A good lowtime personal minimum checklist ?

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This is in addition of course to all FAA rules/regs for Pvt pilots -
If I'm a student pilot (signed off for xcntry solo) or lowtime newly
licensed Pvt pilot (w/ less than 220+ hours) ;
I was thinking (for me at least) a good
personal minimum Go/NOGO checklist might be:

- No nitetime flying (until get lots more than 250 hrs or better
have an Instr rating first)

Stick to list strictly - esp if leaving pattern or local area
and going to takeoff/land at any other airport

- Only fly if can see my shadow that morning or afternoon and
once start taxiing out to runway

- Only fly during Mon-Fri during non-Rushhour times
ie: 10am thru 3pm - plan takeoff and landing at Hanscom
So not feel pressured squeezing in with the joe-pro corp jetjockies

- If a flag is blowing straight out - check the crowsswinds
component real carefully

- Avoid weekends - other lowtime rookie pvt pilots out joyriding

- only fly during warmer Spring thru Fall months
(no winter snow/ice on ground months)

- take no passengers until really feel ready and esp if landing at
an unfamilar other airport which never gone into before by yourself

- check with a CFI or other experienced pilot before filing flgt
plan rather than just jumping into plane
ie: how's the weather or winds up there (if they just came down)
talk to some other pilots first

- anything else ?

I know the above personal min list would severly restrict my flying -
but prob best until gain lots more experience (like over 220-250
hrs), right ?

Can you think of anything Phil you used as a personal min check list
to decide to go flying when you were new pilot ?


-- jim kenn, March 2, 2010


Good start and good thinking, but you really need three sets of standards. They should be titled "recently trained with instructor", "have been flying every two weeks", and "am nearing the edges of the FAR currency requirements" (e.g., have done only three takeoffs and landings within the preceding 90 days).

A 250-hour pilot who has not flown all winter is more likely to make a mistake than you will be the day after your Private checkride.

You might look at Part 135 and 121 to increase your safety margins. For example, under those rules you can't plan a flight unless you're able to land in 60 percent of the available runway. That's what the FAA thinks is safe for a professional crew of two pilots. Under Part 91, by contrast, you can plan a flight to 9B1's 1650' runway for the day after you get your Private at Hanscom's 7000' runway, relying on the fact that the AFM says that a test pilot landed the plane in 1625' (on a 10,000' runway I might add!).

A night flight from Hanscom to Manchester within a month or so of doing it with an instructor is probably not a serious challenge. A night flight to the Sterling airport (3B3) is a whole different story due to the short runway and very basic lighting.

I wouldn't avoid winter flying. If it is a clear day with reasonably calm winds you actually should be getting out to maintain currency.

Your idea of getting more experienced folks to review your flight planning is an excellent one. I did that a lot when I had my new IFR rating. I would call up my friend Richard 3000 miles away and have him get the same DUATS briefing. Professional pilots hanging around at big FBOs are also good resources.

Most important, don't forget that instructors are always available. You'll probably be sick of flight training when you get your Private, but I would recommend interleaving IFR training with personal flying. That way you're with an instructor at least once/month and will have an easy opportunity to practice any VFR maneuvers as well.

-- Philip Greenspun, March 2, 2010