Fly it like an airline pilot

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.

This week I had an opportunity to take some real instrument flights, including one that was all instrument from takeoff to touchdown – a rarity in an area that sees lots of clouds, but lots of thunderstorms.

Flying in the clouds over West Virginia. We skimmed the tops until our descent, and then popped out at about 1,000 feet.

Flying in the clouds over West Virginia. We skimmed the tops until our descent, and then popped out at about 1,000 feet.

When you’re in the clouds, you don’t have time to reinvent the wheel. There are procedures for a reason: because they work, and you have to follow them because you know it’s the right thing to do. When you’re receiving descent instructions, vectors, approach clearances and traffic advisories, you don’t have time to change your plans. You have to be ready to do the right thing at the right time, based on the planning you did on the ground and the training you’ve received.

But to see the runway pop out at the end of a successful instrument approach, is the most worthwhile reward for all that hard work.

Photo and Video Credits to Adar Lotan, who also served as my copilot and is an amazing aviator.