Pilot Proficiency & Flight Reviews

What is "proficiency"? one definition is a high degree of competence or skill; expertise.

My personal definition of pilot proficiency training is anything the increases a pilot's current level of confidence, skill, or competence. This can be focusing on improving a pilot's crossswind landing competence and confidence. It can be developing a new skill such as learning a new type of aircraft or learning how to fly safely in the mountains and at really high density altitudes. It can be learning how to fly in some of the busiest airspace in the United States by learning how to fly the San Francisco Bay Tour. It can be practicing engine out and emergency procedures. It can be as simple as a flight review or just a flight with a CFI to "knock the rust off" if you've been away from flying for longer than you're comfortable. This section describes some of the pilot proficiency training we can do. Contact me and we can create a proficiency training plan to meet your needs.

San Francisco Bay Tour

One of the unique advantages of flying in the Bay Area is our ability to take our family and friends on a unique tour of some of the world's most recognizable landmarks. The Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the Bay Bridge are just some of the spots you can show your family and friends. You can also fly over Stanford Campus, past the Stanford Linear Accelerator, past the Apple "spaceship" campus, over Levis' Stadium (Home of Superbowl 50), around Angel Island and look eye to eye with the peaks of Mount Diablo. That's just what's available within 40 miles of Reid-Hillview going north.

The disadvantage of this view is you have to fly through some of the busiest airspace in the US to get it. While this can be intimidating to many pilots, once you've had a guided tour to the Bay Tour with an experienced CFI the trip becomes relatively simple.

Bay Tour training starts with a review of the airspace you'll be flying through - we don't go around Bravo - we get a Bravo clearance to fly over or near some of the most spectacular views on the west coast. We will talk through the simple procedure to request a Bay Tour. We will review the common landmarks ATC will use to direct us on the route and what to expect as we approach San Franscisco Internatinal Airport. We will also discuss common ways pilots get into trouble when doing the Bay Tour and how to avoid those problems. Then we'll go fly the Bay Tour and you'll get to experience it for yourself. This is typically an hour ground and a 1.2 hour flight. After this you'll be able to confidently request and get a Bay Tour and fly this airspace with your family and friends.

Want to see what a Bay Tour looks like? Click here to view some highlights of a Bay Tour on the way to Charles Schultz Airport in Santa Rosa.

Mountain Training

Another unique advantage to flying in the Bay Area - where else can you fly from sea level to crossing peaks reaching 14,000' high in two hours or less? We have unique and quick access to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area. If you love to ski or hike or camp, why not go by air? One reason not to is not knowing how to fly safely in mountains. Flying near sea level near "mountains" that are no more than 3500' or 4000' high does not prepare a pilot to fly over truly mountainous terrain. Add to the mix very high density altitude and you will discover what the "reduced aircraft performance" you learned about in Private Pilot training really means.

Mountain Training includes discussing what to expect from this reduced aircraft performance. We will review the aircraft's performance charts and what that data means for flying in the higher altitudes. We will discuss the hazards of flying in the mountains and how to mitigate those hazards. Then we will fly up to several mountain airports so you can experience this yourself.

Mountain training is best done in the spring, summer or fall when density altitude is high, in an aircraft that you are very familiar flying. This will give you an opportunity to experience the extremes of aircraft performance that you can expect in high density altitude situations and you'll be able to compare that with the performance you've come to expect from your aircraft.

Flight Review

As you know, the FAA requires pilots to do a Flight Review every 24 calendar months*. This flight review is not a test or a check ride. The minimum requirements for a Flight Review are defined in FAR 61.56. In short it states:

A flight review consists of a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training. The review must include:

  1. A review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91 of this chapter; and
  2. A review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate.
Sounds pretty dry doesn't it? It doesn't have to be. Yes, we have to cover the above but we can make it fun at the same time. For instance, we can combine a flight review with Mountain or Bay Tour training. Or do the flight review and find some crosswinds so you can practice your crosswind landings. The possibilities are endless depending on what you'd like to focus on. A flight review is also a good way to get "back in the saddle" if you've been away from flying for an extended period of time. It doesn't have to be a full two years, we can do a flight review any time. Any time we complete one and I've signed you off, the 24 month timer is reset. Please note: If you have been away from flying for a year or more you can expect it to take more than a single lesson to refresh your flying skills and knowledge. We will take as long as we need to take to get you back up to speed but no longer.

* There are other ways to meet this requirement including completing a phase of the FAA Wings program or by completing a new certificate or rating

Other Proficiency Training

As mentioned earlier, proficiency is anything that improves a pilots skill, confidence and competence. I enjoy working with pilots that sincerely desire to improve their abilities and expand their experience. If you are one of those types of pilots we can have a lot of fun creating a training program that will help you become a more efficient and safer pilot.