Staying Proficient

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Ron Hankins, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. Ron Hankins

    Ron Hankins Filing Flight Plan

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    I know that this is going to be a vague question to answer, but I just started flying again after 11 years. I have done my flight review and my IPC for IFR currency and I joined a flight club with 2 Cessna 172's. I am not wealthy so my amount of flying time per month is limited.

    My question is: what is your minimum amount of flying time per month that you feel you need to stay proficient?
     
  2. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    I have been struggling with this same very question. last year I flew about 110 hrs, this year so far I am at 40 and I "feel" I am not flying enough to stay proficient. the flights are good, I am still here, I am not doing anything dumb up there... but just that number makes me think I am not flying enough. i also know there are lot of pilots who flies like less than 30 a year and do not feel rusty. curios to know what others feel
     
  3. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Generally, I would accept 10 hours is a good target, but it's really going to depend more on the kind of hours you're flying and how serious you are about them. If I go out and fly a 2 hour XC on auto pilot, I'm not really doing anything to build proficiency other than taking off and landing. It's also a gradient of proficiency, there are levels of how good you should be. If you're not aiming to be checkride ready, 10 hours is probably too high.

    Sport Aviation (EAA Magazine) had a good article on this a couple of months back. The gist of the article is a suggestion to work proficiency into every flight. Fly runway heading, nail your spot on every landing, maintain your altitude during every turn, proper bank angle and be on the ball. Do this every flight, hand fly more if you need to.

    The best pilot is one who just passed a checkride, our skills go down after that. Most people know Capt Sullenberger's Miracle, but not so many know that his co pilot, Jeff Skiles had just completed his transition training to the A320 and was on his first trip; he was fresh from the simulators.

    Choose your level.
     
  4. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Varies for everyone. I seem to average +-5hrs a month and I feel proficient with that.
     
  5. NordicDave

    NordicDave Line Up and Wait

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    Less than 4 hours a month and 3 landings, I feel rust developing.
     
  6. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    I fly every weekend we have VFR weather, and I still feel behind the aircraft sometimes. My rule of thumb bis as often as possible. I didn't learn to fly so I could stay on the ground.
     
  7. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Heaven help us if true. A checkride evaluates your ability to meet minimum standards; it does not test to proficiency. I'm a way better pilot today than I was immediately following any of my three checkrides. And I really hope the guy in front if the next A320 i get on is way more proficient than rando pilot who just got his instrument ticket.
     
  8. RussR

    RussR Cleared for Takeoff

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    As an interesting side note, in Jimmy Doolittle's autobiography "I could never be so lucky again" (which is a great read by the way), he mentions how, once being assigned a desk job, and flying less than 25 hours a month, he established that as his cutoff - if he couldn't fly at least 25 hours a month, he no longer felt safe and proficient enough to fly at all.

    :eek:

    What's that, 300 hours a year? Yikes, I keep pretty busy flying as a side job and usually don't get that many. 200-250 is my normal year.

    Granted, the type of flying he was generally doing does require a higher level of proficiency than most of us.
     
  9. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Hours are a bad metric imo. Landings, approaches, etc are more useful metrics.

    One 3 hour flight where I landed at 13 airports around the area, both towered, non towered, huge, and tiny, in and under different airspace’s, was worth more than 10, one hour flights to the same airport for a burger.
     
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  10. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    this is going to be super user specific, as proficiency is based on your own abilities.. but for me:

    -I do not go more than 2 weeks without flying, even if that means safety piloting for someone, I will ideally be "in the air" in some kind of PIC capacity at least once a week. My last two flights weren't log, just 0.8

    -cross countries are okay, but you don't learn too much.. most of the cross country stuff is up front planning, once you are in the plane there's not that much going on.. SO.. if you are on a budget I find the local 3 way airport hop to be pretty good.. around here that means either MYF-OKB-RMN-SEE-MYF or some variation of that. You won't get to log any XC time but things are happening fast, you're cranking the radio, taking off, landing, etc., so you really feel pretty solid when you land, and you've got your 3 take offs and landings currency too, and pronbably didn't spend more than 1.5 on the hobbs
     
  11. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    YES! I should have read your response before posting mine... hours <> skill or proficiency. It is all about the type of flying someone does, hence my recommendation about the local airport hopping.

    It drives me nuts when airline guys with 10,000 hrs think they're superior pilots when 90% of that time is sitting at 40,000 ft on autopilot watching the IFE off the iPad, following a magenta line, and doing what ATC says.. but that dead cow has been well milked on these boards!
     
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  12. Ron Hankins

    Ron Hankins Filing Flight Plan

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    I agree with your response and was thinking the same thing. If I get to fly 3 times a month and 2 of those times I did the 3 airport jump with approaches and landings, and then on the other time just take my wife out for lunch or dinner small Xcountry then I should be OK.

    All good responses and opinions...THX
     
  13. Salty

    Salty En-Route PoA Supporter

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    I stay night current that way. Hop to 2 other fields, trying to vary the locations, do full stop taxi back landings and then home. I rarely fly at night, other than to keep current, but I like staying night current just in case, and it improves proficiency in general.
     
  14. Sinistar

    Sinistar Pattern Altitude

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    First year averaged about 8hrs per month and really felt like I was always ahead of the plane, ready for an adventure.

    This year will probably be 6hrs per month and I have felt a bit behind on a few busy occasions. The first was a recent, very busy Bravo transition the other was a wicked trees everywhere short field crosswind landing at early summer fly in.

    I feel like I have shifted a big too quickly to: "Planes are meant for traveling" mode. That means less pattern work, less get out and challenge myself in busy airspace or stronger crosswinds, etc. So I need to get back into that but with less hours than last year its easy to pick trips over practice (pancakes over patterns LOL). And as someone mentioned, trips build hours but not many takeoff and landing variations.

    I think my ideal number would be 8hrs/month. Here in MN its easy to go 3wks at a time and be able to fly due to low ceilings and icing. That actually bothers me the most. I would be more consistent if I could fly 1 time per week for 52 weeks than averaging 8hrs a week with those large gaps.
     
  15. IK04

    IK04 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Try for two flights per month with an extra for weather makeup...
     
  16. Shepherd

    Shepherd En-Route

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    I fly at least a couple hours a week.
    That seems to keep me on top of my game in the Cub.
     
  17. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    I agree with this 100%. Since I got my IFR cert I catch myself saying “well I’m not really going anywhere. “
    Now I’m trying to get up more even if for30- 40 min. Thinking about more small trips for a t&g. Have to keep in mind I like flying and it’s important to just fly.
     
  18. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Only a few hours.
     
  19. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    As long as I get supplemental hours as a passenger on SWA, no worries:confused::eek:
     
  20. asicer

    asicer En-Route

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    I just noticed that #4 in your signature is relevant to this thread topic.
     
  21. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Twice a week for me, preferably not back to back days.

    I try not to engage AP until I’m as good as the AP (see @bflynn ’s mention of the EAA Sport Aviation article on precision flying) - I’ll get altitude and heading nailed and held until I feel like I’m decent, then engage. I disengage about 10 minutes before descent. If things are busy in airspace, I’ll start to use AP earlier and disengage later. I find that due to the fewer hours that I fly, AP makes me a less aptly precise pilot, so I use it sparingly. VFR pilot.

    I wonder how much age and years of experience has to do with it.
     
  22. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Certainly we grow as pilots with ratings. But you are the sharpest at your level at checkride time. Afterwards we tend to relax and most of us don’t fly as much as we did as students. It’s normal. Still able to take off and and land, plus manage what’s in between.
     
  23. Warlock

    Warlock Line Up and Wait

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    Depends on mission...VFR burger runs a couple of times a month...mission profile in a AH-64...15 hrs a month to be a good copilot...more for PIC...as my experience increased my time requirements were reduce but there is a minimum that never goes away...but that is hard to gauge for most people...also as I age I get more realistic about skill level decline as we hit 60...
     
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  24. DFH65

    DFH65 Pattern Altitude

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    So long as I get a flight review every two years I feel I am good to go. ;)
     
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  25. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I don't seem to plan my flying by week/month/year. I just try to fly as much as possible. Most of my flying has been for travel lately, 14 hours since the 4th of July so I feel pretty proficient now. Sometimes I'll go a month or 2 without flying and I don't remember ever feeling unsafe. Occasionally a little rusty but never so much that I wouldn't take my family up. Maybe that's just me.
     
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  26. TopDollar

    TopDollar Filing Flight Plan

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    I feel reasonably proficient by flying only a few hours a month. It's nice to fit in at least one cross country and one flight where I go up to practice some manouvers, emergency procedures, and landings. I feel the most comfortable when I'm able to do that.

    The longest I went without flying was a little over 3 months, so I went up with an instructor for an hour to get back into it. I was suprised how quickly the rust dusted off. Instructor commented how it was nice to just go for an airplane ride instead of having to teach.
     
  27. danhagan

    danhagan Pattern Altitude

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    Yes, but if they watch someone else's Youtube flying videos and use MSFlight simulator can they log the time?:confused::p
     
  28. NealRomeoGolf

    NealRomeoGolf Cleared for Takeoff

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    For the last two years i have entered the non-proficient crowd because of living overseas. My first summer back to the plane (last year) I thought my landings were going to be awful. Landings were the easiest. It was nailing my speeds on downwind, holding altitudes and headings and radio work that got really rusty. The second year (right now) I am less rusty because I took a flying vacation in February and did tailwheel training. I am also more conscious of what got rusty last time so I am better prepared mentally for what I need to stay ahead of. Radios are better this time around but nailing speeds and headings has still been a challenge.
     
  29. JamesA320

    JamesA320 Filing Flight Plan

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    I agree that hours aren’t the best metric to measure this by. How about flying once every X days? I know money and time are the deal breakers but if you could go up once every 5 days it might prove to be a little more beneficial than flying once a month for 10 hours.
     
  30. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    If you are just barging around for pancake breakfasts or burgers in good weather, close to zero time required to stay proficient enough for that mission. If you are flying cross country IFR, then maybe a different answer, like filing IFR for XC on a regular as possible basis, and and IPC every 6 months if not logging enough IFR on your own.
     
  31. N1120A

    N1120A Line Up and Wait

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    I usually fly at least once a week, and find that keeps me proficient. I often fly more than that. After 3 weeks off, I flew yesterday and was happy with my proficiency, though I could see where I was slightly rusty (multitasking). I was pretty happy with my landing though.

    I also find that hand flying as much as possible keeps me far more proficient, but that's a given. I can easily sit on autopilot from 400' to minimums, but I don't.
     
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  32. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's the big difference: that 10,000 hour pilot is typically flying professional, thus he attends regular training and all of his skills are tested to a ATP level. That testing includes aircraft systems knowledge, ATC, FAR review, weather review, performance, emergency, emergency procedures, normal operations, approaches to minimums, etc, etc. There are standards which must be met and maintained.

    The typical GA pilot gets his certificate and if he never adds another rating, he's never tested again. Sure, he will get an annual flight review with a CFI, but just how extensive is that?
     
  33. Mike Blackburn

    Mike Blackburn Pre-Flight

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    Do you have any idea which edition this was? I can’t seem to track it down....
     
  34. woodchucker

    woodchucker Cleared for Takeoff

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    Both flight reviews I have had involved slow flight, steep turns, power off stalls and no-flap landings. Plus an hour or more of ground school stuff. I consider that adequate, plus I hire CFIs outside that for an additional watchful eye. It’s not a perfect system but what would you suggest otherwise?
     
  35. PlasticCigar

    PlasticCigar Pre-Flight

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    I have to agree with this. I’ve flown GA with a few airline pilots and they were all great pilots. Not sure where all these stories of crappy airline pilots who can’t hack it in a light single come from. We all do stupid things sometimes, but I think the average airline pilot flying GA recreationally is probably a much safer and better pilot than the guy flying 60 hours a year.
     
  36. Terry M - 3CK (Chicago)

    Terry M - 3CK (Chicago) Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    @PlasticCigar I’ve really only heard stories about the big iron guy who hasn’t flown GA in years and jumps back in.

    The guys who stay active in GA I would guess are a different story.
     
  37. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If I told you my suggestion heads would start exploding. :eek:

    I've seen too many FR's that was nothing more than a saturday morning hamburger run. :rolleyes:
     
  38. Tantalum

    Tantalum En-Route

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    Sure, but sort of proves my point, they're potentially better pilots not because they have 10,000 hours but because of all the training they get stay very proficient
     
  39. TommyG

    TommyG Cleared for Takeoff

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    It’s not the amount of hours, it’s the quality of those hours that matter.
     
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  40. chemgeek

    chemgeek Line Up and Wait

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    A GA pilot can go through the motions with a (biennial) flight review, or use that time to get an honest evaluation of ability to operate knowledgeably and safely. Instrument rated pilots can do an IPC every 6 months as well for external evaluation as well. I've enjoyed my flight reviews and IPCs, and always learn something new and useful, including ways to improve my technique and flight safety. Of course, the best way to stay proficient is to fly in the system as frequently as you can.