The beginning of the new year just begs for some sage observation on what will happen in 2009 . I’ll wander out on the limb and you’re welcome to join me or stay close to the tree trunk.
Safe bet: The number of accidents will go down simply because we are flying less. Less exposure means fewer opportunities for something to go wrong. Insurance companies are fond of saying that their business would be perfect if people just paid their premiums and parked their airplanes.
Cloudy bet: The accident rate will increase as some pilots who are flying less become less proficient at basic flight tasks. Take offs and especially landings will suffer as these essential skills atrophy with disuse. It’s worse when one is new to the activity but even high timers are not immune. When I started flying, if I wasn’t flying at least once every other week, the rustiness began. With the grooves now worn a bit more deeply, routine actions begin to feel rusty after a month or so of layoff. Non routine activities such as instrument approaches are still in the bi-weekly category and I set my minimums accordingly.
Suggestion: If, due to economics or other downers, you’re not flying as much as in the past, get a little instruction from a trusted CFI. Invest in yourself!
What’s a good guideline for staying reasonably proficient? The Air Force used to require desk jockey pilots to log a minimum of four hours a month to maintain flight pay. Additionally, they had periodic checks to be sure they were taking good care of the taxpayers’ property.
I realize that’s more than some of us fly in the best of times and our aircraft aren’t as complex nor the missions as demanding but it’s still a performance activity. One size certainly does not fit all. Local day VFR in low density traffic and light winds is quite different from long distance cross country flying that crosses multiple weather systems, terrain and traffic environments.
What do you think is enough for reasonable safety in basic VFR and more advanced IFR flight?