Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

By Aerials
I don't know if you are aware but the BMAA have their Wings Award Scheme that encourages us to be 'better pilots'. https://www.bmaa.org/information-library/wings You can see this as a non-member and get some useful ideas at least.

I live and operate in a large area of Class G close to the Welsh border and I'd be very much a fish out of water if I had to fly in your neck of the woods. Although not newly licenced like you, I have my FRTOL but never crossed controlled airspace or a MATZ or any of the other things you mention. My flying partner and I have been to the Welsh West coast and Caernarfon, crossing the Cambrian mountains at a touch over 3,000', dodging around the higher peaks on the way just for fun. I wish I had an instructor on my strip who could look over my planning and reassure me that I have it right, but I don't and so I'm a bit of a caged bird keen but anxious to fly in the wider spaces!
My only tip for you is to use your instructor(s) where you can and if in a 2-seater take another experienced pilot.
T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By GrahamB
@Aerials I'm a CRI and AOPA mentor based at Welshpool, and have been for over twenty five years.

I'm always happy to give advice to fellow pilots - you can PM me for contact details if you are interested. We may not be able to meet face to face right now, but there are other ways.
T6Harvard, Aerials liked this
User avatar
By Morten
Aerials wrote:I don't know if you are aware but the BMAA have their Wings Award Scheme that encourages us to be 'better pilots'. https://www.bmaa.org/information-library/wings You can see this as a non-member and get some useful ideas at least.

There is also the LAA wings concept: http://www.lightaircraftassociation.co. ... epage.html.
Morten wrote:
Aerials wrote:I don't know if you are aware but the BMAA have their Wings Award Scheme that encourages us to be 'better pilots'. https://www.bmaa.org/information-library/wings You can see this as a non-member and get some useful ideas at least.

There is also the LAA wings concept: http://www.lightaircraftassociation.co. ... epage.html.

AOPA have one too, they all work pretty much the same way.

I went for the LAA gold wings, which was enjoyable. and fitted my flying patterns and interests at that time. I might at some point have a go at separately doing the BMAA one just for the fun, but am not presently flying any microlights sadly.

User avatar
By akg1486
I’m not an instructor, but my three top tips are these:

1. Don’t take on too many new things in a single flight. For example, if you feel unsure about having two different routing options, one with a zone transit and one backup without, don’t choose a complicated alternative with many restricted areas to navigate. And try to set new challenges for yourself on days when weather isn’t a factor.

2. Try to find a pilot buddy to fly with, like in the post above with two new pilots trying higher altitudes together. You are fully responsible in the LHS, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t helpful to have someone to discuss with.

3. Until you know how you cope with new challenges, meet them alone or with another pilot. Don’t bring non-pilot friends on flights where you know you’ll be pushing the boundaries of experience.

Good luck and happy flying!
Rob P, johnm, T6Harvard liked this
User avatar
By defcribed
One of the biggest benefits of flying a bit higher (above say 3,000-4,000ft) is that the amount of traffic rapidly drops off to a point where it just isn't a factor.

Most traffic goes unseen no matter how close it is, so the only real way to know how much traffic is about is to take a traffic service from ATC or have some sort of EC display. As an experiment if you were to fly the same route under a traffic service at 2,000ft and then again at 6,000ft, you'll find an enormous difference in the amount of traffic ATC advise you of.

There is nothing special about 3,000ft but it is true that not much PPL training goes higher - simply because there isn't much reason to and because BKN030 is fairly common weather in the UK. Flying higher during PPL training would also increase the need to teach proper mixture management and there are a number of barriers to this, not least a lack of knowledge, a lack of time to teach something reasonably complex and a lack of useful engine instrumentation in training aircraft. Nearly all of my PPL training was done with the red lever fully forward.

If you're picking a cruise altitude when planning a VFR route and are looking at it from a 'mission' perspective, then generally speaking it is advantageous to choose as high an altitude as possible within the limits imposed by Class A airspace and weather. Consider also whether the route/leg is long enough to make the climb worthwhile, and of course if the wind is against you then higher usually means slower. You also need to know about mixture, and that's an issue you'll probably have to research for yourself. 'Pull it back a tiny bit at higher altitudes', which is the limit of much PPL training, is not sufficient knowledge - and while you can cruise at 6,000ft full-rich or just pulled back a bit, doing so rather defeats the point.
User avatar
By David Wood
flyingearly wrote:
So, ramble over, it would be great if there existed some kind of post-qualification 'skills checklist' for all the new, novel things to tick off and stretch yourself against in order to expand your skillset, rather than bimbling below 3k feet around your local AD.

Some years ago I posed the following list of rhetorical questions in an attempt to stimulate (or maybe just provoke) some post-qualification wing-streching amongst the cohort of qualified pilots flying from where I was then Head of Training. It was based on the observation that a surprising number of pilots turning up for their biennial flight with an FI have really not pushed the envelope at all in the preceding 24 months.

I suggested that they consider if any of the following apply to them, and if they do, what do they plan to do about it:
....I haven’t done any stalling
....I haven’t done any steep turns
....I haven’t been out of the circuit
....I haven’t done a practised forced landing
....I’ve not practised steep gliding turns
....I’ve not practised diving-off height
....I’ve always recovered at the first sign of the stall
....I haven’t practised recovering from a wing-drop in the stall
....I haven’t practised stalling in a turn
....I haven’t practiced stalling on the climb-out
....I’ve not called for a practice fix on 121.5
....I’ve not flown further than the local area
....I’ve not been above 5,000’
....I’ve not been above broken or scattered cloud
....I’ve not been above a layer of solid cloud and found my way down
....I break off any practice forced landings at 500’
....I have not glided to a touchdown from high over an airfield
....I have not flown at night
....I have not flown with the visibility less than 5km
....I’ve not flown in cloud
....I’ve not fixed my position using only radio navigation aids
....I’ve not practised the drills for a fire in the air
....I’ve not practised a rejected take-off
....I’ve not practised an engine failure after take-off
....I’ve not landed at another airfield
....I’ve not flown to the Continent
....I’ve not practised holding a course with an unserviceable DI
....I’ve not flown over water
....I’ve not flown over mountains
....I’ve not practised flying with a simulated blocked static vent or iced-up pitot
....I’ve not done a full weight and balance calculation
....I’ve not calculated the take-off performance for my aircraft
....I’ve not recovered from a spin
....I’ve not experienced basic aerobatics
....I’ve not flown a leg of more than 150nm
....I’ve not flown through controlled airspace (a MATZ doesn’t count!)
....I’ve not flown close to London and under the London TMA
....I’ve not used the listening squawk system
....I’ve not practised a bad weather circuit
....I’ve not practised a precautionary landing
....I’ve not been above 10,000’
....I have not practised low-level navigation
....I have not done an overnight land-away
....I have not leaned the engine
....I have not practised side-slipping
....I have not practised a flapless landing
....I’ve not really understood how to do a Met Assessment
....I’ve not practised a short-field landing
....I have not flown when the wind is above 20kts on the ground
....I have not taken off or landed with a cross-wind of more than 15kts
....I have not practised a kick-off (crabbed) cross-wind landing
....I have not practised a wing-down cross-wind landing
....I have not practised tracking to/from a VOR beacon
....I have not practised tracking to/from a NDB beacon
....I have not flown into a busy (non GA) airport
....I have not crossed Salisbury Plain Danger Area
....I have not crossed through Solent CTR/CTA
....I haven’t practised what to do if the engine runs rough but doesn’t quit
....I have not carried any passengers
....I have not practised an in-flight diversion
....I have not filed a flight plan
....I have not used a moving map
....I have not rehearsed ditching drills
....I have not flown semi circular levels
....I have not flown in formation
....I’ve not practised an approach to land with the ASI, Altimeter or Tacho blanked off
....I have not practised recovering from unusual attitudes
....I have not used a Traffic Service from ATC
....I have not used the local Flight Information Service (London Info)
....I have not flown a complex aircraft (retractable u/c and CS propeller)
....I have not practised the emergency undercarriage extension drill
....I have not flown a tail-dragger
....I have not seen the world from upside down
....I’ve not practised maintaining altitude whilst flying at the slowest possible airspeed
....I have not taken an aeroplane up to its VNE

In any event, there's a good start for things to do to widen your horizons...
AndyR, Cessna571, JAFO liked this