How to Push Your Boundaries as a Pilot
When you imagined becoming a pilot, what did you see it being like to have a pilot’s licence?
Did you imagine being out flying every week, or even every day?
Could you see yourself eating lunch or drinking coffee in far flung corners of the country, at exciting airfields?
Did you even see yourself flying more exciting and complex aircraft types, or even advancing to become an airline pilot flying the big jets to airports around the world?
For the casual pilot who has paid their way to gain a private pilot’s licence, it can be easy to find yourself in a rut of not knowing what to do, where to fly, how to make it more exciting and how to achieve the goals you once had.
In this post I want to give you some tips and advice on how to push your boundaries as a pilot and get back on track with experiencing more and getting more out of flying.
Identify Your Goals
If your original goal for becoming a pilot was to hire a plane occasionally and bumble around the local countryside for an hour, then I guess that’s all there is to it. You need read no further.
However, I suspect everyone who has become a PPL holder had at least some ambitions they hoped would become reality with their flying.
The first step is to think back and identify what goals you had.
For me, it was never to become an airline pilot or even necessarily to make my way through all of the additional licences. But it was to use my licence to visit other airfields and explore the country a little more, as well as taking friends and family up flying.
For you it may be the flying career, or to own an aircraft or get a tailwheel conversion.
Take a minute or two now and write down your goals with flying.
Now, with your goals at hand and written out for you to refer back to, it’s time to be realistic and think about how easy they are to achieve.
For example, becoming an airline pilot isn’t something you could do over the next month. It takes years of commitment, courses, learning, training and money!
However, getting a night rating is much easier to plan and put into practice, as is flying to a new airfield or flying a different type of aircraft.
That’s not to say you can’t achieve any of the goals on your list. But more complex and time-consuming ones need to be broken down and the steps planned logically. Which brings me to…
Identify How to Achieve Your Goals
This really depends on what your goals are. Thinking through the logical steps to achieving them will give you an idea of how to proceed, and the more complex the goal is, the more steps there will be.
For example, if you want to fly to more airfields, the steps might be:
- Get a map and a book of airfields (Pooleys Flight Guide to the United Kingdom 2018)
- Pick some potential airfields within a flying-time radius of your home airfield
- Ask other pilots and instructors for their tips on your chosen fields
- Plan a route and hire a plane
- Go flying!
Or, more complex, to become an airline pilot the steps could be:
- Decide whether to go on an all-inclusive course or to train in a modular fashion
- Assess your money situation and the costs involved
- Plan the time needed, especially regarding existing jobs and commitments
- Start the journey by joining a course or taking the next step (commercial licence, multi-engine licence, instrument rating etc)
If you want to add a new rating to your licence, the steps are simply to identify a flying school that teaches it and book the training.
Commit to Trying Something New
It’s important to try and grow as a pilot; this makes you safer and more competent when flying, and also more capable of pushing your boundaries to try new experiences.
If you have the mindset of wanting to try something new, then you’re more likely to see it happen.
So, from your list of goals and the steps you worked through in order to get there, it’s time to take action and make that first step.
If the idea fills you with dread, or just brings up more questions, then you may need to seek more advice to make sure you understand the steps to take, the cost and time commitment needed, and whether you have the ability to see it through.
100 Ways to Fly More
My new book is perfect for anyone wanting to experience more as a pilot. 100 Ways to Fly More and Get More Out of Flying has 100 actionable tips and encouragements on what you can do with your licence, no matter how long you’ve been flying.
It covers everything from flying to new airfields, to going all the way to being an airline pilot, and most importantly, it addresses the steps needed to get there and how to save money doing it.