Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Beyond The Checkride
Advanced training means new skills, reduced insurance premiums and renewed passion
Seaplane flying is the about the most fun you can have in an airplane. There's something special about the combination of water and sky that touches each of us deeply. I can testify that the most enjoyable flying I've ever done is dripping wet, hopping from lake to lake in a seaplane. If you fly because you love it, then a seaplane rating is in the cards for you.
The seaplane rating carries some bonuses with it. First, it can be had over a long weekend. Learning the basics of seaplane flying takes anywhere from five to 10 hours of dual instruction, and the companies that offer seaplane rating programs have it down to a science and can get you rated in a couple of days. Second, the rating fulfills the flight review requirement. Finally, the cost is very affordable. Many locations offer a ratings package for well under $2,000, with some Midwest schools offering seaplane ratings for under $1,000.
The added allure of a seaplane rating is that the training will—again—make you a better pilot, especially with regard to paying attention to the wind, and to getting clues about wind direction and speed from geographical features. Seaplane schools dot the country, with the best known being Jack Brown's Seaplane base in Florida, Adventure Seaplanes in Minnesota, Above Alaska and Alaska Float Ratings. The best place to start is with the Seaplane Pilots Association at www.seaplanes.org.
Nothing in aviation gives a pilot more confidence than learning how to control an aircraft at the edges of its performance envelope. Outside of the awe-inspiring performances seen at air shows, aerobatic training can lead a pilot into many other areas of aviation.
While aerobatic training strikes fear of airsickness in many pilots, the truth is that gradual exposure and the right instructor make all the difference. Both Bob Hoover and Chuck Yeager—two of aviation's finest pilots—both admit to uneasiness with aerobatics at first. But increased exposure decreases any motion discomfort, and many pilots find aerobatics so stimulating, challenging and rewarding that they advance into competing.
Schools across the country offer aerobatic programs, and many have become well known. Make sure you research prospective aerobatic schools and inquire as to their equipment, maintenance, safety record, expectations and curriculum. Pricing ranges widely depending on the type of course, but a realistic 10 hours for a basic program is a good start. Some popular schools include Tutima Academy, Chandler Air Service and Sunrise Aviation. Start your training by going to www.iac.org for more information.
Advanced training includes many more options than can be listed in a magazine article. These include getting jet transition training, earning the commercial certificate, adding a complex endorsement to your logbook, mountain and backcountry strip flying, earning your glider rating, or just getting checked out in another airplane at your local FBO. Regardless of what type of advanced training you choose, the benefits will far outweigh the costs. Since your Private is just a "License to Learn," get out there and start learning.
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