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.
We're at the midpoint of the year, and about halfway through the
traditional "flying season" for recreational pilots. If you've not
done so in the last couple of months, now's the time to schedule a
little mid-year tune-up of your flying skills.
Optimally you'll find an instructor and take a full Flight
Review. You might take it a step further and complete the FAA WINGS
"trifecta" of one hour each of airwork maneuvers, takeoffs and
landings, and instrument flight.
Most importantly, take a look at the type of flying you normally
do, and compare that to the Practical Test Standards (or
non-US equivalent) for the certificates and ratings you hold. Look
at those items you're not flying day-to-day but were at least at
one time competent to fly-and practice those maneuvers.
On your own
You don't need to make this a formal training event. For a
self-evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, and cues to
whether and which Standards you need to practice further (perhaps
with an instructor), try:
- Steep turns
- Stalls and recoveries, especially accelerated stalls (in a
- Emergency flight by reference to instruments, for VFR pilots
(not IFR or not IFR current) -- and take along a safety pilot
- Partial panel flight by reference to instruments without using
an autopilot, if you're IFR rated and current
- Short- and soft-field takeoffs and landings
- Ded. Reckoning navigation in simulated instrument conditions (a
student of mine recently found himself hand-flying a
highly-equipped airplane "partial panel" by compass and a watch
after a total electrical failure in the clouds)
- Any other Practical Test items you haven't flown lately.
Aero-tip of the day: As a mid-year tune-up of
your flying skills, get airborne, have some fun, and do some
maneuvers you don't often practice-but some day may need to