In all areas of our lives we constantly seek ways to improve, advance, and ultimately grow. Your aviation career should be no different. Whether you are just taking your first steps as a student pilot, working on an advanced rating, or simply seeking recurrent training for added safety and proficiency, the goal is the same: “you want to become a better pilot. For the sake of this article we will focus mainly upon pilots seeking advanced rating(s). As promised here are the top five ways to approach and make the most of your advanced training.
1. Flight Simulators
There are so many flight simulators available today, some are even free. Up until a few years ago Microsoft was steadily pumping out its series of flight simulators and really had domination of the market. In regards to Microsoft Flight Simulator there are contenders on both sides of the issue of whether or not it should be taken seriously as a training aid. Unfortunately Microsoft recently decided to step out of the flight simulator business all together. Interestingly enough, the rights and/or source code was sold to Lockheed Martin. In turn a new and emerging company called Red Bird in turn uses the simulator in their desktop simulators. The simulators are FAA approved for loggable flight time under certain conditions. The other player in the arena is X-Plane. Along with Lockheed Martin’s acquired simulator, X-Plane has also been approved under certain conditions to log time. There are other simulators on the market, and probably more emerging as I write this article. You don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on a simulator, really a basic home computer, joystick, and any simulator with reasonable real world modeling will do. The point is, whichever you choose; remember to make the most of your time while using them, and to take it seriously.
2. Ground School
Just like simulators there are a variety of groundschools and styles of training available today. Whatever way you choose to leak the information to your brain, make sure it isn’t just designed for you to memorize the info; rather you want to be able to understand and apply what you learn. Personally I highly recommend the live groundschool seminars hosted byproaviationtrainers.com. The method used here is one which combines the best of classroom style training, and the time saving benefits of at home training. Imagine having a tutor in your own home teaching you the finer points of instrument flying. Did we mention they are very reasonably priced?
3. Dual Instruction
Just because you have earned your pilots certificate doesn’t mean the learning should ever stop. Most people got the “this is a license to learn” speech from their examiner upon passing their checkride. How easy it is to forget such a wise saying. Don’t wait for a biennial to take some dual. The point we are looking for is to look for areas you might be a bit deficient, and then to go out and iron those out with your CFI. Sometimes even flying (as an observer) with a pilot who has more experience can be very inspiring. Are you thinking of going for your instrument rating? Why not hop a ride with a well experienced and current instrument pilot on a gloomy day. There is nothing like real world instrument flying to really get the motivation going.
4. Do Your Research
Before delving into advanced training make sure you have a firm grasp on what is going to be required of you to be successful. A look at a syllabus or even PTS for the rating which you seek can give you a good idea of what you may be up against. Think of such publications as a road map to your success. Just as you wouldn’t embark on a trip without knowing at least the general direction you kind of need to go, it should be likewise with your flight training whether it is primary or advanced.
5. Have Fun!
More than anything else remember to just have fun! Bear in mind that less than 1% of the world’s population has the privilege of holding airmen certificates. Cherish your gift of flight, use it to its full, and by all means enjoy your flying.
No matter what stage you are at in your journey as a pilot, remember you can always continue to advance and improve. In today’s world there are so many tools and resources available. Take advantage of each and everyone you see fit, and in the process you might just find yourself advancing.