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Twelve Days of Avgeek Christmas: Day 4 Flight Lessons

My first small aircraft flight was in this plane.

My first small aircraft flight was in this plane.

Day 4 of Avgeek Christmas this year is where the real fun starts as far as I am concerned.  There simply is nothing like flying in a small plane at the controls.  I have been on dozens of airliners and flown all over the country, and even half way around the world, but there is still nothing that compares to the first time I ever took the controls of a plane.

For me it was a Cessna 172 with the Garmin G1000 system, which was awesome.  I even remember the tail number still: N123VK.  It really doesn’t matter what type of plane it is though, it is still incredible.

Whether it is a Cessna, Cirrus, Mooney, or Stearman it will still change your life.  Okay, if it was a Stearman it might be even more life changing, but that is for another post.  The point is, there is nothing that compares to the hum of that engine, pushing up the throttle, and the feeling that you get when the gear leaves the ground, and for just an instant you feel totally empowered and peaceful all at the same time.

It truly is indescribable, but once you have felt it, you will never be the same.

In a lot of ways, flying is like the greatest drug ever.  It is totally legal, will eat up your money just as quickly, and lets you experience a high that simply cannot come in any other way.

The Mooney is the fastest of the single-engine aircraft, and a joy to fly from what I hear.

The Mooney is the fastest of the single-engine aircraft, and a joy to fly from what I hear.

The beautiful thing is that there are literally thousands of airports all across the country where you can take lessons.  You won’t find any links in this post because there is simply no way I could possibly link to even a fraction of a percent of the options out there.  If you know where the airport is just drive on out there and I would be willing to bet there is a flight school there, unless it is DFW, JFK, LAX or some other similarly sized airport.  Stick to the small airports for now.

That being said, all flight schools are not created equal.  Some of them have nicer aircraft which will carry a higher price.  You may want to learn on a tail-dragger and not all schools have those.  One of the most important aspects to consider is finding an instructor that you mesh well with.  There would be nothing sadder than committing all that time and money to something amazing just to grow to hate it because you hate your instructor.

Many schools offer discovery flights to new students which give you a chance to check out the school, the instructor, and the aircraft you will be working with generally at a decent discount.  This is a great opportunity to find just the right fit for you.  The key is to remember that this really is about you, and not the school or the instructor.  You need to be happy with what you are receiving, and if you aren’t then find somewhere else, because like I said, there are plenty of options.

Another great avenue to consider, that can also be less expensive, is finding a local flying club.  This is a great way to save a little money, as well as being part of a club that you can continue flying with after you attain that coveted PPL.  Once again, no links here because there are too many to even try.  A simple Google search of “flight club (your city)” will likely give you a great starting place.

The "Mighty Katana" or DA-20 is used by the Air Force for initial flight screening and is a blast to fly.

The “Mighty Katana” or DA-20 is used by the Air Force for initial flight screening and is a blast to fly.

The other great route to follow in finding just the right school or flying club is to talk to the people at the airport.  Talk to the students, talk to the instructors, the maintenance guys, possibly the FBO that houses the flight school, or even just fuels their planes.  People are what make aviation great, and for the most part we are all there to help other people out, especially new people.

If you come across a school or club that isn’t anxious to help you find exactly what you are looking for, then look elsewhere, because flying should be fun, and it is about you.  The moment that it stops being fun is the moment you need to change something, because it is supposed to be about having a great time.

As I write this post, there are no links that I have personally put up, but like I say all of the time, flying is about people, and helping others out, so if you have a flight school or a flying club that you would like to support or recommend then leave me a note in the comments and I will gladly put them up on the main post.

Flying is one of the most amazing things I have ever done in my life.  It shapes the choices I make everyday and the career that I have decided to pursue.  It has become a part of me in a way that if I could never do it again I would never be quite the same.  If you or your favorite avgeek have even the slightest interest in learning to fly then please go out and take a discovery flight.  You may find that you would rather stick to the airliners, but you may also find the most incredible experience of your life, and you will never be the same.

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”

-Leonardo da Vinci

12 Days of Avgeek Christmas:

Day 1: Aircraft Models and RC Toys
Day 2: Aviation Books and Guides
Day 3: Aviation Apps and Flight Simulators
Day 4: Flight Lessons
Day 5: Headsets
Day 6: Bags and Kneeboards
Day 7: Sunglasses and Watches
Day 8: Handheld GPS
Day 9: Handheld Radio
Day 10: Cameras and Video Recorders
Day 11: Random Aviation Accessories
Day 12: Airplane

December 17, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Cessna’s New Citation M2 Makes First Flight Today

WICHITA, Kan., March 9, 2012 — Cessna’s new Citation M2, announced less than six months ago, made its first prototype flight today. The flight lasted a little more than an hour and a half and included tests of the avionics system, autopilot, engine system, aircraft systems and instrument approaches. The prototype took off and landed at Wichita, Kan., Mid-Continent Airport (ICT) where Cessna’s main manufacturing facility is located. Cessna Aircraft Company is a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company.

“I am excited to say the aircraft performance, handling characteristics and Garmin G3000 avionics were exceptional, just as we had anticipated,” said Peter Fisher, Cessna’s engineering test pilot who flew the Citation M2. “With this essential program milestone complete, we are looking forward to a successful flight test program and FAA certification so our customers can soon enjoy this great aircraft.”

The Citation M2 is a new light business jet that fills the gap between the Citation Mustang and the Citation CJ family and gives customers another entry point into the Citation product line. Federal Aviation Administration certification (Part 23) is expected in the first half of 2013, followed by deliveries beginning in the second half of 2013.

“The Citation M2 development team is focused on bringing this program to maturity, and their dedication is reflected in the speed in which the program is moving forward,” said Brian Rohloff, Cessna’s Citation Mustang and M2 business leader. “Bringing this sleek airplane to market, so quickly, strongly positions Cessna in the marketplace and allows our customers to take advantage of its capabilities sooner.”

The Citation M2’s clean cockpit design is anchored by the fully integrated Garmin G3000 avionics suite and the aircraft is powered by a pair of FADEC-controlled Williams International FJ44-1AP-21 turbofan engines. It has an all-new cabin design, including the optional Cessna proprietary cabin management system that includes the latest interface options for greater in-flight productivity and connectivity.

With room for two crew and up to six passengers, the $4.195 million 2012 USD Citation M2 has a maximum cruise speed of 400 knots true airspeed (741 kilometers per hour) and a range of 1,300 nautical miles (2,408 kilometers). The aircraft can operate at airports with runways as short as 3,250 feet (991 meters) and will climb to 41,000 feet (12,497 meters) in 24 minutes.

From the cockpit divider aft through the rear lavatory, the main passenger cabin of the Citation M2 is 58 inches wide (1.47 meters) and 11 feet (3.3 meters) long with a 5-inch dropped aisle providing a cabin height of 57 inches (1.45 meters). Eight large windows, roomy pedestal seats and intuitive cabin appointments highlight the all-new interior.

A video highlighting the Citation M2’s features can be viewed on Cessna’s YouTube channel. Visit our gallery of Citation M2 images.

Cessna is the world’s leading general aviation company. Since its inception in 1927, Cessna has designed, produced and delivered more than 192,500 airplanes around the globe. This includes more than 6,100 Citation business jets, making it the largest fleet of business jets in the world. Today, Cessna has two principal lines of business: aircraft sales and aftermarket services. Aircraft sales include Citation business jets, Caravan single-engine utility turboprops, single-engine piston aircraft and lift solutions by CitationAir. Aftermarket services include parts, maintenance, inspection and repair services. In 2010, Cessna delivered 535 aircraft, including 179 Citation business jets, and reported revenues of $2.6 billion. More information about Cessna Aircraft Company is available at

Textron Inc. is a multi-industry company that leverages its global network of aircraft, defense, industrial and finance businesses to provide customers with innovative solutions and services. Textron is known around the world for its powerful brands such as Bell Helicopter, Cessna Aircraft Company, Jacobsen, Kautex, Lycoming, E-Z-GO, Greenlee, and Textron Systems. More information is available at

March 12, 2012 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Rep. Mike Pompeo Explains Very Simply Why User Fees Are Bad for America

User fees seem to be the simple answer for so many people in Washington who have no real understanding of what general aviation does for this country.  They think it is all about rich people cruising around in their big expensive jets on vacation, and while those people do exist, the vast majority of general aviation is in support of business both big and small.

Rep Mike Pompeo of Kansas is a long-time advocate for general aviation.  That is not too shocking seeing as how he comes from Wichita, KS which is home to companies like Cessna, Learjet, and Beechcraft; as well as being the birthplace of Air Force One.  He gives a great response to President Obama’s proposed budget which includes user fees for general aviation.  Here is the video:



Like so many types of regulation in this government, user fees will hurt the little guys.  Big companies write off fees like this as nothing, or they find a loophole to get out of paying them entirely.

A better idea for funding aviation is to create a more efficient system that doesn’t throw away money on things like replacing the uniforms for all of TSA for millions of dollars.  There are plenty of areas where cuts could be made, or money could be generated, but the people making decisions are too clouded by their own special interests.

What type of an impact do you think user fees would have on an already struggling industry?

February 16, 2012 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Citation Ten Prototype Makes First Successful Test Flight

While I worked at an FBO in Austin, TX I was fortunate enough to see aircraft of all shapes and sizes.  From big airliners to little tiny(and I mean real tiny) experimentals.  With all of the different aircraft that I saw, I don’t think there was one that I loved more than the Citation X.  For lack of a better word, it was just downright sexy.

Now Cessna has taken it one step farther with the new Citation Ten.  At first look it appears to be the exact same as the Citation X, but there are a few differences.

The Ten is a little bit longer(15 inches) providing more leg room for the passengers.  It is also is able to get to altitude more quickly and is more fuel-efficient giving it a longer range(3242 nautical miles).

It also boasts the Garmin G5000 avionics suite which utilizes high-resolution multi-function displays to give the pilots all the information they could ever want.  Garmin’s synthetic vision technology also provides a virtual view of runways, terrain, traffic and obstacles.

Obviously there is not much real footage out there, but there is a cool little promo video on YouTube, as well as some very cool images on Cessna’s website.

I don’t know that I am ready to give my heart to another plane yet, but Cessna has certainly raised their game to the next level.

January 17, 2012 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.