14-Day Private Pilot Training, Complex, High Performance and Tailwheel Endorsement

What an incredible two weeks!  I came across AFIT after becoming frustrated with the slow pace of my training here in New York – things like constant cancellations due to weather and only being able to fly on weekends, which I’m sure a lot of student pilots can sympathize with, were getting me down as I realized it would probably take me a good 8-12 months before I’d be checkride ready.

I had the benefit of coming to AFIT with ~33 hours in a Cessna 172 in 2011, and more recently, about another 8 hours between June-July this year flying in the busy New York airspace.  Michael was a fantastic instructor that dove right in and pushed me to my limits each and every day, both tailoring every flight to very specific purposes yet ensuring I never forgot how much fun it is to actually get out there and fly. 

Even on the first day in an immaculate condition 1978 Cessna 172, I felt like we did more flying in a single flight than I’d done in my previous 40 hours combined!  Taking off from Van Nuys we headed over the hills to Santa Monica, maneuvered low and slow over the many boats whilst practicing ground reference maneuvers, took it down low and zoomed past the pier, tracked back over KSMO and orbited the L.A. downtown area, flew over the plethora of mansions in the Beverly Hills area and got some great snaps whilst zipping past the Hollywood sign, nipped over to Whiteman then Burbank for some pattern work, then headed out to the Mojave Desert’s boneyard airport to practice some insane crosswind landings (90 degrees and at least 15-20 knots!), then simulated instrument flight back to Santa Paula where we stopped and got some fuel, then shot an ILS approach on the way back to Van Nuys.  Final tally was north of 20 landings and 3.5 hours XC time.  In a single flight!  On the first day!  That was mind boggling to the student pilot in me that was used to the usual (boring, in retrospect) “takeoff, practice area, maneuver, head back and land”.

I ended up soloing in the pattern at Whiteman on day 3 (then immediately being sent out to practice pattern work hopping between KVNY then KWHP), did my first XC solo to Santa Barbara with a gorgeous picturesque sunset accompanying me all the way back on day 5, did my long XC down to Palomar (north of San Diego) on day 6, then ended up sitting my checkride six days early on day 8!  That was absolutely unexpected and a testament to Michael’s ability as an instructor to continually get the best out of me and tailoring everything to maximize my time in SoCal.

With six days up our sleeves, I ended up getting my tailwheel endorsement after two intense full on days flying a beautiful 1948 Cessna 120 taildragger… and then complex and high performance endorsements (and a flight to Vegas!) in an awesome 300 HP retractable gear constant speed Piper Saratoga.  It was an unforgettable experience overall and I could not recommend AFIT and Michael high enough!