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.") It's part of what makes aviation
so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it
all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.
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, and as
representatives of the flying community. 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.
It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers
become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our
ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those
strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow
them to soar magnificently through it.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are
always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips.
Remember... when it comes to being better pilots, we're all in this
The Aircraft Owners and
Pilots Association renews its promotion personal flying with a
revampedAOPA Project Pilot to improve
the chances a student pilot will complete his/her training by
encouraging more experienced pilots to act as their mentors.
Revolving around a website designed to help "mentors keep in
touch with their students and track [their] progress while
providing support, tips and encouragement", AOPA claims that
"student pilots who have a mentor to help them through flight
training are three times more likely to earn their pilot
You can't make someone pursue flying just by telling them about
it or even taking them up, any more than simply exposing somebody
to competitive gardening or underwater spelunking or participating
in Renaissance festivals will automatically make them a convert.
But if a person does have a latent interest in aviation they often
need help to make that dream a reality.
How Mentoring works
I've trained a lot of students, but to date I've been a mentor
to three pilots. All had already felt the nip of aviation's bug and
were simply waiting to get started, or wanting to ask questions
from someone not tied to their flying education. The process for
mentors is simple—just listen to the student's needs and
honestly answer their questions.
Note: We're all students, all the time. You
can mentor a pilot at any stage of his/her career…and you
can be a mentor with any level of experience yourself.
- A co-worker had flown many times as passenger in a small
business aircraft, and decided one day he could do it too. He
became an enthusiastic advocate for aviation, engaging friends and
associates in conversation about his passion for flight. I helped
him through a tough learning plateau before his first solo flight,
and again when he was having trouble mastering navigation. Later I
did instruct him myself on a few cross-country flights and through
his tailwheel endorsement. Mostly, though, we just talked about
airplanes and I helped steer him down a safe and reliable
recreational flying path.
- The wife of an Air Force friend casually mentioned she'd like
to fly. I encouraged her to take a "Discovery Flight" at her local
airport and she literally took off. Later she completed a
professional flight training program and has recently become a CFI.
She's flown as a traffic reporter and is very active in the women's
aviation organization The
- My younger brother shared a youth spent with our pilot/mechanic
father and flying on airlines all over the U.S. He took his time to
get started flying, building a business and starting a family, but
then quickly worked through his private and instrument checkrides
and recently bought a Cirrus SR20 to use in his business...
bouncing questions off me all the way.
I can't claim anything for mentoring these three except to help
them through some decisions and work through some issues like
flying chores, professional flying tracks, or purchasing an
airplane for business. But I hope I've helped them and will have
the chance to help more in the future.
Aero-tip of the day: Become a mentor to someone
learning to fly, or learning to fly better. It adds to our ranks,
and it makes us all better pilots.