At different ages, and for different reasons, the body begins to show signs of wear. The best way to cope with these changes is to know how they will affect you and how you can adjust.
Changes in visual acuity are the most noticeable and can be troublesome at first. These changes involve a narrowed peripheral vision, degraded near vision and night vision, and difficulty in shifting focus quickly. For example, you may find it more difficult to spot traffic and flying at higher altitudes seems to affect your visual sharpness.Use supplemental oxygen to help improve your vision at night and at altitude.
You may notice a loss of strength and decreased flexibility. In addition, you may find that cockpit fatigue due to heat and turbulence sets in earlier than it once did. Or that it has become more difficult to perform fine motor tasks like pressing small buttons.
Discover how sleep environment, work shift, medical conditions, jet lag, and other factors can affect fatigue. This video from the Medical Self-Assessment: A Pilot’s Guide to Flying Healthy online course explains.…you may find that cockpit fatigue due to heat and turbulence sets in earlier than it once did.
Hearing—especially in the high-frequency range—diminishes with age. The problem may be exacerbated by the fact that older pilots may have flown years without a headset in a noisy airplane.
What should you do if an air traffic controller talks too fast for you to copy and read back? In this video, air traffic control specialist Sarah Patten explains the best way to handle the situation.
Your “working memory” is often used in flying. But as you age, you may find it harder to remember things like altitude assignments, transponder codes, and radio frequencies. Again, fatigue can also play a role in recalling those items.
You have grown older and gotten wiser through experience. However, aging can make it more difficult to handle the kinds of decisions that sometimes have to be made in the cockpit.
Download the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s VFR and IFR personal minimums contracts to help you get started.
Learn what pilots have to say about the effects of aging on tasks such as flying an instrument approach and processing information. Listen to how they are adjusting.