A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you
heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no
truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception
of "there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to
you through the Aero-News Network.
I took a combination Flight Review and rental
checkout at a small yet thriving local airport recently. It was a
blast to get into a well-maintained and equipped (if somewhat old)
Cessna 172 again and revive memories of my presolo training and
early CFI days.
Conducting the review was a young instructor, about 500 hours
total time and working his way through community college. Flying
with Daniel reaffirmed my optimism that there will always be young
people with a passion for flight. He started his day flying a dual
cross-country at dawn; with several breaks during the day he landed
for my 7:30 pm flight after watching a beaming student's first
We started with a preflight inspection and a detailed series of
questions about airspace, regulations and the Skyhawk. The
before-flight segment also included a review of local procedures
(it had been a couple of years since I'd flown there) and rental
program minutia. And then we flew.
I settled back into the light Cessna (most of my time is in much
heavier Beechcrafts). Our briefed Flight Review mainly mimicked a
Private Pilot checkride: takeoff and climb, power-off and power on
stalls, steep turns and a simulated engine failure emergency.
Recovering at 800 feet above ground level we flew S-turns across a
road and turns around a point.
I flew everything to Commercial Pilot standards, but Daniel was
quick to provide reminders of mastering the Skyhawk --
- "Add 200 rpm as soon as you roll into the steep turn to
hold airspeed and altitude; wait too long and you won't catch
- "You don't have to lower the nose as far as you might think
to recover from a stall, even with so little power to recover; just
get the angle of attack back into the flying range"
-- and the like. All the way he was very professional and
encouraging, a great communicator... and when I scanned to the
right, he looked like he was having fun.
We flew an ILS into Wichita, a Class C primary airport in a
strong, gusty crosswind (Runway 19L, winds 130 at 20 gusting to 28
knots), and took a break while the winds died down at dusk. Then it
was a short-field takeoff and landing followed by a soft-field
takeoff, and finally a night recovery back at Stearman Field (1K1).
Afterward we completed the ground portion of the review with a
lightning round of regulatory questions (researching daily
Aero-Tips turns out to be pretty good study for a Flight Review, so
reading them might work for you). At 10:30 pm we were done; despite
his full eight hours' flight instruction per day and a lot of
ground instruction besides, did he want to slump on home?
No... he wanted to talk about tailwheels and flying to grass
Despite (or perhaps because) of his youth and "newness" to
aviation, flying with Daniel made me feel real good about being a
pilot and a flight instructor.
Aero-tip of the day: Go fly with a new CFI now
and then. They need the experience (and the money), and maybe some
of their "newbie" zeal for aviation will reignite the spark in