Rusty Pilot final update 11-17-2020

This is yet another follow-up to my previous posts about returning to flying, 43 years after earning a Private Pilot Certificate and VFR (Visual Flight Rules) rating. Now, I’m glad to report that this is the last time I’ll refer to myself as a “rusty” pilot.

Here’s what’s happened so far:

  • I repeated a ground school course, even though my Private Pilot Certificate is good for life, but I wanted to refresh what I learned long ago.
  • After researching the best online ground school for me, I chose Fly8MA, completed their ground school course, and reviewed a number of their other course offerings.
  • Dozens of YouTube and other videos help with specific questions.
  • I use Rod Machado’s Private Pilot Handbook, an excellent reference book, to complement my other efforts.
  • After doing the online portion of the mandatory flight physical at FAA MedXPress, I consulted a local Aviation Medical Examiner for a thorough flight physical which I’m grateful to have passed.
  • Next, I updated my contact information with the FAA, and they sent me an updated Private Pilot wallet card.
  • So with my license and my medical updated, I was good to go flying!
  • I’ve started back in planes with traditional avionics while studying the Garmin aviation GPS/Nav/Com programs and the rest of the digital instrumentation you find in modern “glass” cockpit panels.
  • ForeFlight is an indispensable flying app with too many features to mention. I hesitate to call it an app, as it’s truly a full-featured program for pilots. I specifically bought an iPad Pro 11 with built-in GPS to run ForeFlight, as recommended in several online reviews.
  • I transferred my ancient, handwritten logbook entries into digital format in ForeFlight using ConvertMyLogbook, though I could have probably spent hours figuring it out and doing it myself. I can definitely recommend ConvertMyLogbook — they did an excellent job, quickly and at a good price.
  • Another big purchase was a fabulous headset, a Lightspeed Zulu 3. I decided my hearing was worth the expense, and I’m grateful I can afford it at this point in my life.
  • Now I’m a regular at the Piedmont Flight Training school at our local Smith Reynolds Airport. After I regain currency/proficiency and pass a required flight review, I’ll start working toward an IFR rating.
  • You can check out the school’s planes on their website. Though I flew the Cessna 172, I gravitated to the Piper Archer IIs since I learned on Pipers and feel totally at home in them. The school’s Archers are IFR equipped, so I’ll be spending a bit of time in them (and I’ll also use the school’s simulators for some of my IFR training.) Later, I’ll also fly their Pipistrel Alpha Trainers, even though they’re only VFR equipped, because they are less expensive to rent, they have some digital avionics, and the main reason… because they’re flat-out cool!

A 1978 Piper Archer II
A 1976 Cessna 172M

The avionics in this old Cessna 172

The Pipistrel Alpha Trainer

As you can see, it took some doing, but it is totally worth it. I can’t describe the feeling of finally being back in the air, flying these old planes, and looking forward to the modern ones. There is a healthy, fun excitement to it. I’m doing it carefully and methodically, safety being the key consideration. It is a mental and physical challenge, involving moment-to-moment problem-solving. For me, this is heaven!

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