AFTA and me

How AOPA’s flight training app produced a new private pilot

One thing that was drilled into me during my flight instruction was the need to prepare: prepare for the lesson, prepare for weather, and, yes, prepare for delays and to be thrown off my game. But still, prepare.

As the saying goes, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

I was asked in 2020 to be a guinea pig for a technology and app that the AOPA You Can Fly team was testing. I may have been a bit hesitant to be a 1.0 student, but I quickly learned that this platform would be additive to my training and not a distraction. Perhaps the reason why I was able to stick to my training during COVID-19 and finish my private pilot certificate after years of rustiness was a tool like AFTA—the AOPA Flight Training Advantage is a web portal- and iPad-based training platform designed to make the process of flight training more effective for the student, the flight instructor, and the flight school.

AFTA helped my instructor and me prepare and structure our lessons and time together and allowed me to structure my thoughts. Not only was the technology helpful, but the very task of organizing my thoughts based on the feedback and plans that my CFI laid out helped me be a better student in the classroom and in the cockpit.

I quickly learned that this platform would be additive to my training and not a distraction.Since we pilots love (check)lists, here are the top reasons why I felt AFTA was a big plus during my flight training:

Progress. With AFTA, there was no ambiguity in what I needed to work on, and what the next lesson was going to provide to get us there. I never had to wonder what would be on tap, both in the ground and in the air. That saved a lot of time.

Organization. There is a ton to process during flight training, and in fact one of the biggest things I focused on was staying ahead of the airplane. Don’t let small tasks become big and don’t let big tasks become huge. Similarly, AFTA allowed me to stay ahead of my training and think about it in digestible segments. The right segments.

Transparency and candor. My CFI, Andy, was always a straight shooter, but I can imagine there may be times where an instructor wants to augment his or her in-the-moment feedback with constructive criticism in writing. I knew that when I logged on to see Andy’s post-lesson take that I was in for tough love—not just in ratings, but in the narrative. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Documentation. Like many others, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast (but I can remember the name of my elementary school janitor). It made a world of difference to go back and study lessons, feedback, and progress. My journey, past and future, was laid out in front of me.

Yes, the proof is always in the pudding; but in this case, the proof of AFTA was in the certificate.

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Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.

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