I have been reading you blog and the letters other people has written for a few weeks now. A friend of mine turned me on to your site. Thank you and everyone else for all you do. I have learned much over the past few weeks and look forward to learning more as time goes on.
I just read the letter post in September by Greg G., Can You Take to the Sky? Greg makes some very valid and interesting points in his letter. Like Greg, I am a licensed pilot. I studied at a local community college earning my A.A.S. in management with aviation option. When I started the course I had no flying time what-so-ever. When I finished the course 1.5 years later, I had earned my commercial pilot’s certificate with multi-engine and instrument ratings.
Just to clarify, I am no longer active in aviation due to the high cost of building time necessary to “land” a job as a career pilot. Working line service at the local FBO (Fixed base operation) just didn’t pay the bills for a man, wife and two kids. When I could get a trip/time in a multi-engine aircraft, it was usually a free trip (meaning I provided my time and services free of charge) in order to build flying time. I gained a good bit of time in the air over a three year period and gained an enormous amount of self-confidence as a result. Just a little background to bring me to my point.
Greg states that the Cessna 172 would be an excellent BOV and I would tend to agree. They are reasonable priced from $30,000 to $50,000 and are relatively easy to maintain. I think the $5,000 annual figure he mentioned is fairly accurate. I am currently scouring the web for used aircraft. I am looking at C-172s as well as light sport to ultra-light aircraft. The only drawback to the ultra-light planes is that I would have to convince my wife to learn to fly and would have to have at least two two-seat aircraft to use a BOVs. Of course, redundancy would be a good thing.
Greg also mentioned training. Training is paramount any time you plan to defeat gravity. If you are interested in getting an ultra-light aircraft, please get an experienced flight instructor to teach you to fly. Learn to operate in a controlled airport environment. If you are ever forced, through bad planning, bad weather, or just bad luck, into a metropolitan airport, you will be thankful for the training in that environment.
As far as getting your instrument rating is concerned, I would highly recommend the training. Even if you never use it, it will make you a better pilot and if the weather suddenly closes in on you, you will be better prepared to handle it. I remember during my instrument training, the instructor had me look out the windows during actual instrument conditions. All I could see was the wingtips and the nose of the airplane. When I returned to the instrument panel, I had a strong case of vertigo. Had I not spent hours in the flight simulator and had a few hours “under the hood”, I could have easily gotten disoriented enough to crash. Fortunately, I had complete faith in the instruments and was able to maintain control until the vertigo passed. For this reason, I would encourage anyone interested in learning to fly to take at least several hours of instrument training.
I have no experience with helicopters other than radio controlled helicopters. I can see some use, as mentioned in other letters, for UAV type surveillance using radio controlled aircraft but that would be the subject of another post. I do know full scale helicopters are maintenance intensive and expensive to learn and operate. If I could, I would learn just for the ability if I ever needed it.
God bless you and yours as well as this great nation, - Mike in Tennessee