At a wedding last week, I spent some time chatting with my buddy’s father — a private pilot and owner/builder of a beautiful Van’s RV-6A. When I asked him about his plane, he confessed that he hasn’t flown in a very long time.
It’s a common story across the general-aviation sector. Pilot’s aren’t flying as much as they used to. In the Air Facts Journal, John Zimmerman warns that pilots might be losing proficiency. So what can we do about it?
The obvious answer is to fly more, but clearly something is holding pilots back. If you’re not flying often, then you’ve got to exercise your “flying brain,” and there are plenty of free fast ways to do it!
- Chair fly – Sit down and go through the routine. Keep your checklist habits in order, think through those holding pattern entries and scrape the cobwebs off your mind.
- Plan a flight – Work on those pilotage and dead-reckoning skills on the ground by pulling out a sectional and planning a cross-country flight the old fashioned way.
- Use a flight simulator – It doesn’t matter whether you have the newest version of X-Plane or an older copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator, thirty minutes in the sim is a great way to put your brain back in the cockpit from home.
If it has been a long time since you last flew — more than 60 days or so, then it might be a good idea to grab a flight instructor on your next trip to the airport. A good instructor will be able to zero-in on your weak spots and fine-tune your airmanship, giving you the confidence and proficiency you need to be PIC.