Pre-Flight Your Piloting Skills

Pre Flight Piloting Skills

Have you ever asked yourself why most reputable flight departments and all airlines conduct structured “proficiency/recurrent” training every six months? Is it to give their pilots some much needed fun flying or maybe just an insurance requirement? Could it be that these professional pilots and department heads recognize that aviation, at every level, is a very dynamic venture where nothing stays the same for long?

In today’s world it is impossible to maintain proficiency by just meeting the requirements to be current. You may be current and legal, but are you safe?

Can you keep up with the pace of regulation changes just by reading aviation magazines from time to time or talking with your fellow pilots? No. The professionals realize this and demand that their staff not only do the reading but also sit down with senior instructor pilots to insure they are kept up to date with any and all changes happening now, as well as what to expect in the future.

The other aspect is, of course, flying skills. Can you expect to maintain your flying skills by doing the required minimums? I think you know the answer to that. Rust builds fast on dormant ships. This also holds true for those that say, “I’m always flying,” making frequent “normal” flights. The “normal” everyday A to B flight is not maintaining proficiency. You’re just going through the motions like the airline guys that fly canned flight plans day in and day out. We can all make the houses get smaller and return them to normal size, but what if something happens in between? Will you be ready to handle it calmly, correctly, and more importantly, efficiently?

The continued advent of what I like to call robo equipment in the simplest of aircraft nowadays is a double-edged sword. Certainly, it lightens the workload, but it reduces the skills necessary to hand fly and navigate the airplane at the same time.

Proficiency is the only thing that will make the difference between an emergency landing and an aircraft accident. The sad fact is that most of us only think about the regulatory requirements. If we’re honest with ourselves, we rarely give serious thought to true proficiency until we’re on short final with no airport in sight.

I’d like to suggest that we all treat our flying like the corporate and airline guys do. Sit down with your instructor and lay out plans for a constant, consistent recurrent plan, complete with dates and times. You know that’s the only way it will happen.
Be sure your proficiency includes ground, flight and simulator time.

“Proficiency is the only thing that will make the difference between an emergency landing and an aircraft accident.”

You may ask, “Why do I need the simulator if I’ve got the flight included?” This is for the same reason the airlines use them. You can do things in a simulator you don’t dare try in the air. The simulator gives you that “been there, done that” assurance to handle any problem with a clear confident mind and the ability to resolve any problem calmly and correctly. Have fun with it, mess things up and see what it takes to recover. This is the time to work up a sweat and prove to yourself that you’ve still got the skills required for thousands of happy and safe hours in the sky.


Give it the respect it deserves. Put it on your calendar just like every other important issue in your life. Make it mandatory. Just see that it gets done. Do it now if you haven’t in the past. Schedule it into the near future on the day you pass your checkride. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking I passed the checkride, so I’m good. Your checkride is just the beginning; your training and education must never stop.

If you believe you don’t need this kind of continued training, check yourself the next time you fly. If the airplane bumps or makes a strange sound, how did you react? Did it take a few seconds to recover from the tingling shock that ran up your spine? Were you just a little on edge the rest of the flight? That’s your proficiency telling you something. I hope you’re listening.

Every day it gets more and more important for pilots to do regular and meaningful recurrent training. Flying an airplane is too important to you and the ones around you to let it slide. Be an airline pilot each and every time you take command, be it a C172 or B747.

Call American Flyers to discuss the proficiency plan that meets your needs.
Here’s to Happy Flying!