Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Learning to Fly: Part 2

By: Stephanie Goetz

The journey to achieving a private pilot

Have you ever thought about getting your private pilot's license? No matter your age, it's actually much more attainable than you think. In part 2 of our "Learning to Fly" series, we take you up in the air to show you what it takes once you're in flight.

We start our day in the skies, on the ground, getting a Piper aircraft out of the hangar for a pre-flight check.

"You can grab on the inside of the prop - we're going to turn it towards the north so when you start the engine you don't blow the hanger full of leaves. And when you start the aircraft you want to be away from the rocks."

Here in Fargo, Flight Instructor Victor Gelking is one the best to learn from: with more than 30,000 hours of flying, he knows how to train beginners into expert pilots.

"When I got out of the Marine Corps. in the second world war, I took flying in the G.I. training. That was in 1946."

And he knows the world of aviation very well.

"People travel a lot by air, a lot more than people realize. I can take off at 6:00 in the morning from Fargo and be in San Diego by early afternoon." he says.

One of the first things you hear as you taxi out is all the radio chatter - talking to air traffic control to make sure you're in the right area, that you have clearance to fly, and continuous connection as you take off and land.

"Here we go!" Vic say. "Put your hands on top of the throttle and let's do this together. Clear. We're in the air! And you did that yourself!"

Once we're in the air, we have to establish cruising altitude -- which is about 5,000 feet for our single engine plane. We must stay out of clouds and I have to keep my altitude as I do 10, 20 & 30 degree banks at 90 degrees, 180 and 360 degree turns!

As I nail a 30 degree turn, Vic says "I'm going to have to give you an a for that one!" Gladly I exclaim, "Oh yay!"

It's vital to look at your instruments as you fly. But for VFR flying - which is what we're doing - it's essentially operating an aircraft with instruments, but also relying heavily on sight. So we have to continue looking out the window to make sure there aren't any planes in your path of flight.

"I find that women become pretty good pilots," Vic says. "They're very cautious by nature. They try real hard. And they won't take quite the chances that sometimes that men will do."

Safety - in the skies and on the ground - is the most important part of mastering this craft & enjoying your time in the air.

To get your private pilot's license, you must have at least 40 hours, pass various solo flight tests, a written knowledge test and practical test. Through more hours in the sky, you work your way up getting different aircraft-type ratings. The bare minimum number of hours for a commercial license is 250, but major airline pilots have many more hours than that.

You can get your license through Vic's Aviation and Flight Instruction -- which is located at 1631 19th Avenue North, Fargo, ND 58102 - it's the building to the west of the Fargo Air Museum. You can call Vic to schedule a lesson at (701) 293-8362.

Story and Video:  http://www.valleynewslive.com

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