From The Logbook: Safety And Recurrency Go
Hand In Hand . . .Are You Up To It?
Jim Trusty 2005
Who needs recurrency training? Just the pilots
who plan on flying proficiently the next time they go up. And I hate to admit
it, but this certainly includes you 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 become current again.
Recurrency and aviation safety are one and the
same. You simply can't have one without the other, and you need both!
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 miles away to get Flight Reviews and Instrument Checks just so no one
from their home area knows exactly how good or 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 be
better, want to be better, and throw some money at an instructor of your choice,
to help you get better. Some of our pilot evaluations end with the statement
that the person we are flying with has reached their potential. That's not all
that bad. It simply means they are through learning and that they have
demonstrated this to us by the way they are reacting to the training program.
If you are something less than a "professional
pilot,' someone who flies for a living, then it is really doubtful that you stay
current. And why don't you? Because it is not required. But if airline pilots
and cargo pilots and corporate pilots need recurrency training every six months
and are required to take regular checkrides from the FAA and their own company
check pilots, are you willing to do less and fly? Unfortunately, most are.
I have never met a naturally bad pilot! Quickly,
let me qualify that statement. I have met some who could use more training, some
who over the years of flying by themselves have developed some awful habits,
some who are just plain lazy, some 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 maneuvers required to get
your particular certificates and ratings are the ones that you are supposed to
remain proficient in forever, with an occasional update. Actually, the maneuvers
over the years have gotten more graceful as the examiners and the equipment have
gotten older. Spins are seldom done except for instructor candidates, Eights
Around and Steep Spirals are all gone, and stalls are done with no loss of
altitude. Now that's a drastic change from my training days.
Recurrency simply means flying at very top of
your skill level every single time you fly an airplane. Practice, practice,
practice. It may require a little reading on your part and an occasional
purchase of a new textbook. Rod Machado has a great one out called Private
Pilot Handbook that we use for everything from Private through Instructor,
and of course, for those of you that missed 'Stick & Rudder' when it came
out in 1943, it is still available and still the best book ever written
explaining what makes an airplane fly. Converse with the instructors at your
airport, attend some safety seminars, visit an air show, then go up and try it
all out. Feeling 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 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 and go flying. Don't waste good money just sitting there. Ask
questions. Make him demonstrate. Ask more questions. Pick an instructor who
never seems to be completely satisfied with what you are doing. Training and
learning have to be continuous.
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. People who don't fly have no advantage over those who can't
fly! Don't just sit there and mildew and waste all those hours you put in and
all that money you spent learning to fly. It was great fun then and it can be
again. Flying has always been a buddy business, a group gathering sort of thing,
so get back together with some group and start doing all those fun things again.
There's probably an EAA Chapter nearby or a
flying club or just two or three guys that you "kinda sorta" like that need the
same thing you need - someone to take a flight with on occasion and then to talk
about it for awhile when you get back. Stories are no good if you can't share
them and neither is flying!
Recurrency . . . don't let all this stuff slip
up on you either. Every time we catch you gone from the airport for over a week
or two, we change the rules or add or delete something that you are going to
have to learn or forget. To be on the safe side, you need to stop by at least
three or four times a week. Going to be out of town for over a week? Better
leave a number where we can reach you. I really don't know how a pilot can
consider himself as safety conscious and not feel that they are putting their
passengers and themselves at risk on every flight if they are not absolutely and
I fly with a lot of people who have simply let
their skills deteriorate from disuse. Don't let this happen to you. I also fly
with a lot of people who have to take FAA checkrides every six months or so for
Corporate 135 or Passenger Part 91, and they tell me that they never do the
required maneuvers between checkrides because the maneuvers are not a part of
their everyday ritual. They take the easiest, smoothest, quickest route and then
take a chance on losing their certification because they can't fly specific
required maneuvers for the checkride. This absolutely does not make sense to me.
But we can learn from them, that's for sure. Right?
If you know in advance what is required of you
and you have six months to get ready for it, whose fault is it if you do it
badly? Worse yet is having to fly with a total stranger, an instructor who in
reality probably does not fly as well as you have demonstrated you can fly.
Don't do that!
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? Start with your next flight and let's get
some smoothness and anticipation back into your flying. Identify those bad
habits that you have let magnify over the years and let's make a mental list of
them. Slowly, make an effort to get rid of them. The time needed for correction
of a bad habit is the same amount of time it took to perfect it. It's a
worthwhile project and those who fly with you will notice it.
I'll see you at the airport! Always remember:
Pilots that don't fly have no advantage over people that can't fly. What's your
Written permission from the author required
to reprint this copyrighted article. (2005)
JIM TRUSTY, ATP/CFI/IGI/ASC, was named the
FAA/Aviation Industry National Flight Instructor of the Year for 1997, and the
FAA Southern Region Aviation Safety Counselor of the Year for 1995 & 2005. He
still works full-time as a Corporate Pilot/ 'Gold Seal' Flight & Ground
Instructor/ FAA Aviation Safety Counselor/ National Aviation Magazine Writer.
You have been enjoying his work since 1973 in publications worldwide. If you
have comments, questions, complaints, or compliments, please e-mail them
directly to him, and he will respond. Thank You. (Lrn2Fly@bellsouth.net)
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