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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The Rating Game
Ratings come in a couple of different flavors, some more easily rationalized than others. Some, like a glider rating, exist solely for fun, while others, like adding multi-engine or instrument flying, are strictly there for utility.

IFR. If you go for the commercial in its entirety, you’ll wind up getting your instrument ticket anyway, but you can also get it à la carte—without the commercial ticket—and many people do. Even if you don’t plan on flying hard-IFR, getting the ticket greatly increases the utility of an airplane. So many times, all that’s keeping you on the ground is a benign layer of low clouds that present no challenge other than requiring the ability to climb through them to VFR on top (which is a subject for another discussion). It’s also a useful insurance policy for those times when you’re on a cross country and the weather starts coming down.

Multi-engine. Even if you don’t ever plan on flying a multi-engine airplane, learning to fly one is a mind-stretching endeavor that can be accomplished in a weekend and will increase your mental capabilities in the process.

Glider. Talk about something that expands your experience envelope! The glider rating introduces you to levels of judgment and pure stick-and-rudder aviating that’s available almost nowhere else, and oddly enough, it’s some of the least expensive flying you’ll do.

Seaplanes are cool! Simple as that. The time you spend flopping around on the water getting your rating will live in your memory as one of the high points of your flying career. A weekend gives you the rating and the memories for a lifetime.

Helicopter. There’s nothing more exciting than broadening your aviation horizons in a helicopter. Not only will the view, which you’ve seen a million times before in a fixed-wing airplane, look completely different in a helicopter, but you’ll also enjoy maneuvers like hovering and autorotations that aren’t possible in a fixed-wing. Although training can take just as much time as an airplane single-engine land private-pilot license, you gain a different perspective and a whole new set of skills that few private pilots get to enjoy.


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