idea to know all the judges you’re going to confirm and all of those peskily-worded state questions ahead of time, plus it’s considerate.

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