So I guess I've lurked here long enough and figured it was time to pop in and ask a question that has been weighing in my mind for some time. I've been going through the process of of getting my PPL and should have my check ride completed here in the next few weeks. I am in the process of per suing a plane and figure that process will most likely be complete by the end of summer. I have been dreaming of flying for years and I now can see the light at the end of the tunnel to receive my "learn on my own" License. I do not come from a family that has a parent, uncle or even a distant relative that has flown. I do not have a pool of friends that fly. I do have a couple acquaintances that that fly and I glean whatever information I can from them when I see them. Which isn't as often as I like. So here is my question.
How have most of you that use aviation as a hobby continued building your skills, confidence, expand you abilities outside the bubble that you were taught, trained and allowed by your instructors supervision?
As I write this I fear it may be see as a silly question and hope it is not taken out of context. My biggest concern is Safety! At the same time though I don't want to become so uptight about it that it is almost a hinderance or a blinder. If that makes any sense. I don't want to be a pilot or person that can not function outside what the checklist or the rules say I have to do in an emergency. There should be some seat of the pants, commonsense, second nature that comes to some of that stuff as well.
I understand time is a huge factor in the gain of this type of experience but, the "Stupid things that almost kill you" thread grabs my attention as well. Because it's a pool of people that have experiences that I'm pretty sure I would rather read and learn from their misadventure then have to learn the hard way on my own.
I have had 2 instuctors through out my training. I'm going to have about the average flight time when I finish up in-between 50-60 hours. And just wanting to learn more in a lot of different aspects. i.e. Radio operations, flight preparation/planning , flight techniques, Low level flight and the list goes on. I don't know if this is turning into a rant or a whine at this point. I'm just wanting to know where you guys go to gain more insight. Is there a flight club and association, some sort of AA meeting for this addiction. I want to expand my pool of resources. And hope to find maybe some old timers that are willing to say "watch and learn, son". I hope you guys are catching my drift here. I have enjoyed my instructor but, not so much the accruing hourly rates and am hoping to gain more wisdom in the future from pilots doing what they do in their element as peers. So that I may be able to more enjoy aviation in my own equipment.