Ready for take off

Part 4, Lets go Shopping!

Things you need and things you don't need

You're going to eventually need a headset, but I don't recommend getting one yet. If the school has one to borrow or rent, I suggest you do that. They can be expensive and you'll want to shop around a bit. But more importantly you want to make sure you are going to stick around long enough to need it. Ebay is full of expensive headsets that people started their training with and didn't finish. Don't be that person. Wait a few flights and make sure this is for you.

You're going to want a VFR sectional for your area. This is a road map but for the sky. You'll also probably want a knee board. That's probably all you need to start.
You'll want to get some books, and depending on the school, they might have something specific like the jeppesen material to use. If not I recommend the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical knowledge and the Airplane (or Helicopter) flying handbook. Both are produced by the FAA and can be downloaded at the FAA website or you can purchase a copy from any number of places including your local flight school.

You're also going to need a pilot logbook. This is where you will log those all important hours. These are like gold. Get a good one that will last for years and make sure to protect it. I keep mine in a ziplock bag (as I had a old set get ruined in a roof leak). You'll need a paper logbook to start out, specifically to record sign offs and endorsements. But as you progress in ratings you can move on to a electronic logbook. I use a program call safelog from Dauntless software.

Last but not least now is when I recommend you go get that student pilots certificate. To obtain a student pilot certificate you need to go see a AME (Airman Medical Examiner). This is a special doctor trained and approved by the FAA to ensure you are safe to perform as Pilot in Command of an aircraft. Its a very simple medical exam, where they test your hearing, eyesight, and various other medical related issues. If you have drug use or significant medical issues in your past this is where you can find yourself delayed in your pursuit of being a pilot. Very few things are permanently grounding, but you want to know now before you spend too much money on flying only to find out you need to spend a year or two waiting on a decision from the FAA or worse that you have a condition that will keep you flying at all.

So you've gone through your first lesson and it's time to pay for the aircraft and your instructor. You might be offered a deal to pay for what is known as a block rate. You can buy 10 hours or more at a reduced rate if you pay up front. Be very careful here. There are 1000s of stories of pilots who have lost $1000s. So tread carefully and never pay a significant amount up front. Never pay more than you are willing to lose. I would suggest $1000 or 10 hours of flight time. The school could close up shop tomorrow and you're out your block amount never to be seen again. Happens every day.

By now hopefully you're in the car heading home with a top gun ego feeling pretty good about yourself. Go ahead crank up Danger Zone. You're ready for take off to an exclusive club of exceptional people.

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