Hello everyone, I just passed my ASEL private pilot checkride about 2 weeks ago, training out of Sugar Land Airport (KSGR), close to where I live. My first post on this forum and thought I'd share some details of my experience for others in my area getting started or considering getting started on their training. Starting in April 2014, the whole process took roughly about 6 months. With an aggressive scheduling approach of trying to get 3-4 sessions in a week, I managed to get maybe 2-3 in per week due to the many weather related cancellations. Solo'd for the first time around the 30 hour mark in July, and the consistency slowed down a bit in late August through October due to several weeks of uncooperative weather and a very busy work schedule. Kicked it back into gear mid October to prep for the check ride and complete it. I was at about 75 hours when I went for the check ride and way over my desired budget. Some things that factored into the additional time and money required: 1. Rigor/formality of the flight school - my flight school is fairly strict about 'progress checks' with an instructor other than your primary at various stages of your training before moving on to the next stage. This serves as a QC on the instructors but also verifies you are truly ready for the next stage. Obviously this means more time and cost. Especially before the check ride, I went through a complete 'mock checkride' with my own instructor (passed) and with another (failed first time on a couple maneuvers, practiced and passed on second attempt). 2. As with any other skill - repetition is KEY. Most people recommend consistency in training and not having long gaps between sessions so you retain and build skills faster. I certainly found this to be true. The 6 weeks I stated above set me back a bit at precisely the time that I needed to be getting all my maneuvers into PTS standards. The rustiness meant I needed to do a few more hours to be ready. I would have loved to be done at 60-65 hours so I'd have some $$ left to enjoy my private pilot privileges! But hopefully the additional time means I'm a slightly safer pilot at this stage I had taken my written exam during the solo stage and passed with a good score thanks to a lot of studying and the ASA written exam prep book. In preparing for the oral, I went through the FAR/AIM highlighting and tabbing stuff for quick reference; also went through the ASA Oral Exam prep guide. This was in addition to the King Schools online course required by my flight school. Checkride day: Although I had been through 2 mock checkrides, I was still very nervous about the flight itself as I had heard the examiner was very demanding. The oral portion felt like a breeze - all the studying I had done paid off. I was given a flight scenario a day ahead of time - something to the affect of flying with family members to a get together in Menard, TX and it had lots of other details. First thing I did was pulled out all special safety considerations: runway lengths, external time pressures/constraints, passenger expectations, night currency requirements, weight and balance considerations, flight into higher terrain, aeromedical factors. There were at least 10 things I found to talk about during the XC discussion. When we got started on the oral exam, talking through all this stuff meant I touched on a lot of things the examiner would've quizzed me on - he was able to check all those off. I had filled out the nav log completely and walked through that, then we opened up the sectionals and he asked me a lot of questions about the airspaces and everything else depicted there. Oral portion lasted a couple of hours and we were done. I checked the weather and updated the nav long for wind correction based on latest numbers and headed out to preflight. The examiner came out a few minutes later as I was finishing up, asked me a few questions about systems and we were off. Started with a soft field takeoff from KSGR and headed out on the NorthWest heading for planned XC and checked off the first couple of checkpoints, showing the examiner where we were on the sectional. Then came the diversion and the first unexpected challenge. He asked me to turn towards Wharton but covered up my compass instruments with postits - said I couldn't use any navigational aids on my way to diversion - pilotage and dead reckoning only. So i turned in the general direction but without the compass turned an extra 30 degrees so I was off track. I knew where I was before turning so was able to compute the distance, fuel, time to diversion but was not heading the right way. I had landmarks identified on the sectional and could see them out the window but was not setup on exactly the right heading immediately which lost me some points with the examiner. After some embarrassment and getting pointed in the right direction, we pressed on and did a bunch of maneuvers. I have a tendency to take my time in between maneuvers to stabilize my airspeed and stay on assigned altitude but the examiner wanted me to move faster from one to another. This made me extra nervous and with each one I thought "this is the one ... where he tells me its all over and to take him back to Sugar Land" but he never did so I just kept on going. We ran through everything required then he had me navigate to Lane (T54) for a short field landing and take off. This is a tiny, narrow strip as compared to the long, wide runway of KSGR. That went pretty smoothly until I tried to add just a touch of power to smooth out the landing and ended up adding an extra 100 RPM increasing the landing roll more and I had to more firmly use the brakes. We taxied back to start of runway and did short field take off and I thought we'd head back to KSGR but he wanted me to come around the pattern and do the soft field landing on the same strip - had not done that before. That went allright and we headed back to Sugar Land. "A forward slip landing without flaps and off on Taxiway Charlie 2" he said. A bit of a long float but managed to get off on Charlie 2 and on engine shut down - "Congratulations - you've met the standards set forth by the FAA for private pilot...". Tied up the plane and went inside for debrief and paperwork before settling the bill for the plane rental and walking out with a huge sigh of relief! What's next: As stated by many new pilots on the threads I've read here, no friends or family are jumping up to go for a ride with me just yet, but I don't hold that against anyone...I can understand nervousness on their part. For now I'd like to take a couple of short trips out : maybe fly to Galveston for a few hours one day, and slightly longer trip out towards Austin/San Antonio area to visit friends or family. As for additional training: in the short term (next year or two) I'd like to go for the high performance endorsement and the complex endorsement. Anyone know if I can apply those hours towards WINGS credit to reset the BFR date? No plans on instrument rating. At some point, would love to get the tailwheel endorsement and do some aerobatic lessons.