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Here is a Safety Tip From Master CFI Arlynn McMahon

My tip for safety, says Ms. McMahon, is for a pilot to set and use personal minimums. Regulations are just a starting point. Regulations can't be trusted to cover every pilot. Just because a regulation lists specific minimums or other limitations doesn't mean that each pilot is safe to use those data. Really, regulations are guidelines that pilots can use to set their own judgments based on many factors. These include overall flight training, experience under different conditions, recency of experience, personal physical condition, weather, and a myriad of other factors that each pilot will know and react to differently.  What an experienced pilot might find too restrictive will be far too lenient for a student or a pilot with only a low level of experience. Individual pilots must determine their own boundaries for action. This is not the role of a government agency. No one standard regulation fits all.

Personal judgment must be applied to the type of aircraft, as well, Master CFI McMahon continues. A pilot familiar with one airplane should have different minimums when piloting a craft in which he or she has little experience.

By setting personal minimums, Master Instructor McMahon says, she means far more than just the minimum for flight in VFR conditions or instrument approaches. Minimums apply to the class of airspace in which a pilot feels comfortable, the levels of activity occurring within that air space; at what airports a pilot is comfortable approaching or leaving.

Instructors can teach the basics of flight. They can teach systems. They can hone skills. They can observe a student or biennial flight review applicant and gage how well that pilot functions in that environment. But only the individual pilot can determine where, when, and how to put those skills to use. This comes only by personal judgments that set personal minimums before every flight.

Arlynn McMahon is a Master Instructor with nearly 10,000 hours and 25 years as an instructor.  She has flown throughout the Caribbean, Central America, in 49 states and Canada in general aviation single-engine aircraft.  She is Training Centers Manager at Aero-Tech, Inc. Kentucky's oldest and largest flight school with locations in Lexington and Louisville. Today Arlynn is training children of her early students - does that make her a Grand-Instructor? Arlynn welcomes your feedback at

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