I live in Central NJ and started taking lessons back in June, but I began self studying ground material back in February. I wasn't the best student growing up so I figured I would do the ground study first to make sure this is something I really wanted to invest my time and money in before I started opening my wallet taking flying lessons. For ground self study I've,
- -Read "The Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge"
- -Watched what is essentially a verbatim reading of it on YouTube (see Pilot Training System's channel)
- -Read "The Airplane Flying Handbook"
- -Read "Rod Machado's Private Pilot Handbook"
- -Read most of the applicable sections of the FAR/AIM
- -Watched a ton of videos on YouTube explaining concepts
- -Read "Weather Flying"
- -Read "Understanding Flight"
My original plan was to get a PPL. I was going to try to join a local flying club to learn to fly, have access to aircraft to rent at a great rate, and meet other people that share a common interest. I was next in line to be offered membership when I started exploring getting my third class medical. Everything I had read essential said "All you pretty much need is a pulse and you're good" so I figure OK, this should be easy. I started filling out the 8500-8 online and after reading some of the questions I began to wonder if mistakes I made when I was younger might come back to haunt me. After doing some research I learned that there may be some hoops to jump through to get a third class medical, I figured I wouldn't risk getting denied or told that I have to cut through reams of red tape and just go the SP route so I wouldn't have to worry about any of that.
So I found a place nearby that does SP training and took my first lesson in the beginning of June. To date I've only got 5 hours in a Skycatcher, and it just seems to be one setback after another. I first had to contend with a bunch of canceled lessons, then August 3-21 the airport was closed because of a TFR due to Trump's stay at his property in NJ. Shortly before the TFR my CFI had a family emergency, then after the TFR was lifted I called the airport and they told me that he would be back in September. I called again at the end of August and they informed me he wouldn't be coming back. There's one other CFI there that I've flown with that I get along with, but he is only available one day a week. I don't think that's going to work. My lesson yesterday got canceled, and I see rain predicted for next weekend. I looked at a place at another airport and scheduled a lesson with them during last week. I took a half day, left work early, and was all set to go. I called before leaving the house to make sure everything was good to go since the airport is a 45 min drive and the guy sounded like he had no idea what I was talking about. I was so pissed.
So, it seems that I'm out of options locally. I've seen accelerated courses at Blue Ridge Sport Flight in NC, or Lockwood in FL, but I'm hesitant to burn two weeks of vacation time and travel so far from home in the event that I hit an unforeseen wall and don't manage to get my certificate in the given amount of time. What I would like to find is something within a 4-5 hour drive and dedicate two consecutive days a week to train (drive out early morning, train for two days, drive home). I have no idea if this is even possible though, especially with how the weather can be in the northeast. I feel pretty lost at this point and don't really know what to do next.