I try to fly our airplane at least once every two weeks because just as its not good for a plane to just sit in a hangar, its also not good when a pilot doesnt practice their skills. Sometimes, even on clear days, I will fly instrument approaches at a nearby Class C airport. I do this for several reasons: to verify that all of the navigational instruments work properly, to practice working with ATC and if things dont work, I am in VFR conditions and am at very little risk.
Full disclosure: I suck at holds. I can find the fix and figure out the recommended entry method without too much trouble. And I usually turn the correct direction upon crossing the holding fix. Usually. After that, things start to become loosely held, and it might take me a couple of laps to nail the wind correction angles. Throw in a descent while in the hold and my cockpit gets busy. I guess thats why the FAA a few years ago added holding patterns to the maneuvers required to accomplish an instrument proficiency check. Its all my fault.
Like it or not, winter weather is upon us here in North America. After a few brief weeks of not as much thunderstorm activity, were headed squarely into a a couple of months featuring widespread near-freezing temperatures and precipitation. From storing our airplane, to preflighting it, picking a route and ensuring our destination doesnt have any slippery surprises, winter weather will have an impact on our operations, likely even if we stay in the pattern at a Southern California airport.
Its basic human nature that we often want to improve the efficiency of the things we do. Its also human nature to be skeptical when were offered something of value that carries little or no cost: Wheres the catch? What am I giving up to benefit from this largesse? These can be legitimate questions, and they deserve detailed answers, no matter whats being offered. When considering how pilots use the mixture control to manage aircraft piston engines, desires to improve efficiency and healthy skepticism can intersect.
Notams have had a rocky decade, getting most of the blame in 2010 when the FAA accused U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) of landing on a closed runway in Texas. He maintained he researched applicable Notams as part of his preflight planning, but didnt find one for his destination. The FAA didnt agree and brought an enforcement action against the Senator. In turn, Inhofe developed and in 2012 saw enacted the Pilots Bill of Rights, which among other things mandated an overhaul of the Notam system. Subsequent legislation-2015s Pilots Bill of Rights 2, also by Inhofe-sought to further improve the Notam experience for pilots. Its the legislation that created the BasicMed option to traditional FAA medical certificates.