25 Tips to be a Better Pilot

Even the most seasoned licensed pilots can always learn tips to be a better pilot.  From the novice to the professional, learning new ways to improve flying ability is crucial to ensuring safe flights and enjoyable experiences for passengers.  These simple tips can keep pilots flying high for many years to come.

1.  Expect to Find Something on Every Pre-Check

Perform every pre-flight check as though you will find something wrong.  Doing so ensures a more thorough flight check, and may prevent oversight of a problem.  If you’re uncertain whether all systems have been checked, do them again in order to be a better pilot.

2.  Learn to Feel What the Plane Tells You

Let your posterior tell you what the plane is doing, by keeping the ball centered.  This helps you be a better pilot as the plane flies in a more centered line, providing a better flight.

3.  Review Your Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) Often

One suggestion to be a better pilot is to put a copy of your POH in your stack of bathroom literature.  There is something to be said about reviewing information while you are a captive audience.

4.  Understand Aerodynamics

Pilots have the basic understanding of how an airplane flies, but to be a better pilot, it is important to understand the many aerodynamic factors that go into the flight of an airplane.  Understanding aerodynamics will put you more in touch with the plane.

5.  Make Every Flight a Learning Experience

It is crucial to make every flight a learning experience, especially if you get less than 35 flight hours per year.  Include a few different types of landings or figure the ETA in your head in order to be a better pilot.

6.  Always Be Aware of What the Nose is Telling You

The primary instrument for airspeed and control in a light aircraft is nose altitude.  The nose tells you what the airplane is going to do next, while the go-fast gauge just repeats what the nose just told you.  To be a better pilot, always know what the nose is telling you.

7.  Ask for Help

Never be ashamed to ask for help.  Pride has probably killed more pilots than any other factor, so if you are not sure, seek help.

8.  Fly with an Instructor at Least Once Per Year

People develop bad habits through the years, and that is why the FAA requires BFR, airline flight checks, and other programs designed to double check the pilot.  Try flying with an instructor once per year, focusing on pattern work, as that uses every flying skill except navigation.

9.  Land on Shorter Runways

Take an instructor out and land on the shortest runway in in area, as landing on the real thing is far better than simulations.

10.  Keep Runway Numbers Stationary

Runway numbers tell you where you are going to touchdown on the runway.  If the numbers move down the windshield, you will go over them.  If the numbers move up the windshield, you will land short.  Keep the numbers stationary in the windshield in order to control your touchdown point.

11.  RPM, Altitude, Attitude

Another way to be a better pilot is to repeat often, “RPM, Altitude, and Attitude.”  This will remind you to check the power, watch the altitude and pay attention to the nose.

12.  Slow Down If You Feel Rushed

Rushing will cause you to make mistakes, so if you begin to feel rushed, stop, take a few seconds and slow down.

13.  Precision is Critical

To be a better pilot, you want the airplane to go exactly where you want it to go, and not approximately where you want it to go.  Therefore, it is crucial to strive for perfection in airspeed, altitude and position.

14.  Fly Using Geography

Look over the nose once you are on course and pick out a geographic feature in the area where you want to go, flying toward it, as opposed to focusing on the GPS.

15.  Be Smooth

Make changes in attitude, power, and configurations using small nudges as opposed to one big change.  This helps you be a better pilot because there is less chance of overshooting a position.

16.  Answer Unanswered Questions

It is impossible for even the best pilot to know everything, and there will be times when something happens that you don’t understand.  If something makes you uneasy or looks unfamiliar, look it up or ask about it.

17.  Planning Ahead

There is no question that to be a better pilot, you must plan ahead, but planning ahead means different things at different times. 

18.  Touch and Go Every Third Landing

To be a better pilot, make at least every third landing a touch and go.  This adds another five minutes to your log book and increases proficiency.  In addition, make one of every five landings on a short or soft field for additional practice.

19.  Touch Down in First 600-800 Feet of Runway

To make landings more accurate, try to touch down in the first 600 to 800 feet of the runway, no matter how long it is.  This will minimize the need for braking and prepare you for runways that are shorter than usual.

20.  Get an Instrument Ticket

Instrument tickets teach precision and a better understanding of the airway system, but it is important to either use the skill often or not at all, as it is not something you can ignore and then decide suddenly to use.

21.  Visit Strange Airports

Try not to become airport-specific by seeking out new airports for landing.  This builds skill and adaptability.

22.  Get a Tailwheel Endorsement

Although not truly a necessity, a tailwheel endorsement improves your flying skills and opens the door to a new breed of airplanes.

23.  Aerobatic Instruction

Like the tailwheel endorsement, this is not necessary, but three hours of aerobatic instruction will increase your confidence and make you a safer, more aware pilot.

24.  Focus

Put yourself in airplane mode before you leave home in order to focus completely on flying.

25.  Fly in a Nasty Crosswind

Go out with an instructor and face the nastiest crosswind you can find, as crosswinds are a problem for almost every pilot.

With these simple tips, you can be a better pilot and provide a safer, more enjoyable experience for yourself and your passengers.

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One thought on “25 Tips to be a Better Pilot

  1. It really helped when you said that focusing as early as leaving home can help pilots perform better. My husband is a pilot and has been practicing what you said since he started flying. I guess it helps calm the nerves and make him more efficient at work. He would always tell stories about the flights he had to our son, Jackson. Apparently, all those stories had rubbed off because our son is now so intent on following after his dad’s footsteps. This reminds that I’m actually looking for a clinic that performs aviation medical exams. My son needs one so he can get his flight training started.

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