Today I was flying with another instructor. He told me a very simple and obvious thing, which I could not realize myself: during the landing I should look not only straight ahead, but also slightly to the left. On the early stages it helps to better estimate height above the ground. Hmm. It really helps to flare better!

Today I practice landings. Take-off, circuit, final, landing.

Today I also made my first navigation flight. Nothing special, but all towns and villages are somewhat similar from the air, and it can be difficult to understand which one I am overflying now. The best clue is usually a road (especially highway) or a river. Finally I am starting to quickly find and identify my home airport from more than 5 miles. I totally understand that it is really hard to NOT spot a 2 km length concrete runway, but that’s how it works when you start from zero level. In my first flights I experienced some troubles with finding even that huge runway 🙂


We started flying touch-n-goes: the airplane touches down, then I have to quickly set an airplane configuration to take-off without stopping, and take off again. It makes landings practice quicker: we save the time for full stop and taxiing back.

Fortunately I can fly circuits on my home aerodrome without landing fees. I know that for the US it is a usual practice (even for towered aerodromes), but for Europe it is not so simple. Some flight schools don’t care about landing fees, and just charge their students. The others try to find some uncontrolled airports where nobody charges those fees. So, I am somewhat happy in that sense: I can fly circuits at my home base, and I don’t pay landing fees for that. And we have a very long concrete runway here. I think that it is a great advantage.

My circuits are almost OK, but my landings are bad. Possibly I feel much more calm on altitude. One circuit is about seven minutes (actually it is a lot!), one landing is about some seconds. Unfortunately I cannot practice landings only, and I have to spend my flight time. I miss Western Step on Klement’eva hill, when I was able to practice landings on a hang-glider, just landings, without long approaches or circuits…

Clouds and Landings

Today the flight is especially beautiful.

Previously the sky was clear, no any clouds. In a sunny day everything is blue and homogenious. Today it is totally different: one can see clouds of a various sizes and shapes. Initially it is a little bit scary, because in reality these cute fluffy innocuous things are very dangerous. One can see nothing inside them, but it is not the worst… Just imagine a boiling kettle. And now imagine that you are inside. OK, you wear a thermal protected clothes, but you are still inside. And you are dashed in random directions with random speeds, and can easily hit the walls of the floor. But I have to admit, the clouds are still very beautiful.

After some time I realized how to avoid them, and it becomes a bit easier. And, of course, more interesting. But time and distance estimation is harder.

We started to make the first traffic patterns and landings. I know the theory, but I have no real experience. When the Earth becomes closer, the tension is increasing: I have plenty of time when I am in the air, but I have almost no time when I am close to the Earth. And our planet is very firm. Previously I did not notice that 🙂


A summary of my day: I got my medical certificate, and passed ICAO English. I am happy! =)

So, here are some explanations. Everybody has to be healthy to fly. It means that one should pass a medical. There are three types of certificates. From the most strict to less: the first class (the most strict and expensive) for commercial and airline pilots, the second class for private pilots and the third class for air traffic controllers (and, possibly, light sport airplane pilots, I don’t remember it exactly).

The first class can be obtained only in a special clinic (for example, there is only one in Czech Republic, or about three in Poland). The second and the third one is available from designated doctors with special accreditation. At least in Czech Republic the first class medical requires booking an appointment in advance, at least before two weeks. And the price is pretty high. The second class is faster and way cheaper. So, for now I decided to make the second one.

The inspection is thorough, but relatively fast: about an hour for everything. And now I have the document.

Some time later I discovered that I can do the first class in Poland. It is available just as a walk-in, and somewhat cheaper than in Czech. There are all inspections including spirometry, blood analysis etc., and the whole time is more than two hours. It is a bit strange: every country has its own regulations, procedures and prices, even though it is an EASA…

ICAO English is simple. If you can read, speak and understand English, and don’t have any problems with PPL theory (mainly terminology), everything is easy. I don’t say something new: there are tons of books, videos and offline classes. Possibly it requires some practice for fast understanding ATIS/AWOS, but nothing special. Anyway, I have less upcoming paperwork now 🙂


There is the second day. I am flying with a B737 pilot. A very positive person with normal English. Much simpler.

Today I was going to mount my action camera for better analyzing my errors and having a simpler progress monitoring. I even brought a box with it to the airport. But that box was empty… I forgot to put the camera there. 🙂

At least I understood that I have to look outside, not only at the instruments. Everything became simpler. The airplane flies where you look. Like a hang-glider. Of course, I am still slightly scared and nervous, and I fly very strange S-like paths (both horizontal and vertical profiles), but it is becoming better than yesterday.

The most interesting thing for today: minimum speed flight, and stall with recovery. Minimum speed flight is relatively simple. The airplane is somewhat more unstable, and thermal turbulence is felt some more, but nothing special. But stalls…

Gaining safe altitude. Setting throttle to idle, trying to hold an altitude. Speed is falling, the stall warning is screaming,and I feel some bumping… Yuhooo! The first time it is really scary. A roller coaster is nothing compared to that. Next time it is better. And better. And better. But it is still not very comfortable when the airplane stops flying and starts falling.

Today I realized that it was a really good idea to start studying theory some time ago, because I have a written test in the end of April. So, it is like in the university during my sessions 🙂

My First Flight

So, there was my first flight today. Of course, it was with an instructor. Everything is totally new, unfamiliar and interesting! Now I understand that it is really very hard to maintain altitude, direction and engine RPM and simultaneously look around to see what’s happening. I actively drive more than ten years, and I used to two dimensions, when it is enough to maintain proper speed and direction 🙂

I am not telling about take off and landing: I perfectly understand importance of altitude, and it is much more comfortable for me when there is at least 600 feet to the ground. Occasionally when I catch some upside thermal flow, my mind becomes very happy, and only some seconds after I understand that we HAVE and ENGINE, we can go up without thermal flows. Maintain altitude!

As a result, I have my first flight hour in my logbook, my mind is full of new impressions, and I am pretty sure that my decision was right: after 10+ years driving (I was driving almost every day) I am still happy with it, and I am extremely happy flying in an airplane as a passenger. And finally I got both: I am a pilot!

My Route to the Sky

First of all, let me make a small introduction.

I am Viktor, and I am from Russia. Currently I am looking for a pilot job. I have a FAA CPL with IR and ME ratings and 260 flight hours. I finished the first step, and I totally understand that it is only the beginning of a long path. If you know somebody who is interested in a low hour pilot, regardless of terms and payment size, please let me know, I will greatly appreciate it.

In my blog I am describing how I answered the very popular question “how to be a pilot” for myself, and will describe my next steps like getting my first pilot job and my career progress. Sometimes I post my thoughts and doubts here.

I was always looking at the sky with interest and curiosity since I was a small kid. The sky is attractive, marvelous for me. There is an infinity and freedom…

The main idea of this blog is a description of my pilot’s route “from zero to hero”. I was 30 when I had decided to completely change my career, and I still keep going.

Initially I started my blog in Russian, and since that time I made a bunch of long posts. I am working on translation, but since I don’t have very much time, I finished only about 50% of the whole content, and it still contains some typos and mistakes. If you want to read more, you may click on “Russian” link at the right side and use google translate for now, or just wait some time: I promise, I will translate all my posts manually as soon as I can.

The second point is that English is not my first language (probably you already noticed that), that’s why I highly appreciate if you state my mistakes in the comments. I will correct my posts to make them better. Nevertheless, my English is a little better than Google’s one, at least until Rise of the Machines 🙂

My first discovery about flying was made rather late, and at first it seemed simple: everybody can fly. Literally everybody, without exceptions, and all you need is just desire. For me it was a hang glider: it turned out that there is a great community in Moscow, and it is open to everybody. One does not need a huge amount of money, one should not start from the very early ages. I heard a lot of myths and stories around that community, and they prevented me to look closer, but they were just myths. Once more I realized the simple thing: I just have to start, and I just have to move on. Don’t give up. So, it seems that it was just the right moment, and I finally made a DECISION. I want to fly!

So, anything else was a matter of time and persistence. I did not have problems with motivation, but time… Yes, I live in Moscow, and lifestyle is very fast here. You never have enough time. Therefore, I could not expedite my progress. Then I changed my job, got married, changed some other aspects of my life, and was not being able to find enough time for flying. But the idea was always alive.

After some time I started working remotely, and turned towards my passion again. Finally I made my first solo flight in dynamic flow, and landed at the place where I took off. You can find it here: Viktor hanggliding in Crimea, it’s better to watch it from about 1:50.

Time was passing, and at some moment I got enough courage to start my airplane pilot route. I think that now it is the greatest adventure in my whole life. I was searching tons of information about flight schools, I was reading a lot of forums. Actually I made a huge research. Possibly even more than needed. And finally I decided that it is time to start. No doubt, no fear. Just do it. Just move on.

I started reading books and listening liveatc. I was still sitting in Moscow and waiting for the better moment to go somewhere and start flying. Some more months passed. And I realized again: I can wait the rest of my life. The best moment is NOW. I should just do it.

In fact, I did not know how it would be, and where it could go; and I did not have a really detailed plan. But I definitely knew that I want to move on. To be honest, even now I still do not have a detailed plan further than some months: I am looking for opportunities.

I started in Czech Republic, then moved to the US for training. That decision will be explained in my further posts. I am still working, that’s why I cannot study full-time, and the progress is slower that it would be, but I definitely know that I will keep going.