May 11, 2007

Three Years

I've just noticed that I've been continuously doing ("writing" seems too grand a word…) this blog for more than three years now, which is a long time in Blogland. My first attempt at periodically describing GA flying live, as-it-was-happening-to-me, was my original Learning To Fly — A Flight Diary, done during 1999 as I successfully got my US private pilot's license. It was really a blog avant la lettre, being written with basic HTML tools and a lot of string and tape behind the scenes (funnily enough, at the time, I was heavily involved in the whole Java and XML thing in which another current GA blogger, David Megginson (LAHSO), was — and still is — a leading light; we may even have met on one of those endless traveling "XML and Java" expert panels I used to occasionally be part of at the time, but I don't remember).

But I didn't keep it going beyond the point where I got my license, and apart from a few informal articles, I only really picked it back up again when I started doing my instrument rating with John, who's now of course got his own blog, Aviation Mentor (the successor to his older Freight Dog Tales). At the time, I expected to go on to do my commercial and CFI ratings, but life keeps getting in the way, and I know I'm really only a Sunday Flyer nowadays, which isn't so bad I guess (at least I've kept flying). I'd still like to get my Commercial and then the CFI, but that's maybe a few years away, if ever. We shall see, as I so often seem to say.

In the three years covered here so far, I've gone from flying exclusively VFR to mostly IFR, from flying exclusively with the Alameda Aero Club out of Oakland to mostly flying with California Airways out of Hayward (mostly due to the much larger choice of aircraft at Calair; the two airports are pretty similar in terms of traffic and convenience, at least from my point of view), from flying ratty little 1970's Cessna 172s with steam gauges to rather smarter little 2000-era glass cockpit 172's and Cirruses, and from mostly impromptu local flights to longer, more-planned flights semi-locally (I seem to have mostly given up on the aerobatics, due mostly to cost and the fact that my aerobatics instructor moved away). Not radical changes, really, just the evolution that goes with trying to juggle work and flying, and the inexorable rise in rental and fuel costs.

Frankly, if I had to give up GA flying for a year or two for financial reasons (always a possibility), it wouldn't kill me — but it sure would hurt. I'm surrounded by aviation (I live right near Oakland airport, and not too far from Hayward airport), I know a lot of people in the GA biz locally, and aviation in one form or another has been in my family for about as long as that's possible. It's a part of my identity I'd find very hard to give up permanently….

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