David Wayne Hooks Memorial Airport is located about 15 minutes from my home. This is a busy reliever airfield for the Houston area, and an excellent place to learn to fly if you live in the Houston Metropolitan area. There are several flight schools on the field, among them United Flight Systems. I chose this school after looking at several others at Hooks, Weiser, and at West Houston. Besides the convenience of being close to home, I think the busy environment makes for a safer pilot. You learn to communicate, watch for traffic, and most important of all, fly the airplane.
One of the best resources for beginning and experienced pilots alike is the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association ( AOPA). This is the one unified voice for general aviation pilots in the US. This group was instrumental in getting the message to the various government agencies that the TFRs needed to be made reasonable and that GA pilots needed to receive timely and accurate information about them.
Private pilot checkride
Took my private checkride in August of 2000. Dan Jones was my checkpilot. Thought sure I'd blown it when I landed a bit fast and long on what was supposed to be a touch-n-go at Weiser and elected to make it a full-stop and taxi back. Haven't been flying much lately, but haven't given up on it yet.
User feesThere is a potentially devastating move afoot (2007) to institute user fees for general aviation in the US. This is a part of the FAA funding reauthorization that will occur this September.
The current proposal is to impose a $25.00 surcharge on turbine-powered aircraft. Though this may not sound too bad for piston pilots, it sets the precedent for expanding these fees on all general aviation operations. One only need to look at GA in Europe and Australia to see what would happen here. Personal flying is virtually unavailable to all but the very wealthy. Safety takes a back seat to cost in the decision making process. Proficiency declines, because those who do manage to continue can't afford to practice enough to keep their skills sharp.
In addition, the first House proposal would establish some ridiculously high fuel taxes. The justification the FAA is making is that this is necessary to fund needed improvements to the air traffic control system in the US. Both AOPA and an independent audit clearly show that the present funding would not only fund the proposed improvements, there would be a surplus. Making it even harder to understand, the FAA proposals, supported only by the airlines, would not produce as much funding as the present system.
For more information and to see what you can do, visit the AOPA website.