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9 1/2 Steps to Improve Your Flying

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9 1/2 Steps to Improve Your Flying

A funny airline pilot needs some job training and going over safety rules. The aviator has a Learn to Fly book in the jet airplane cockpit.


9 1/2 Steps to Improve Your Flying

9 1/2 Steps to Improve Your Flying

By Matt Tanner


There are many things that you can do when you fly to make yourself a safer and better pilot.  Too many pilots get careless and stop doing fundamental things that could save their lives.  Here are some simple things that you can do to improve your flying.

1. Use your rudder pedals.

It seems simple, right?  Well, too many people neglect to get in the good habit of using them.  Use them during taxi, takeoff, climbs, cruise, maneuvers, descents, and landing.  Get the picture - Use them all the time.

You can know exactly how much to use them during flight by looking at the slip/skid indicator.  That is the ball of the turn coordinator.  As long as the ball is centered between the lines, you are using the right amount of rudder.  If the ball is outside the lines, add rudder in the direction that the ball is located.

For instance, if the ball is to the right, add right rudder.  An easy way to remember this is to "Step on the ball."  Add enough pressure to re-center the ball.

There are a lot of things happening when you are airborne. Correctly using your rudder will make you a better pilot, keep your passengers happy, and show your piloting professionalism (something you need to have, even if you are not a professional

pilot).  Remember, step on the ball.

2. Use Your Checklist

As you are flying, make sure that you use your checklist for each portion of the flight.  There are checklists for everything from preflight to securing the airplane.  Most airplanes have a checklist in the owner's manual that you can use during your flights.  Also, when you learn to fly, most flight schools have checklists that are available for their students.

But checklists aren't put there to look pretty.  Your job is to use them.  If you get in the habit of using one each flight, you will be that much safer.  It's not going to do you any good in your flight bag.  Even if you know the items by heart, still double check yourself anyway.

Another thing, if you need to add something personal to your checklist (like don't forget your sunglasses, or turn off your cell phone so the battery won't run down as it searches for a signal in flight) do this as well.  As long as you have all the required items included, add any that will help you personally during your flight.

3. G.U.M.P.S.

Whether you use G.U.M.P.S. as your landing checklist or not, get in the habit of using a memorized checklist for your return to earth.  In a complex airplane, Gumps is; Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Propeller, and Seatbelts.  In a non-complex airplane, Gumps could be; Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Power, and Seatbelts.  Of course you don't actually have to lower your gear on a fixed gear plane, but it is best to remind yourself anyway.  That way, when you do transfer to a retractable gear airplane, you won't have to add anything to your checklist.  This also happens to be one of the most important checklist items of the whole flight.  So you will already be in the habit of checking your landing gear when you get to the point where it really matters.

4. Weight and Balance

Never ever forget to precisely calculate your weight and balance for each flight.  Too many people have gotten lazy and careless, and have added extra weight in the form of passengers or cargo to their airplanes, thinking that everything is ok.  Isn't there room for error - a little safety cushion, if you will - in the maximum useful load?  Why would you even want to know?  If you take this attitude with your flying, you are putting yourself and your passengers in a very dangerous situation.  Never operate out of the manufacturer's set limitations for your airplane.  They are there for a reason; to keep you safe!

5. T.O.L.D.

Takeoff and Landing Data should be calculated for every flight as well.  Make sure that you are very familiar with all of the runways of intended use and their lengths and widths.  If it is not something that you or your airplane can handle, don't make the flight.  Don't get in the habit of assuming that just because you are in a Cessna 172 that every landing strip is suitable for your flight.  Calculate your takeoff and landing distances for each flight, taking into consideration the density altitude and aircraft performance.

6. Appropriate Radio Calls

One flying safety item that can easily be performed is making sure that you make your radio calls at the appropriate time.  Whether you are flying out of a towered or uncontrolled airport, be professional with your radio calls.  One common error is made at uncontrolled airports, when after an airplane lands, the pilot calls clear of the runway while part or all of the airplane is on the runway side of the hold short line.  This is dangerous!  What if your airplane malfunctions and you are stuck on the runway and another airplane thinks it's safe to land?  This is a hazardous situation that can easily be avoided.  At non-towered airports, it's better to not make any radio call at all, than to make a dangerous one.  Get it right!

7. Complete Runup

You have done a complete preflight inspection and are now ready to takeoff.  Make sure you do a complete engine runup as well.  Check every aircraft system while you are still on the ground before you get in the air.  Determine that all of your radios, comm and nav are functioning.  Check your vacuum and electric gyros.  Check your flight controls and your engine gauges.  Know that when you take off, you are as safe as you can be.  There is no reason to rush through your runup.

8. Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is when you know exactly what is happening with your flight and with what is going on around you.  On the ground, you need to make sure that you are aware of other airplanes that are taxiing and using the runway.  In the air, use the radio and your eyes to know exactly where other airplanes are in relation to you as well as their intentions.  But situational awareness is not just limited to knowing where other airplanes are.  You also need to know exactly what is happening with your airplane, the weather, airspace, the winds, your location, what you would do in an emergency, etc.  Regardless of whether you are flying cross country or local, for fun or for training, don't assume everything is alright.  Know what is happening around you.

9. Fly the plane from engine start to shutdown

When it comes to flying, make sure that you are maintaining vigilance at all times in the airplane.  Too many times pilots zone out at some point in the flight.  For many pilots, that time is before takeoff and after landing.  Make sure that even when you are on the ground, you are flying the airplane.  Keep a watchful eye out for other aircraft and don't rely on the tower to separate ground traffic.  Position your flight controls so that you have the proper crosswind correction, regardless of the wind speed.  Even if the wind is calm, look at the wind sock and taxi as if the wind is really blowing in the direction indicated by the sock.  Although you are on the ground, your control surfaces are still somewhat effective.  Treat them as if your safety depends on their position.

9½. Have Fun

Even though it sounds simple, keep your flying fun.  When you are in the air, you are living a dream.  Don't forget it!

Matt Tanner is an experienced flight instructor in the Atlanta, Georgia area. His background includes Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, the United States Air Force Academy Aero Club, Auburn University Aviation, American Flyers and more. Matt loves teaching students to fly and has compiled his extensive flying experience and advice into a book located at privatepilotguide.com


Article Source: https://EzineArticles.com/expert/Matt_Tanner/19172


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Matt Tanner

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