Practicing “flying” when not flying

You can retain more of what you learn in the air by using some techniques on the ground.

pilot visualizing an aerobatic performance

pilot visualizing an aerobatic performance, Marysville, Ohio 2009

           Between training flights, it’s a challenge to remember what you learned.  

Flight time is expensive, too, so you want to learn as fast as you can.    Fortunately, there are a lot of great techniques you can use between flights to help reinforce your airtime.

One thing you can do is visualize flying, while moving your body through a series of turns, banks, and control adjustments.    Developing good psycho-motor skills is greatly facilitated by moving the body through memorized movements.    You learn what you DO faster than what you READ, or just think.

You can also do things in your car.   You can take special notice of speed and control adjustments, the feeling of weight shifting side to side and slowing down, for example.    Learn to gauge distance and timing.    Learn to calculate time enroute, fuel use, and map reading.    You can train yourself to scan the area around the road while driving.  ( you might save an animal’s life also )      All of these skills are very useful as a pilot.

Another thing that’s very important in aviation is critical decision making.    That can be practiced in any arena of life and is extremely important as a pilot.    Learn to get information, know your “vehicle”, make effective decisions without fear.   You cannot fly without fear if you do not learn how to make critical decisions as a matter of routine.     Every minute in the air is full of decisions you need to make to arrive safely.

What else?   how about something simple.   Stay healthy.    Take a week or so, and pretend you were going to fly 2 hours per day for the whole week.    I’ll bet you’ll get some exercise and rest, and eat good food, so you can be alert while flying.

Flight simulators as training aids.

        See our pages on flight simulators.  ( click link )   I find them incredibly useful.   Before I go on a flight, I rehearse it in the simulator.    And later, after the flight, I go through it again.   It really builds confidence, and today’s simulators are truly amazing.   For a few hundred dollars, you can do in your home what no professional pilots, short of military or huge aircraft,  ever did 20 years ago.    The graphics and speed capabilities of today’s home simulators is way beyond what was commonly available in the late 1980’s.    Even FAA certified flight simulators for small aircraft like the Cessna 172,  in the early 1990’s were not as good as what you can have in your home today.     Try Microsoft’s Flight Simulator Deluxe.


About the Author

Professional aerial photographer, private pilot