Now You Can Try VFR Mastery (for free) to Work on the Mental Part of Flying
Try it free for 30 days.
For the pilot who wants to remain sharp, VFR Mastery offers a series of online, scenario-based workshops. Each month, you get a challenging VFR scenario that increases your knowledge and overall preparedness.
Broaden your exposure to different flight situations
Gain a better understanding of VFR procedures
Learn to recognize and avoid common traps
Commit to regular improvement
Try it today and you’ll get instant access to a library of thought-provoking VFR Mastery scenarios.
Give it a fair evaluation, and you’ll see why committed pilots all over the world rely on VFR Mastery each month to stay sharp!
Regular Exercise For Your Pilot Brain
Each month, VFR Mastery subscribers get a new online scenario. Our instructors follow a proven, step-by-step process that will test your knowledge and help you learn in a fun and effective way.
Watch: Start by watching a short briefing video that puts you in the pilot’s seat, and details the scenario you’ll be evaluating.
Think: Each scenario briefing ends with several options. Here you will review weather forecasts, aircraft data, airport information, sectional charts and more to help you choose.
Choose: Choose your favorite option, then compare your choice with other pilots on our live poll.
Learn: After making your selection, watch the instructor’s video and learn which option they chose. They provide step-by-step instruction and offer a detailed explanation of their thought process. These segments are full of tips and techniques!
Listen: Our instructor roundtable discussion is where they discuss and debate each scenario. They don’t always agree…and that’s the fun part. It’s where a lot of learning happens.
Discuss: After going through the scenario, visit the members-only discussion forum where great tips, techniques and stories are shared. Valuable hangar flying with our instructors and other pilots.
Far more than reading another article or watching another YouTube video, VFR Mastery delivers a powerful way to keep your head in the game and gain valuable experience from the comfort of your computer.
Get Instant Access To These Scenarios:
The Impossible Go-Around?
You’ve got the whole family on board for a great weekend by the ocean. However, the landing attempt on a runway that’s short and obstructed didn’t go so well. Now you have only a second to decide if an attempted go-around will safely clear the trees—or result in a catastrophe.
Holiday in Montpelier
A weekend reunion with family is only one short flight away. After a delayed start, things seem on track: You have the airport in sight from miles away, winds are right down the runway, all the airplane gauges are in the green. Yet something doesn’t seem right. What’s that little voice inside trying to tell you?
It’s the perfect sunny day to take your new airplane and three friends for a day off the coast of California. The only catch is a bank of fog lingering just off your destination airport. The ASOS calls it IFR, but you see the runway in the clear. Will you still try and land?
Squeeze Play in Arkansas
VFR into IMC might be the deadliest trap for non-instrument pilots. It’s easy to say you’d just turn around, but the reality of cross-country flying is that deteriorating weather lures even the most resolute souls when it occurs slowly, and with tempting options–that can vanish in moments if the conditions are right.
A Short-Field Barbecue
A day of fair-weather flying, tailwinds, and an on-airport restaurant with the tastiest barbecue in the county: What could be better? The after-lunch departure, however, leaves you deciding between departing uphill and upwind, downhill and downwind. Trees off one runway end complicate matters further. Don’t wait too long; this fair weather won’t last.
All the Way to Jackson
Difficult situations can crop up on beautiful days and without anything actually going wrong. In fact, these might be the most insidious of traps because they lure you in. Watch how a series of reasonable decisions creates a tough conundrum. How would you handle a situation where every option leaves you feeling uncomfortable?
Crossed Up at Four Corners
Sport planes and a Sport Pilot Certificate can be tools for real travel by air, with a few limitations. There’s no night flight, usually no instrument flight, and light wing loading can make turbulence challenging. That means creativity might be required to complete the mission—or sometimes just to get back on the ground.
Aromatic Issues Over St. Louis
Fire might be the most terrifying thing a pilot can face. Even the possibility of a fire is enough to warrant an immediate diversion. But what if the nearest place has no assurance of landing, and the surest one is practically your destination anyway? And what if it’s not fire but just the smell of fuel?
Pattern Problems in Astoria
The winds are favoring one runway, but the other pilots are using a different runway and a crosswind one at that. Will you forgo the normal traffic pattern entry and fly a straight-in, attempt a normal traffic pattern entry, or go against the flow of traffic and land on the runway no one else is using?
Feet Wet or Dry?
Bang: You have no engine and no hope of getting it back. In the next 30 seconds, you must decide where to put this airplane down with your daughter, your dog, and all your gear aboard. Ditch it in the lake or fly it into the trees? Think fast, you get lower with each passing second.
No Leg to Stand On
One risk of retractable-gear aircraft is that the wheels might not come down no matter what you do. Now you’re faced with picking the kind of gear-up landing you prefer: two wheels or none, grass or pavement? Don’t think this one is just for retract pilots. Gear issues happen in all airplanes.
Which Way to Yellowstone?
It’s a perfect day for a flight to Yellowstone National Park, but the choice of route is anything but clear. Will you go high or low? Will you go direct or take one of the long ways around? How will you weigh the risks and benefits for a flight out and back in the high country?
Low Volts Over Eugene
After a great day at the beach, it’s only a 40-minute flight home. But the sun has long since set, and an uncooperative alternator makes even a short VFR flight complicated when you consider navigation, communication, and regulations. Even the simplest choice isn’t so simple when you look at the big picture, and the destination is so temptingly close.
Split Decision at Salt Lake
You’re almost home, but a thunderstorm will make that last dash tricky. Can you make the run to your destination safely, or do you take one of the longer routes which present their own challenges? Or do you land at the airport nearly below you, but into the maw of a second storm rapidly heading that way?
Rough Running at Wauchula
What looks like a perfect partnership in a Cessna Cardinal gets a bit rough over unforgiving swampland. How will you resolve an engine issue and personality conflict when it’s not your airplane—even though your backside will be in just as much trouble if the motor quits completely? The alligators below await your choice.
That Erie Feeling
Lowering ceilings and patchy showers have you pushing the limits of VFR along the shore of Lake Erie. The weather is much better along the north shore, but that’s Canada, and you don’t have a passport or permission from Customs and Border protection. Will you press on, turn around, or cross the fence in clear—but foreign—airspace?
Meet The VFR Mastery Instructors
Learn from top professionals who share their tips, techniques and strategies. Instructors include:
Paul Bertorelli is an ATP-CFII and in addition to instructing, he has been a charter pilot and sometime skydiving aircraft pilot. He’s also an experienced skydiver with more than 3,000 jumps. He’s currently editor at large for www.avweb.com and has been the editorial director and editor of Belvoir Media Group publications including IFR, Aviation Consumer, Aviation Safety and IFR Refresher. He has produced numerous aviation videos. He lives near Sarasota, Florida.
Sarah is dedicated to helping aviators get better at their craft. Sarah is a West Point graduate and Army combat aviator. She flew the OH-58D during the invasion of Iraq and C-12s in Afghanistan in 2013. She currently flies the King Air 350 out of Portland, OR and is still an active pilot in the Oregon Army National Guard. As an avid aviation blogger, she has written for IFR Refresher, Air Facts Journal and on her own website: ThinkAviation.net. Her articles are focused on providing practical explanations of complex aviation topics.
Michael Goulian is one of North America’s most decorated aerobatic pilots and recognized aviation professionals, starring in air shows throughout the country and having won multiple U.S. Aerobatic Championships and multiple Red Bull Air Races.
In addition to his air show and racing credentials, Michael is a Certified Flight Instructor. A firm believer in scenario based training, Goulian is a Cirrus Standardized Instructor Pilot (CSIP), and regularly traverses the country in a Cirrus SR-22, delivering talks to aviation groups designed to increase the awareness of safety and proficiency amongst the general aviation pilot community. He owns and operates Mike Goulian Aviation in Plymouth and Bedford, MA, which serve as Authorized Cirrus Training Centers.
Mike Hart is a professional backcountry pilot, aviation safety author, aviation advocate and tailwheel instructor. His work is regularly featured in Aviation Safety Magazine, AvWeb, and AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation publications. He currently flies a variety of single-, twin-piston and turbo-prop aircraft out of Salmon, Idaho delivering passengers and cargo to small towns and into backcountry airstrips of the largest Wilderness in the lower 48 states.
He first earned his pilot license at the age of 18 and flew his family’s 152 off of a pasture in Kansas. After two decades of not flying, he rediscovered aviation and began flying for business and pleasure and eventually chose it for a second career. He has more than 3,000 hours, most of it earned as a mountain pilot. He has served as a District Director of the Idaho Aviation Association, the coordinator of the Idaho Airstrip Network and Idaho Liaison to the Recreational Aviation Foundation.
Dave Hirschman is an ATP/CFII who specializes in aerobatic and tailwheel flight instruction. He has provided more than 2,000 hours of aerobatic dual instruction in airplanes including the Decathlon, Pitts S-2B, Extra 300L, Stearman, WACO, and T-6. He has flown piston singles in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Mexico, and the Bahamas and performed air-to-air photo missions in those places.
Dave is the author of “Hijacked: The Heroes of Flight 705,” and he has been on the editorial staff of AOPA Pilot magazine since 2008. He has logged more than 8,000 flight hours in single and multi-engine land and seaplanes. He has a masters degree in journalism from the University of Michigan.
Executive Director of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, Former USAF Thunderbird Leader
Richard McSpadden is the Executive Director of AOPA’s Air Safety Institute and an active flight instructor. He holds a Commercial certificate with CFII, MEI, SEL ratings and a single-pilot Citation jet type rating. Richard began his GA flying in college and later flew F-15s, F-16s and the Super King Air 300 for the USAF.
He culminated his USAF career as the Commander and Flight Leader of the USAF Thunderbirds. Richard instructed his high school age son to successful completion of his PPL and is currently teaching his daughter, who soled in their SuperCub earlier this summer.
Judy Phelps was the “National Flight Instructor of the year” in 2011 and the 2010 Western Pacific Region FAA Flight Instructor of the year. Judy’s career in aviation started in 1994 when she met and married Clay Phelps, the CP of CP Aviation, located in Santa Paula California. In 2003 she became a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) and has logged over 10,000 hours. Judy Specializes in Tailwheel, Aerobatics and Emergency Maneuver Training.
Former Leader of AOPA’s Aviation Strategy and Programs division
As the former leader of AOPA’s Aviation Strategy and Programs division, Katie was responsible for its You Can Fly program, which focuses on growing and engaging the aviation community, and the Air Safety Institute, which has been providing free resources to help pilots fly safely for more than 60 years. Prior to joining AOPA, Katie earned a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and flew the Canadair Regional Jet with Atlantic Coast Airlines/Independence Air. She went on to serve as the director of communications for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Her idea of the perfect weekend involves flying her 1956 Cessna 180 Skywagon in her home state of Montana.
Hobie Tomlinson is a Master Certified Flight Instructor with over 10,600 hours of instruction given, a Designated Pilot Examiner, an FAA Master Pilot and the 2012 FAA Flight Instructor of the Year. As a highly respected professional in Aviation Safety, Tomlinson has developed and managed comprehensive safety programs for permanent fleets at FBO sites and for private aircraft owners and their crews. Having operated an independent flight instruction service, consulted with flight schools, and provided instruction to private individuals, he brings a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience.
Master CFI Tom Turner holds an ATP certificate with instructor, CFII and MEI ratings and has a Masters Degree in Aviation Safety. He was the 2010 National FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year and the 2008 FAA Central Region CFI of the Year and has logged over 2,500 hours instructing. In 2015 Tom was inducted into the NAFI Flight Instructor’s Hall of Fame.
Tom was a Captain in the United States Air Force and has been Lead Instructor for the Bonanza pilot training program at the Beechcraft factory. He now directs the education and safety arm of a 9000-member pilots’ organization.
BruceWilliamsis the owner of BruceAir, LLC, an aviation consulting, training, and pilot-services company based in Seattle, WA. He has been a pilot since the early 1970s, and he is a certified flight instructor and FAASTeam representative in the Seattle area. Today, he focuses on training in technically advanced aircraft (TAA), the Beechcraft Bonanza series, and stall/spin/upset recovery courses in an Extra 300L aerobatic aircraft. He also instructs at Galvin Flying Services at Boeing Field. During a 15-year career at Microsoft, he worked on six versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator. In the 1980s, he edited the Western Flyer (now the General Aviation News). He is also the author of two books about using PC-based simulation to complement flight training, plus many features on a variety of topics for aviation-focused periodicals. Bruce publishes an aviation blog at BruceAir.
VFR Mastery Free Trial
Your trial gets you free access to the entire VFR Mastery program and all scenarios for 30 days. Plenty of time to decide if you want to continue after the trial.
Starting month two, your subscription will automatically renew with new monthly scenarios until you cancel.
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Cancel anytime online, by phone, or by email. No commitment required.
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