Aviation Safety Letter 1/2004

Recurrency!!  Who Needs It?

by Jim Trusty, Instructor, National Flight Instructor of the Year (1997), First FAA Southern Region, Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year (1995), and contributing writer for numerous national publications. lrn2fly@bellsouth.net

The answer to that question is: Just about all pilots who plan on flying and me. There is nothing worse than a pilot on the ground telling stories about when they used to fly and how good they were, when in reality they are just too lazy or too proud to fly with someone in order to get current again. Pilots are a funny bunch when it comes to someone rating or grading the way they perform in the air. I have people come from 250 mi. away to get a flight review and/or instrument checks, just so no one from their home area knows exactly how good or how bad they may be. The awful truth about flying is that by the time you have completed your private pilot training, you are really close to being as good as you are going to get unless you get it in your mind that you can get better, want to be better, and force some instructor to help you get better.

Some of our pilot evaluations end with the statement that the pilot we are flying with has reached their potential. That's not all bad. It simply means that they are through learning and that they have demonstrated this to us by the way they are reacting to the training program. I have actually never met a bad pilot. Quickly, let me qualify that statement. I have met some who could use more training, some who over the years of flying have developed some awful habits, and some who are just plain lazy. I have also met pilots who think the rules are made to be bent, and believe it or not, some who still fly and don't really want to.

Recurrency in itself need not be a chore, and it is something that you can do a lot of by yourself. The manoeuvres necessary to get your required certificates and ratings are the ones that you are supposed to remain proficient in forever, with an occasional update. Actually, the manoeuvres have gotten more graceful over the years as the examiners and the equipment have gotten older. It may require a little reading and there are excellent manuals out there to guide you through the process. Speak with instructors at your local airports, attend some seminars then go-up and practice your manoeuvres. Feel rusty? Get a buddy to go with you to a fly-in breakfast or some other aviation event. Change pilots on each leg and critique each other; be hard on each other. When you think that you are close to the top of your game, pick an instructor you think you might be able to put up with for an hour in the air, go fly and ask questions. Ask for a demonstration. And then ask more questions. Getting current is just the first step. Now figure out what you are going to have to do on a regular basis to stay that way. and do it.

You dedicated a lot of time and money learning to fly, and it would be a shame to neglect that significant investment. It was great fun then and it can happen again. Flying is a wonderful group activity, so get back together with some group and start doing all those fun things again. I fly with lots of people who have simply let their skills deteriorate from disuse. Don't let this happen to you. Recurrency is something that has to be done on a regular basis, and the only person who can keep up with your schedule is you. Are you current? Would you like to be? I'll see you at the airport! Always remember, pilots who don't fly have no advantage over people who can't fly. What's your excuse?

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