You may think that after you get your pilot certificate, you have all the training you will ever need. Unfortunately, that isn't always true. Training to be a private pilot mainly involves learning how to get the airplane in the air, keep it there while you go somewhere, and then get it back on the ground -- all without killing yourself.
For the most part, instructors and FAA-certificated flight schools do a good job of teaching you how to fly the aircraft, but little time is left over to teach you when to fly the aircraft. The distinction between knowing how to fly and knowing when to fly is called judgment. Lack of judgment (or aeronautical decision-making as it is sometimes called) is mentioned as a cause in about 50% of the fatal general aviation accidents.
The relationship between decision-making skills and piloting skills is complex. Making good decisions depends on knowing exactly what you can and cannot do -- and making decisions that avoid the latter. So, if your cross-wind landing skills are not all that great, then good decision making would result in your either asking for a different runway, or going somewhere else and landing more directly into the wind.There are two general types of training exercises offered here. The first is aimed at improving your Risk Management Skills -- particularly your decision making. The second type is aimed at improving your Piloting Skills -- particularly in the areas of weather, landing, and understanding density altitude. All of these exercises will improve your Aeronautical Decision Making.
- Pre-Flight Risk Assessment Checklist -- A quick checklist that lets you assign a score to the risk associated with a particular flight.
- Personal Minimums Checklist -- This program will help you identify the risk factors associated with flights.
- Managing Risk & Good Decision Making -- These videos were produced by The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand, in cooperation with the Aviation Industry Association, and give a unique perspective on the same problems faced by pilots around the world.
- Structured Decision-Making -- This program teaches pilots the skills needed to recognize, diagnose, and solve in-flight problems.
- Weather-Related Decision Making -- This program includes actual in-flight videos of light aircraft penetrating marginal VFR and IMC weather and shows you the critical indicators of deteriorating weather. Learn how to select a diversion airport, and practice on several real-world flights.
- On Landings -- Several years ago the FAA produced three programs on how to land an airplane.
- Density Altitude: The Nine Deadly Sins -- A presentation by Mr. Orrin "Kurt" Anderson, an Air Safety Investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board on this critical topic.
- Surface Operations -- an extensive program to improve the safety of ground operations -- primarily to avoid runway incursions.
- National Weather Association produced these three training programs on aviation weather
- GA Pilot's Weather Guide -- A useful guide produced by the FAA.
- Cloud Recognition Training for Pilots -- This program covers many of the nasty clouds you may encounter during the Summer.