Three Simple Ways to Improve EVERY Flight
Each flight we take is an opportunity to become a better pilot. Here are three simple ideas for making the most out of every flight.
It seems basic, but the Boy Scout motto “Be prepared” is useful in aviation. While it can be applied to any scenario in life, when taking to the skies, preparation is an absolute necessity. The failure to prepare properly can have damaging, possibly fatal results. The FAA outlines the information pilots should be familiar with in preparation for any flight in 14 CFR Part 91. However, while the FAA requires you to become familiar with specific information, it is up to you as the pilot to uncover anything that could possibly affect your flight. For this reason, getting a standard briefing from a Flight Service Station is one of the best ways to receive all applicable information, providing a pilot with the best defense against any legal actions in the worst-case scenario. NOTAMs, TFRs, and chart changes can be difficult information to uncover and interpret. Gather information from all available resources such as online briefing tools and a conversation with an FSS briefer.
2. Plan it out
Whatever your goals are for the day, have a solid plan for accomplishing those goals efficiently and safely. From a flight around the pattern, to the long IFR cross country, to the joyride, or the checkride, start your day with clear objectives and courses of action deliberately planned out. This will impress an examiner, put passengers at ease, assist ATC, and lead to a crew environment enhanced by clear communication and defined responsibilities. Ultimately, having a plan will always trump playing things by ear or going with the flow.
Learning is defined as a change in behavior as a result of experience. Take the opportunity to learn something from every experience. Figure out what went well, what could have been done better, and make a change in your behavior that results in a better flight! The more times a particular task is practiced, the more opportunity there is for improvement . For this reason, regular training sessions with a qualified flight instructor are a great way to continuously challenge your skills as a pilot and refresh your knowledge of the FAA’s ever-changing regulations and training supplements. Remember that repetition is key to improving your skills. It sounds like common sense, but many pilots are still frustrated when they don’t perform a maneuver or task to standards after the first few attempts. Keep practicing! While it probably won’t make perfect, it will come closer every time!