When I went for my private pilot checkride, the right seat was occupied by a DPE named Jim Higgs. While a checkride should be a time for the student to prove his competency and show off his nascent skills I still learned things on my checkride. While taxiing back to the ramp afterwards Mr. Higgs admonished me that as a new pilot I should be always ready to cancel my plans if things weren’t going well. He suggested a three strike rule — if more than three things go wrong, cancel the flight and fly another day. Jim Higgs passed away last week (circumstances unrelated to aviation), but his words were ringing loud and clear in my ears this past weekend.
I rent my wings, which means that I need to truck all my aviation related junk to and from the airfield with me every single time I fly. I tried using a range bag that I had acquired through my alter ego, but it wasn’t the most elegant solution. To make that process easier I wanted to see if there was a better bag out there that would give me quick access to all my gear while in flight yet contained enough to not take up my entire trunk. After going through a few different bags, I finally settled on my #1 choice: the 5.11 Rush 12 Back Pack.
I’ve seen a couple posts recently over on Reddit asking about the costs involved with a private pilot certificate. Its a common question, and while some of the FBOs that offer instruction try to put a number on the amount of money you’re about to drop, those are based on estimates and not necessarily a real world example. For those thinking about taking the leap, I figured it would be a good idea to put my own numbers out there detailing exactly how much money it cost me to go from zero flight hours to passing the private pilot checkride.
Things are much simpler when you’re flying by yourself. You already know all the rules and are comfortable in the cockpit, but when you invite a complete newbie along for the ride things get complicated. Not only from a regulatory standpoint — “do you know how your seatbelt works?” — but there’s now a second person who needs to be monitored to ensure that they are still A-OK medically. That’s a lot easier said than done, especially when your buddy conveniently forgets to remind you that he has motion sickness.