Piper Super Cub docked at AirVenture Seaplane Base. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund.
Proficient pilots consistently challenge themselves to build their knowledge. The learning doesn't stop after passing a checkride. Creating goals can keep a pilot engaged and proficient in their flying. These six goals will help any pilot grow and become a safer, more knowledgeable pilot. Make it a goal in 2022 to tackle one of the following endorsements or training courses.
1. Seaplane Rating
A seaplane rating will introduce you to a new world of flying. This training might be the most-fun goal on the list; however, many valuable lessons will still be learned. Florida, Minnesota, and Alaska are common states students travel to for their training. The rating can be completed within five to ten hours. Students will be proficient with docking, mooring, glassy, and rough water landings. According to the Seaplane Pilots Association, only 3% of pilots have their seaplane rating. Make it your 2022 goal to join this elite group of pilots.
2. Tailwheel Endorsement
Learning to fly a tailwheel aircraft has several benefits. Taildragger-flying requires crosswind correction with even light winds. The crosswind technique will sharpen up when working on this endorsement. Tailwheel aircraft experience gyroscopic precession during takeoff and landing. This left-turning tendency is often forgotten since tricycle gear aircraft aren't susceptible to the phenomenon. Taildragger pilots understand the importance of hugging center line during departure and approach due to the increase in left-turning tendencies and the importance of keeping the longitudinal axis aligned with the runway during a crosswind landing.
Aeronca Champ sitting on the tarmac. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund.
3. Mountain Flying Course
A mountain flying course is perfect for those unfamiliar with the hazards associated with flying in mountainous terrain. Many flight schools in Colorado, Utah, and Alaska offer a course on flying in the local area. Pilots can learn how to safely maneuver around mountains and improve knowledge on weather patterns associated with the terrain. This course is a crucial prior to conducting long flights across the country.
4. Complex Endorsement
Flying a complex aircraft is just that, complex. The added complexity of having retractable gear and a constant speed propeller will challenge your skills. Complex aircraft are not hard to come by. Most flight schools have at least one. The endorsement can easily be completed in a few hours. The complex endorsement will grow multi-tasking ability.
5. Introduction to Aerobatics Course
An introductory aerobatic flight is a great learning experience for pilots. Timid pilots can also benefit from the course. Learning how to get an aircraft out of unusual attitudes can sharpen skills and help timid pilots become comfortable with the airplane. It is valuable knowing how to get out of any flight attitude you can get yourself into.
6. Glider Introductory Flight
Make it a goal to sign up for an introductory glider flight this year. Gliders teach energy management and will surely make you a better pilot. Glider pilots know how to look for updrafts and downdrafts. This knowledge can benefit powered flights too. On high-density altitude days, knowing where to look for updrafts can help gain altitude faster on days where the plane's climb performance is limited.
Super Cub towing a glider. Photography courtesy of Nicole Lund.
Instead of focusing on weight loss or financial resolutions in 2022, make it a goal to become a safer and more knowledgeable pilot. These six goals will challenge your current skillset and keep you proficient.
Safe pilots never stop learning. Make 2022 the year to grow as a pilot.