potential pilot

Joined
Apr 11, 2002
Posts
9
Well, I feel a little out of my league on this forum - but I have some questions. I'm looking for some guidance on where to learn to fly, or even if it is reasonable for my lifestyle.

I am a 32 year old professional (physician) who is very interested in learning to fly. I guess I can bore everyone with the cliche that it's a childhood dream, and to some extent it is. But I recently started considering flying more seriously. I got hooked as an early teenager when I started learning about the physics of flight and played around with Microsoft's original simulator on the Apple computer. Now I fly r/c airplanes and am thoroughly hooked on the newer simulators.

I'm not looking for a career change (haven't burned out just yet), but I am considering flying for recreation, and possibly the occasional business trip or personal vacation and also to escape dealing with the public on a daily basis. I'm married with no kids.

I have heard rumors that instructors detest teaching physicians (don't know why), so I feel a little alienated. The major drawback is my time available to learn. I could fly several times per month only because of work. I'm not in any hurry!!

well, anyway, I guess I was wondering if it's reasonable to drag out the lessons, and what are my future options as far as recreational flying.

Thanks, ans sorry this was long winded!

Steve
 

banned username 2

Banned
Banned User
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
3,254
Go For It.... When I was an active CFI I was teaching people from all walks of life.... from 16 year old high school kids to former Israeli Air Force F-16 pilots trying to get their ATP's (and TRYING is the key word there, no offense!)...

I would recommend flying as often as possible, not for the fact of getting done quicker, but for the factor of knowledge and skill retention. If you fly twice a month, every flight is basically going to be a review of every previous flight with very little forward progress....

Do you have time during the weekdays? weekday evenings? weekends? You don't have to set up a regular schedule... I had people who would fly some Tuesday mornings, and then want to fly Friday evening and then Sunday during the middle of the day... and the next week would be something totally different... There is no requirement to "lock-in" to some set schedule... as your schedule varies, schedule your flight time around it...

Since you are only going to be flying for recreational and personal purposes... make sure that in the end you will be flying enough to stay current AND safe.... nothing scarier than a guy taking 2+ year to finish his training for a Private Certificate and then only flying once every 6 weeks or so... that can be very very dangerous... After you complete your training plan on flying about once every 2 weeks at a minimum... that SHOULD be enough to keep you comfortable in the air....

Just food for thought and only my $0.02...

Fly Safe and Good Luck!
 

ShawnC

Skirts Will Rise
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Posts
1,481
Total Time
-5Z
Well if I was you try to make a little more time. I would say that you will retain the knowledge better if you fly 4 hours (2 two hour sessions) or more a week. That way you can be done in about six months.

The biggest piece of advice for you is that flying is similar to learning to drive, you need to take it slowly, and work your way up to complex and faster aircraft.

Stick with it and keep learning, you will be an excellent pilot if you do those two simple things.
 

Vik

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 27, 2001
Posts
913
Total Time
69
Go for it. 90% of the students at my school are probably recreational pilots and have no interest in making it a career. I've seen cops, firemen, accountants, lawyers, flight attendants, engineers, etc.

If you tell us where you are located, maybe someone can recommend a school for you.

If you aren't in a rush, I'd like to recommend that you take a private pilot ground school at your local community college if it is offered prior to starting.
 

Draginass

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
Posts
1,852
Total Time
5000+
Stephen -
There are many stories in aviation about physicians as pilots, and they usually end with being killed in an expensive airplane due to pilot error. And, there's probably a degree of validity in those stories. In many ways physicians and pilots need to have the same kind of confidence in their abilities.

Advice? - Take your training very seriously. NEVER over estimate you ability. Listen to your instructor. Get an instrument rating. Fly a lot to get and maintain proficiency. AND the biggie - don't go out and buy more airplane than you can handle. Don't be the next proverbial "doctor in a Bonanza" to stall spin into the ground.

What else? Your gonna love it!
 

ILLINI

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
495
Total Time
++++
First of all, you are not out of your league on this board. There are pilots with thousands of hours flying heavy metal and there are also those that are interested in flying with zero time. All are welcome, so ask away! Secondly, learning to fly is absolutely reasonable for you! Like the others have said, if you can get in at least 2 lessons a week, it would be easier to retain what you have learned. Make sure you study at home too!

There are many options to choose from when deciding where to get your training and there really isn't a "best" one. In a nut shell these are your options: There are two ways to earn your license - Part 141 or Part 61. At the end, you take the exact same test and one is no easier than the other. The only difference is that a 141 school is required to follow an FAA approved syllabus, whereas if you did it part 61 you still cover the same subjects, but your instructor designs their own syllabus. Also the hour requirements are less if you go part 141. You could enroll in one of the large 141 flight schools like Flight Safety. These schools have programs to get you your licences' and ratings in a short period of time, but in most cases require you to attend school as much as five times a week and are a little more expensive. Another way you could go is to go to your local airport and stop by the FBO (Fixed Base Operator) on the field. In addition to selling fuel and renting aircraft, most FBO's have instructors on staff. Some FBOs are 141 flight schools, while others are 61. You make your own schedule to a certain extent if you go this route. You just have to make sure that your instructor will be available when you are free. While you are at the airport check the bulliten boards. More than likely there will be ads for instructors that aren't part of a school or FBO that are looking for students. You may want to think about joing a flying club if you plan on taking a few trips a year. Usually there is a sign-up fee and then you pay monthly dues. As a member you can rent the club planes at a price cheaper than most FBOs. There are usually at least a couple instructors in the club that can give you instruction as well. My advice would be to research all of these options and choose the one that is best for you. Everyone has their opinion and they are all very good, valid opinions, but that doesn't mean anything if it doesn't fit your needs. The other thing is to choose your instructor carefully. You want to make sure that you have a good trusting relationship with him/her. If you feel there is a problem, discuss it with your instructor and if necessary get another one.

With respect to instructors detesting doctors... don't worry about that. It is a stereotype that doctors/lawyers/CEOs are difficult to work with b/c of their egos. We don't really detest doctors or lawyers... we detest students that are arrogant and thick skulled! You sound like a good guy, just make sure you listen to what your instructor has to say and trust them... no matter how young you think they are. They know what you want to know. Let 'em teach you! The other part of this is that doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. often have the money (and ego) to go and buy an airplane that is too much for them to handle. Don't go buy a Beech Duke just b/c you can and b/c they look cool. You will end up getting yourself into trouble. Remember, baby steps!

Good luck whichever way you decide to go! And one final recommendation. When you do earn your private pilots license, try to get your instrument rating if at all possible. It will make you a much better and safer pilot!
 
Last edited:

A Squared

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
3,006
Total Time
11000
Stephen,

First off, no need to feel "out of your league" There's all types on this forum. If you read the posts, you'll see the cover a spectrum from "I'm thinking of learning to fly" like yours, to "I'm upgrading to space shuttle commander next week...." and everything in between.

Here's my thoughts on why sometimes doctors are difficult students: I think doctors' sucesses in very demanding pursuits lead then to believe that they can master anything. If you've made it through Pre-med, Medical school and Residency, you're probably aware that you're brighter than the average bear. You're aware that you've suceeded at some things that most people couldn't hack. Depending on your specialty, you may personally have saved some lives. I think that often there is a tendancy to believe that your superior intelligence, education, and abilities will carry over into all pursuits. It just ain't so. Being sharp on the books will help, if you put the effort into it, but all those organic chemistry classes won't help one bit when it comes to flying the airplane. You have to understand that you're starting out at the bottom, just like the rest of us, as a complete novice. That guy over in the right seat, the one who's a decade younger than you, and probably couldn't even spell MCAT, he's a lot better at this than you, and you need to pay as much attention to him as you did to your gross anatomy professor. I'm not saying this to put you down or to put down doctors in general, but to perhaps give some insight as to why doctors (and other sucessful professionals) may sometimes create problems for themselves in aviation. Hopefully, if this tendancy surfaces, you can identify it and not let it become a problem.

good luck
 

bobbysamd

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
5,710
Total Time
4565
Attorneys as students & flight training

I'd like to comment briefly on attorneys because I've worked for them for 7½ years. These are only general comments based on my experiences working for them. I never had an attorney for a flight student, but I feel confident that I can surmise how the experience would be.

Attorneys can be very impatient and demanding, and oftentimes look down upon people of lesser stature. This is compounded by the fact that many attorneys have extremely big egos. Quite a few are immature. Not only do many attorneys expect their subordinates to serve them, they expect to be catered to. They are used to getting their way. Therefore, when they are presented with a situation in which they must become subordinate to another person, they can't handle it.

Attorneys tend to be extremely intelligent and have keen minds. They are used to thinking in precise terms. Because of their work, many attorneys tend to be argumentative and will debate small points. They can also be very stubborn. For these reasons, I'd bet that many attorneys can be difficult students because (1) their instructor(s) and not them are in control and (2) many attorneys are not humble enough to realize that, for a change, they have to listen to a "subordinate." In a nutshell, they have trouble dealing with people who are telling them what to do. Once again, these are only generalizations.

On the other hand, because of their very qualities of intelligence, precision, keen minds and ego, attorneys can be excellent students. They learn things quickly. They want to do well. They shouldn't have any problem learning the FARs because, well, after all, it is . . . . law.

I've digressed from the topic big time . . . .

Doc, you're not out of your league. You've come to the right place. You'll get a great deal of diverse opinion from a good cross-section of the aviation community. There are so many different points of view on the best way to train and from where to acquire that training.

The best way to train for you will depend a great deal on the time you can put into it. You can't take a lesson here and a lesson there. You need to train on a consistent basis to make the most of your training for the least amount of money and time expended. You will have to spend some time studying, because there's a good-sized body of knowledge you must acquire to be a pilot. Accordingly, you might find it worthwhile to take several weeks off and going to a school or full-time at an FBO. When you train consistently, it builds up momentum that speeds the process.

Hope these ideas help. Good luck with your decisions.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 11, 2002
Posts
9
Thank you for all the replies!

No, I'm not insulted by the above comments about physicians, because I think there is some truth to that. And no, doctors are not super intelligent, but they want you to believe that. The real intelligent people are the non-physician researchers telling the doctors what to do based on that research.

Anyway, I'm a pretty humble family doc. So ego is definitely not a problem, although I push myself to succeed in everything I do!

Time dedicated to keeping up seems to the main ingredient in safe flying from what I heard as well as judgement. I will need to make time if I want to fly safe - and that's why it's taking me so long (3 years) to contemplate all the options.

Thank you for all your replies!

Steve
 

norskman2

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Posts
571
Total Time
320
I can offer a bit of a unique perspective. My dad was a doctor, and a pretty decent pilot.

Please bear in mind, this is just one guy's opinion, and this is not meant to disparage doctors at all.

My dad, like many doctors I know, are not used to taking direction. Getting instruction from a young CFI with barely a college degree is a different experience for them from, say, taking a CME course at a university. Coupled with that, I think doctors are used to mastering new skills fairly quickly, or at least believe themselves to be quick studies. I think many are surprised how long it takes to learn to fly, and how different the skill sets and knowledge sets are from their previous experiences.

At the same time, I think it may not be uncommon for the young CFI out there to envy the doctors' high liiving standards and their ability to easily take on and afford flying as a hobby. Some CFIs may be understandably jealous, given their meager wages and how they're likely scraping to get by. This is not to disparage CFIs either, or stereotype them -- I'm just saying this is an attitude I've OCCASIONALLY encountered.

CFIs may also believe the stereotype that doctors are arrogant and think "they're God." Probably an unfair stereotype, but again, some CFIs MAY harbor that attitude, fairly or unfairly.

That said, I think most doctors make excellent students and excellent pilots. They, like any other student, need to understand their limitations, and understand fully what's expected of them, and the commitment it takes to become a safe and competant pilot.

At the same time, I think most CFIs are excellent, professional pilots who work well with most students, as long as they understand the unique limitations and learning methods of each student and adapt themselves to the needs of each students.

That said, welcome to the board, enjoy those flying lessons, and I look forward to hearing about your obtaining your Private!
 

stingray

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2001
Posts
284
Total Time
some
Go for it, its never to late. When i was still doing the cfi thing my last student was a retired enginneer, I thought he was teaching me for a bit, my best prepared student. Anways he wated till he was 62 to accomplish his childhood dream of become coming a pilot. You are 30yrs younger then him. Chase your dream the sooner the better but its never to late.
Stand before you walk, walk before you run.
Get the proper training and know what your personal flying limitations are (JFK jr exceeded his). I could go on and on. stuff like this all good instuctors try to instill in there students.
Put the area you live in here so someone can give you some good flight schools and insturctors to go to.
 

B-J-J Fighter

Royce Gracie in Action
Joined
Dec 1, 2001
Posts
1,118
Total Time
>4000
Docs as Students

I had 2 MD's as students when I was CFIing full time. They tended to be know it alls and ALWAYS would question what I told them. I think they both thought they knew more than I did after reading a few books. Both came in for lessons already having finished reading a few books before there first flight. I will admit my knowledge level isnt the highest but it was good enough to pass with the FAA and not a DE.

I was going on a dual xc with one of them and we were looking at the metar for the destination airport and it read something like VRB02KT 5SM BR OVC009 12/09. I said Steve can we go and he said sure the ceiling is 9000 OVC and the vis isnt bad. I said are you sure we can go and he said yes. Well I looked at the last few previous metars and the conditions were getting worse. I said to him it looks like there might be mist there because of the BR. The student said "mist", "BR doesnt mean mist." ANd I said you sure. He said Im not sure what BR meant but he knew I was wrong and it didnt mean mist.

I was alright wx's 9000 ovc "let's rock and roll". I knew the destination airport was ifr so while he did the preflight I went back to the officee to get the Jepps. We blasted off and the distance to the airport was about 100 nm each way. The closer we got to the destination the worse the wx got and the lower we had to drop down. We were in range of the destination airports awos we listened and it was like 2 miles ovc 007 and the voice on awos said mist. I looked at Steve and I said "**CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED****CENSORED** Steve I wonder where that mist came from, he looked over at me and said I dont know, muat have just moved in. To make a long story short I picked up a pop up and shot the approach in. Got on the ground and told him that I was tired of him questioning me about everything and always thinking he was right about everything because most of the time and hadnt a clue what he was talking about. I told him if he did this trip on his own he might not have been here to tell me he was wrong when he read the metar.

From that day foward he didnt question me again about anything.
 

bobbysamd

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
5,710
Total Time
4565
Know-it-alls

Sometimes you have to give such a lesson to get your point across.

By the way, where can I find a METAR decoder legend?

All help will be appreciated.
 

ShawnC

Skirts Will Rise
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Posts
1,481
Total Time
-5Z
There is a decoder inside of the AFD. Also I picked one up at Sun n Fun, it was at the FAA hanger. I might be able to pick up another one, if I head there this Saturday.
 
Joined
Apr 11, 2002
Posts
9
Wow, I'm still surprised at all the replies.

To answer stingray's question, I live in Cecil County Maryland - near the border of Newark, Deleware and not too far from West Chester, PA.

I think there may be some possibilities at New Castle Co. or in that area. I'm excited and nervous about starting both at the same time.

Can you tell - I've been checking these threads a couple times a day!



Thanks again!

Steve:)
 

ILLINI

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
495
Total Time
++++
Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily think having an ego is a bad thing, just don't let it get you into trouble. Stephen, if you are going to be a pilot you need to have at least a little bit of an ego! Every pilot has one wheather they admit it or not. There was a saying I once heard that went something like... If you don't think you are the best pilot at least some of the times, you are in the wrong business!

Have fun!
 

stingray

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 2, 2001
Posts
284
Total Time
some
Stephen
It takes a little work, sometimes you will be nervous when you see things for the first time.
But all the work and effort is well worth it. Its one of the most fun and rewarding things you will ever do.
Though i do fly in that area a lot,I live in SW FL. Hopefully one of the other guys can give you some good info in that area

Fly Safe.
 

A Squared

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
3,006
Total Time
11000
B-J-J FIghter,


>>>> From that day foward he didnt question me again about anything.

That might have gone too far to the other extreme. Certainly your lesson was good, and it sounds like he needed a wake-up call, but neither is it good to accept an instructor as infalliable. If I believed everything every instructor told me, I'd be one confused, mixed up pilot today. I believe that a healthy skepticism is good. Examine everything an instructor says to see if it makes sense. Consult outside sources, ask for clarifications. Don't just blindly accept everything an instructor tells you as gospel. That's how old wives tales get started and are perpetuated.


regards
 
Top