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How do you remember flying knowledge?

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How do you remember flying knowledge?

Old 2nd Jan 2015, 08:53
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How do you remember flying knowledge?

We acquire lots of theoretical knowledge before and after PPL, and not all of it can be written off as arcane stuff one never needs. So, if we don't fly as often as the commercial folk, just what is the best way to keep that knowledge fresh and usable?

I see people asking questions on here which get replies from members who plainly have a good grip on their subject. If any of you are in the category of hobby flyers (albeit with a pro attitude), what do you do to get that fluency? I fly average hours for a PPL (maybe a few more actually) and I generally have some reading materials 'on the go' and I book time with instructors when I feel rusty - but I'm not confident I'd pass all the theory exams if I took them again now. And I think some of the stuff I've forgotten is likely to be important some day. I think I'd enjoy flying more if I felt I had a good command of such things.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 09:07
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I read the accident reports, as I'm sure you do.

I find that very simple ways of avoiding killing myself do tend to stick in my mind.

There's more of an incentive to remember this stuff than there is for the exam-passing nonsense ("what colour paper was some 1936 treaty printed on").
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 09:19
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Join Date: Oct 2013
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How do you remember flying knowledge?

+1 accident reports (I read them in flyer). Also at my airfield there is a newsletter that always contains a problem, there are also occasional problems posted in the briefing room.

Have you considered compiling a list of potential problems some annoying (eg. Landing light out/frozen pitot) some serious (rough running/oil pressure drop/EFATO) and trying to solve one each week - not just saying to yourself I know what I'd do, but maybe write down each step you think you'd follow from identifying to solving and then look it up or speak to an instructor to be sure you haven't missed anything.

Happy landings.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 09:37
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I also read a lot of accident reports. Its a good way of highlighting the relatively small number of things that kill PPLs. Its great to have lots of knowledge and be able to retain it and recall and use it, but I'm just not that good. The accident reports distill the things that you really need to be cognisant of:

1. Always do a thorough pre-flight prior to the first slight of the day (otherwise known as an A check) and do a walk-round before every flight. Many have taken off with tow bars still attached because they looked but didn't see.

2. Always know your fuel situation, your consumption and don't trust your gauges.

3. Look out, look out, look out. Collisions average one per year in the UK. Listen out on the radio, look out of the windows (all of them), and try your damndest to know where every other aeroplane in the circuit is.

4. Don't fly into cloud. Unless you're a good, current IR/IMC holder, single pilot IFR operations when done un-planned and under trained, will kill you.

5. Use you carb heat frequently and for long periods and know the conditions under which its most likely to be required.

You might notice that controlled airspace isn't on this list. This is because with the advent of cheap moving-map GPS, we all have no excuse. Also, you're unlikely to harm yourself or others though may well pick up a hefty fine.

I don't do loads of reading on PPL syllabus stuff, but I do make an effort to know everything I can about the type I fly and I do make an effort to stay current. I practise short field operations, I stall it every third flight, both from S&L and a turn(deliberately!) Being able to aviate in my sleep has enabled me to get out of tight spots because it left me so much spare capacity to navigate and communicate.

In essence, its an attitude thing. If you don't lose sight of the five things I mentioned above then you probably don't need a huge wealth of knowledge.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 09:58
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We acquire lots of theoretical knowledge before and after PPL, and not all of it can be written off as arcane stuff one never needs. So, if we don't fly as often as the commercial folk, just what is the best way to keep that knowledge fresh and usable?

Two things, avoid Google and use your brain.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 10:28
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My old English teacher used to say that "you know what you like". OK, he was talking about poetry but I have found it relatively easy to remember the things I need to know about the activity I love. Even after a break of 23 years, when I had to do all of the exams again, I could remember much of air law and enjoyed re learning the things I had forgotten. Partly this was because I kept in touch by reading any aviation matter I could get hold of.

I still enjoy acquiring knowledge about all aspects of aviation which is one of the reasons I follow PPRuNe and reading about the experiences of others.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 11:04
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Watching air crash investigation also helps, even though most of it is for the big birds. One episode covered a tail stall, which I then further investigated on youtube with FAA videos. I never even considered the possibility of the tail stalling before!

And for unusual attitude recovery: play some ww2 combat flight sims on the pc. There are pretty realistic ones. I know you miss the actual feeling, but it can be valuable experience in emergency situations if you can assess your attitude in a millisec purely on the visuals from looking outside.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 11:56
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There's a book by Flyer called I learnt about flying from that. Great way to learn from other pilots mistakes, written by the pilots themselves.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 14:31
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And for unusual attitude recovery: play some ww2 combat flight sims on the pc. There are pretty realistic ones. I know you miss the actual feeling, but it can be valuable experience in emergency situations if you can assess your attitude in a millisec purely on the visuals from looking outside.
IMO WW1 planes are a lot more similar to the current garden variety SEP plane regarding weight and speeds than WW2 birds. There is even a free WW1 sim with excellent flight modelling: Try Rise of Flight! . However, immersive and fun as these flight sims are: a) at the edges of the flight envelope they are all not very convincing (AFAIK this even applies to high-end full motion sims used for commercial training), b) especially in stalls, unusual attitudes etc., all the sensations that cannot be conveyed visually are IMO especially important (and potentially unsettling), c) even many WW1 planes apparently withstood higher diving speeds and g forces than most usual SEP planes. Pulling a half-loop from inverted flight instead of rolling upright, for instance, will work out fine in these sims but is a potentially lethal temptation in a real non-aerobatic airplane.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 14:37
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I remember knowledge by flying, and realizing that I needed it to complete the flight safely! It sounds silly simple, but it's a lot easier to remember something, when you realize that you actually need that information. At the beginning, it would seem as masses of information, with little practical application, but as you fly, all of those bits of information begin to find their home in your understanding of their need to exist.

I believe it was Bader who said: Regulation is for the guidance of wise men, and obedience of fools.

The information is there for you to use to fly safely. You may not have found how you need it yet, but fly long enough, and you will. Know that it's there, from people who have learned that lesson (the hard way) before, and took the time to write it down for you!
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 16:49
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It comes with experience and having the right attitude. And though commercial pilots may log more hours than you do, most GA hours are far 'richer' in engendering experience. They are almost certainly 'hands and feet on', single pilot, short flights.

How many commercial hours are at altitude 'watching the automatics'? How many landings a month do you think a long haul pilot gets? Almost certainly fewer than many GA pilots! Don't sell your own experience short!
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 16:52
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The best thing I can offer is to become "air minded". This means you constantly have aviation somewhere in your mind, even when not actually flying. On a windy day, think how this would affect your flying. Same for when the seasons change, think winter ops, icing etc. think how you would have coped with things that have caught other pilots out and as some have already said, learn from their mistakes, or good airmanship where appropriate.

I realised long ago that I couldn't remember everything. So instead, I tend to remember where I can find the answers. My bedside bookshelf has a lot of aviation publications dating back to my aviation days in the early 1970s. I also download and save stuff from the CAA website, to keep up to date with changes to important publications such as CAP 393. The rules change more often than some realise and these changes aren't always publicised as well as they might be. Don't get caught out!

I'm lucky enough to have been in constant flying practice on a professional basis since 1977. I'm still learning. One day I might get it right....... 🙏
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 16:58
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I can't retain information unless it's important. The only way you find out if something is important is to fly. Then you go back and look at the stuff you now know is important until eventually you don't need to look back at anything.

Funnily enough though I can recall numbers with no effort or learning on my part. I could quote you V speeds and performance graph data for anything I fly. Same with radio frequencies, I only need to dial them in once and I never forget them. The human brain is a fascinating thing. I may get one sometime.

Edit: Just cross posted with ST and I agree with him about being air minded. I never stop thinking about flying really, even lying on a beach somewhere I'll be watching the weather and trying to predict what it's going to do. Can't help it.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 19:48
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This is a great book I discovered this winter: The Killing Zone.

The Killing Zone The Killing Zone


It sheds light on the most common mistakes by low-hour private pilots between 50-350 hours, and it has statistics on which skills degrade fastest. (This can vary by country, but the items on the list are pretty relevant everywhere). So at least I can focus on practicing those, and this is why I bothered to fly from busier airfield in December, instead of our own, which is very quite these days. I also plan and mentally practice new flying routes for the springtime already, it helps me keeping my navigational / RT skills up.

The bottom line is: if you don't use it (at all), then you will surely lose it. Got to keep flying, got to keep practicing on purpuse.
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 19:49
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Interesting that the OP's question related to remembering "flying knowledge".


There is a hierarchy of stuff we "know", like this:


Data > Information > Knowledge > Wisdom


We frequently need access to all four kinds. And we are all trying to build our knowledge and wisdom by distilling data and information into useful stuff to know. That process of distillation is what the earlier posters mean by experience and being air-minded.


Which means that it isn't knowledge if you have to try to remember it
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Old 2nd Jan 2015, 23:57
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Try reversing the question and answer, if the answer is the number.
e.g. Q. What is 36ft 10in?
A. The wingspan of a Spitfire

Now you can write yourself a list of numbers and then answer with the questions that would yield them.
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Old 3rd Jan 2015, 08:30
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First of all, toss your slide rule computer into the dustbin. And throw away all your notes. BUT make a copy of your logbook, keep that up to date as well as the original logbook. Mine was stolen, together with my car...the car came back, the logbook never did.

Second, read again what Fleet Flyer says in his post...

Practice, practice. If out of practice, have a couple of flights with an instructor to get back in the feel of it.

O yes. and if you are suddenly startled by a scary noise, do nothing at all.
Sudden reactions can make things worse; if the scenery is blue side up and green down, take time to asses the problem. A seatbelt hanging out the door can make an awful noise. Wait until later to sort it. I guess we call this suggestion don't panic. And don't hesitate to go around if it looks like a good plan. That's the plan B all you power guys enjoy. We glider pilots just have five or six places to plonk it if cows suddenly turn up where you had intended to land....Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.

And dare I say it again, learn to fly gliders. It will make you a better pilot.
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Old 3rd Jan 2015, 08:49
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A seatbelt hanging out the door can make an awful noise.
Indeed. (C152, North Weald... I must admit I did panic very slightly...)
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Old 3rd Jan 2015, 09:39
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Hang out with knowledgeable more experienced pilots with high standards - consider doing a flying club. Book some time with an instructor every now and then , and ask him to get you to do some challenging things. The last time I did this , he made me fly back to the airports without ailerons, on just thrust and rudder, do a full circuit, and then handing me the controls mid final.

Arrange to fly as a copilot with this sort of pilot and you will learn a lot - welcome their comments.

I find always prepping cross country flights in the same way I did my training keeps my skills up - this includes complying with all legal and planning regs, as well as weather checks etc.

Do some long trips which require planning and lots of procedural flying into Class C and D airspace. I took myself across Austraia twice , including flying into Capital city airports and military bases, learning how to submit flight plans on my iPhone etc.

Do extra qualification such as night or PIF ratings

Read a lot of Magazines and accident reports.

Last edited by Mimpe; 3rd Jan 2015 at 09:43. Reason: Every two years I read the VFR handbook cover to cover prior to my bi-annual
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Old 3rd Jan 2015, 10:00
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Indeed. (C152, North Weald... I must admit I did panic very slightly...)
I didn't.

Because I'd read about it in the book (the Cessna Pilot Centre Manual of Flight) so pretty well instantly worked out what it was.

But I've no idea why that particular piece of flying knowledge from the book stuck in my mind long enough to be useful!
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