August 29, 2010

Preflight Briefing: Preparing for a Safe Flight

My first Certified Flight Instructor had just completed her own training at the Delta Connection Academy when we started flying together. In retrospect I really benefited from her advanced training. One of the first things she taught me was how to provide a thorough preflight briefing. The practice of giving a briefing before every flight is one I have practiced ever since.

During the Chicago Air & Water Show I had the honor to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels in their C-130 known as Fat Albert. Major Brendan Burks gave the most impressive preflight briefing I have ever experienced before our flight, setting the bar high for all my future preflight briefings (see video below). Prior to the flight he addressed the crew and explained in detail the current conditions, planned maneuvers and how the crew would address any emergency should it arise. It was clear to everyone involved what to expect during the flight and who would be responsible for various aspects of the flight, mission accomplished.

We don't all have the privilege to fly a four-fanned C-130 supporting the Blue Angels, but we can strive to bring that level of forethought, professionalism and preparedness to each of our flights. Whether you are flying with other pilots, passengers or flying solo I think it is extremely valuable to verbally walk through aspects of your upcoming flight including emergency procedures.

I am fairly particular about who I choose to fly with and one immediate turn-off is when another pilot neglects to provide a preflight briefing. On the flip side, I am immediately put at ease when I share a cockpit with someone who takes time to conduct a proper briefing like Major Burks of the Blue Angels or as was the case with Rod Rakic of myTransponder last summer.

I think the video below will inspire you to work on your preflight briefing routine before your next flight. Looking for some additional tips? Check out Paul's post on Ask a Flight Instructor for some sample scripts. Also, Jason Miller of FinerPoints published a podcast several years back that gives some tips on giving an effective preflight briefing.


Posted at 5:22 PM | Post Category: Flight Lesson, Ground School | Comments (12) | Save & Share This Story

May 26, 2008

Private Pilots License - A License to Learn

Every pilot has heard it at some point that a Private Pilot's License is just a license to learn. Although the statement is a bit of a cliché, it is a very valuable statement. Paul Craig's book "The Killing Zone: How and Why Pilots Die" speaks to how the hours of flying between earning a private pilots license and hitting the 500 hour mark are the most dangerous hours for a pilot. It turns out a pilot is often a safer pilot while actively working towards earning his or her license then he or she is in the next 400 - 500 hours of flying. I think that is because to many pilots are actively involved in training and learning before earning their license and many do not continue to stay proficient in their knowledge and continue to learn about flying after earning their Pilots license.

I continually enjoy going back to my Sporty's Private Pilot Flight Training DVD Course for refresher training. I also enjoy reading aviation blogs and listening to aviation podcasts like The Finer Points to keep aviation topics and best practices top of mind.

I have found that learn best when I have a combination of clear explanations and also great visual references. My interest in seeing something visualized drew me to Rod Machado's Private Pilot Handbook that boasts over 1,200 illustrations and photos that help visualize aviation concepts.

I recently enjoyed coming across a website that uses flash animations to animate aviation concepts, FirstFlight.com. The site is managed by Trevor Saxty, a Gold Seal Flight Instructor with single, multi-engine and instrument ratings. The site is sure to point out that "the online lessons are not a substitute for study of the Pilots Operating Handbook/Airplane Flight Manual for the airplane you intend to fly."

The lessons available on the site, which range from how to perform a pre-flight of an airplane to flying a cross-country flight using radio navigation, are a great complimentary resource for aviation education. What makes the site unique to the many websites and books focusing on aviation education are the animations that help visualize some of the aviation concepts. For $49.99 a pilot can access the site for six months and have unlimited access to the content during that time frame. Interested in checking out the site? Trevor allows free access to Flight #7 Advanced Takeoff and Landing Techniques. Click on the image below to visit Flight Seven and check out some of the animations.

first_flight.jpg