Anyway, I'm turning into an enhancement flyer. I like flying over places that I've visited to see what they're like from the air. No better place for that than Northern Virginia, where I spent the first 22 years of my life and almost none since.
Melch and I are in town tending to some family matters, but I managed to get some time to head out Leesburg Airport to get checked out to rent their planes.
Renting a plane isn't like renting a car. With cars, you show up at the rental place, they take your license, try and sell you shit that you don't need at prices that make no kind of sense at all, and then when you say no they point you out the door to a vehicle.
There are a lot more differences between planes than cars, so just having a pilot's license isn't enough to prove to another rental company (okay, their insurance company, really...) that you know what you're doing.
So when you want to rent a plane, you have to go up with one of their instructors - at your own expense - in order to prove to them that you know what you're doing. Imagine going to Herz and having them make you demonstrate parallel parking on both sides of the street, recovering from a skid, change a tire, check you oil and demonstrate all of the features of the infotainment system before they'd let you out the door.
It's hard to make a clean analogy because planes are a bit more complicated than cars and there are more maneuvers, but that's the idea. My check ride was 2.1 hours with a ground portion in the beginning and then a 1.1 hour flight.
I demonstrated that I knew about the DC "SFRA" or Special Flight Rules Area. The folks that run our country might be okay with buzzing most of the world with unmanned drones, but they don't really like to take what they dish out. So they set up a no-fly zone around DC and a "you can fly, but it's complicated" zone around that. Leesburg is outside of the NO zone and just on the outer edge of the "maybe" zone. So there are new rules to learn. That and the three class B (that's the busiest) airports in the Washington area: Dulles, National and BWI.
It's a bit of a stressful thing, being judged on your performance by a stranger, but the instructor was pretty friendly and I've been flying often enough that my skills were still pretty sharp. I don't do the PPL maneuvers like stalls and steep turns often, but they came back to me. Not my most precise flying ever, but it was safe and good enough for them, so now I can rent!
No photos today, but I do have a stop-motion video of the trip if you're interested.
A successful adventure of the best kind - this adventure unlocks future adventures. =)