If you ever took any kind of music lessons, you hear that expression many times. Of course, it would apply to almost any endeavor that you undertake. Let’s apply that to aviation.
The Military and the Airlines learned that practice makes perfect many years ago. Everyone has seen the movie “TOP GUN” almost 30 years ago. The “Top Gun” school was started in 1969 to train pilots in combat roles with realistic scenarios, and it paid off. After the school started, the aviation combat losses in Vietnam dropped dramatically. The airlines heeded the demands from the public to improve airline safety by requiring recurrent training in simulators for all of their pilots.
Would you want to go see a play where the actors had rehearsed their lines only one time? I doubt that you would enjoy that play very much. In one of my speech classes in college, we were instructed to give a 3-minute speech on a subject that we pulled out of a box. That was hard, and most of the speeches made little sense to most of us. Then the instructor gave each of us a prepared speech to take home, study, and then stand in front of the class and deliver, up to 7 minutes long. Those classmates that did their homework gave the best speeches. Others were not so good.
Would you ask a friend that owns an airplane to take your kids for a ride? Sure. It happens all the time. Then ask that friend when did he fly last? He says it has been 3 months, and that he needs to make 3 take offs and 3 landings before he takes your kids for a ride. Really? Is that all? Yep. To be “legal” that is all that is required. Also, the only legal requirement is a flight review every 24 months.
As a flight instructor, I have given many flight reviews, but one stands out in my memory above all others. In Pittsburgh we did a “Wings Weekend” every year sponsored by the FSDO, and all of the instructors were volunteers for this weekend, so there was no charge to those that came to the event. All you had to do is present an airworthy aircraft, attend one safety seminar, and fly with an instructor. I was assigned a young man who seemed anxious to get his “Wings.” He had rented a Piper Warrior from the local FBO. We sat down to review his logbook. He had passed his Private Pilot check ride 22 months ago. Since that time, he had logged only 5 hours, and he knew that he needed a BFR soon. This was a chance to get the BFR without paying an instructor.
I was not sure what to expect from this young man, but we took off to do the needed landings at a nearby airport. After an hour of flying and landings, the young man could not make an un-assisted landing. I told him that I could not endorse his log book as a BFR but could log the time as instruction given. I told him that he really needed more instruction and should get an instructor to work with him for a while. And, please, don’t offer to take any friends for an airplane ride, even if they offer to pay for the rental of the plane.
Fred Gibbs presents his annual program on aircraft accidents in Arizona called GAARMS. In the summary of accidents in Arizona for 2018, 3 of the accidents happened while the pilot was practicing to remain current. Some of these happened in high performance aircraft like the Cessna 210. None of the accidents had an instructor on board. There are accidents that happen even with an instructor on board, but far less often.
Aviation is not like playing a musical instrument, where you can just pick up the instrument, or sit at a piano, and practice. In aviation, it is a bit more complicated. We must travel to the airport, pre-flight the aircraft, make sure there is fuel on board, taxi to the runway, and then practice our take offs and landings, or go to a practice area for maneuvers. You can easily use up a half of a day just to get one hour of time in your log book. Of course, there are always those breakfast or lunch runs that can make the time more fun than just being in the pattern doing landings. Do what you can to make the practice more enjoyable, but the point is to do the practice!
The ARIZONA PILOTS ASSOCIATION sponsors Safety Seminars all over the State every month. Check the web site for a seminar near you or fly to one a bit further away. And, don’t forget to “Bring your wingman!”