Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Flying Techniques From Great Aviators

Some of America's best pilots offer advice on how to fly smarter

Although Scholl's type of flying often didn't lend itself to checklists, he preached the use of them. Like many of us, he studied accidents adamantly where use of a checklist might have avoided catastrophe.

"The whole point of checklists is obviously to make certain you don't forget key items," said Scholl. "That becomes increasingly more important as the level of complexity escalates with faster airplanes flying behind more exotic systems. Accident records are replete with stories of pilots who forgot to turn on electric fuel pumps or neglected to switch tanks for takeoff or landing, forgot to put the gear down and landed gear up or tried to go around with the mixture still leaned for cruise. Checklists let you sidestep all those traps."

9 William Kershner—author, instructor. Bill Kershner was a freelancer for P&P 40 years ago, and I bought several of his articles in the late 1970s. He was perhaps most famous for his comprehensive training manuals on everything from the private-pilot license to the commercial and the instrument rating.

Throughout his instruction manuals, Kershner encourages pilots to take it easy on themselves. "It's important to keep flying as comfortable and easy as possible," Kershner explains. "Take it easy on yourself. Always keep the airplane in trim, plan ahead on fuel, descent, switching tanks. Make certain you have all the weather information you need, and never allow it to get ahead of you. In short, do everything possible to make flying fun."

10 Barry Schiff—airline captain, author. Schiff worked with Rod Machado and me on the ABC show mentioned above. A former TWA captain and author of half a dozen books and hundreds of magazine articles, Schiff has virtually every rating the FAA offers, and he has flown more than 300 types of airplanes.

His advice to pilots is perhaps the simplest of all. "If I've learned anything in the last 50 years of flying, the most elemental lesson is to pay attention to your gut," says Schiff. "If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Another way to express it is, when in doubt, don't.

"It's not necessary to have multiple ratings and thousands of hours to develop an instinct for detecting a glitch. Even if you can't identify the specific problem, pay attention to your instincts. Accident reports are filled with stories of pilots who sensed that something was not right and continued their flight, anyway. Pay attention to what your senses tell you and act accordingly."

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