Jump to content

Learning & Experience


Recommended Posts

I once heard it said that there were three stages of a Pilot's life:


Stage 1 - The pilot is new having just finished their training and they fly by the book - no experience and little confidence in what they encounter while they are flying - the rule book is their valued companion. They're lack of confidence and rule adhesion prevents them from encountering situations that put them at any kind of risk as they are focused on bedding in what they have been taught to give them the experience at doing what they know better and properly.


Stage 2 - The pilot has gained the experience only in what they have been taught to date and has become very confident in what they have been doing. BUT, they have yet to experience and learn all that flying can present - the weather (cloud, wind, rain etc), the aircraft characteristics in many different situations and the advanced rules that apply as they travel further a field gaining more different experiences. It is in this stage that they are the most dangerous not only to others but to themselves and it is only by the grace of God (if you are religious) or by shear luck (if you are not) that you will survive through this stage.


Stage 3 - The pilot has become older, wiser and very experienced - emphasis on the word wiser! These pilots make the best instructors and in my opinion are chartered to spread that knowledge as custodians of the pilots in Stages 1 & 2. Stage 3 pilots have a wealth of experience and knowledge of rules so much so that they will only ever be caught out by a shear "accident" beyond their control as their wisdom gained by experience keeps them true in their flying choices.


The biggest problem for a flyer is to realise when they are in Stage 2 and when they do realise that they have crossed over the half way line between Stages 1 & 3. Once realised that they are in this "danger" stage, they may have done some stupid things, been caught out a couple of times etc, what can they do to get them to Stage 3 - this is the biggest of all problems for that pilot.


For example I believe that with my hours, experience and wisdom thus far that I am right in the middle of Stage 2. Through my experiences that I have survived like now keeping a close eye on the sun and clouds when I am close to end of daylight, remembering the correct alt when flying on a trip I haven't done before, checking the actual visual fuel gauges rather then relying on the Dynon readout on fuel usage and on it goes. The big thing is that I have finally realised that I am smack in the middle of Stage 2 but am now on my way to Stage 3 as I have realised it.


So, I would be extremely interested in comments from those "old, wise and experienced" pilots - what can one do from this point forward to stay safe and hopefully transit into Stage 3 without any more silly incidents etc - like there must have been a time when you realised that you were starting to do some silly things and what did you do about it from then on etc.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest brentc

I've read previously that around the 250 hour mark is a critical one in a pilot's flying career. I'd say that 250 hours would fall into your stage 2 as above.


The lesser experienced pilot flies on, whilst the more experienced pilot turns back early to greet the most experienced pilot who never left the ground in the first place!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dangerous stage. def. when the wheels come off!


They used to say at 100 hrs you were the most dangerous, as you were flying pretty well, at that point, and would tend to become overconfident, and perhaps do things that a more cautious pilot would decide not to attempt. This would be an 'attitude' problem, and often these people think they don't need to learn any more, that they are somewhat gifted (in their own estimation.) They self-limit their own knowledge,, often carrying odd quirks/ ideosynchrasies in technique through their flying life, as a consequence.


The first step to maintaining a high ( safe ) standard is recognising the need to. The 'right attitude' in this instance.


Just as a little comment at this point. The achieving of some "greasey" landings seems to be regarded as some sort of defining point. We alll like to do them, but a fair average quality (FAQ) CONTROLLED landing gets higher marks from me. With the emphasis on CONTROLLED. All interesting stuff .......





Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I come into the older part of this scenario, but the wiser part seems to elude me. when you are sure you have achieved wiseness is when I would expect you to be at your most dangerous. There comes a time when you start to doubt your abilities and having got there I can't work out wether that is a good thing or not.



Link to comment
Share on other sites



True wisdom and dangerous are mutually exclusive, and I'm sure you are not dangerous. Ian ,you still need a certain amount of self-confidence to be able to give that of which you are capable. What I am trying to say is , analyse, but don't be too hard on yourself, after all you still fly the Corby don't you?


There has to be a time for us old-timers to stop kidding ourselves, I suppose, but we're not there yet, are we? Tail wheels forever!!!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest TOSGcentral

Interesting topic!


From very sensible, and long term, accident trend records in other flight disciplines the following was discerned (and it does fit in with Ian’s three phases):


Phase 1. Post solo and beyond to about 120 hrs command time. You are acutely aware that you do not know it all so take things very carefully and stick ‘by the book’ (in piloting attitude rather than just adherence to the book)


Phase 2. Around the 120 hrs mark. You ‘think’ you know it all and not much has happened to you so you spread your wings further – too early and too much. Potential serious attitude vulnerability. This is the peak accident area.


Phase 3. After the 120 hour (or about that period) you are certain that you know everything and what happens to you then becomes more problematical on circumstance and how far you push the circumstance. Again a case of potential serious attitude vulnerability but really dependent upon how well the Airman has matured out of the pilot.


Personally I have my own philosophy in this area. No matter your experience, the day you find that you have lost the urge to learn more, and especially if you are not prepared to give due consideration to other views and learning from them – then that is the day you hang up the helmet and goggles and go do something else other than flying.







Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...