Snow, sharp wind and biting cold – winter is officially upon us, bringing the tumultuous weather along with it. If you love to fly but aren’t fond of icy runways, long preheats or freezing temperatures, you may be worried that you could get rusty behind the control wheel. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to avoid this type of situation. Let’s explore some ideas on how you can keep your piloting skills sharp this winter.
Start or Finish Ground School
When the weather turns cold, it’s a great time to get your ground school training in, especially if you’re nervous about flying during the winter. Ground school is the traditional portion of your training, where aviators prepare for the FAA written exams. It can take up to a few months to complete, so you’ll be ready to fly by the time the snow melts. There are three main things you’ll focus on during ground training that will help keep your skills sharp, including:
- Learning the flight and aircraft operation procedures that you’ll apply in the air.
- Learning the aeronautical knowledge (weather, sectionals, cross country, etc.) that helps to keep you and others safe while flying.
- Learning information pertaining to the FAA knowledge test that you need to pass in order to become a certified private pilot.
Get Plenty of Regular Exercise
There’s no doubt that those navigating the sky should be in good health. Even private pilots are required to complete an online application and undergo a physical examination with an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner. It makes sense then that you’d want to keep your physical health in tip-top shape during the winter season. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress and improve cognitive ability, among many other benefits—things that are sure to improve your skills as a pilot and get you ready for spring flying.
Purchase Flight Simulator Software
In recent years, thanks to the rise in computing power, flight simulator software provides a fantastic way to both keep your skills up and improve your overall understanding of aviation. Not only is it more realistic than ever before, but they’ve also come down in price, meaning the everyday consumer can quickly and easily get started with a flight simulator.
But, perhaps the biggest draw of flight simulation software is that there’s almost no limit to what you can fly and where you can fly it. Purchase a joystick and other accessories to go along with it, and it’ll be as close to the real thing as you can get. Below is a list of popular flight simulator software that you can explore when starting the process:
- X-Plane: With 3-D cockpits, detailed scenery for over 3,000 airports and a new, overhauled aircraft fleet, X-Plane is a realistic flight simulator that’s known for the accuracy of its flight dynamics.
- Flight Simulator Series: This software is one of the longest-running, best-known and most comprehensive home flight simulator programs on the market and great value in terms of performance, value and popularity.
- Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D: A visual simulation platform that allows users to create training scenarios across aviation, maritime, and ground domains, this flight simulator from Lockheed Martin allows users to train anywhere in the virtual world, from underwater to sub-orbital space.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Cold — Get Out There and Fly!
Flying during the winter can actually be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, even more so than flying in the summer. You get better aircraft speed and lift, the visibility is great and there are fewer planes in the sky. Not only will your piloting skills stay sharp, but aircraft owners will enjoy the fact that their plane will benefit from regular flight time. If you’re really serious about maintaining your skills, then you should develop a plan for what you want to do during each flight. After all, you can’t expect to become an expert aviator by flying quick, 30-minute sightseeing flights every other month.
Stay Sharp this Winter
Now that you have some ideas on staying sharp this winter, you can make sure your piloting skills never take a nosedive, no matter how cold, snowy or icy it gets. All you need to do is take the right approach and you can continue to pursue your love of flying—so don’t let winter get you down!
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