For everyone’s amusement and entertainment, here are some pictures from back when I was flying. I got my private pilot’s license back in April 2000, after about 9 months of flight school. It was one of those things that I always wanted to do, even as a kid. I trained and flew out of Van Nuys airport, just north of L.A. At the time, Van Nuys was the busiest general aviation airport in the country. I don’t know if that is still true.
Above, I am holding my temporary pilot’s license. That’s the day that I passed my practical exam and was officially a private pilot. The airplane is a Cessna 172N, instrument rated (although I wasn’t). It’s call sign was 8473E.
Above is a better picture of the plane, parked at the south end of Van Nuys airport. Which meant it was a long taxi for takeoffs, unless the winds were out of the north. (Of course, you could stretch out your landings so you didn’t have a long taxi back to parking.)
I think I took the above photo when I was practicing one day. This is out over the west end of Simi Valley, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 feet above sea level. It was a pretty common practice area.
Above, I was practice “steep turns” (a real maneuver that you are tested on) using the Reagan Library as the point about which I was performing my turn. This was before 9/11. I have no idea if you are allowed to fly over the Reagan Library these days. But it made a good practice point. This one is also taken from about 6,000 feet above sea level.
Last, but not least, above is final approach to runway 16L (the shorter runway) at Van Nuys. I’d guess this is about a 1/2 mile final. You can also see the big, 8,000 foot runway 16R, which is much wider. Typical visibility conditions for the San Fernando Valley.