So I got my Private Pilot License recently. How the hell did that happen?
When I was 3-4 years old, me and my family went on a trip to Tenerife, Spain for holidays. To this day I can remember the aircraft we’ve been flying in. It was operated by the (now disfunct) LTU International airline, and going through the airline’s history (and my memories of the plane), it must have been a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar type. I can still remember the red and white livery with its black nose and its three engines.
One of my memories of the flight was a flight attendant asking me (or my brother or both of us?) if we wanted to have a look at the cockpit, but I’m not sure if that’s a genuine memory or just a child’s dream. I don’t remember ever being in an airliner cockpit as a child though. After arrival in Tenerife there was a balcony which could be accessed by climbing up a flight of stairs, and I remember taking my little brother up there (who was a toddler back then), and sitting him next to the railing of the balcony, simulating being back in the plane and looking down on Earth.
(The only other memories of that holidays involve a yellow VW Beetle, my dad making a joke about cookies, and throwing up from eating too many fries and ice cream on one night…)
At the same age, maybe even before the trip to Tenerife, we moved into a new house only 1km from the Cologne/Bonn international airport. I’ve been playing with aeroplane toys (a little model of a Boeing 747 among others), and once I learned to ride the bicycle and became old enough, the airport became my playground. I loved to watch the planes take off and land, but I also found pleasure in exploring the woods around the airport.
At about the age of 11, my dad bought a IBM PC with Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 installed on it. Sometimes he allowed my to play with it, and even though I had no idea what I was doing, I have departed good old Chicago Meigs Field at least a million times in a simulated Cessna 182 SkyLane. It was not before I was 16 and I had my own computer at home that I learned how to shoot a virtual ILS approach into Chicago O’Hare, not knowing anything about IFR procedures whatsoever. At that time, I was thinking about a glider license. Unfortunately, we never had enough money to even think about any kind of pilot license.
Many years passed.
It’s 2013, and I live in the UK. I fulfilled my dream of becoming a video game developer and part-time rockstar, when I took Grover, my bicycle, out for a spin to the countryside. At one point I’ve passed a small airfield which I knew nothing about, and on that airfield was a building saying ‘South Warwickshire Flying School’, and a little sign on the door saying ‘Learn to fly here!’ The idea to learn to fly came back into my head like a nasty bug, it wouldn’t leave me alone for months. I checked out other flying schools and their prices, legal requirements and so on. I talked with friends about this idea. I spent hours and days and weeks breeding over this idea. Finally, in January 2014, I called up Take Flight Aviation and booked my first lesson!
It took over two months of cancellations due to the famous British weather before I could do my first flight, and I was hooked. And now, only a few weeks ago, the CAA sent me my license home and I’m officially a pilot.