10 Pilot to Pilot tips #1

There are a whole bunch of advice which is not official, but is really good to know.  Most of this advice, if it wasn’t on a test, I’ve quickly forgotten.  However, here are a few tidbits I do remember:

  1. Don’t drink a Big Gulp before your FAA check-ride.  I’ve heard two different people tell nearly the same story where they busted minimums because they had to pee and were anxious to land.
  2. Once you’re certified as a pilot – don’t fly with your logbook.  Your logbook is often the only written record of your flight experience.  If the aircraft goes down in a watery grave and your logbook with it, the FAA may not ground you, but you may be grounded if you can’t show your flight experience.
  3. Bring a survival kit whenever you’re flying over isolated terrain.   A forced landing in the mountains may be injury free, but several days of waiting for search and rescue may kill you.
  4. Use retractable ink pens.   Pens with caps do not belong in an aircraft, unless you like little piece of plastic getting wedged in all sorts of places.
  5. When putting your flight bag in the back seat, put your bag diagonally behind you (in the opposite seat).  This makes it much easier to get into during flight.
  6. Secure your bags! In an emergency situation (where the aircraft is being tossed around) the last thing you want is a bag in your lap.
  7. If you’re an IFR pilot who’s flying VFR – keep IFR charts handy just in case things turn bad.  Even if you, or the charts, aren’t current, make the safest choice available and the FAA will weigh that at the hearing (if there is one).  At least you’d be alive.
  8. Tune your standby channel to your next frequency as soon a possible. This is about “staying ahead of the aircraft”.  If you get in the habit of tuning your standby channel every time you swap channels then you’ll never be caught off-guard.
  9. If things are happening too fast for you – fly slower. There’s nothing wrong with flying a C172 at 90mph.  If there is 6 miles between you and class D airspace, at 120mph you have 3 minutes to get your radio calls done.  In the same situation at 90mph you have 4 minutes to get the same radio calls done.  The point here isn’t just about radio calls: Anytime you get behind the aircraft, simply slow down as a first action.
  10. Clean your windshield.  We’re all lazy, and you may be flying into IMC, but this is not an excuse.  If an airplane viewed out your windshield needs to be larger than a bug-smudge in order to see it – then you’re too close to the other airplane.  Also, dirty windshields cause pilots to focus on the surface, rather than what’s on the other side.  Not to mention: a clean windshield makes for better pictures.
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