Days ago, I was talking with a friend who asked me: If you were to give advice to others on how to become a better pilot, what would you say?
Well, the list maybe long, but I selected 8 of them, there it goes:
- Be receptive and versatile on your way of thinking; don’t get stuck on an idea. Be willing to learn from others, even younger people has innovative suggestions that can helps us improve ourselves. Remember the old saying that in an airplane we always going to be an student.
- Be safe, a safe flight begins at least 8 hours before we go to the airport, with adequate rest and following restrictions to alcohol usage. Once at the airport proper planning will give you a mental picture of what to expect and how to proceed, never get into a situation where your exit is only one, that door may get closed and then you have no way out.
- Improve your flying skills, hand fly your aircraft when conditions permit, if you have autopilot, fly manually your aircraft either after takeoff until a certain altitude or on approach to land. Force yourself to maintain precise altitudes and speeds within small margins. If you are a general aviation pilot, take a simulator ride and practice all those maneuvers that cannot be done on the real aircraft.
- Read and study the causes on the accidents reports, remember the old saying “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself”. Normally accident causes go well backward in time, study those causes and keep them in your experience backpack to avoid committing those same mistakes.
- Know your aircraft limitations, doesn’t matter if you don’t remember your nose wheel tire pressure, but it is important that you know by heart your aircraft limitations to avoid going beyond them. Passing your annual or six months proficiency check doesn’t mean that you are really “proficient” on your aircraft, so pay enough attention to strengthen those areas you feel you need to reinforce.
- Improve your radio communications skills, when talking on the frequency, be precise, short and concise, use standard phraseology and state clearly your intentions, “who you are, where are you, at what time, at what altitude and where you go”. And remember, you are not alone on the radio, so don’t make your radio communications longer than enough. Be helpful with others, if you hear another pilot being unable to contact ATC, help him relaying his messages.
- Improve your communications with others and accept suggestions, CRM is not just another tick in your proficiency box, is a daily exercise, a life style. Make others clear what your intentions are and also consider their suggestions. You don’t need to take all the credit for everything you do, give credit to others and you will feel good about yourself.
And at last, remember that owning your pilot’s license or wearing that nice airline pilot uniform also makes you gentleman, so behave accordingly.