AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 96

P&E

PROFICIENCY

The pursuit
of proficiency
Reinstating your flight instructor certificates
BY JAMES RUSH MANLEY

eights were well below standards. Did it
matter that I hadn't done any for a couple of decades? The director of training
I reported to said, "Practice, then retake
what you missed." In doing that, I learned
five principles for pursuing proficiency.
1. CURRENCY FEEDS PROFICIENCY

96 | AOPA PILOT December 2020

rain morphed the same dirt into a sticky
morass or slick mud, depending upon that
strip's composition. Dry grass shortened
landing rolls but increased takeoff rolls.
Wet grass became ice-slick for landing but
clung even harder for takeoff.
Our VFR and (legal) IFR, pre-GPS navigation relied on dead reckoning beyond
30 DME from the sole VOR. Away from the
mountains, all treetops looked alike over
hundreds of square miles, but learning to
identify rivers by color enhanced situational awareness.
Before jungle flying, I operated an FBO
and taught a lot of people to fly. I flew Part
135 SEL and MEL air taxi, and air attack
for the U.S. Forest Service. So, I felt my
confidence was reasonable.
That assumption proved incorrect.
I busted the checkride. And I couldn't
disagree with the examiner. My lazy

JOHN SAUER

PIECE OF CAKE, I thought when my former
flight organization asked me to fill a specialized training niche their regular staff
was too busy to cover. All I had to do was
reinstate my CFI/II. Brush up on maneuvers and review regs. How hard can it be?
I would return to the right seat of
a Cessna 172 after 4,000 hours driving
Cessna 185s and Cessna 206s from the
left seat in the Amazon jungle and Andes
Mountains-followed by more than a
decade of occasional GA flying in the
United States.
Our average jungle strip was 1,500 feet
long. Thirty percent were one way, regardless of wind. Ten percent required an abort
decision before touching the ground and
70 percent wouldn't allow gross weight
takeoffs.
These runway surfaces changed daily,
sometimes hourly. Dry dirt was rough, but

The memory of doing something well is
not the same thing as doing it well now.
The famous violinist, Jascha Heifetz, said,
"If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If
I don't practice for two days, the critics
know it. And if I don't practice for three
days, the public knows it."
Despite scientific roots, piloting
remains part art. We train our hand-eye
coordination to flare for landing or intercept a localizer. But without periodic
reinforcement, kinesthetic skill fades and
only visual memory remains. If I took a
weeklong vacation from jungle flying, I
needed a full day to regain my edge.
To pursue proficiency:
* Fly often. Frequent short flights reinforce habits more than occasional long
flights.
* Schedule monthly practice sessions
without passengers.
Make every operation count. For example, call out where your wheels will leave
the ground on takeoff; call out which stripe
your main gear will straddle when you
touch down; hold all headings within plus
or minus 5 degrees, then 2 degrees and altitudes within plus or minus 100 feet, then
plus or minus 50 feet, then plus 50 feet and
minus 0 feet; hold ILS and LPV needle deviations to plus or minus one dot, then plus or
minus half a dot; calculate fuel burn for your
next cross country, compare your estimate
with the actual fuel burn, and debrief about
reasons for the discrepancy; use the FAA's



AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 7
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover4
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