As I intimated in my earlier post, changes to my monetary situation mean I probably won’t be flying a real airplane for quite some time. I’m not happy about it, but until things improve there are other ways to stay sharp.
I read voraciously, and a large part of my reading diet consists of airplane books: Stick and Rudder, The Proficient Pilot, IFR ground-school books, and my old human-factors and aviation textbooks from ATC school all help me keep my head in the airplane game. And a little Bach or Ganz in the mix helps me smile.
Talking to other pilots is always a good way to stay sharp because pilots love to argue. As the joke goes, ask four pilots a question and you’ll get five answers…pilots are very intelligent and very opinionated people.
Most of my pilot-to-pilot communication occurs on Twitter. This might sound silly but there are some awesome people on Twitter, and a ton of pilots who love to talk aviation. I do need to branch out more and begin attending local EAA meetings or hanging out at the airport.
Finally, a great way to stay sharp is…
I know it sounds dorky, but I have empirical evidence that it works. When I was training for my ASEL I supplemented my training with Microsoft Flight Simulator and felt it to be very helpful in cementing my flying lessons. It’s not the same as flying a real airplane by any means, but it’s a great way to practice IFR maneuvers, instrument scans, and cross-country flying. Recently I’ve switched from FSX to X-Plane 10, and I have to say that X-Plane 10 is pretty rad. Good scenery, great airplanes, and better flight dynamics than FSX make it a superior simulator in my opinion. I also have a desktop that runs Linux, on which I may install FlightGear, an open-source simulator.
Flying my desk is certainly no substitute for real flying, but it might keep me from getting too rusty while I get myself back on track. Plus it’s fun.
It pains me to think that it could be years before I’m back in the left seat. But being grounded is only a physical limitation. I’ve been grounded before and I’ve always clawed my way back into the sky. My love for flight will stay alive through thick and thin…we’re just going through the thick right now.