Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting Back Into It

Rust removal can actually be fun

When the decision is made to visit your local CFI and to get your wings rehabilitated, there are some simple rules that, if followed, will make the process more effective and enjoyable.
Their real enemy isn't the passage of the years, but the rust that accumulated during those years, and rust removal can be frustrating regardless of a person's age.
RULE ONE: It will take as long as it takes. Simply getting a traditional BFR isn't enough. Not unless the instructor thoroughly understands the situation and goes far past the minimums required for the BFR: one hour of airtime and an hour of knowledge ground school isn't going to cut it. Neither you nor the instructor should be thinking in terms of minimums. The goal should be to do as much as is necessary to return you to being a safe, comfortable pilot. However, the definition of "…as much as is necessary…" is going to vary greatly from case to case and depends on what you bring to the table in terms of residual skills.

RULE TWO: Commit to it, don't just pick at it. You'll progress more quickly and save money if you push every other extracurricular activity aside and really get your head into re-learning to fly. Once a week is a bare minimum, with twice being much more productive. If you just "kinda" do it, it will take much longer, cost more and be more frustrating.

RULE THREE: Don't hesitate to revisit your CFI. Once you're back in the saddle, make a mental note that for the first few months, you'll get another CFI ride or two to double-check what you're doing.

RULE FOUR: Log some CFI time in nasty crosswinds. After the CFI says you're ready to go and you've soloed, book at least one more hour (two are preferable) that will be flown in the nastiest crosswinds you can find. Even when you were current, that was probably your most worrisome skill, so attack it head-on and lose your fear of crosswinds right from the get-go.

RULE FIVE: Do a short dual cross-country. Flying the airplane is one thing, planning and doing cross-countries is something else entirely. So, work with your CFI to plan and fly one that's about two hours long. That's just enough to get your cross-country skills back. It's a whole lot more fun to get lost when a CFI is aboard.

RULE SIX: After the checkout, fly your socks off. Once you're a birdman again, promise yourself that you're going to fly as much as you can possibly afford for the next couple of months. It's critical that you exercise what you've learned so it's more than just a skin-deep skill. The more you do it, the deeper it will settle into your brain until it becomes instinctual, which is our ultimate goal.

So, if you've been doing nothing but reading about flying, make up your mind to pull the trigger and get back into it. It's guaranteed that the second time around you'll enjoy it even more.


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