One of the things that sticks with me from my instrument training is the saying of my flight instructor Meredith, who taught me “each time you fly, fly like an airline pilot!” What she meant in that is follow the checklist, be procedural in how you approach aviation, follow the rules, and be methodical. This approach to flying, especially on instruments has meant a lot to me as I’ve developed my piloting skills.
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.
I’m one of a small subset of people who makes crucial decisions based on weather forecasts. Among pilots, the weather is one of the most important and oft-discussed components of aviation. After all, weather mistakes can be fatal: an encounter with a building thunderstorm, a run-in with icing conditions, a chance meeting with wind shear at low altitudes. Pilots pay careful attention to the weather because their lives depend upon it. So naturally, I pay close attention to forecasts at all times of the year.