It was such a long time coming I forgot to blog that I got my pilot's license last Thursday. My check ride got postponed three times for weather but I finally got it done. Not my best flying that day, to be honest, but safe and up to the standard. Very happy and proud to have it done.
All told it took me six months to be ready for the private pilot's license: 80 hours of flying and 120 hours of my instructor's time. I could have done it in less time if I'd been more focussed. But all the learning was fun and I figured now was the time I was going to learn how to fly the most efficiently, so might as well do some extra training at the start. Learning to fly is the first time I've been aware that I'm old enough that it's hard to learn new tricks. (Rule of thumb: 2x your age in hours to get the license).
I now have two main privileges over being a student. I can fly anywhere without an instructor's signoff and I can take passengers. I haven't flown since the check ride, but if this crazy weather permits I'll do a little trip to Salinas tomorrow. I'm eager to do more serious cross-country trips, overnights travelling 400 miles or so. Reserving rental planes makes it difficult to go on short notice.
What next? Flying has all sorts of merit badges one can earn. The first thing I want to get is my complex rating so I can fly Ken's Cardinal RG. I'll also need a bit of instruction in that plane and probably some more hours just flying before I'm comfortable moving up to it. Ken and I have two flying trips planned this summer: mountain flying in Colorado with a flight instructor in June and heading out to AirVenture in OshKosh in July. Mostly I just want to fly a bunch of cross-country trips. Down the road I hope to start training for my instrument rating; that's kind of like the second half of a pilot's license, the ability to fly in bad weather.