Since finishing my private pilot certificate, flying hours have been few and far between. That’s mainly due to the fact that I’m trying to pay off that flight school debt, and at $125 an hour flight hours aren’t helping that goal. Even so I need to keep my skills up, so I scheduled a flight a couple days ago to go fly around north of San Antonio. The plan was to head to Gillespie County Airport (T82) in Fredericksburg for some lunch (via full stop landing at New Braunfels, so I can log some cross country time), test out the Nexus 9 and Garmin Pilot on the way, and then head back in time for work that night. Things didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped . . .
After passing my check ride, I Googled around for a bit trying to find out how long it would take to get my printed pilot’s certificate in the mail from the FAA. At the time it had been a couple weeks, and I was starting to get concerned that there might be some paperwork error that would prevent me from actually getting the slip of plastic that I had spent all year working towards. It wasn’t out of the question — my DPE was older than time itself and had only used IACRA once or twice before. There’s a great site for predicting wait times for NFA items from the ATF, but there didn’t seem to be a good resource for my specific problem. Now that I have my pilot’s certificate in hand, I figured I should catalog how long it took to try and help others figure out about when the much anticipated day should arrive.
I don’t own an airplane — I rent them by the hour from FBOs. And while G1000 equipped airplanes are available, the cost associated with those planes is much higher than a normal steam-gauge Cessna 172. There’s also no way to know if the charts have been updated recently, and if you want to enter a detailed custom flight plan you’ll need to do it while on the ground burning gas prior to takeoff. For me, having a tablet to fulfill all of my navigational needs is ideal since I can configure it exactly how I like and program everything for my flight before I even leave home. But there’s a problem: how do you mount it on an airplane, especially one where you can’t alter anything and the configuration can vary wildly between FBOs? MyGoFlight has a solution: the Universal Flex Suction Kit.
There has never really been a good system for renting airplanes in the United States. In theory your pilot’s certificate, valid medical, and a recent flight review is all the proof you need that you are competent behind the controls of an airplane, but rental companies want a little more proof that you aren’t an idiot before you get the keys to their planes. This used to mean that you needed to prove proficiency at every FBO from which you wanted to rent, which isn’t really practical if you travel a lot and want to rent locally — it wastes time, money, and patience. OpenAirplane promises a better solution: get a checkout every year at one location, and you’re good to go everywhere else in the system no questions asked. The catch? It’s a heck of a checkout . . .