Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Challenge Yourself!

Comfort zones are slow death and are meant to be challenged

One of the never-ending conversations in aviation starts with, "How does a person become a better pilot?" Getting better can actually be inexpensive, and is a perfect do-it-yourself project that doesn't always require the help of a flight instructor. All we have to do is develop a mind-set in which we approach each hour we fly as an opportunity to build our skills and make ourselves better.

Aha, someone says. So, the more we fly, the better we'll get, right? Not necessarily. Go back and reread the last paragraph. We said we become better pilots by making every hour flown contribute to our skill. We say that because it's entirely possible to fly thousands of hours and not improve. In fact, it's possible to fly our brains out and get worse. It's also possible to fly very little yet improve significantly. It's not the number of hours flown that count. It's "how" those hours are flown that makes us better, and that's a mind-set, not a skill.

So, exactly how will this work? We can't just say, "Okay, my new mind-set is to get better," and suddenly find ourselves turning into super pilots. We need a plan. We need goals. And we need techniques. More important, we need to apply all of these to every single hour we spend in an airplane.

The "Be A Better Pilot" Plan
The skill-related aspect of every flight begins with cranking the engine, and ends with turning off the runway, parking and tying the airplane down. In between are dozens of judgment calls and the movements they command. The sum of these judgment calls and the way in which they're executed are what we label "skill," and that's the focus of our get-better plan.


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