Helicopter pilot uses courses for airplane instrument add-on

August 6, 2008

Every two weeks, Kerry Tate flies his Piper Warrior II from Arkansas to Texas, stores it in a rented hangar, and then walks across the airport to his job flying helicopters. The routine works out great when the weather is VFR. But Tate, who is an instrument-rated commercial helicopter pilot, does not yet have his instrument rating for fixed-wing aircraft. He plans to add the rating for airplanes and use the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s instrument flying online courses to study.

Tate knows the foundation’s online courses are the place to turn to refresh his knowledge or learn new information. He’s already taken Weather Wise: Thunderstorms and ATC, which is applicable to helicopter and airplane pilots, Mountain Flying, and Runway Safety.

“I find it very convenient for me because I can go back and review,” Tate said, explaining that he trained for his private pilot certificate in the 1980s and has since forgotten some of the information even though he flies for a living.

Tate works for two weeks, then has two weeks off. So when he doesn’t have the Warrior in Texas, his wife Carrie uses it to take flying lessons. She runs her own business, races motorcycles, and works on their farm with Kerry, so her time for training is limited.

She uses the courses to try to stay sharp during two- to three-week breaks in her training. In particular, she’s taken the Know Before You Go course to help grasp the shapes of the different types of airspace.

Every pilot from student to professional can learn from the foundation’s courses. While some of the information you might already know, Tate said there would always be some things you’ve forgotten.