I got my Private Pilot’s Licence in 2001, IMC rating in 2002 and full instrument rating in 2004 and my FAA commercial licence a few years later. I have nearly 800 hours in my logbook, mainly on Cirrus aircraft.
Check out my flying blog Golf Hotel Whiskey and my aviation column for Forbes.
Books and software
During my IMC training I used Microsoft Flight Simulator to rehearse some instrument procedures. I also have X-Plane which has a better flight model but is harder to get into. Transair are a good online supplier for maps and aviation related equipment. There are two different sets of books about learning to fly. I used Trevor Trevor Thom’s book for my IMC course but Jeremy Pratt’s for the rest of my PPL course. Both sets of books are good and widely used. For flight planning, I use RocketRoute for IFR trips and SkyDemon for VFR trips.
FAA instrument training
I passed my FAA instrument rating in 2004 and I have written some notes, with tips and advice, for other people who are taking this rating.
Planes I have flown
Up to 2004, I mainly flew Piper PA-28s. In March 2004, I converted to the Cirrus SR-20 and SR-22. I mainly fly an SR-22 from Blackbushe and a Diamond DA-20 from White Waltham. I have also flown: Diamond DA-42 Twin Star, Pilatus PC-12, Cessna 172 and NASA’s Space Shuttle simulator.
Learning to fly
I learned with Cabair at Denham, near London and took my test with Orlando Flight Training in Kissimmee, Florida (now both defunct). I practiced for my FAA instrument rating with John Page, who is a great instructor, and took the test at Air Orlando, Florida. Different schools and different instructors suit different people and you should definitely look around and make sure you find an instructor that suits you.