Learning to Learn
Several students have asked me how to continue to improve as pilots once they get their license. Continuing ed, reading, online sources, additional ratings are all effective ways. But there is also one simple way. If you think about flying as a doctor thinks about his skills, that is he “Practices” medicine it becomes evident that being a pilot is a continuum of learning experiences. What’s a “learning experience”? It’s when you are on a flight and something you didn’t anticipate occurs. For example, the ground speed is slower than planned or there is more turbulence than you expected or you forgot to lean the engine when you climbed above the recommended altitude for leaning. ANYTHING that is unusual or unexpected becomes an opportunity for learning. To make it count you have to self analyze. You have to recognize the unusual event and dissect it. Why was the wind off plan? Did you misinterpret the forecast or was the forecast wrong? If the forecast was wrong what factors could have contributed (front movements, temperature change, etc.).
Then you have to record the learning experience. I’ve found the best place to do that is right in the logbook. Don’t be afraid to use more than one line for a single flight. Nothing in the FARs says you have to put each flight on only one line!