A year ago I earned my PPL. Since then I've been trying to make up for all the time I lost waiting to become a pilot. I logged 100 hours as PIC (55 of them solo), 322 takeoffs -- and, in case you are wondering, an equal number of landings. What did I learn in the past year? What am I looking forward to learning in the year ahead? Here's my collected wisdom for the benefit of mankind. Warn passengers about landings, if it's their first time in a small airplane. I describe landings as going over a speed bump at 30 mph -- or, for Chicago residents, as doing 50 mph on Lake Shore Drive after a heavy season of snow plowing and before the potholes get fixed. Hair product and headphones don't work together. Don't ask how I know. Just don't. Tell passengers that throttling down is necessary for landing. I had a couple of passengers who panicked as I pulled the throttle back in the pattern. Warn passengers about crosswind landings, lest they freak out by the yoke turned left or right to lower the wing. When I have a friend flying with me for the first time and once we are cruising, I pull a large bolt from the pocket of my kneeboard and I ask "hey, can you find where this fell from?" Having read one too many stories about lost logbooks, I photograph mine everytime I fill a page worth of entries. I now have nearly 11 photos of my logbook's cover though I am not sure what to do with them if I lose the darn thing. I pre-fly the aircraft as if I am observed by a DPE observed by an FAA inspector. No matter how much I trust my FBO, their aircraft are flown by other renters as well. We are all human, we all make mistakes. So far I've caught a tire damaged by excessive braking and a dead bird in the air intake. I post-fly the aircraft as well, just to make sure I did not hit anything big or damaged a tire by braking too hard, or that I have not left any personal belongings behind. (I have a "before leaving airport" checklist to make sure I do not forget cameras, USB cables, headphones, or that bolt I use to terrify passengers with). Flying through very busy airspace is not as intimidating as I thought. I call for Flight Following and it helps. I am grateful for the service. My airport (06C) is known for its awesome restaurant -- Pilot Pete's. It is a small, single runway, pilot-controlled field just west of KORD. Its elevation is 801, TPA is 1601, the Bravo shelf on top of the airport is at 1900, and the surface sector of that Bravo is 3 miles to the east. Just 8 miles to the southwest there is KDPA's Delta, and to the southeast, we have KMDW's Charlie. It's tight, busy airspace but manageable and ATC helps a lot. When the frequency is not terribly congested, I always thank the controller. Yeah, they are doing their job, yes I am a taxpayer, but I can't stretch how much I appreciate ATC services. So Ps and Qs, whenever possible. Refresh skills: often, when I fly solo over the countryside northwest of Chicago and past the Bravo space, I would advise ATC, make a couple of clearing turns, and practice slow flight, power-on/off stalls, and steep turns. I practice crosswind landings whenever possible. I perform every landing as a short-field landing because this was the most challenging task for me at the checkride. Every 15 hours of solo, I go up with my CFI for an hour to practice emergency landings, unusual attitudes, plus whatever else he throws at me. It's the best $40/hr I get to pay towards my continuing education as a pilot. Improve skills: video-recording my flights has helped me to identify areas for improvement. For example, I noticed that I often opened a transmission with an "and", e.g., "And Waukegan tower, ...". Or that I kept touching down left-of-centerline. I've made a list of improvements that I am working trough every-time I fly. My use of "and" has been reduced to less than 10% of the transmissions and more than half my landings now are on centerline. Read: I read about aviation history and technology, aviation policy, but I also re-read/browse the AIM, PHAK, AFH, the POHs and ADs for the planes I fly, FAA circulars, etc. There are some PoA members that are a fountain of knowledge, and I enjoy reading them. Watch: There are a few Youtube channels that are awesome. I like Mr. Aviation 101 and FlightChops a lot. @Radar Contact's channel makes ATC more personable, and the videos are fun to watch. Suggestions for other informative aviation-related Youtube channels are always welcome. What am I aiming for in the year to come: IFR training and a few more cinnamon-apple donuts at KJVL. I hope to find a flying buddy, someone based near 06C to share flying with. And maybe begin contemplating membership to a club or an airplane partnership. I joined PoA in March of 2018 in desperation, because I was getting nowhere with my old flying school. Many of you were incredulous at my story, but thanks to the feedback I got here I moved on and crossed the finish line. Thanks, PoA.