Lately I have been thinking about the word “Rusty”.
Back in 2011, I had thought four months was too long a gap since my last flight. The gap this time was almost four years. For the first time, I even missed a flight review or two. It was interesting to experience the true meaning of “Rusty Pilot”. It was interesting to realize how much can be forgotten if one is not flying regularly!
While the review of current policies, procedures, regulations, aeronautical information, aircraft performance, weather and environmental factors are all vital and necessary, and can be part of every day activities even if one is not a pilot, the visual acuity, coordination, practical techniques, sensory perceptions, nuances, awareness and resource management are vital skills that are all accrued over time through application. These skills evolve and grow through continuous application, recurrent training, and pursuing other advanced ratings and endorsements.
As with anything, human behavior is built through constant practice and application. We focus on what’s in front of us or what’s important in the moment. With time forgetfulness can seep in. Other factors such as loss of memory, age etc. might add to it. As I attempted to refresh my memory, it was interesting to realize how much I had forgotten. Although I have been attending virtual rusty pilot seminars over the last two years, it was evident almost immediately to me that despite having flown for almost two decades one can forgot basic things from lack of practice.
May has always been the month. I got my private pilot license in May. Three years later, I got my instrument rating also in May. This meant every two years May was the month for my flight review with my instructor to maintain currency. That is, until this year.
Its good to be current again, after this unplanned hiatus!
AOPA Rusty Pilots
BFR, It can be fun!
Flying Lessons: Flight Review
Rusty Pilot Seminar
Rusty IFR Pilot Seminar
It used to be the Bi-annual Flight Review (BFR), now it is just the Flight Review. Every two years, to maintain currency, a private pilot needs to undergo a flight review and get a sign off from a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) to legally fly.
Every instructor has his or her own technique to conduct a flight review. My best ever BFR was out in California with my favorite instructor, Lee Jaykell (see BFR: It can be fun!). If I were to rank my next best, it would be this. It was not as thorough as the previous one mentioned, but still I came away learning many new things.
The FAA has many resources available online for free: from the pilot handbook to the airport facility directory to terminal procedures. The FAA Safety website offers many links for activities, webinars, courses and seminars. You can easily create a login, and register your preferences for email notification, maintain your wings certification and other currency information. Especially if you live within the DC SFRA or plan to fly in the proximity of this airspace, it is required that you complete the DC SFRA course on the FAA Safety website and keep a copy of the certificate with you at all times.
When I first learned to fly, there was only the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) published in the FAR 91.205. Did you know that now there is a hierarchy in how you check whether your aircraft is airworthy? There are three other lists you might need to check before you resort to the FAR MEL.
- MEL specific for the make and model of aircraft
- Kinds of Operating Equipment Lists (KOEL) section of the POH if available, applicable to newer aircraft
- Equipment list in W&B section of the POH if available
- MEL in FAR 91.205
A handy acronym to remember is TOMATO FLAMES 🙂
- Airspeed indicator
- Oil Pressure Gauge
- Manifold Pressure Gauge
- Temperature Gauge
- Oil Temperature Gauge
- Fuel Gauge
- Landing gear position indicator
- Anti collision lights
- Magnetic Compass
- Safety Belts
A nice, simple chart to remember the ceiling and visibility requirements for each class of airspace:
Any flight review you come away learning something new, is a good one!
It has been 4 months and 8 days since my last flight. The first time ever that I let such a long gap between my flights happen. It is good to be back in the air and in control!