As pilots, it is your responsibility to abide by the rules and fly safely. However, having a few tricks up your sleeve is never a bad idea especially when dealing with air traffic control, grounds crews, and other pilots. Keep these nuggets of knowledge with you and you never know when they’ll come in handy.
- Never change fuel tanks without picking out an emergency landing site.
Changing your fuel tank is a regular task that you should do to manage your fuel, but before just reaching over and making the tank switch, look out the window and make sure you have a safe place to land just in case something goes awry.
- You don’t always have to immediately repeat whatever ATC says. Stop and think “does this make sense?”, then repeat it back. You’ll get quicker at it over time.
Remember that FAR §91.3, part a states that
“The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.”
- A simple way to remember which position light is on which side of your plane is to remember the airplane Cessna 172 RG. Red is on the left, Green is on the right.
- Chair Fly.
Bring home a copy of your chicklists and go over them. Take a picture of your cockpit and memorize where all the dials, knobs, levers, and instruments are. Go over your checklist and touch the instruments on your picture to make sure you develop muscle memory for where things are. This will make you a safer, better prepared pilot in the long run.
- If there is a single layer of cumulus clouds, the air will almost always be turbulent below them and smooth above.
- Be excited and ready to learn something new every time you show up to the airport.
It may happen when you least expect it but GA airports are filled with people with tons of experience. Spark up a conversation with someone new, get a tour of your local air traffic control tower, meet a new flight instructor, join a flight club. The opportunities abound for you to become a better, safer pilot.