Post SOLO Students

Congratulations on your SOLO! Now the real work begins. So far in the program you have learned, mostly, 'stick and rudder' skills. Flying is so much more than that! When you finally earn your pilots certificate you are going to want to do much more than fly laps around the local airport. Primarily you will want to go somewhere, maybe just 30 or 40 miles away, maybe hundreds of miles away! Regardless of where you decide you want to go, in order to get there you must learn to navigate. During the second half of your training we will focus on navigation, flight planning and regulations. Hopefully, like me, you will find navigation very rewarding since it will continue to challenge you in different ways every flight.

Before we begin to chart our course, we need to make sure ourselves and the aircraft is safe to fly.

Aviation is full of acronyms! Here are a few more that you might find helpful when preparing for your next flight.

Flying requires attention and concentration. Are you safe to fly?

These documents you must have every flight

Properly Equipped?

The CRITICAL question 'Is my aircraft properly equipped for this flight?' takes more than a few simple acronyms to answer. Here is what the FAA has to say:

There are two equipment-related regulations that you need to know especially well.

The first is 14 CFR 91.205, which lists the instruments and equipment required for different types of flight. Some pilots use acronyms to remember these items. Another way is to think of them in terms of three categories: engine, performance/navigation, and safety. Click on the link below for a chart listing required equipment for each of these categories.

The second is 14 CFR 91.213, which deals with inoperative instruments and equipment. The first part of this regulation relates to aircraft for which there is an approved Minimum Equipment List (MEL). If your aircraft does not have a MEL (often the case for light GA aircraft), you need to ask yourself several questions to determine whether you can legally fly with inoperative instruments or equipment. Specifically:

  • Is the affected equipment part of the VFR-day type certificate?
  • Is the affected equipment listed as required on the aircraft's equipment list or kinds of operation list?
  • Is the affected equipment required by any other regulation, e.g., 91.205, 91.207?
  • Is the affected equipment required to be operative by an airworthiness directive
  • Is the affected equipment required to be operative by an airworthiness directive

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," then the aircraft must be grounded. If the answer to all of these questions is "no," then the last step is to remove or deactivate the affected item, and mark it as "inoperative." To read the FAA's advisory circular on this topic, click below.

I realize that that is a lot of information, but trust me, you do not what to take shortcuts where airworthiness is concerned. However, below is a link to a helpful table that can support your decision of airworthiness

Inspections Done?
What How Often Reference
A Annual inspection & ADs Every 12 calendar months (ADs are required) 14 CFR 91.409
V VOR check (if used for IFR) Every 30 days 14 CFR 91.171
1 100 hour inspection (if used for hire or flight instruction) Every 100 hours 14 CFR 91.409
A Altimeter & Pitot-Static System Every 24 calendar months 14 CFR 91.411
T Transponder Every 24 Calendar months 14 CFR 91.413
E ELT (emergency locator transmitter) operation & battery currency Every 12 calendar months 14 CFR 91.207

Ready to go?

Follow each of the following links and review the specified information. You should review all of these links prior to your solo flight or lesson.

A good technique is to build a binder with clear sleeves labeled with each section. After printing everything just stuff it in the appropriate sleeve and you have a well organized 'brick' of information, which is extremely important in a small cockpit!

There is a 'wealth' of information you need to review when flight planning
  • Weather reports and forecasts
  • Expected performance of the aircraft given expected conditions
  • Alternatives available
  • Length of runway needed for takeoff/landing
  • Traffic delays and terrain avoidance
  • How much fuel is required

Make sure your passengers are 'SAFE'
  • Seatbelts, shoulder harnesses, sterile cockpit
  • Air vents and environmental controls
  • Fire extinguisher location and operation
  • Exit and emergency instructions (e.g., how to open doors)
Other useful aids/training

Training Videos

Here are some training videos to help you use and or decipher the links above.