By AOPA ePublishing staff
You’ve reviewed the POH and the FARs. You know your local airspace. You’ve mentally run through airport procedures, reviewed airport diagrams, and given serious thought to surface operations. But so far most of your spring flying preparation has been about hitting the books. Now it’s time to take to the air and turn all that theory into reality.
Before loading up with passengers and heading for the first $100 hamburger of the season, enlist a flight instructor or experienced pilot and practice some maneuvers. There’s no better way to sharpen your skills and get reacquainted with your airplane than to spend some time exploring the edges of the flight envelope. Still not convinced you need to practice these fundamental skills? Check out the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s Safety Advisor Maneuvering Flight—Hazardous to Your Health? to learn more about airmanship—the physical handling of the aircraft and the ability to put the machine just where you want it.
As with all aspects of flying, having a plan before you launch is the key to a safe and productive practice session. Know what maneuvers you want to perform before you take off, and bring a safety pilot so you can spend some time under the hood. Key practice items should include: ground reference maneuvers like turns around a point, slow flight, stalls, unusual attitudes, steep turns, and emergency procedures.
Before you take off, review the foundation’s Emergency Procedures Safety Advisor, then be sure to practice your aircraft’s emergency procedures until you can perform them quickly and calmly.
And don’t forget to brush up on the takeoff and landing techniques you rarely use, like short- and soft-field procedures. The Ups and Downs of Takeoffs and Landings Safety Advisor offers tips for making every landing a success.
As you maneuver to land, keep your eyes open—animal activity is increasing this time of year, and you may find furry friends wandering on or near the runway, especially near dawn and dusk. Learn about the hazards in this subject report from the AOPA Pilot Information Center.
How much practice do you need before you can say you’ve mastered maneuvers? Do them until you can consistently meet the FAA’s Practical Test Standards, then get out there and enjoy the great spring flying weather.
March 12, 2008