Happy New Year!
2017 has flown by (pun intended) like a P51 on a strafing run. Now that Santa has eaten the last of the Christmas cookies, many of us look forward to the year ahead with the encouragement and enthusiasm of resolutions. The standard resolutions: losing weight, read more books (watch less television), volunteer, etc. are all noble causes. But for pilots, we should include our own aviation resolution category. Here are five resolutions from some of my fellow pilots at Sporty’s Pilot Shop.
I can almost guarantee that you won’t be able to fly as much as you intend. Inevitably, there will be some part of your skill set that will wither. For me, it’s IFR currency. I let it slip and now must recruit a CFI-I to conduct an instrument proficiency. While I’ll be a better pilot for it in the end, I’ll aim to stay instrument current during the year.
If you haven’t flown at night for a few months, you may consider three landings (must be to a full stop) before your spouse requests a weekend getaway. Tailwheel, seaplane, glider, multi-engine… all require a different skill set. Resolve to get current (or maybe even earn a new rating) in at least one of those areas.
Attend a Fly In
As they say, birds of a feather flock together. Pilots certainly qualify as such birds and airports are where we flock. This year, make it a point to experience aviation at its finest. Even if you can’t make it to the granddaddy of them all, Airventure in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, try to make it to a regional fly-in or at least a pancake breakfast. For a list of Fly-ins, check out socialflight.com. There are so many good options to choose.
Take a friend flying
Hobbies are more fun when you have more people to share in the pleasures. Spread the joy of aviation by taking someone flying. I’m sure you probably remember your first flight. Give someone else that special memory by introducing them to the wonders of flight. If you are really generous and passionate, connect with your local EAA chapter and fly Young Eagles. Giving youth their first taste of flight will be mutually beneficial.
Fly for a weekend getaway
What good is a pilot’s license if you don’t use it? Aviation adventures abound within a couple hours of flight time from your home airport. Go find that special place and create your next “remember that time…” story. Looking for some good ideas? Adventurepilot.com has a great database of destinations near you or along your route of flight. A couple of my personal favorites are Rough River State Park in Kentucky (2I3) and Put-In-Bay near Sandusky Ohio (3W2). Both offer convenient options for airplanes and pilots.
Log time in an aircraft you’ve never flown before
Expand your horizons (yep, another pun intended) this year. Instead of logging time in the same old FBO Cherokee or Skyhawk, try something new. There are lots of flight schools that will provide an hour flight in an aircraft you’ve never flown. Try your hand at a Cirrus; introduce yourself to a old multi-engine trainer; or hop in a glider or tail-dragger. You might learn something new, be a better pilot for it, and create a lasting “remember when” story.
If you’re feeling obligated to make the standard “lose weight” resolution this year, at least shape the resolution around your passion for flying. For example, improving your aircraft useful load by 20 pounds sounds much appealing than skipping dessert for the next three months.