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Accident Analysis: Back to school

How much do you remember since your last checkride?

You don’t have to suffer through courses in educational theory to recognize that knowledge and skills erode with disuse.
Accident Analysis
Illustration by Doug John Miller

Flight reviews assess the candidate’s competence to safely exercise pilot-in-command privileges, so appropriately focus on the kinds of flying that pilot does. Having flown most of my career straight and level, either going cross-country or practicing instrument procedures, I wondered just how far my airmanship had slipped.

Fortunately, in moments of doubt I can call on good friends—in this case Bravo Flight Training’s Brenda Tibbs. She’s flown with me for the past decade. I hope that’s proof that she doesn’t scare easily, not that she doesn’t learn from experience. I asked her to take notes as she put me through a series of private and, depending on how badly those went, commercial maneuvers. I think the results surprised us both.

Quoting from her debrief notes, steep turns were “beautiful.” OK, I do practice those, having struggled mightily to master them during private, instrument, and (again!) commercial training. Conditions were calm, but even so, I was working!

S-turns: The second roll-in was late—I was asking a question—but otherwise not bad. Turns around a point: Also not terrible, maybe even within the tolerances of the airman certification standards.

Slow flight: Needed more right rudder throughout, especially on the left turn. Altitude and airspeed control were acceptable.

Lazy eights: One rollout was about 30 degrees off heading; otherwise, not much worse than usual. Eights on pylons: I forgot the prescribed entry on the diagonal and lined up outside the closer pylon. After that, no worse than a typical day of sloppy commercial practice.

I’m not a natural stick-and-rudder pilot, but in 19 years, I’ve put nearly 2,000 hours on my 1967 Arrow. Maybe that experience carried over in ways I never expected.

Maybe yours has, too. Whichever the answer, wouldn’t you prefer to know?

ASI Staff

David Jack Kenny

David Jack Kenny is a freelance aviation writer.

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