Using your certificate

Most CFIs and DPEs describe your private pilot certificate as a “license to learn”. Even after all the work to get you pilot’s license, there’s a lot yet to learn. Here’s some quick ideas on how to go about that:

  1. Keep flying regularly. For most pilots, flying once every week or two is what it takes as a minimum to really stay sharp and improve. Just as it took some planning and commitment during training, apply that to staying fit to fly. Each person is different on how much they need. If you feel you’ve gotten rusty, grab an instructor for a quick lesson just to make sure.
  2. Keep track of your due dates and currency. If you are a member of AACIT, make sure the Secretary has a copy of your pilot certificate. ScheduleMaster and many other apps will help you track when you BFR, APC, and medical expire. You also need to make sure you know when you might lose passenger carrying or night currency (some apps, like ForeFlight can help there too). One date immediately to keep track of is when your temporary (paper) certificate will expire. I have yet to have a student not get their plastic certificate in time, but I’ve had a few get very close.
  3. Keep expanding your horizons and learning. Many pilots in AACIT go on to get their Catalina and Big Bear checkouts soon after getting their pilot’s certificate. If you haven’t done night flight in a while, maybe you want to get back into it? Find some new destinations and go a little further. Find another pilot friend to team up with. Maybe go get some spin training or a tailwheel endorsement. Maybe you want to get checked out fly a different plane?
  4. Think about getting your Instrument Rating. I do recommend that new private pilots get out and do some cross country flights before jumping right into IFR training.
  5. Ask questions! I and most other CFIs I know are more than happy to answer questions outside of the training environment. Not sure about a destination, a plane problem, or some weather? I’m glad to help point you in the right direction and make sure you fly safely.


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