June 2011 Issue

Do You Need To Set Personal Minimums?

Pilots who set hard rules for when they won’t fly may never gain the experience and confidence to deal with the everyday challenges they’ll eventually encounter.

Those who successfully earn the private certificate or an instrument rating are told many things along the way. Among them is their hard-fought goal is a license to learn; they should carefully consider the first few hours they spend aloft without someone in the right seat; they should consider setting something called "personal minimums" for themselves. All of these suggestions can be helpful to someone who hasn’t fully considered all the responsibilities and freedoms their new certificate or rating affords. Meanwhile, some would suggest the best advice a new pilot could receive is "just go fly." Personal minimums, of course, generally are a set of conditions—not unlike the basic VFR weather minimums or the ceiling and visibility requirements for an instrument approach, but also involving other operational considerations—beyond which a pilot vows not to fly.

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