Flying with Kitty Hawk LLC

The Kitty Hawk Experience

September 17, 2008

After having done my private pilot license in Fiji, I was looking for a place where I could make as many solo flying hours in my 10 day break as possible. The USA seemed the place to go. I found Richard and Judy Kaylor from Kitty Hawk LLC on internet. They manage a Cessna 152 that I could rent for $90 per hobs hour (running time hour), this, including the fuel surcharge. A real good deal compared to prices I've seen in Europe.

First of all I did need to transfer my license which has to get applied for 90 days in advance. After 9/11 the USA likes to do a background check on pilots with a foreign license. This is a free service, once cleared, picking up the documentation takes 30 minutes at one of the many FSDO offices.

With Judy at the home office arranging the details of my trip was easy. From JF Kennedy a 2.5 hour Amtrak train to Albany where they would pick me up from the station. I had booked a place at a camping area nearby, since spending my money on flying the rest had to be low budget. When I told Richard about my camping plans he offered me a couch upstairs in the flying school and lucky me, he also just had a shower installed.

Saturday Hurricane Gustav did show it's tail so no flying. Instead we spend some time on the simulator. Sunday it cleared how ever the wind was still gusty. I realized that when I did my PPL in FIJI I never really trained crosswinds very well. I'm glad I found that out with Richard by my side. We spend quiet a few hours doing them until Richard could not stand sitting curled up in the Cessna 152 anymore. Then it was up to me.

Flying in the area around Schenectady is big fun. Lots of space, Different kinds of terrain and many different big and small airports. A few big lakes to orientate on and a couple of rivers to follow from one airport to an other, but also more challenging mountainous terrain to practice once navigation skills. At many airports you can refuel your self. The American way, swipe your credit card through (Richard's credit card, in this case) and the pump starts running.

Nature is stunning, at Great Barrington (Koladza) I got warned over the radio for the flock of geese grazing along the runway. And at Pittsfield I had to abort my take off, a fox did walk on to runway.

Flying between the mountains made me aware of the limited possibilities in case of an engine failure. Around Schenectady there is space. The runway is huge and there are plenty of fields around. In the area around Rutland this is different. A small canyon in front of runway 01, power lines on the other side, not a good place to have an engine failure. I preferred staying high long and come down steep.

At an other airport (Harriman, Williamstown) I remember having the illusion of having reduced climbing power after take off. I double checked flaps up, carb heat off... then I realized the runway lays in a valley.

On my last evening, Richard invited me over and Judy cooked us some delicious pasta. The next morning back to JF Kennedy airport with the Amtrak Train.

In 9 days, I've been able to do 40 hours of flying. My luck was that Richard had flown in the 152 for me to use and blocked it off for me so it was just there for me!

Judy and Richard, Many thanks for all your help, instruction and friendliness. And for letting me stay at the flying school. Kitty Hawk LLC and Richmor Aviation is an example of how a flying school is supposed to be run. Hope to meet you some day in Asia!

Jeroen Elout

2009 Kitty Hawk Rentals LLC.
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Last Update: 4/6/09