Additional Training Options

There are some extras that you might want to add to your training. Some schools, though too few to suit me, offer pre – solo spin training, where you and an instructor practice entering and recovering from simple spins, a potentially hazardous condition that students can inadvertently create out of inexperience. (We’ll talk about spins, a situation where the airplane

loses lift and twirls downward like a spinning leaf, in more detail in the next chapter and in Part 4, “Meeting the Challenges to the Perfect Flight.”)

Additional Training Options


When ft comes to spins, one training session with an instructor does not an expert make. There are a lot of safety concerns your instructor knows about in order to make your flight safe and informative, but he might not tell you all of them for the pur­pose of a single familiarization flight. That means if you try spins on your own, you could be in real danger. Never practice spins by yourself unb’l you are fully trained and competent

I always recommend spin training because I believe students who can recover from them are more confident pilots. But this type of training adds another cost, perhaps extra $60 to $100 per hour. A single flight should be enough to adequately expose you to spins.

You may also want to pay for extra “hood time,” where students don a piece of headwear that narrows their field of vision, blocking the view outside the plane and permitting them to see only the instrument panel. Instructors use hoods to simulate a flight into a cloud or a flight after sunset. This sort of training got extra attention after the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife and sister-in-law in July 1999. Many aviation writers, including me, believe his inexperience in flying without a clear view of the ground may have caused the accident. Extra training in this area could pay big dividends later.

Finally, some flight schools offer flight simulators that allow students to practice some cockpit skills from the safety of the ground. Simulators cost much less to practice in than an airplane, though instructor time is still a factor. Simulators aren’t good substitutes for everything, however. For example, you can’t improve your takeoff and landing skills in a simulator. But in case you want to become more familiar with the way flight instruments are used or you want to practice flying safely if you encounter clouds or bad weather, as JFK Jr. did, simulator training is the ideal way to learn.

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