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Training Tip: Don't let goTraining Tip: Don't let go

A large and impressive group of aviation experts was talking about you the other day. Want to know what they said?

Photo by Mike Fizer.

The gist is that as you get closer to completing your flight training, it’s a safe bet that you are looking beyond flight lessons and the constant company of your flight instructor to the fun you plan to have as a pilot.

You will have earned it! But don’t get so far afield of your training mindset that you lose the commitment to safety and professionalism that got you here. Promise?

Recently the National Transportation Safety Board held a roundtable discussion in Washington, D.C., about loss of control, a major cause of accidents experienced by pilots flying VFR in general aviation aircraft.

The industry and government experts participating in the session, including AOPA, shared many perspectives on safety. From the accident investigator to the aerobatic pilot to the astronaut, a concept all embraced was aviation’s “safety culture.” It was also noted, however, that not all GA pilots continue making themselves safer pilots after training. The session, which you can watch here, probed ways to bring them back to the safety culture.

All agreed flight training should be fun; new pilots should never be made to feel embarrassment at making mistakes, which are part of learning. The negative approach probably soured some pilots on ever getting more instruction.

Finding ways to “make every flight a training flight” was encouraged—and there is always knowledge to be extracted from a flight if a pilot stays alert to the possibilities.

Good stuff for the typical pilot, but two less-typical groups have unique needs or opportunities.

One is those training-averse pilots; they’re hard to reach, out there on their own, polishing their mistakes. How do we get them back?

The other group is new flight students. For you, having a lesson and having fun should be one and the same. Anyway, isn’t an instructor “fun” to fly with not just because of compatibility, but because of the learning that happens on the flights?

Nobody flying with that type of instructor fears making a mistake or asking what you think might be a silly question. Flight students who emerge from training with a certificate and a smile won’t tend to classify flying as training or fun.

And when it comes to observing the safety culture aviation holds dear, they won’t let go.

What do you find the most fun about flight training? Share your thoughts at

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 School, Flight Instructor, Flight Training
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