And the point at the beginning is very important. There's no difference between a Cessna and an F22 (or a mechanical Boeing, or an Airbus FBW plane).
If it's a fixed wing aircraft, it flies the same way (ok yeah, maybe not the MAX...). The rest are interface differences.
The Instrument rating allows you to fly IFR (in clouds and higher controlled altitudes. One of the tougher ratings of the series.
Commercial allows you to start flying stuff for hire. This usually starts with dropping parachutes or pulling banners. Theoretically flying someone from A to B and getting paid for it. Ironically, some gigs don't need Instrument to fly commercial. Brother-in-law does helicopter crop dusting and fire fighting on just a commercial ticket. You need 250 hours to qualify to take the test.
ATP is where you fly the big stuff. I forget the passenger/size limits - want to say it is near 20 seats. This is the rating where they ask for 1500 hours minimum before they allow you to take the test. For most pilots, this is where you start in the regional airlines and start working your way up to the majors (like Delta).
Unless you add a rating, every couple years you are required to demonstrate you still know what you are doing. Every time I've worked with an unknown instructor they make you go through the same stall/failure drills.
The concept of the accident chain runs contrary to the assertion that a pilot needs to react instantaneously to a potential issue. The problem commonly begins long before the situation becomes an emergency, perhaps even on the ground. Break any link in the chain to prevent tragedy.
Even in GA the vast majority of accidents are something simple like that.
You have quite a bit of time at altitude to react and your training is largely about that. Unless it’s engine failure on takeoff or something
For the record something like 85% of GA crashes have no fatalities. A Cessna 172 will fly down to 40 knots, which is significantly slower than a car crash on the highway.
But a car crash on a highway typically involves two moving vehicles, reducing the delta at impact.
Moreover, cars are engineered specifically to protect occupants during a collision. They have safety cages, airbags, crumple zones, and can even be inverted and still sustain the passenger volume. A crashing airplane will not be able to protect its occupants in the same way.
Aircraft too are designed to be resilient in certain collisions. Not head on with the ground, but you’d be surprised how survivable crash landings are.
This doesn't seem correct.
As a private pilot it is mostly your choice what situation you put yourself through. To survive being a pilot you need a certain amount of humility and understanding your limitations. Also a lot of planning, including contingency plans on what to do if you get stuck somewhere or if the weather gets bad. You are not an airline, you do not have the equipment and resources they do and you should plan accordingly. This should be part of your training and it is up to you to maintain this as you fly.
If you are interested, a good book on the subject of general aviation accidents and as it relates to private pilots is The Killing Zone, Second Edition: How & Why Pilots Die by Paul Craig. Very readable book.
Additionally, aviation accidents are studied by many people in the industry and there are checklists to follow before and during the flight (IM SAFE , PAVE. etc...) that should help you to determine if you even should make the flight. There are also automated tools that calculate based on your experience and the environmental conditions if its a go/no go  and if you stick to these things they would make you a very safe pilot. So I wouldn't let a fear of getting into an accident stop you from being a pilot but be smart and follow the rules, set yourself some conservative personal minimums, follow the checklists, and plan, plan, plan and you should be safe.
 The Nall Report, the gold standard: https://www.aopa.org/-/media/files/aopa/home/training-and-sa...
 AOPA used to have a go/no-go decision maker can't find the link.
An ex fighter pilot told me he wish more commercial (and private pilots) would have more time in planes that fly upside down. The JFK Jr. death/spacial distortion thing is real, and having experience in odd orientations really helps with that.
The common belief is he became spatially disoriented and entered a graveyard spiral without realizing it. Without outside visual reference, our senses can play nasty tricks on us and that instrument pilots train to ignore.
The sad part is it was all preventable: he had so many opportunities to break the accident chain that was forming.
Also it seems like a level 5 autopilot should be possible, and obviously making that mandatory would be a perfect solution.
Making autopilot mandatory would make a huge amount of GA pilots unable to fly due to cost. And I’m not sure It would help. JFK JR’s plane had one. (level 5 is not even available for GA, though auto land just launched, but it would be six figures. )
The problem is you don’t know when you’re spinning in the first place without visual reference. Pilots get disoriented (the g force from the spin can feel a lot like normal gravity) and get overwhelmed.
That particular incident was an overly confident, poorly skilled pilot doing something risky that most pilots simply wouldn’t
Scheduled airlines, FAR Part 121, are much safer for several reasons: pilots have much more training and at least 1,500 flight hours, they’re all instrument rated, they have mandatory recurrent training, companies drill Standard Operating Procedures, two pilots: one flying with the other monitoring, a dispatcher on the ground is pitching in too, flying IFR, talking to ATC, often making stable straight-in approaches. In short, mucho redundancy means one person’s bad decision won’t immediately imperil the flight.
Like the accident chain, the fix has to start early in primary training. Pilots need to be taught to have a healthy respect for the weather and hazards like airframe icing. Pilots have to make humble, conservative decisions and be willing to tell ourselves and our passengers or even ATC no. Frank, critical self-evaluation is not a skill we’re born with either. We have to be taught and remind each other to be on guard against the five hazardous attitudes (invulnerability, impulsivity, macho, anti-authority, and resignation). We have to continue cultivating a culture of safety that encourages good aeronautical decision making rather than foolish or brash risk taking. We have to look for opportunities to create redundancy in our own personal SOPs.
It's very counterintuitive to operate a vehicle, and force yourself to ignore all visual cues from outside the cockpit.
All aircraft must be flown in (they can't be sent by ship). So these light aircraft are set with ferry tanks (bladders) and flown by island hopping. One notable chap from the airfield I learned is Ray Clamback. He ferried over 220 light aircraft from the United States to Australia over 30 years and ditched due to failures twice.
This is just not true. I'm about to import my second plane by ship right now. It's no big deal.
Incidentally, Ray taught me to fly (only ground school, he doesn't really fly any more).
However it works out to be cheaper for most aircraft since it is very expensive to take an aircraft to pieces and put it back together and then have it certified to fly.
Reading a few forums there seem to be several factors decided if it is cheaper to ferry or ship.
Some day I'll have a house where my car gets to park inside the garage too. :) https://i.imgur.com/fanxM86.jpg
Which if you’re not into flying planes - an air worthiness directive is like a recall - “hey we found this problem with this seatbelt randomly unlatching - you are not allowed to fly until you take it to the dealer to get swapped”. Which is fine and I don’t have a problem with that for non-experimental aircraft.
A regular service bulletin on the other hand is like - “hey we upgraded the seats on the 2020 Honda Accord to premium vegan leather. If you drive a 2018 Honda Accord you need to swap out the seats for the 2020 model. Even if you just swapped out the seats for the regular 2019 vegan leather model 6 months ago.”
Makes private aircraft ownership prohibitive for all but commercial operations. In the US one does not need to perform service bulletins but as a rule they’re good to track.
Again, just not true.
CASA is more aggressive than most other countries with maintenance requirements - their name (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) gives it away, their mandate is to increase safety and cost doesn't appear to factor into many of their decisions. I'm not defending that, but there is no requirement to apply all SB's.
The particular gripe 99% of people are upset about is covered well by Mike Busch:
The recent part 149 fiasco  can only be justified by self serving behavior - in effect not allowing the general aviation community to self administer medicals but allowing CASA staff to do so (in effect making themselves exempt) doesn’t sound like the actions of an organization which stands for Safety. Between the two I can’t see it anything but a compromised, self-dealing institution.
The recent part 149 fiasco  can only be justified by self serving behavior - in effect allowing CASA staff to self administer medicals but not extending the same privilege to the general aviation community. Between the two I can’t see it anything but a compromised institution.
I am not a pilot, but I am an Australian living in Australia and know some folk who own aircraft.
CASA doesn’t mention ”service bulletins” but does have a category called Airworthiness Bulletins and states:
* An Airworthiness Bulletin is an advisory document that alerts, educates and makes recommendations about airworthiness matters. Recommendations in these bulletins are not mandatory.*
A browsed some of the actual airworthiness directives and didn’t see anything about seat leather or such.
CASA issued its own supplemental AD’s based on foreign AD’s AND SB’s.
At the minimum looks like all alert service bulletins in addition to most non-alert sb’s. The chap I spoke to may have been technically incorrect with the all bit. If you learn differently I would love to know. I was incredulous when he told me but he insisted it was true and went on to say (in less polite terms) the current CASA leadership happened to be particularly aggressive in “looking like they were doing something.”
As it stands, even this level is still tremendously onerous for private non-commercial operations by reclassifying every alert SB as a CASA AD and then requiring official CASA inspection. Rent-seeking comes to mind.
Seletar is the only airport in the world where I've seen every single little Cessna with new tires.
Can one freely file a plan that crosses to Malaysia or China without landing there? Does it require visas or special permits?
Otherwise there is not much where one can go besides the ocean, especially with those busy airports occupying much of the airspace that’s left over land.
Over Singapore, you're not allowed to overfly buildings, so you have to fly along rivers or marshes.
For international flights, you're treated like an airline.
US, Australia and Canada have a GA culture, but most countries cater only to airlines, and tolerate flight training for airlines.
Daily life in mainland China or South Korea gives such a different impression. “Oops, I was late/bored/tired/on the phone and that’s why I drove on a red light.”
Now, Hong Kong does accurately match your description.
That's very weird. For example, small airplanes get from the US mainland to Hawaii in shipping containers. Two Cessna 152s fit in one container, or one 172.
I provided an example of how another distant island handles that to show what reasonable behavior is.
You take on an entirely different relationship with the weather.
Flying into expected congestion beats driving any time. I really enjoy flying to college football games, where just getting out of town afterward may take 90 minutes or more and then the rest of the trip home.
It creates flexibility and opens up options that road travel does not. I can get to the beach in two hours from where I live, making a day trip for fresh seafood doable. My son was in Auburn last year for the Tennessee game. Another couple flew down with me; we picked him up in Auburn and thence headed to Tuscaloosa. He got to watch four SEC teams play each other live in the same day.
Charities Pilots N Paws and Angel Flight transport rescue animals to their forever homes and vulnerable medical patients to and from treatments.
Fewer interactions with TSA creeps.
Maintaining my required medical certificate and protecting my investment in flight training creates a strong incentive to stay healthy. I’m in my best shape in decades. Of course it’s possible to find overweight pilots.
If you intend to fly to any sort of scheduled event, strongly consider adding an instrument rating, which will make you a much safer, more precise pilot and should increase your likelihood of surviving inadvertent flight into IMC.
It’s a rewarding intellectual and physical challenge. Phil Greenspun posits that it keeps the mind active and young longer.
If you go to the local general aviation airport, you'll find lots of guys in their 60s and 70s who are tackling challenges that are way beyond your own capabilities. Certainly these guys are much sharper and in better mental and physical shape than the average person of their age. Flying requires mental acuity and real-time decision-making that seems to keep pilots young. A lot of older folks seem to be preoccupied with trivial matters, such as organizing their junk mail or minutia within their childrens' lives. Old pilots don't seem to be subject to these preoccupations and the topics of their conversations have more in common with young pilots than with other old people.
Insurance may be cost-prohibitive for a brand new private pilot. For your first couple hundred hours, renting will likely be the better option. Airplanes rent by the Hobbs meter hour, or time the engine is running. “Wet” rentals, which means fuel included, is a common arrangement as well. A club I belong to reimburses us at the wholesale rate for fuel purchased at other airports. For overnight rentals, some places have a minimum number of hours per day that they charge because the airplane isn’t generating any revenue sitting on the ground.
As a student pilot in the US you can fly without a passenger but also with other restrictions like your flight instructor has to give you an endorsement to fly and most won't give you an unrestricted endorsement. It is really there to get you a certificate and not as a way to bypass it. All other require a certificate (technically it is not a license but rather a pilot certificate).
"For example, the assumption can be made that a person who elects, without pilot qualifications, to operate an uncertificated vehicle alone is fully aware of the risks involved. This assumption does not hold true of a passenger selected randomly from the general public. Persons in the general public will likely assume that the operator has certificated pilot qualifications."
Also, not all airports allow ultralight operations.
Also, for insurance and legal reasons, no professional CFI is going to endorse you as a student pilot on an on-going basis.
Agreed about the student pilot not getting an endorsement on an on-going basis. It's too much of a risk to them.
1) Passengers are assumed, correctly, that they cannot evaluate the risks of a flight, and FAA regulations must protect them.
That's why you won't see passenger drone flights in this century in the US, or any advertised "ride sharing" between strangers.
(The FAA has been slow on banning helicopter skid pop-out floats for sightseeing flights, but I predict that will change.)
2) That VFR and IFR flights must be physically separated.
That's why everything that moves will be required to have ADS-B out.
If you're involved in any kind of business model that opposes the above, it is only a matter of time until the FAA stops you. You're welcome to use the words "doctrine" or "never" when explaining the above.
- you plan a long-term commitment to flying, and more ratings later
- you live near an airport, or can trailer in an airplane
- you make a good salary for your region (or live at home)
- you're healthy (can pass a required FAA airman exam)
- you plan to fly at least once or twice a month for airplanes, twice per month for helicopters
Don't get a PPL if:
- you want to travel and can't afford a fast-enough airplane
- it's an expensive bucket list item to cross off, then forget
- you have severe ADHD, dyslexia or problems reading
- you have a DUI or seizures (disallowed), diabetes, apnea or cardiac problems (on-going special issuance paperwork.)
- you care about family approval, but your partner is afraid for your safety
- you don't like rules (FAA, flight schools and clubs have tons of rules and regulations)
- want to make money flying (you need a commercial+ rating to charge money)
Note that after you get your PPL, you will have a baseline of skills that lets you fly safely under cheaper, less-regulated rules, like ultralight, experimental and LSA.
For example, for safe, low-cost long-term flying, a PPL followed by purchase of a Hummel all-metal ultralight trailerable airplane (~$30k) would be ideal for local VFR flight for one person.
Source: commercially-rated pilot.
(Funny side effects: There are plenty of pilots who are pretty certain they have ADHD, but since getting the license was expensive, and this is now their job, they won't seek diagnosis)
Other things that make you skip PPL: Color blindness. Again, endless hoops needed. Night flights are out even if you get the exception.
In general, get the medical cert out the way first if you care about PPL. Be prepared to spend good chunks of money if you're anywhere around SV. PAO especially is a hideously expensive place to learn flying.
Edit: I'd also suggest avoiding becoming a pilot if you're adverse to turbulence or sweat, as not many light aircraft have ACs.
If you want to carry passengers, especially on scheduled flights, then it gets complicated as you're really starting an airline as far as the FAA sees it.
2) You can fly in the early morning if you're new to turbulence.
I got most of my ratings in Hawaii, and we'd tell new students to show up at 8 am or 9 am if that was an issue for the first couple of flights.
On 2), my experience has been that most students get airsick because of anxiety (I guess it is associated with them fixing their gaze inside the airplane) and is usually not an issue once they gain confidence. Before that, flying early is great advice.
So it may cost you more or take you longer. If you are truly interested, you keep with it, or decide to stop.
However, if you do a bunch of research it may be right for you even though it usually isn't for anybody else.
For example, if I was a CFI and had a partner who flew with me, and who wanted a rating and refused to spend serious money, I might tell them to do a Sport and endorse it. But from this example you can see how super-narrow the use cases can be.
Or if you own a Japanese flight school in Hawaii, and get 20 candidates per month who are doing hobby-only flying, then maybe that business model works for everybody. (This is based on a real situation. PPLs were granted to students who could not speak English on the radio, so the FAA stopped that.)
For a broad reference, see the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) database on health conditions that may affect medical certification.
But if you're not a paid pilot, you're better off not going down that route, since once you're on record as having a deficiency, that's a permanent concern to the FAA. And if they decline the special issuance, you're also not eligible for the drivers license medical.
I would advise nobody with issues who wants to fly for hobby reasons to go down the PPL route since you can get banned for failng a medical. There's almost no upside and huge downside to risking that.
I did witness an AME re-approve a commercial guy with a DUI though while in the waiting room. Good on you, FAA.
Thanks for the DUI anecdote. Great that he got re-approved, but that can be retracted anytime.
Just to recap - the FAA assumes if you get an airman medical, you might try to carry passengers, so their medical rules are maximally strict.
The 2 better options are:
1) Do some research on Sport Pilot and LSA planes. No FAA medical or PPL required, just a valid drivers license.
2) Get involved in the ultralight community, ask around about training, and buy a Hummel. No FAA medical or license required, but I'd recommend doing PPL-level training for safety reasons.
Just for those reading along: all FAA licenses require demonstrating mastery of the aircraft to certain tolerances. PPL has pretty basic requirements that get you from Point A to Point B, but no acro or IFR, so it doesn't make you an ace. But a PPL is still a world away from an untrained ultralight pilot.
Correct, but you need a PP to get the CPL (which only allows you to basically fly the same plane you did your PP on, just for money). Then there's IFR training, ATPL, AMEL, and that's only to get you at the door of a major company
(Just adding a bit of detail to the story)
The discussion of the left turning tendency, while technically thorough and correct fails to mention the relative contributions of the various sources. Again, any introductory aerodynamics test has a 'back of an envelope' calculation that shows that for the majority of GA aircraft 95 percent or more (in terms of force) of left turning tendency is due to the spiralling slipstream. Precession and torque are only significant for very large radial engines (and helicopters, of course) and the asymmetry of lift is responsible for barely 1-2 percent (this is why during landing the plane still tends to turn left even though the asymmetry of lift would suggest otherwise).
They formulas for lift calculation were a nice touch. I wish they would also mention the Coanda effect.
Edit: of course most of this is totally unnecessary for a pilot to know. Even though it helps to understand the spiralling slipstream if one is flying a high-tail plane.
The effect of the P-factor (pitch asymmetry) is so miniscule that aside from making pretty pictures and explanations with a prop mock up and its shadow it can be disregarded entirely. Again, things are different in helicopters (this is why a typical helicopter tends to roll appreciably on takeoff).
It’s an info packed 3 days, but certainly worth it. Would recommend to anyone who’s interested in learning about flying or getting their PPL.
Not sure what I'll do with it, it has cost a lot, but I enjoy flying and I've enjoyed learning a LOT along the way. You'll learn a little of everything: aerodynamics, systems, airspace, weather, etc.
Note this is NOT a cheap hobby. Not trying to discourage anyone, but I'm not sure I would do it all over again. I'm glad to be done, I'll have fun with it, but there aren't a lot of practical applications for a private (you'll need a commercial license to work for hire, plus a whole lot of flight hours).