stick & rudder
How to stay aviation-minded
KATHLEEN WINTERS, EAA 756678
Fornearlynineyears, Ididn’tfly. A forced break from flying is not unusual, especially among women. According to flight
instructors I talked with, women more often interrupt
their training than men, and they’re slower to resume
it. I won’t speculate on why, but with our busy lives it’s
not surprising that hobbies become a luxury for both
men and women who struggle to find time to fit in flying
and aircraft building with other responsibilities. Within
a few years, though, many people return to aviation and
embrace it anew.
Still, a dry spell from aviation
is akin to living without
spiritual nourishment. The
passion for flying and working
with planes simmers without
feeding, but it never dies. How
can we feed it—inexpensively—
when we’re grounded?
It’s wise to remember
that once a pilot, always a
pilot, because your FAA certificate doesn’t expire. True,
your flying privileges may lapse for various reasons,
among them the loss of a medical certificate or a failure
to complete a biennial flight review, but once these are
satisfied you’re signed off to fly again. Having earned a
certificate, you’ve officially joined aviation, a lifelong link.
Whether a student or certificated pilot, remember that
the time and money you’ve invested and the skills you’ve
acquired show a significant commitment and represent
discipline, intelligence, and hard work on your part.
Jim Hanson, longtime flight instructor and fixed base
operator (FBO) at Albert Lea Municipal Airport (AEL) in
Minnesota, recommends that inactive pilots “visit websites
of airports, obtain weather information off the computer,
and plan flights in various aircraft with the tools you have.
Break out the charts, plotter, and E-6B.” The practice will
keep you sharp, he adds, and one day you might have a
chance to fly what you’ve planned.
A 29,000-hour pilot rated in many aircraft, Jim also
thinks pilots returning to aviation should concentrate on
ground refresher work, with the aid of an instructor and
technical manuals, before even considering a biennial
…have a plan and resolve to remain
active in aviation.
Add a Rating
When I asked Patricia “Pat” Hange, glider and airplane
instructor since the 1960s, how to get the rust off, she
suggested that pilots add a transition rating to their
certificate. (Pat is also an airframe and powerplant
mechanic with instruction authorization who received
the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award.) She points
out that one such transition is a “glider add-on to a power
license. Learning to fly gliders benefits a pilot’s stick
and rudder skills.” Pat’s experience tells her that while
returning pilots are “mentally prepared for flight, they
have difficulties physically, as far as flying with precision