The Mark Patel

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I starting to take flying lessons in the summer of 2000, learning to fly in a trusty old Cessna 172. My first solo flight was in January of 2001, three take-offs and landings in N64040 on runway 5/23 at UGN. That summer I passed my Private Pilot check ride on my first attempt.

I'm a member of Windy City Flyers where I rent N810DS, a Diamond DA-40 180 equipped with Garmin's G1000 avionics suite. It's a far cry from the old C172s that I flew as a student pilot; besides having sophisticated avionics that provide an amazing degree of situational awareness, the DA-40 is also an incredibly solid aircraft that's fun to fly thanks to its center-mounted control sticks and push-rod linkages.

Ever thought of becoming a pilot? Check out for information about flight schools and private pilot training.