You may have heard many preach about knowing your own personal minimums. But what do they really mean. We see PAVE and IM SAFE. but maybe there is more than just those. Sometimes we don't always know where that line is of should and shouldn't. But we have created another version to help draw that line, a real list that your family members or friends or even your novice passengers or pilot friend can check and possibly prevent you from taking a risk you said you wouldnt do. Once these possible passengers or those who might be effected by your flights outcome, especially that fear of you flying, you are giving that person in your life a voice in your safety. Giving them a say will likely make communication smoother, and develop more trust in your flying. Knowing your personal minimums can prevent you from pushing that envelope without proper planning and skill, even giving you time to arrange an experienced pilot to help you if need be.
What you may do at 50 hour will look possibly different at 100 or even 300 hours, and will likely vary even from aircraft and equipment available.
I might fly minimums IFR in a twin turbine aircrat, maybe even piston, but I will avoid that in a single engine especially in a minimumly equipped one.
VFR folks, can say they may have to have 5 miles visibility, another might say 3 or 7 even 10 miles. Then factor in wind and crosswind, ceilings etc.
This can go great steps in helping those who love you not fear your flying if they can see you are taking those extra precautions for self and them, plus they might keep you from telling yourself well i need 5 miles but its 4 now and i think i can handle that.... anytime you start to say I think I can do that, we can probably beat that storm or we should be there before dark, or its not that much further we don't need to stop for fuel...... Its time to stop and know you are about to enter that statistic zone, much like the twilight zone, only it involves, NTSB, FAA, CAP and the local news. Might even include hospitals and or funerals.
Always make sure you have a back up plan in case first plan goes awry (and plans almost always do). That possible fuel stop on that long leg in case winds are worse than expected, A plan to turn around to return to a safe area if visibility begins to grow worse, If having to delay flight which will put you later than planned make sure take the extra time to pack a working flashlight and alternate landing stops, or even waiting till next day if weather is a strong possibility.
Here is one that we created that can print out a sheet from our website, or make your own.
Ceiling within 25nm __________________
Ceiling beyond 25nm __________________
Minimum visibility __________________
Maximum wind __________________
Maximum X-wind __________________
Maximum density altitude __________________
Time and money are the two biggest obstacles to learning to fly. We wish we had a solution to those issues. The mission of GIFT is to help ladies who are encountering other problems as they pursue their goals.
The average cost for a private pilot certificate is between $6000 and $8,000 with a standard training aircraft (not technology advanced aircraft). That will cover the minimum 40 hours and most of the other expenses. It is usually best to have that amount available before you start and to fly regularly, at least once a week but preferably at least twice or more (probably 2 hour slots gaining over an hour of flight time), otherwise you lose too much between the lessons and end up spending more money with little success. We do offer training outside of GIFT week at normal costs. There are several organizations that offer scholarships for example: (http://www.wai.org/) (http://www.ninety-nines.org/) (http://www.whirlygirls.org/) also check with AOPA, FAA and local airport/flight schools for others.
Other Part 141 schools can often be paid for through financial aide similar to college, we do not often recommend this path as the debt is a weight that is difficult to lose without being very dedicated and the other half of that equation is some of the schools which this is an option is not focused on getting a student through and finished in a particular time frame or only use technology advanced aircraft (glass cockpit) which adds to the higher costs. This can be dealt with by knowing this factor. Make certain they schedule your next lesson before leaving each day, when your scheduled to fly do not allow them to redirect you to ground school just because they double booked the aircraft, (this would not include situation such as weather or maintenance delays). Also receiving occasional outside instruction can often be applied to totals and also give you someone you can call on to assist you when your feeling ignored at the school. Check with your schools programs as some do not allow outside training. Some large flight schools that have a standard program in place often will keep you training longer than necessary which runs up your costs. Asking other students that have achieved their PPL there and see if they know how much it cost them, if well outside the suggested range of cost you would serve yourself well to look at other schools. Also do not recommend going into debt for a pilots license as a pilots career does not usually pay well in the beginning years and we often say aviation is feast or famine and can swing from both extremes in about 10 years on average. Age is a factor here also when starting your training and where your end goal is. Airlines have a mandatory retirement age of 65 and minimum hiring requirement of the pilot having 1500 hours and the ATP rating also. starting your training in your 40's may limit you if on limited funds or time for training. and most starting pay for copilots often will barely cover basic living expenses much less your debt if finance training. This is not to say cant be done, just reality and for you to gain the most from your time and money. Airlines are not the only options available, many do enjoy various freight haul operators large and small other than just UPS and Fedex, other find careers in corporate or charters. Others this is just a hobby or a supplement to their current careers like real estate agents, those who travel often for work like sales or managers who visit several offices in other cities.
Time building options for a few folks is finding that position that maybe is not a pilot job (for the not yet commercial pilot) like an observer with a pipeline flight, or maybe something similar in mapping or photography. Yes many of these jobs are fewer due to the newer advanced equipment that does the work automatically, some still do exist. Now usually means least having a PPL and the endorsements or meet the requirements of that aircraft (unless the pilot in command in an instructor and willing to sign the dual) and when the job is done and then you get to fly the plane home and log that portion of the time. The jobs often pay fairly low scale (often about same as some flight attendant positions), but if gaining 10-15 hours a week for a 4-5 day work week, for approx. $25K, some realize they cant afford to pass it up. you get your hours and then save or work that extra job or get a scholarship then get those advanced licenses quicker than imagined plus some real world experiences that most in those school programs will not have, that might make you the better choice at interview time!
Pilot Error / Pilot Negligence / Pilot Misconduct
Pilot error is an honest mistake, pilot lands on wrong runway mistaking the wind direction they heard or saw on wind sock. or during the wait for takeoff clearance at a tower controlled airport and accidently release the brakes rolling past the hold line while reading the checklist. Either can end up forcing another pilot to go around.
Pilot negligence is the pilot landing downwind or wrong runway because failed to check the wind or taxing out on to a runway without communication or traffic check.
Pilot misconduct is knowingly landing downwind to forcing another pilot to go around, or another is an Pilot on instrument approach and calling visual before out of the clouds, or flying in the clouds when not licensed, or descending thru clouds while vfr on top without ifr clearance. and thousands more.
It does make you look at the incidents differently when can further decode from just pilot error.
Where would you put a pilot running out of fuel?
We three Generations of Female pilots (and Certified Flight Instructors). Also a Mother/ Daughter (Mary and Tamara) Airframe power plant mechanics with Inspection Authorizations.
Mary conceived of Gift Academy Inc, initially to determine why more women were not finishing their flight training or even starting.
Sometimes be careful what you ask for. She only intended to inspire a few women in their flight training by inviting them to some free instruction and ground school so she could ask those questions and hoped they would network and that other schools would eventually take up her idea and make it even better. We all were already teaching many students from a fairly large region for such a small town airport and only word of mouth advertising. As Mary also a designated pilot examiner (DPE) in the Lubbock region she figured would only see those who could drive in from this same region. We had 14 ladies, from California, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida and Texas too. What we all found bothered us as instructors, from bad instruction, to lack of instruction (hours flown but no progress) and even some being ignored at flight schools, or lessons with sexual innuendos and requests for dates etc. By the third year and now 40 plus women attending, we are still seeing the same only on a larger scale. Now many are getting good training from decent instructors, but the women are falling thru the cracks firsts when they begin to struggle with learning some concepts or feeling patronized when asking some questions or expressing concerns or when they have a personal conflict and feel ignored and leave because the school decided they were being too sensitive. And the majority of all women attended beginners and advanced experience dealt with low self confidence in their skills. And feeling like the only female at the airport ever.
Fast Forward entering our fourth event... still seeing some of the above, but we are seeing returning ladies advancing to their next rating or license. We are seeing more networking among our ladies, thanks to our social media, plus making our own connections to groups like the Ninety Nines, and the former Girls with Wing non profit (Lynda is still active with her social media) and AOPA. After a minor blog post that seemingly seemed dismissive of our girls only week, our email and phone lines began to stay busy with the curious and desperate. We invited some to come train at normal rates rest of year and they did.
Now sounds like we doubled our business, we didn't.... we quadrupled it! These women finding success with us, began to bring their significant others, friends, and children. And so many have been sending us women they have met along the way to us!
So what has been your experience in your flight training?
Tamara Griffith is the main writer of the blog Gift of Wing and all of Gift Academy's media, yet much of the lessons, and thoughts are from all experiences of Mary and Lawrence Latimer, Tamara Griffith, and everyone else and the aviation community we feel needs expressing.