Pilot Journal
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Designing Your Flight Review

Customizing your training will make you a safer, smoother and more efficient pilot

flight reviewLike many newly minted instructor pilots, my first “dual given” was a flight review. I didn’t know how to put together a review. At the time, the regulations gave almost no guidance and didn’t require a minimum amount of time on the ground or in the air (this has since changed)." />

The Challenge
The challenge for you and the instructor is to create a meaningful flight review experience—to make you a safer, smoother and more efficient pilot. Instead of merely satisfying a requirement, pilots and instructors should design flight reviews together to meet one or more of three goals: retention, customization and enhancement of piloting skills.

To pass your checkrides, you performed required tasks to exacting standards. Many of those skills begin to atrophy the minute you get your temporary certificate. A common approach to the flight review is to perform maneuvers required for the pilot certificate and ratings you hold. Reaffirming that you can still recover from a stall with minimal altitude loss, land within a designated distance of a particular spot or accurately fly a chandelle shows you have what it takes to escape wind shear, land on a short runway or maintain rudder coordination—skills that improve safety and may save your life in an emergency. You might emphasize the retention of checkride skills (and brush up on those you’ve let slip) as the primary goal of your next flight review.

“We worked on performance charts, weight and balance…stuff I haven’t had training on in about 20 years. We did a lot of basic airmanship—stalls, turns about a point—and takeoff from a short field with high obstacles, which aptly describes my home airport. We flew the autopilot and flight director and instrument approaches with and without the autopilot. We flew about six hours, working over and over until we got it right. It was exhausting and fun. It was some of the best money I have spent in general aviation.”—Ed Livermore, commercial/IFR

Perhaps you fly cross-country and aren’t very familiar with your avionics. Maybe you want to learn aerobatics or only do local sightseeing flights. Ask your CFI to put together a flight review that explores the intricacies of your panel, introduces aerobatics (in appropriate aircraft) or concentrates on precise ground reference maneuver. Focus on whatever makes you better at the type of flying you want to do.

“I conducted a review for an older gentleman. I discovered he wanted to use an airplane to see his grandkids more often. They lived about 200 miles away, near a Class C airport. As we talked, it became clear his confidence in Class C airspace and night flying was low. I decided to tailor the review to build confidence in these two areas. We planned a flight to do air work first, then fly to a nearby Class C airport during the high-traffic ‘push.’ We would wait for it to get dark before heading home. He was a very good pilot and handled the radio well—he just needed to confirm what he was doing was correct and get the practice. I think it helped a fellow aviator regain his confidence and remain active in flying—and how cool is it when those grandkids see their grandfather taxiing in for a visit!”—Dr. Paul Craig, Middle Tennessee State University, two-time FAA district Flight Instructor of the Year


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