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Opinion: Suggestions on Keeping Up with Your Flight Training During COVID-19
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced many non-essential businesses to shut down and the majority of the population to stay at home, resulting in an unprecedented impact on the aviation industry. Major airlines have parked much of their fleet following the decline in passenger numbers. Many pilots around the world have been furloughed or put on reserve as their carriers struggle to successfully navigate the crisis.
Here in Pennsylvania, where I live, shutdowns of non-essential businesses started three weeks ago. Stay at home orders soon followed for certain counties before the entire state issued the blanket order to remain indoors. I am currently working on my private pilot certificate and on March 20, 2020, my flight school had to cease flight training operations, in order to comply with Pennsylvania’s shut down of all “non-life-sustaining” businesses.
The mandatory closures have presented an unexpected challenge for those of us that are working on various ratings, whether it be private pilot, instrument, or commercial. How can we successfully keep our skills sharp and keep up with our training in light of the COVID-19 related restrictions? We all know that there is no substitute for being in the airplane, but here are some suggestions to keep yourself immersed in aviation.
Review your checklists. You do not have to be in the airplane to use your checklists. Reviewing your checklists as part of your “stay at home flight” routine will keep important items fresh in your mind and reinforce the importance of checklist usage in the airplane.
Keep an open dialogue with your instructor, remember, he is most likely sitting at home with no work. Your instructor can be a great resource for guiding you on what to focus on, plan ahead and find out what you will be studying the next time you climb inside your aircraft.
Utilize flight simulators. There is a wide array of desktop and mobile flight simulator offerings and although they cannot substitute actual flying, home simulators are a great way to keep your workflow practices fresh. I enjoy using the Infinite Flight mobile flight simulator, but there are many great simulators out there to choose from.
Use computer-based pilot study aids. There are a number of computer-based study aids available to pilots to help with preparation for written examinations. Some flight schools also include a computer-based learning component of private pilot training. Now is a great time to use these study aids to their full capability.
Take advantage of aviation content available on YouTube and other social media outlets. The aviation community is great at producing and consuming online content. There are numerous amounts of great aviation content available that can help your learning. Remember to assess content carefully and take time to understand what is intended for entertainment and what is intended to help you learn.
Read organizational publications. Organizations like AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) and EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) issue regular publications to its members. Such publications are great resources for content specifically designed to help you in your training. All too often these publications go unread, take the time to read them, they are most definitely worthwhile.
Use the NTSB Aviation Accident Database. The National Transportation Safety Board maintains a database of civil aviation accidents and incidents in the United States going back to 1962. The database is a great learning tool to educate yourself about aviation mistakes that were made so you do not end up repeating them. I also highly recommend taking a look at the FAA’s Runway Safety Pilot Simulator which is available on the FAA’s website.
The COVID-19 crisis has presented those of us learning to fly with the challenge of keeping up with training without the ability to be in the airplane. With any level of flying, from countryside pleasure flights to a commercial operation flying 170 passengers from A to B, the key to success with any flight is to always plan ahead of the aircraft. In the circumstances we face today, being grounded is no excuse not to plan ahead of our training in anticipation to hit the ground (or air) running. I hope that with the suggestions above you are able to stay motivated and keep yourself fully immersed in aviation. We all hope to be back in the air soon.
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