My first logbook reminds me that this journey began, in a sense, on 15 March 1994. On that date my CFI, Tom Lehn, decided that he may as well turn me loose on my own. After a couple of dual touch 'n' go's he had me do a full stop and got out of the Skyhawk. He told me to make three circuits and that on one of them the tower would call a go-around. To that point I'd logged 18.1 hours of dual instruction.
That first solo flight in N6583D, a somewhat weary '79 172N, came off un-remarkably. After the third landing I taxied '83D to it's parking spot and shut down. When I got out, Tom came over, shook my hand and said, "Frank, you're a pilot now!"
He meant that sincerely, but I had trouble accepting it. It would be a while before I began to believe that I'd earned my place at the controls.
What can I say about these 1,000 hours? Well, I think they've been reasonably diverse. I've seen quite a few airports, poked my nose into a fairly broad range of weather conditions, and had a nice mix of short and long distance trips. I think that about 400 hours ago I really started to "feel" the airplane. I am really sure that the sum of what I've not yet learned far exceeds the small store of knowledge and experience that I've acquired. Every flight remains a learning experience. It's a rare occasion when, looking back at a flight, I can't find things that I surely could've done a lot better. It's said that the Pilot's Certificate is a license to learn, and that never changes.
Mostly, after 1,000 hours, I'm grateful. Grateful for having had the chance to bring my childhood dreams to life and grateful to the mentors and instructors who made it happen. Among them, Tom Lehn, Ray Noble, Bob Parks, Greg Erianne, Rich and Field Morey - each an essential partner on my journey. My gratitude to each of them is unbounded.
And, hey, I'm half-way to 2,000 hours!