If you’re feeling stressed out by flying your plane in these crazy coronavirus times, rest assured that you’re in the same emotional spot as hundreds of millions of other folks around the globe. While our response to the virus has been to dive into the work of covering aviation in crisis, many people find it hard to do much more than get by. Even if that were the case, there’s still stuff that needs to get done, and when it comes to your flying and your plane, you shouldn’t put off attending to business for very long.
As it is with every other part of life these days, governments at every level have issued COVID-19 lockdowns—at this writing, there are only four states that don’t yet have such an order. So regardless of what our recommendations are, we understand that some pilots might not be able to travel to the airport right now. We have some ideas for you folks, too.
1. Stay proficient? Everybody says it’s important to stay proficient during these times, but how realistic is that advice? After all, if you can’t get to your plane, how much good can you actually do? Well, even if the answer to that question is, “some,” then we say it’s worth the effort. Moreover, we think there’s much you can do that will have big returns. After all, when you do get back to flying, you want to have as little rust as possible, so do what you can to keep things as polished as possible. We’ve suggested using home flight-sim games like X-Plane and Infinite Flight, for the fun of it, but today’s games are so realistic that there can be a real proficiency benefit too, though you can’t log any of the time, of course. Even better, if you’ve got the means, home flight sims from companies like Redbird Flight Simulations make use of some of the same advanced flight training scenarios that pilots at the EAA Proficiency Center at Oshkosh use. Redbird’s two home sims, the Jay, starting at $2,595, and the TD, starting at $6,995, are two fly-right-out-of-the-box options. With the TD, you can even log instrument time when properly conducted and logged. For pilots looking to up their game, we recommend home schooling. For those with a Private Pilot’s Certificate, tacking on an IFR rating adds critical safety backup to cross-country travel, and quarantine might be the ideal time to bone up for the written. We love Sporty’s new Instrument Rating Course, which not only helps you learn the rules of the airways but gets you ready for the written, too.
2. Take Care Of Your Plane? This one seems like a no-brainer, so why the question mark? That’s because the truth is, while doing things like running up your plane or pulling the prop through a few times might seem like good ideas, they actually might be terrible ones. In fact, the best practices for storing your plane for awhile might surprise you. Check out one A&P’s advice on it.
3. Modify Your Plane’s Insurance To Save Money? While that was our first thought too, it’s either, one, easier said than done—as many insurers don’t offer a parked plane option—and, two, maybe not a good idea in general—ask residents at airports in Nashville and Jonesboro whose airports recently got leveled by twisters. It never hurts to inquire about your policy, but your insurance company, remember, is in the business of selling insurance, so take their advice with a grain of salt. Still, modifying your policy or switching might save you a little dough only for you to have to change it up again when we’re on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.
4. Buy A Plane? Sell Your Plane? When we contacted our friends in the aircraft insurance business they said, strangely enough, that they’re getting a lot of business writing new policies. If it surprises you that buying and selling during the coronavirus days is a hot segment, then you’re not alone. But the truth is, now is a great time to sell and to buy. For those owners who can’t justify the expense of keeping a plane that won’t be flying any time soon, they can cut costs to nothing and maybe even wind up with some much needed funds at a time when some are off of work due to the pandemic. This kind of buyer’s market might not come around again very soon—old planes aren’t getting built any more—so it might be the ideal time to work with a motivated seller to get that dream plane at a bargain price.
5. Expand Your Mind! There are a number of webinars available of late that we highly recommend, including ones from EAA on topics ranging from homebuilding to flying amateur-built planes. There’s one on flying Van’s RVs in early May that we plan to hit up. Sporty’s also offers a series of webinars, including topics such as how to talk to controllers and how to get the best bang for your buck with flight simulators.
6. Stay Safe and Stay In Shape: Regardless of how long it takes us to come back from this thing and no matter how many times the FAA extends our pilots’ medical certificates, we’re all going to have to get a medical at some point. We still don’t know what kinds of lasting impacts the virus might have on the health of those who suffered severe symptoms but recovered, so do everything you can to avoid getting it. That should go without saying. Also, to be your best flying self, you need to stay in shape. People under quarantine are reporting that this is not easy to do, hashtag “quarantine 15.” So get up, go for a walk, if you can, go for a jog, get some steps in, just keep moving and keep staying in the best shape you can. Bonus points if you, like us, are looking to improve your condition from even before coronavirus hit.