Tag: Flight Training

The learning continues – mountain flying in the DA-40

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the learning continues mountain flying in the da 40 - The learning continues – mountain flying in the DA-40

On final for runway 14R at BFI in a Diamond DA-40 – this wasn’t from our mountain-flying day, but it’s too pretty of a photo to leave out of the article

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

The lousy Pacific Northwest early spring weather notwithstanding, I’ve made good progress towards learning both the instrumentation and the Diamond DA-40 aircraft. We recently got a decent break in the weather that allowed a flight from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Ellensburg for some basic mountain flying training.

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Cruising westbound at 6,500′ over Snoqualmie Pass was an amazing experience – Photo: Katie Bailey

I’ve got about 10 hours in the DA-40 now, all but one of them with Carl, my ever-patient CFI. I finally felt comfortable enough with the plane to take it out on my own last week, even though Carl had deemed me ready to do that about five flight hours previously. I just wanted a bit more time with the plane, as it’s quite a bit different than the 172, especially in that it’s a lot faster and a bit fussier when it comes to controls, and it’s got a constant-speed propeller (also sometimes referred to as a variable-pitch propeller) that needs tending to via a dedicated control lever.

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll have read a bit about route-finding through mountainous terrain in my December, 2020 story about my certification checkride. There are, pardon the pun, mountains of information and classes available concerning mountain flying. Here in western Washington state we’ve got a large mountain range to both the east (the Cascades) and the west (the Olympics), so it’s pretty much required reading if you want to fly beyond the Puget Sound area. Flying over and through the mountains also requires different training than is needed for landing in mountainous areas, so I’ll be tackling the landings next as my post-certification training continues.

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The lakes at the summit of Snoqualmie Pass are quite distinctive and make great visual navigation checkpoints – Photo: Katie Bailey

Route-finding through mountainous terrain is definitely about avoiding the granite, but it’s also about doing your best to make sure you have options if something goes wrong in the air. If you need to land in a hurry, for whatever reason – be it mechanical issues or being surprised by unexpected bad weather – you want options. So, both the outbound and return routes followed Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, which offered lower terrain, and a four-lane highway as an option for emergency landings, as well as a couple of mountain airstrips along the way. We flew the outbound leg at a higher altitude, and the return at a lower one to gain experience with both options.

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Here we’re adjusting the autopilot to turn a a bit more to the left while passing over Snoqualmie Pass in Washington state – Photo: Katie Bailey

On a clear day with relatively smooth air, it was a glorious flight eastbound over the mountains at 9,500′, taking less than an hour to cover the 93 miles from Seattle to Ellensburg (which, for comparison, takes more than two hours by car via I-90).

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On the downwind leg for landing at Ellensburg, Wash. – Photo: Katie Bailey

We practiced using the autopilot as much as possible, but it does require constant monitoring and adjustments to avoid clouds, while watching for other aircraft traffic, etc. Also, the DA-40 requires manually switching the two wing fuel tanks every 30 minutes to keep the load balanced, so watching for those alerts on the G1000 becomes part of your instrument scan.

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Touching down on runway 29 at KELN – Photo: Katie Bailey

The outbound flight went by quickly. After stopping to stretch our legs a bit at Ellensburg, it was back in the plane to enter the new flight plan into the nav system and head back to Seattle, this time through the pass at 4,500′ to 6,500′ (south and westbound flights are at even altitudes plus 500′, north and eastbound at odd altitudes).

While at ELN, we all visited the small mailbox outside the FBO containing the stamp for our Fly Washington passports. It’s a fun (and free) program to encourage pilots to visit airports in the state and log their adventures. If you’re a pilot (or have a pilot friend) in or near Washington state, I definitely recommend checking it out.

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On short final for runway 32R back at KBFI – Photo: Katie Bailey

We had planned to fly at or below the tops of the mountain peaks traversing Snoqualmie Pass, but there was a fair bit of mountain-wave turbulence at 4,500′, so we climbed to 6,500′ into clear air – the DA-40 feels like it gets tossed around a bit more than the C172s in rough air. Mountain-wave turbulence happens on the downwind side of terrain, such as we experienced flying westbound into headwinds passing over the peaks. Mountain-wave turbulence and rotor waves are but two of the more uncomfortable/dangerous types of turbulence encountered in mountainous regions. Rapidly-forming clouds are another, especially when the temperature and dewpoint are within 3˚C of one another, so very thorough weather awareness, both pre-flight and updating in flight, are essentials.

More to come about mountain flying and, hopefully soon, the start of instrument training.

EDITOR-AT-LARGE – SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aerial, aviation, and commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.


I’m a pilot! FAA Checkride Successfully Completed.

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im a pilot faa checkride successfully completed - I’m a pilot! FAA Checkride Successfully Completed.

Success! I finally earned my private pilot certificate!

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.

After a year and a half of concerted effort, I’ve finally completed my initial training and earned my private pilot certificate in early November. It’s a great feeling!

For those who’ve been following along on my adventures at Galvin Flying, it’s been a long process of successes and setbacks, many of which were weather related because I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the local joke says that it only rains once a year — it starts raining in late October and stops raining on July 5 (it always seems to rain on July 4).

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In case you ever wondered what the track of a checkride looks like, here you go. Screen capture courtesy FlightRadar24

Anyway, I did several mock checkrides in the weeks leading up to the actual FAA one, and had to complete Galvin’s end-of-course checkride before that. The end-of-course checks are designed to be more difficult than the actual checkride to ensure that pilot candidates are as prepared as possible.

The FAA examiner, also known as a designated pilot examiner or DPE, selects from a long list of information and flight maneuvers for the actual checkride known as the Airman Certification Standards. The check airman who oversees the end-of-course checks runs through the entire list to be sure you’re ready.

Both checks consist of a lengthy ground session to review the rules, regulations, and related information found in the federal FAR/AIM manual, plus aviation decision making, route finding, and so on. Then a flight to be sure you can fly all the required maneuvers to standards. The evaluations also require a very thorough flight plan to a randomly-assigned airport.

My FAA checkride assignment was to do a detailed VFR flight plan for the 200+ miles from Boeing Field in Seattle to Felts Field in Spokane, a route which included mountain flying. You don’t actually fly the whole route on the checkride; the planning is done primarily to assess your route-finding, weather assessment, and planning skills, although you do fly the first couple of legs of your plan on the checkrides.

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My assigned aircraft for the checkride was this fine C172SP

If successful in the classroom, then it’s off to the flightline, where you’re evaluated on everything from how well you perform the pre-flighting of the aircraft, to your decision as to whether it’s safe to fly that day. Once that’s done and you’ve received taxi clearance and completed the pre-takeoff run-up and checklists, it’s off to fly the first couple of legs of your assigned flight plan. That went well, so I was asked to divert to a randomly-selected local airport, in this case Paine Field (KPAE) in Everett, Wash., which is designed to test your ability to create a new flight plan while in the air, along with being able to pinpoint your current location on the paper chart.

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A Seattle sectional chart, the paper flight logs, and the first page of the briefing I wrote up for my checkride

Candidates are allowed to use any technology available for planning, so I roughed out the route in ForeFlight, which is a most excellent flight-planning tool for pilots. Examiners are notorious for “failing” any technology a pilot candidate is using, which means they’ll tell you, typically at a crucial moment during the flight, that whatever tech you were using just broke and disallow you from continuing to use it, which sends you scrambling for your paper charts and paper flight plan.

So, it’s safest to primarily use the paper charts and use the tech as the backup for the checkride, as you are also responsible for being able to competently use whatever equipment happens to be installed in your particular aircraft.

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This was my proposed route from Seattle to Spokane for my checkride. Screenshot is from ForeFlight

The DPE asked me to perform several maneuvers, including slow flight, power-off and power-on stalls, turns around a point, and steep turns. After that, I had to put on a hood that restricted my vision such that I couldn’t see out the windows and could only see the instruments, then I was asked to perform several accurate course and altitude changes using only the instruments while maintaining proper control of the aircraft.

We then returned to Boeing Field, where I had to perform several different types of landings and takeoffs – short field, soft field, and normal.

A checkride is not considered to be complete until the aircraft is properly parked on the ramp and the engine-shutdown checklist is complete. It was at that point the examiner turned to me and said, “congratulations – your checkride was successful and you’re now a pilot.”

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So, I’ve already started getting checked out in the Diamond DA-40 with the G1000 glass cockpit; next step will be to begin instrument training after the first of the year

Less than a week after that, I started training to fly the Diamond DA-40, a plane I’ve been admiring all through training. Weather and schedule conflicts had conspired such that I’ve still not gone flying on my own as a certificated pilot, but that’s gonna happen soon, not to worry, … once this rain lets up.

EDITOR-AT-LARGE – SEATTLE, WA Francis Zera is a Seattle-based architectural, aerial, aviation, and commercial photographer, a freelance photojournalist, and a confirmed AvGeek.


Private Pilot Ground School Syllabus.

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private pilot ground school syllabus - Private Pilot Ground School Syllabus.

I believe you have decided to get your pilot license and want a heads up on the contents of the private pilot ground school syllabus.

Either you want to know which subjects will be taught to you in the private pilot ground training or simply to prepare by yourself, this article will help you stay ahead of your pilot training batch mates.

Similarly, from here, you can evaluate whether you are good enough to start your private pilot training or not.

I have designed this private pilot ground school syllabus as a resource for anyone to guide themselves for private pilot training.

All the subjects mentioned here will be taught in flight schools before you go for your first flight.

I suggest using this syllabus as a guideline for studying in advance and prepare before even you enroll in a flight training institute.

A step by step guide includes the chapters of the Jeppesen Private Pilot textbook and the topics in those particular chapters most important for your private pilot training course.

To become a good pilot, you must always keep learning.

The sooner you master the basics, the more apparent it will be for you during the real-world flight training.

Private pilot ground school syllabus.

Introduction to aviation is crucial. Flying an airplane comes with a lot of accountability.

Even a small error by the pilot in flight can be fatal.

Therefore all the student pilots are taught basics from several subjects to build themselves as incompetent pilots.

The number of subjects to become a private pilot is the same as for becoming a commercial pilot.

The only difference is that during private pilot ground training, students learn the straightforward basics.

On the other hand, the subjects for a commercial pilot license are more detailed and in-depth.

Why is that?

As a commercial pilot, you will have the responsibility of passengers aboard.

And as a private pilot, it is highly likely that you will fly by yourself during weekends.

Therefore more responsibility as a commercial pilot requires you to have more knowledge.

However, let’s not talk much about the commercial pilot ground training subjects.

We are here to discuss the private pilot ground school syllabus, thus let’s begin that.

To ease your trouble, I have structured the subjects according to the Jeppesen private pilot book chapters.

I am doing so because the Jeppesen textbook is the most popular book used for private pilot training in the ground.

Pupils from flight schools around the world use this book.

I am expecting you to have Jeppesen private pilot book by now.

If you do not have one order one from Amazon now.

Subjects for private pilot ground training:

There are generally nine subjects shown during ground training.

Aircraft General Knowledge.

The second chapter of the Jeppesen private pilot book contains all the necessary knowledge required for private pilots to know.

This chapter explains the parts of an airplane.

You can learn about:

  • Fuselage Construction;
  • Wing construction;
  • Construction materials;
  • Airplane Powerplant:
    • Types of powerplants;
    • Classification of piston engines;
    • Fundamental engine components and operation;
    • The sequence of engine strokes;
    • Timing;
  • Flight Instruments:
    • Pitot static instruments;
    • Gyroscopic instruments;
    • Magnetic compass
  • Fuel systems:
    • Carburetor construction and maintenance;
    • Leaning mixture at cruise;
    • Carburetor ice;
    • Carburetor heat;
    • Turbocharging;
    • Fuel injection;
  • Hydraulic system;
  • Heat & vent system, etc.
  • Lubrication systems;
  • Ignition systems;
  • Electrical systems;
  • Vacuum systems

Principles of Flight.

Principles of flight are in the third chapter of the Jeppesen book. The name of the section in the book is Aerodynamic principles.

This chapter consists of:

  • Four forces of flight;
    • Theory of lift;
    • Theory of drag;
    • Thrust generation;
    • Weight of the aircraft;
  • Stability of the airplane;
  • Design of the wing;
  • Three axes of the plane;
  • Stability of the aircraft;
    • Longitudinal (Ailerons);
    • Lateral (Elevator);
    • Directional (Rudder);
  • Flight performance:
    • Asymmetric thrust;
    • Precession;
    • Slipstream;
    • Climbing;
    • Gliding;
    • Turns;
    • Stalls;
    • Spins;
    • Spiral dives

Operational procedures.

Chapter four in the Jeppesen textbook is “The flight environment,” which is also known as operational procedures.

Knowing operational procedures is essential for student pilots to ensure safety during operation at the airport.

Regardless of where you fly, busy, or not congested airspace, this chapter will teach you to be a safe pilot.

In this chapter, you will learn:

  • Safety of flight;
  • Uncontrolled airport procedures;
  • Controlled airport procedures;
  • Aeronautical charts;
  • All special procedures;
  • Types of airspace;
  • Wake turbulence;
  • Jet blast;
  • Taxiing;
  • Filing, opening and choosing a flight plan

Flight communication.

Chapter five has all the details of safely navigating and how to maintain communication to prevent fatal situations.

This chapter has:

  • Radar and ATC service;
  • Radio procedure;
  • Radio frequencies;
  • Phonetic alphabets;
  • Standard sequences;
  • Distress communications;
  • Priority of communication


It is essential to learn how to interpret weather to ensure a safe flight.

Chapter 6 is all about aviation weather. A good pilot knows which weather is safe for flying and which cloud to avoid.

In chapters 6 and 7 of the Jeppesen private pilot textbook, you will learn everything from basic meteorology to weather theory.

The important things to study from these chapters are:

  • The atmosphere;
  • Clouds;
  • Pressure;
  • Wind;
  • Weather services;
  • Metar;
  • Weather Hazards;
  • Moisture & Temperature;
  • Stability;
  • Air masses;
  • Fronts;
  • Cloud formation;
  • Lifting process;
  • Precipitation;
  • Fog;
  • Visibility
  • Thunderstorms;
  • Icing;

Flight Performance & Planning.

This subject is related to the weight and balance of the aircraft you will be flying as a student pilot.

If you do not will to stall during landing, then chapter eight is all you have to study.

In this chapter, you will study:

  • E6B computer
    • Slide rule side
    • Wind side
  • Electronic computers;
  • Pre-flight planning form;
  • Performance charts
  • Weight & Balance;
  • Cross country planning/ Diversions;
  • Basic plotting exercise


Chapter 9 in the Jeppesen Private Pilot Handbook is the chapter that will teach you how to navigate in the sky.

Flying an airplane is not like driving a car. Unlike driving a car, you are in the sky, and everything will look a lot different from the birds-eye view.

And during the night, your route may be pitch black.

So if you do not learn how to navigate your airplane in the sky, you cannot reach your destination.

Without knowing how to use visual references outside and not remembering how to use the VOR, you will lose direction in the sky.

Therefore Chapter 9 will explain:

  • Latitude & longitude;
  • Time Zones;
  • Time & Longitude;
  • Bearings and headings;
  • Rhumb lines & great circle routes;
  • Magnetic compass;
  • Earth’s magnetism;
  • Magnetic dip;
  • Variation & deviation;
  • Allowing for variation and deviation;
  • Compass construction;
  • Northerly turning errors;
  • Acceleration errors;
  • Aviation charts / Maps;
  • Projections / Scale;
  • Chart index / Symbols;
  • Basic plotting.

Chapter 9 also contains sections on the advanced navigation system.

By saying advanced, I mean the radio navigation techniques:

  • Radio Communications;
  • VOR (VHF Omni-directional Range) Navigation;
  • ADF (Automatic direction finder) Navigation;
  • GNSS / GPS (Global Positioning System)
  • WAAS ( The wide-area augmentation system)
  • Transponder;
  • Primary and secondary surveillance radar

Human Performance.

The human performance section speaks about the aviation physiology and aeronautical decision making.

Chapter 10 will explain:

  • Hypoxia / Hyperventilation;
  • Nutrition;
  • Alcohol / Drugs / Medications
  • Environmental factors;
  • Sensory Sources & Sensory Illusions
  • Decompression effects;
  • Trapped gases;
  • G-loc;
  • Fatigue

The list, as mentioned above, is about aviation physiology.

NOW let’s discuss what will you learn from the aeronautical decision-making section of this chapter:

  • The accident chain;
  • The decision making process;
  • Factors affecting decision making;
  • Situational awareness;
  • Stress and stress management;
  • Personality traits;
  • Hazardous attitudes;
  • Managing risk

Lastly, in a structured private pilot ground school syllabus, there will be a few hours of class on the specific airplane you will be flying during the training.

Your flight instructor will refer you all the relevant notes from the Pilot Operating Handbook of the airplane you are to fly.

Such as if you will be flying a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, then you will need a Cessna 172 Skyhawkw pilot’s operating handbook for a Cessna 172.

There are many things you might have to learn and memorize if required from this pilot’s operating handbook.

Air law and regulations.

Civil aviation regulations is a vital subject. Air law is the first subject that students learn in any pilot training ground school.

Depending on your location, the air regulations are slightly different.

The civil aviation body of the respective country will set the rules and publish them through their website or as publications.

During your ground school classes, you will discover:

  • Licenses and permits;
  • Ratings;
  • Licensing standards;
  • Medical standards;
  • Domestic airspace;
  • Classification of airspace;
  • Aeronautical information manual;
  • NOTAMs
  • Required documents;
  • Emergencies

This private pilot ground school syllabus is simply a reference for students pilots to study at home.

You can use it to prepare yourself in advance or to review the most important things as a private pilot.


What Does It Take To Get Your Private Pilot License | FAA Requirements

Ever wonder what it takes to get your Private Pilot License? Here's a quick breakdown of what the requirements are.

I've tried my best to give you a general idea of all the requirements. I may not have them down exactly but it will give you everything you need to get started.

Check out our tracking sheet at:

Follow us on Social Media to see what we're up to!

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How Much Does It Cost To Get Your Private Pilot License | HOW TO SAVE MONEY

In our video, we give you a great breakdown on how much it will cost to get your Private Pilot License, or Private Pilot Certificate. (Which is what its actually called!) These are some of the most realistic numbers you'll find!

I give you some numbers based on what I've found, but you may need to do some math based on the rates in your area.

FAA Aviation Handbooks & Manuals –
Airman Knowledge Testing Center List –
Materials for your Private Pilot Certificate – Coming SOON!

Other Aviation Tools for Success –

Check us out online at: www.FlyWithTheGuys.com

Follow us on Social Media to see what we're up to!

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collect money for PPL – Privat Pilot Licence course

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collect money for PPL – Privat Pilot Licence course

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5 Reasons You Should Not Get A Private Pilots License

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MOJOGRIP!! Subscribe for MORE:
If you watch my video on why you should get a private pilot license, here is the downside of why you should think hard before taking up the journey of flight training. Below are the 5 reasons I discussed in the video.
1. High Cost Of Flight Training
2. Time Commitment is also high
3. You are vulnerable to Weather conditions
4. It is very tasking to fly an airplane
5. Safety. Accidents happen.

How To Become A Pilot

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How To Become A Pilot

How to become a pilot can be done in different ways. To become a privat pilot with a private pilot license is often the best way to start. You can then take extra courses if you would like to become ie. an airline pilot. For a private pilot license you must pass a theoretical and practical test. Enerything explained if you follow the link up here. Want to see more flying videos go here

Private Pilot Airplane – Aircraft Performance – ASA (Aviation Supplies & Academics)

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Gain the information you need to be a safe, competent and confident pilot with this in-depth, comprehensive ground school on Aircraft Performance. Brilliant animations, 3D graphics and special effects throughout along with expert instructors and terrific inflight footage make this a thoroughly entertaining and motivating learning experience.

Video program contents: Density Altitude; Takeoff Distance; Fuel Consumption; Crosswind Component; Landing Distance; Weight and Balance. Features an interview with renowned aviator and writer, Barry Schiff. Total running time = 47 minutes.

Here is a 4 1/2 minute sample clip from the Aircraft Performance Lesson. It includes a chapter on the Crosswind Component. To purchase the full lesson, click the link below. To purchase the full length versions of all lessons in this series, see our Virtual Test Prep for Private Pilot in either Widescreen Edition, or Blu-ray.

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