Most flying clubs have a Currency Policy. We do too. Members must fly at least once every 90 days in order to maintain flight privileges with the club. Beyond 90 days, members are asked to fly with a flight instructor to show their skills have not decayed and that they remain safe for flight.
San Carlos Flight Center’s new Developmental Currency
At San Carlos Flight Center, we are also trying out a new approach – Development Currency. We believe a good pilot is always learning something, always seeking to be a safer, more competent pilot. We like to fly with those people. We like improving our skills and encourage others to do so as well. We actively support a positive safety culture, and continual learning makes for safe pilots as is more fun.
While not set in stone, San Carlos Flight Center supports a Six-Month Developmental Currency. Every six months, each of our members should be working on something – some way to develop themselves as pilots. This could mean undertaking training for a new rating or certificate. Or it could mean getting checked out in a new aircraft. San Carlos Flight Center CFIs regularly host Safety Seminars and other fun ground training events that are easy ways to keep learning. It will be different for each member, but we strongly encourage everyone to seek out new training to keep moving forward.
Sometimes the right way to move forward is to take a step back.
Often a private pilot will pass his or her checkride, despite having an area or two of weakness. As a flight instructor, I see it most often when people come back for their first Flight Review. Taxi skills that were never really perfected. Lack of rudder coordination. Loss of precision during climbing turns. Unstable approaches. Rushed flares and landings. It’s often said that a Private Pilot certificate is a license to learn. Once you have it, there is still a lifetime of fine tuning your skills to be the best you can be.
Every six months, why not pick one aspect of your flying and make it a goal to make it a little better. Take a flight or two and work with an instructor to make yourself a more skilled, more confidant pilot in an area that has given you.
The Proficient Private Pilot Assessment
If you’re looking for ways to continue to improve your skills, grab a San Carlos Flight Center flight instructor and do a Proficient Private Pilot assessment. Find out what areas would most benefit from some additional attention. The following list contains skill areas that are commonly found as weaknesses on Private Pilot flight reviews. Which one might you work on next?
- Eyes Outside. Using the horizon as a guide in straight and level flight, and when making changes to pitch, bank, and heading.
- Pitch Management. Using discrete pitch attitudes and correct trim technique.
- Rudder Coordination. Correcting for adverse yaw in turns, climbing turns, and clearing turns.
- Taxi Technique. Direction control and speed control without riding the brakes. Crosswind taxi technique.
- Airport Pattern Operations. Pattern shape. Wind correction. Stabilized approach. Smooth flare and touchdown.
- Crosswind Takeoff and Landing. Confidence and stability using proper crosswind technique.
- Untowered Airport Operations. Position reporting. Pattern identification and entry.
- GPS Proficiency. Competency in using GPS courses, flight plans, and databases.
- Navigation Skills. Course Tracking. Heading vs. course using wind correction.
- Autopilot Proficiency. Understanding the autopilot. Ability to reliability use it in normal flight and emergencies.
- High-Altitude Airport Operations. Performance management and safety when operating at high elevations.
- ATC Services. Competency using ATC radar services, Class B transitions, Class C entry, arrival and departure.
- In-Flight Support Services. Using FlightWatch, FSS flight plans, and filing PiReps.
- Preflight Competency. Understanding weather reports and forecasts, NOTAMs, TFRs, and other planning services.
- Charts and Publications. Fully understanding VFR Charts, A/FDs, the AIM, and ACs.
- Engine Out. Solid preparation for engine failures at altitude, on takeoff, and in the traffic pattern.
- Fires and Other Emergencies. Procedural training for the unexpected.
- Engine Management. Lean procedures for all phases of flight. Hot starts. Flooding. Temperature management.
Positive Safety Culture
San Carlos Flight Center hopes that our members will join us in promoting a positive safety culture, one based on continual learning. We will provide regular opportunities for our members to learn from themselves, from other members, and from our experience flight instructors. Take the lead in your own development and choose something new to work on every six months. Or work with an instructor to improve an already existing skill. The improvement will make you a safer, more confident and competent pilot.