Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New License To Learn

Advanced training leads to more than just proficiency; it can also save lives

new licenseA few weeks ago, my friend Ray recounted a scary experience he’d had in his high-performance single while on a trip with his wife and daughter in IMC and at night.
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license to learnSaving Lives
The net result of additional training is added safety. Kyle Lyons, of RTC Pilot Training (, notes, “Pilots start getting complacent after flying only a few months, and simulator training gets them to think about the basics again to make sure they haven’t lost those stick-and-rudder skills.” Advanced training forces us to constantly learn new skills and to examine our limitations.

It’s important that pilots not think of advanced training only as earning expensive type ratings in exotic, full-motion simulators, or spending tens of thousands on little-used ratings. Most pilots’ budgets could support something as basic as a tailwheel endorsement or upset recovery course. Each carries tremendous benefits and imparts important skills.

I think about Ray fighting the snake that was his runaway aircraft, high in the clouds on a dark night with his scared family. I think about what could have happened and, instead, what did happen. I go back and hit the books and start thinking of getting more training because, as the old saying goes, a pilot should never stop learning.

license to learnSimulators: Breaking Someone Else’s Airplane
From emergency-procedure training to new type ratings, simulators are changing the way we fly and train

“What we do, you couldn’t do in your airplane because you would tear up your engines.” So says Norm Wolfe, owner of Proficient Flight, a simulator training operation in Juneau, Wis. “You screw up—we just pause and say, ‘Let’s look at this procedure.’”

Simulators have become the preferred way of training for certain aircraft and for certain procedures. The huge advantage is that you can do things in them that would destroy a real aircraft. From simulating low-altitude, dual-engine-out scenarios to trying the “impossible turn” after takeoff, simulators give pilots a chance to try things that could someday save their lives.

Two main types of simulators are used in aviation today. Flight training devices (FTD) don’t offer motion, but can duplicate cockpit controls and systems. Some have visual displays as well. FTDs are used for instrument training, aircraft familiarization, recurrency checkouts and general systems training.

Full flight simulators (FFS) are complex systems that include six degrees of motion and offer ultrarealistic visual displays. Most have instructor operating stations (IOS) where CFIs can create any normal or abnormal condition and even introduce various weather systems. Many FFS simulators can re-create the environments of several aircraft, on command.

Simulators are becoming the preferred way of training new pilots in TAA (technically advanced aircraft), and for transitioning veteran pilots to these newer aircraft. Several companies specialize in focused training for Cirrus, Diamond and other TAA. Pilots also are going to simulators for transitioning to glass-cockpit environments.

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license to learnAerobatics & Emergency Upset Training
More pilots are discovering the joy and skill-building benefits of aerobatics and upset training

Until recent years, only pilots desiring to compete in aerobatics would undergo the rigorous training required to become a proficient aerobatic pilot. Instructors have slowly come to know that basic aerobatics training can help any pilot, and that the resulting increased coordination and skill dramatically reduces accidents. Additionally, emergency upset training is a great way to explore how your aircraft will behave at the extreme corners of its performance envelope.

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