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Training Tip: 'They sold the airplane'Training Tip: 'They sold the airplane'

Your training is moving along at a pleasing pace when your instructor calls with a surprising bit of news: Your trusty, reliable trainer is leaving town, to be replaced by a completely unfamiliar make and model. Don’t be unnerved. You likely have enough experience already to make the transition a brief and rewarding experience.

If the airplane you've been training in has been sold, don't fret about transitioning to a different aircraft.

If you have been flying more than one trainer within a specific make and model of your school’s fleet, you already have dealt with differences in instrumentation, system operation, or in some cases engine horsepower. You may have noted their different flying feel and decided which aircraft you’d prefer to take up on your checkride when the time comes.

Having to switch aircraft is a not-uncommon development in flight training, caused by relocating, changing flight schools, or losing a training-fleet aircraft to a sale or maintenance. A student pilot recently profiled by AOPA was flying a two-seat Liberty XL-2 when the aircraft left town, requiring a switch to a four-seat Piper Archer. Along with a large difference in weight and engine power between the two aircraft came a significant difference in ground handling. The Liberty is equipped with a free-castering nosewheel, demanding more work from the pilot with brake and rudder to maintain directional control on the ground, and a challenge to push back into a tiedown spot. The Piper’s nosewheel, by contrast, is controllable by the foot pedals.

Another trainee who had been flying a Cessna 172 relocated when entering a collegiate aviation program—and resumed training in a tailwheel-equipped Citabria 7ECA, a more drastic departure from the familiar than is typical, but guaranteed to be a beneficial broadening of experience after the transition.

Whatever brings about a change in trainers, often there is advance notice. So get ahead of the curve by learning what you can about the new aircraft, ideally by getting a copy of its pilot’s operating handbook and looking up some hands-on aircraft reviews that also may provide some history of the make and model you will be flying next.

Pilots who exclusively fly the aircraft they trained on after training is complete are the exception, not the rule. If you find yourself having to change aircraft sooner rather than later, be assured that the confidence and experience you gain will more than offset any momentary disruption of your training timetable.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Flight Training, Student
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