Flight Review

Once every two years (24 calendar months, really, but who’s counting…) the FAA requires private pilots to spend a couple hours with an instructor or other authority to make sure that their skills and knowledge are up to the standards required to share the national airspace. My 24 months are up this month, so I spent some time yesterday with my instructor.

A flight review isn’t required to be as rigorous as a checkride. Because my regular instructor, Andy, and I fly together fairly regularly, he’s got a pretty good idea how well I’m keeping my skills honed. This created a more relaxed atmosphere than a checkride. If I were dangerously out of practice or exhibiting questionable behavior, I’d expect Andy to let me know whether it was flight review day or not. Similarly, he challenges me when we’re flying together.

Most of the air time was spent on things I don’t do very often. We did some performance take-offs and landings as well as a couple engine-out landings. The performance stuff went pretty well, but one of my engine-out landings was much closer to blowing the energy budget than I would like. It was a good to see just how much energy a sharp turn burns, as well as how it looks to do one down low. I definitely take the point about being smoother with my set-up/approach and not putting myself in a spot where I need a big correction down low. We did all these at an unfamiliar airport, which made for better training. At Santa Monica, I know enough landmarks to cheat; at El Monte I don’t – especially with the wind favoring the less common direction.

We did some other VFR airwork, polished up some stall recoveries, and some steep turns. I got to do a little slow flight as well. I like slow flight, and work it myself fairly regularly, but it was good to let Andy have a look at it. We did a couple unusual attitude recoveries as well, including a very impressive steeply descending scenario.

After that we spent some time reviewing the aviation regulations over the Airport Super Breakfast at Annia’s at El Monte. This was literally more than I could eat for less than 7 bucks; an awesome choice.

The ground school review was helpful, but I’ve come away with some questions about some of the new GPS/GNSS airways that are sort of a homework assignment.

I took a couple pictures as I pulled out of El Monte, including a PZL-104MA Wilga 2000. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but the FAA registration database is really helpful. You can sort of tell what it is from my picture, if you know what it is. The actual aircraft is very striking. I also took a shot of the clouds over the mountains at El Monte and of the comparatively low price on the self-serve fuel sign at SMO.

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