The modern era of GPS and the iPad has opened up a new world of technology options for pilots in the cockpit. The development of GPS allows pilots to know with absolute certainty their positions on earth at any given moment. And the advent of services like XM Weather and ForeFlight Stratus open up a whole host of new options for seeing the weather in real time.
The day you earn your private pilot’s certificate, people are quick to tell you that you’ve just received your “license to learn.” And with a little more than 40 hours under your belt, you’re keenly aware of how much you just don’t yet know. In fact, the most terrifying flight of my life was probably the short hop from Frederick to Gaithersburg whilst the ink dried on my temporary certificate.
For most pilots, they never fly as often as they like and the flights they do fly are never as long as they desire. But for most pilots, they try to get out and fly once or twice a month, sometimes more or less depending on their schedules.
A little more than a year after hearing the words, “you’re a pilot now”, I earned my instrument rating and thus the right to fly through the clouds, rain and other weather. I took my instrument airplane checkride with Robert (Bob) Gawler at Gaithersburg, and despite being the more difficult checkride, it was a worthwhile experience.
From the very beginning of training pilots are taught the importance of the go/no-go decision. They’re taught it’s not a decision that’s ever completely made; instead it changes even in flight depending on the conditions. The decision is only final once the plane has landed at it’s destination.
Last week, I had absolutely perfect flying weather and I decided that I would take a trip to visit a coworker in Raleigh, NC. Since FAR 61.65 (d)(1) requires any pilot applying for an instrument rating to have 50 hours of cross country time as pilot in command, it’s important for pilots to find every opportunity they can to accumulate cross country time. A round trip to Raleigh is 4 hours, offering plenty of opportunity to rack up some hours.