Plane & Pilot
Friday, July 1, 2005

Moving On Up

Advanced training is the easiest way to become a better pilot

Is there life after the check ride? The obvious answer is a re-sounding yes, there is definitely life after the check ride. Before the check ride, you’re a student; after it, you’re a pilot and the world is open to you.
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More Is Better
Taking any skill to a higher level is always guaranteed to bring some spark back into it, and nowhere is that truer than in aviation. Even the simplest endorsement or rating automatically puts you back in the role of student and you’ll find the juices flowing again with a clear goal before you.

Incidentally, just to clarify the terms, endorsements are added to your logbook; ratings require a re-issuance of your license and are noted right on the face of it. An entirely new level of license is generated for the commercial and ATP, however.

The Endorsements
An endorsement is a simple step forward that can come right from your CFI and requires no check ride, as it’s nothing more than a scribbled confirmation saying you’ve received specific training and you’ve proven you can do a certain action, like fly a taildragger (see the article “Tailwheeling” on page 68), to the levels prescribed in the FARs. Few endorsements take more than five to six hours of dual time, and they’re usually something you can do over a weekend.

Tailwheel. The tailwheel endorsement is one of those that cuts both ways—it opens the door to an entire world of little 65 to 85 hp classic put-putts that you often can buy for a fraction of a newer bird. Without a tailwheel endorsement, you’ll miss out on the antiques and the fire-breathing akro birds like the Pitts and Extra.

High-Performance. The high-performance endorsement is one you’ll undoubtedly need if nothing else because it qualifies you to fly one of the most useful airplanes in aviation, the Cessna 182. It won’t take you long before you find the old C-172 has its limitations where, for the most part, the C-182 doesn’t. The FAA defines high-performance airplanes as aircraft with an engine of more than 200 hp.

Complex. The next move is to start looking at airplanes with disappearing feet for which you’ll need the complex endorsement. This carries with it the assumption that you really need the speed for the type of flying you have in mind. The FAA defines complex aircraft as those with a retractable landing gear, flaps and a controllable pitch propeller.


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