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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Patrick Ryce

Doctor learns to fly at 54!

And he needs your help...
 Patrick Ryce

"My wife gave me flying lessons as my 54th birthday present. I think she was trying to get rid of me because when I said to her that my life insurance would not pay if I was killed as a student pilot..." 

Pat says...
"I’m a 66 year old retired MD "living my dream" 1.2 miles from the airport in Fairhope, Al (KCQF). Am still sharp and healthy, I think. My wife says I am turning into a little old man who likes to mosey.. My main hobby and passion since retiring from Medicine is my plane, flying it, and hanging around the airport. I have some golf clubs, but I rarely use them.

I have a beautiful air conditioned 2002 Piper Archer III (N48PR) which I’ve owned for 5 years and flown about 200 hrs. Prior to that I had a 172M.(N9671V) Got my PPL at 55 years old. I’m instrument rated, but not current, fly mostly VFR. 470 hrs as PIC, 607 landings, all successful so far. I’m a conservative, careful, checklist kind of pilot, never in or near trouble of my own making..
My wife won’t fly with me (chicken), my grandchildren are not allowed to by their mother (control freak), so....I usually fly alone, local stuff around Southern Alabama, occasionally up to Birmingham or Fort Payne (2.5 hrs in my Archer). I’m only an hour from Lakefront Airport in New Orleans via 48PR.

I want to fly to Dallas (KTKI) to visit family, and to Durham, NC for the same reason. I’d love to fly more and further, out to Sedona for example. Maybe check off lots of states I’ve landed in.

(Scouts on board... exhausted after a long flight)

I tell folks I’m slow and not personally complex, and my plane is just my speed and type as I have nowhere in particular to go and no deadline to get there anymore.

There is a nice V35B for sale at our airport. I secretly wanted one for years, flown in V-tails and straight tails with friends, but…. 
It makes no sense mission-wise for me to have a Bonanza. But, dang that it a pretty Bonanza, and I’d love to have it in my hanger...

Help me think this through please…"

Patrick, some say Bonanza's are doctor killers, and others say doctors are Bonanza killers. You will not be either! Now... GA world... Help Pat decide... fill his hangar and with a Bonanza?

What do you think?

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene


  1. Serious envy. That's what I think!

  2. I guess I was wondering mainly about how tough they are to fly and handle compared to a very stable Archer. Also, at 66, I'm told aviation insurance underwriters start to get more picky at 67. New more complex aircraft, retractable, adjustable prop, etc. I'd like to fly further from home more frequently, but realistically most of my flying is local, sightseeing, visiting my buddies an hour or two away in-state. But i could spend lots of time shining it up, getting off any bug that did stick to it, and staring at the shiny, pretty thing in the hangar. One other point, KCQF where I'm based is a Continental Service Center.

    1. I think insurance is definitely more expensive in complex is maintenance. But the most important thing is safety. I have a friend who could give you the run down on the insurance.

    2. Patrick, drop me an email at and I'd be happy to shop your insurance. 66 is not a huge deal. After 69 it can go up a bit, but if you're established with a carrier you can keep a decent rate. We shop all the markets to find the best rate!

    3. Thanks Victoria! And Pat... she provided me quotes when I was looking that were really good.

  3. Pat, Bonanza's are a great airplane and highly recommended by most people that know much about them. The reason they get the connotation of a "doctor killer" is because they are quite a bit more complex than something like your current aircraft. Flying a Bonanza is not difficult but the safe and prudent thing to do would be to get a good, thorough checkout from someone that knows Bonanzas. The American Bonanza Society has a list of instructors that meet certain requirements and are high-time instructors in that type. I would highly recommend looking into this. With the proper instruction you can be just as safe in a Bonanza and I think you would really enjoy it. The other aspect is that with the bigger engine and complex systems, it's important to learn how to take care of your airplane (i.e. engine cooling) and a good instructor can help with that. The V-35B is a great airplane, I hope it works out for you! Be sure to get a good, thorough pre-buy inspection from a mechanic you trust.

    1. Daniel, Thank you so much for the comment. This is exactly what Pat needs to hear. And.... we might have to go help him fly it. :)

    2. Absolutely! I'm a CFI and a V-tail owner, living in McKinney (near Dallas). I volunteer!

    3. D.B. If you don't mind, give me your personal e-mail. I was just out there to visit family. Went over to ADS to watch the traffic there. Have wanted to fly to KTKI but no chance yet. Thx, Pat

  4. No, you are safe in a Bonanza, you are a RETIRED doctor! They only kill off doctors that are still working. :-) You need to pick a smooth, sunny day and get the wife and grandchildren up in the plane. They are really missing out. Come to Seattle, Karlene and I will be your copilots.

  5. I have a V-Tail Bonanza, and live in Dallas. Fly with me anytime! My email is Paul dot Sergeant at yahoo.

    One of the things I love about my Bonanza is it's flexibility. I can fly (lean of peak) at 160kts burning 12 to 13 gall/hr to get places fast, or ramp it down to Pa28 speeds burning 8 gall/hr at 125 kts. It's all my choice.

    Google and join BeechTalk dot com. It's a site mainly for Beech pilots, but many Cirrus, Piper and Cessna owners are on it too for the quality of the conversations. You can ask anything there and get immediate, highly informative answers. You'll probably find people who know THAT particular airplane and owner and can clue you in.

    I'm a CFI, so if you want someone to help on the transition, just let me know. It's time in type and complex aircraft that will affect your insurance the most. Being IR (even if not current) will make a huge difference to the premium.

    I'm still hoping to convince Karlene that she needs an A36 Bonanza (that's one of the straight tail models, with 6 seats).

  6. Thanks to all of you for your kind and helpful comments. I know some docs I wouldn't fly with in anything! Docs survive their early training and practice years by learning that patients and families want confidence and experience in a physician, or the appearance of those traits when they are sick or injured. If you can't convincingly look and act like that, you don't make it, or you go into some specialty with little contact with the living or awake. It's when you start believing that you are who your coping mechanisms make you appear to be that fatal mistakes are made, not only in flying, but in medicine as well. "No problem, I'm smart and well trained.Heck if I can do brain surgery, I can get us there this afternoon, no problem". Combine that with enough money to buy something fast and complex, with or without a V-tail or a parachute, and there it is. I've lost a few doctor friends from just that combination, including a top Neurosurgeon with thousands of hours who had convinced himself he was good enough to fly low level aerobatics with his wife in the plane with him. I had flown with him before, and he had me convinced. Looking back, it had a lot to do with how he handled himself in and around his beautiful and expensive aircraft, and his reputation in his work.
    Another of my surviving doc friends has an Archer he's flown many hours over eight years now. He has no intentions of "Moving up". He says it works just fine for him and he doesn't have the need for anything faster or more expensive. And he drives a Jeep and a Moped, not a Porsche or BMW. Strange guy, right?


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!