Every new year, most people start to think about what they want to achieve with this magical new time that is given us. A new year comes every year, yet, we all still strive to be better, do better, and achieve lofty goals.

I’ll be the first one to support this kind of goal-setting. Heck, I have a long list! A list for the business, personal, physical, spiritual, etc. Now on my lists I’m just trying to hash it all out, make sure it’s realistic, and set myself up for success.

Goals, however, are useless unless they are put into action.

What is your 2013 Flight Training Plan?

Do you have certain goals?

I want to suggest a few things, and open your mind to how you can improve yourself as a virtual/real pilot in 2013. I myself desire greatly to improve in this area, and hope you choose to do so as well.

Read More

Recently I realized just how much great material there is out there to read. Personally, I like FLYING Magazine, books from ASA, and simply sifting through the internet looking for great blogs on the topic. One really great thing that can be done is getting an APP like Newsify, Goodreader, or Flipboard to then feed RSS from really good blogs. It always makes for great reading.

Then, in cruise on a long haul flight, or perhaps while taking care of business on your oval office, you can read even just a little bit here and there. It’s simple math. 10 minutes a day, 5 days a week equates to 43 hours this year of reading you will have done in moments that are otherwise wasted.

Put away Angry Birds, and read.

Follow a Mentor

There are a great number of amazing aviators out there. In fact, I know of several famous aviators right here in the US, some you’ve undoubtedly heard of:

  • Charles Lindbergh
  • Chuck Yeager
  • Chesley Sullenberger
  • Al Haines
  • Neil Armstrong
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Bob Hoover
  • The Wright Brothers

If you aren’t in the US, I bet there are some aviators that have specific and unique records and achievements in your country. Of course, all these above are pilots that are more or less not actively involved in aviation right now, by either being deceased or too famous. So if you’re looking to learn modern things, and mini lessons, you may want to look for someone that runs a blog or writes in a magazine.

But remember that even with these fine pilots above, you can learn age-old, time-tested techniques and philosophies that will always be applicable on the flightdeck.

Teach More

One of the highest levels of learning is to create/teach. By taking the knowledge you have and then teaching another, this solidifies that knowledge into your memory. This step gets you one step closer to mastery. We can’t truly achieve Master status in a cockpit unless we are teaching another.

There’s a reason why most pilots going through a period of time as a CFI is so powerful for their aviation experience.

Maybe you have a friend you’ve met that is also interested in aviation. You can discuss, whether it be face to face, on Skype, or on text, different topics. You can share your knowledge. Forums are also a great place to share.

Be open minded

Aviation, in many ways, is an ever-changing topic. There are so many aspects to learning to fly that you can literally study all your life and not learn it all. There just isn’t enough time to master everything. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t try your darndest.

In the short amount of time I’ve been a pilot, nearly 10 years now, there have been subjects that have completely changed inside aviation. Look at the major explosion of GPS into the aviation industry, for example. WAAS didn’t exist back then like it does now, and GPS devices weren’t well known or widely adopted. Now, we’re looking at touchscreen GPS. More on that in a minute.

Be open to relearn things you feel you already know. Be open to new and inventive ways to fly and do certain things. You may have heard the saying, “There are many ways to skin a cat”. I have no idea what that refers to, but it sounds morbid. My cat Amelia (named after Amelia Earhart) better watch out!

What it does mean is there are many ways to do something. It means there are many ways to land, many ways to trim, many ways to climb, descend, turn, stall, plan, cruise, and learn new topics.

Follow latest technology trends

There are some impressive things going on recently in aviation. It’s awesome to see things like the GTN 750 from Garmin. All touchscreen, no buttons, and tons of capability. Imagine the intuitiveness of an iPhone or iPad as your GPS device, with full reliability you’d expect from an aviation GPS.

Apart from that, there are a lot of cool new airplanes coming out, too. Look at the new G36 from Beechcraft, the 162 SkyCatcher from Cessna, Boeing 787. There are a lot of cool, new trends you can follow. It keeps you sharp, keeps your mind open, and gets you excited about new things to come.

Don’t become one of those old-fart-pilots that won’t use a GPS. That’s just unrealistic.

Have fun practicing

Through all this learning, it’s easy to take things too serious. I know I do that all the time! I forget to just go out and have fun by loading up the simulator, or go for a flightseeing flight. Some of my best flights ever, both real and virtual, happened for no other reason than to have fun.

This is also a great place to practice. You can practice in new areas you usually wouldn’t be in. You can use a new aircraft that you aren’t quite familiar with, with no big expectations of doing things exactly right (virtual tip only). The possibilities are endless.

Flying is fun. And every now and again, we need to do it for no other reason than “fun”.

Master Simple Topics

As we all progress though different ‘ratings’ like private pilot, instrument, commercial, multi-engine, ATP, etc, there are a lot of topics we brush over, and don’t master. That’s just the truth of it all. An aviator can spend a lifetime on private pilot topics, and he/she MAY be able to master those topics; and that’s just one rating! But it’s rare.

There is no shame in revisiting things we feel we’ve already learned. Personally, I have a deep desire to revisit a lot of the instrument topics I brushed over, like the actual physical equipment makeup of a VOR, the different types of approach lighting systems (ALS), runway markings, and a number of other topics. There are just so many.

I think it’d be wise to master some of these smaller topics. Even going back and studying lift and aerodynamics can be fascinating and enlightening. Just because you and I may be experienced, doesn’t mean we are too good for the basics.

Your Plan?

Time flies. You’ll get years down the road if you’re content with just standing still, and you’ll realize then how behind you are in aviation knowledge, and how poor your flying skills have become. Unless we are ambitious about improving ourselves through continual learning, then we’re already falling behind the drag curve. It’ll be only a matter of time until we stall, and fall.

It’s better to recover early, than too late.


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What is your 2013 Flight Training Plan?


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