My California Flying Experience!
August 6, 2018
Stef Van De Sompele

The above video was created by: ACP Candidate Cédric Dhaenens! Thank you Cédric for sharing!!!

"I just LOVED flying in Southern California"

Flying to beautiful and challenging destinations such as Los Angeles, Catalina Island, Big Bear, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Year-around perfect weather with only 3 days of precipitation. The typical California lifestyle with endless freedom. That’s why I enjoyed my experience building in Southern California so much.

California, here I come!

Only one month after receiving my Private Pilot License, I was on a plane to Los Angeles together with my flight buddy. We were both ready for six unforgettable weeks full of flying. Upon arriving, we got picked up at LAX and about three hours later, we already arrived at the SoCal Pilot Mansion.

A mansion where luxury and comfort meet, exactly what we needed after an intensive day of flying. Every student had his own bedroom and at the end of the day, we could relax by the pool, spa and tennis court or enjoy nearby shops and restaurants. It was a great place to be during our stay.

The SoCal Pilot Mansion

It took us only 15 minutes by car to get from the mansion to Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport (also known as Thermal Airport) where SocalPilot Center is located. The airport is located between Palm Springs and the Salton Sea, the perfect location for both circuit training and airwork practice. It also has a great FBO, the perfect place to relax between flights for example.

The Jacqueline Cochran (Thermal) Airport: our Training Base.

An intense but fun training program

We started off with some simulator sessions and flights where basically everything from the PPL course got rehearsed. From slow flight and flapless circuits, to stalls and simulated engine failures, our flying skills had to be the very best in order to pass the flight review. Upon successfully completing this, we were allowed to fly as pilot in command in the United States.

In those six weeks we both flew 95 hours as pilot flying as well as 95 hours as pilot monitoring

We flew to Big Bear airport with an elevation of 6.752 feet MSL and to the "Airport in the Sky" on Catalina Island. We also had an unforgettable visit to The Strip in Las Vegas after flying into Henderson Executive. 

Another unforgettable experience was flying over the Grand Canyon with amazing views. We also challenged ourselves by flying into busy airports such as Ontario and Burbank. We visited more then 30 different airports and also obtained our night rating. And you can probably guess it already, I just loved flying in Southern California.

Grand Canyon National Park

After logging 95 hours and gaining much experience, we completed phase 2 of the Airline Career Program and we were ready to head back to Belgium for some more intensive months of training. 

Another step closer to our dream!

We would love to hear about your SoCal Experience: please post your comments below:

Stef Van De Sompele
Stef started his aviation career at the age of 17 and is enrolled in the Full-Time Airline Career Program. He is currently working on his instrument rating and ATPL theory. To most people, the sky is the limit. But to him, the sky is home.