26 August 2010 - Geoffrey Dyke - Private Pilot

Geoffrey Dyke achieved his Private Pilot license on August 26, 2010. His instructor was Dennis Mathis. Geoff is an Australian Air Force officer working as a liaison officer with the USAF at Greenville. He attended the Major Flying Club (MFC) ground school in 2008 and began his flight training shortly after. He accumulated 70 hours of solo and dual time using the GLEIM syllabus.

I have wanted to fly since leaving school but the cost was (and still is) prohibitive in Australia. My deployment to the USA provided a great opportunity to achieve a dream noting that my wife does not work in the USA and could provide great top cover for the children's requirements. This freed my schedule to allow time for flight training.

The MFC Ground School was the impetus to begin flight training. Although I have a long history in aircraft maintenance and engineering, the ground school dusted off cobwebs on general information and taught me a lot of additional information required for flight training. This course was a god send in preparation for the FAA written test. Please follow the wise instructors' advice and complete the FAA exam ASAP after ground school.

Another piece of wise advice from Dennis Mathis and Mike Montefusco (my ground school instructors) was to join AOPA. This is also a high recommendation for potential pilots or for those interested in the aviation industry in general. I use AOPA's resources every week (online) for reference info, flight planning, weather, etc and enjoy the monthly magazines.

Some of the issues I had to address with my flight training was scheduling all required resources. This includes availability of: myself, the aircraft (maintenance and other pilots), my instructor and suitable weather. Between this lot, my training took 24 months and required me to back-track on training severals times due to extended periods of inactivity. This of course ends up costing me more money.....

My personal challenges in flight training (were and still are) communication on the radios and the dreaded "HOOD" for instrument training. I was planning to burn the thing after I passed my final pilot examination, but Dennis held me back and hid it form me. Dennis may also have his own view on my piloting challenges but he is no longer my instructor so I don't have to listen [ I will due to his vast experience and knowledge, but it is good to say I don't have to ;-) ] Early on in training, it was difficult (for me) to take on all the tasks for landing simultaneously, but Dennis was patient and slowly added tasks as he felt I was ready. Multi-tasking is definitely not my strong point! It is definitely a good idea to get into a regular process of setting up the same way every time and ensuring you have a steady approach speed for landing.

The parts of training I enjoyed most were:

Cross country work. It is fun to visit new places, and the night cross country was the first time all the planning and practice really pays off. I can hear Dennis now smirking as he intentionally tried to get me geographically confused to allow me to learn proper lost procedures and resources.
Definitely the first solo. Got to cross off a bucket list task with that one.
Shared time in the cockpit with the discussions, training, shared experiences and occasional disagreements.
Landings. Always a challenge and a great thrill when you get to really nail one. Dennis can always find areas where you can improve, and he always did. However there were a couple of landings I am still proud of.

Now that I am legal, I am looking forward to taking my family, friends and anyone else up flying so I can share the wonderful experience of aviation in light aircraft. My real training has just begun and I will hopefully stay aware of my limitations and in-experience. I hope to catch up with all you fellow pilots now that I can share experiences, jokes, a few beers, and a laugh. If you hear a funny Aussie accent on the radio say G'Day.