Do Ya Feel Lucky?


This thing we call luck is merely professionalism and attention to detail, it’s your awareness of everything that is going on around you, it’s how well you know and understand your airplane and your own limitations. Luck is the sum total of your abilities as an aviator. If you think your luck is running low, you’d better get busy and make some more. Work harder. Pay more attention. – Stephen Coonts

According to the FAA, flight training has changed very little since the dawn of regulated aviation. In fact, a private pilot trained to standards outlined in the Civil Aeronautics Regulations, circa the 1940s, would likely do quite well in most operations required by todays practical test. This is because many of the basic skills needed to pilot an aircraft have changed very little. However, the development of new technologies and a rapidly evolving airspace system have outpaced current training methods. Moreover, the FAA and the flight training community now have over a centurys worth of experience upon which to draw when determining how best to train pilots. While the military and airline communities have leveraged this experience, the general aviation community has been slow to make use of the lessons learned.

What has resulted from the GA communitys failure to adapt? In the vast majority of fatal GA accidents, the root causes were found to be a lack of situational awareness and poor aeronautical decision-making. Currently, pilot training standards focus less on these factors, and more on the development of mechanical, or stick and rudder skills. While such skills must never be neglected, most fatal accidents are not a result of deficiencies in these areas.

If you dont think youre getting enough training, youre probably not getting enough training. While it might be expensive, boring, time-consuming and hard work, the effort isnt without its benefits. Practicing engine-out approaches, flying at the airplanes best glide or single-engine rate of climb speed, using altitude as energy and knowing what to look for during a pre-flight inspection are just some of the ways we make our own luck. – J.B.


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