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Training and Safety Tip: A recipe for success

Let regulations guide you to your goals

Have you ever made duck pâté en croûte? Yeah, me neither. In fact, I’m not even sure how to pronounce it. But if you did want to tackle some totally new culinary delight, where would you start? Right—a recipe.

Photo by Chris Rose.

Now, if you look up the definition of “recipe” you’ll find that some dictionaries define it asa set of instructions for preparing a particular dish, including a list of the ingredients required.” What on earth does this have to do with flying?

Well, all FAA certificates have a recipe. There’s a set of instructions as to what pilots need to do at each stage, and there’s a list of ingredients required to go to the next level. Your flight instructor knows these recipes by heart, and so should you. After all, it’s your certificate.

Itching to solo and wondering why it’s taking so long to get to that benchmark? Get out the federal aviation regulations and go to FAR 61.87. There you will find the recipe for how to prepare to solo. Subsection (b) lays out what you must know, and subsection (d)—assuming you are flying a single-engine airplane—lays out the 15 maneuvers you must master before you can be endorsed for solo flight.

Sometimes the regulations can be hard to read. But the recipes are pretty straightforward, especially the ingredient lists—in this case (d) includes preflight, taxiing, and takeoffs and landings, among others.

What about your big goal—for example, obtaining your private pilot certificate? That recipe, like a recipe for duck pâté en croûte, is a rather long one. It starts at FAR 61.102 and goes through FAR 61.117, but not all of it will apply to you. There’s stuff in there for folks flying balloons or flying off of small islands. FAR 61.105 lays out what you need to know, FAR 61.107 lays out the maneuvers you need to master, and FAR 61.109 lays out the required flight time you need to have.

It’s time to get cooking. Break out the regs and get to know the requirements to earn the certificate you seek. If you really know the recipe, you’ll do great during the checkride.

William E. Dubois

William E. Dubois is a widely published aviation writer and columnist. He is an FAA Safety Team rep and a rare "double" Master Ground Instructor accredited by both NAFI and MICEP. An AOPA member since 1983, he holds a commercial pilot certificate and has a degree in aviation technology. He was recognized as a Distinguished Flight Instructor in the 2021 AOPA Flight Training Experience Awards.
Topics: Training and Safety, Student, Flight School
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