Pilot's tip of the week

Play the Game of “What If?”


Subscriber question:

"Sometimes while I'm settled in cruise flight, I feel like I should be doing something more. But there's not much to do. What do you do?" —Henry S.


“Well, a good airman spends a lot of time thinking about ‘What if?’ And as we’re in cruise, you should be doing the same thing. You should be thinking about, ‘What would I do right now if this engine failed? Where would I land?’

Take a look around. Select a field. Practice selecting the fields. Do you really know which way the wind is blowing? So practice those things. Think about an alternator failure. Think about a loss of oil pressure.

Just review mentally what you would do, and that way you’ll be better ready if you ever have one of those issues to deal with.

Another good airman technique is to maintain situational awareness with that sectional chart. It’s so easy to just push the direct button on the GPS nowadays, and watch the numbers count down. But if you have an emergency, that’s not going to be very helpful. So I keep that sectional chart out (on my iPad) and I practice my map reading.

One of the things you can do to enhance your map-reading skills is finding those little private strips. They’re really hard to find. And they get you really looking at the map and really looking at the terrain. And who knows, having found them, you might actually use one of them someday.”

If you had an emergency in cruise and needed to find the nearest airport for landing, what would you use first?

(NEW) VFR Mastery scenario #72 “Rocky Mountain Milestone” is now available. You know high-altitude flying, as it’s where you trained. You have a capable airplane and a clear plan in mind. The devil is in the details when it comes to calculated performance, though, and a few extra degrees can make all the difference in getting off the pavement. Watch the Intro video.

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