May 2009 Issue

Instrument Rating: The First 100 Hours

You’ll never be more current than the day of your checkride, but getting and staying proficient requires developing a plan and sticking with it.

Congratulations! You’ve just passed your instrument practical test. A significant achievement, requiring much more discipline and learning than even the private pilot exam. Or maybe you’ve held your instrument rating for a while, but you’ve never developed a plan to improve your skills. You may have even let your skills erode in some areas, to the extent you couldn’t pass every task if you had to retake the practical test today. Unfortunately, most pilots get handed the proverbial "license to learn" by a pilot examiner, then don’t really know what to do next except "go out and fly." To avoid aimlessness or atrophy of your instrument skills and the life-threatening danger aimlessness breeds, first ask yourself what type of flying—personal transportation, time-sensitive business flying, etc.—you plan to do. Commit to a goal, whether it’s simply maintaining your skills at basic IFR levels, advancing beyond your current capabilities, or aiming for airline transport pilot standards. Then map out a program for the next 100 flight hours to develop and hone the necessary skills. Emphasis should be on safety, aimed toward what you want to do with airplanes. Be serious, but keep it interesting, challenging and fun.

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