It’s my flight review time again, and as I begin to prepare for this event, I have several learning and review references that I keep on hand just for this purpose.
ASA’s Guide to Flight Review
The first is a book that I picked up from an ASA booth at EAA AirVenture some years back; it is also available from Sporty’s, Aircraft Spruce, and other sources. ASA, which is short for Aviation Supplies and Academics, Inc., is a major publisher of everything and anything to do with aviation training. They publish a small, non-intimidating digest-size book entitled Guide to the Flight Review by Jackie Spanitz that costs a mere $12.95. Now in its eighth edition, the book is short, to the point, and spot on for a review. And as training books go, it’s thoroughly enjoyable to read. You can take this on vacation and sit by the pool, beverage in hand, and read it in about an hour.
The book is about 75 digest-size pages of just review of the important stuff. Along with introductory information about what the flight review is and what its purpose is, for those that haven’t had a flight review before, it also includes as its main focus a chapter aptly named “Ground Instruction Requirement.” This right-on-target chapter is concise and a very easy read. In the “Ground Instruction Requirement” chapter are short reviews of the following areas:
A. Privileges and Limitations
B. Currency Requirements
C. Aircraft Certificates and Documents
D. Aircraft Maintenance Requirements
F. Obtaining Weather Information
G. Weather Reports, Forecasts and Charts
I. Weight and Balance
J. Aircraft Performance
L. Cross Country Flying
M. Radio Communications
N. Federal Aviation Regulations Part 91
P. National Transportation Safety Board
Q. Airport Operations
R. Runway Incursion Avoidance
S. Aircraft and Engine Operations
T. System and Equipment Malfunctions
U. Airplane Instruments
V. Human Factors
While all this sounds intimidating, each section is only a page or two. It’s concise and to the point, and actually reading this doesn’t take long at all, perhaps an hour or two at the most. In addition, there are some other resources in the book that you may find useful. More specifically, “Flight Review: Private and Commercial” gives a list of maneuvers that you may do during the flight portion of your flight review. I give this book an A for helping me get through the flight review with a minimum of stress.
Many of us don’t learn as well as we should from reading the printed word and learn better from pictorial or video displays of information. I’m one of those people, so my no-stress learning plan has a video component in addition to the book above. If you really have trouble reading and want to skip the book, go right to this solution and you’ll be fine.
Sporty’s Online Course
Sporty’s, the company that dominates the retail and learning side of general aviation, produces a $49.95 online course that’s outstanding. The online presentation is simple, clear, concise, and fast moving. There are seven chapters that can be watched from beginning to end or restarted or skipped at any time. The entire course is similar to the ASA book above, except that it’s spoon-fed to you at a relatively high speed in a visually compelling format.
The online presentation covers these seven chapters:
- Pilot technique: night flying, emergency procedures, angle of attack, slow flight, power-off stalls, power-on stalls, crosswind takeoffs and landings
- Aeromedical factors: carbon monoxide, hypoxia, visual illusions, night illusions, nitrogen and scuba, hyperventilation
- Airspace: class A, B, C, D, E, G, Special Use, ADS-B requirements, military training routes, TRSA
- Aviation data: charts and publications, flying with EFBs (iPad/tablet computers) in the cockpit, NOTAMs
- Regulations: alcohol, Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), fuel planning, medical requirements (and BasicMed), supplemental oxygen, pilot currency
- Airport signs and markings: closed runways, displaced threshold, runway lighting, taxi and runway signs
- Weather: Airmets and Sigmets, Convective Outlook, Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA), PIREPs, radar imagery, METARS and TAFs, ADS-B weather
This course gets an A in my opinion as being an effective learning tool for the Flight Review. Your computer-based web browser is supported, along with your iPhone/iPad using the Apple App Store, Apple TV, Android from the Google Play Store, and Roku TV.
Commercial Pilot Flight Review
Phase two of my flight review plan uses Chapter 4 of the ASA book discussed above. Chapter 4 is entitled “Flight Instruction Requirement” and has separate maneuver tables for both private and commercial licenses. As I’m a commercial pilot, I’m only interested in the commercial pilot page of this section. You’re invited to reference the page in the book that applies to your license. Having looked at this page, I can see what I need to practice before my flight review. In my case, I take my plane up one day before my flight review and practice slow flight and stalls. Arrival and departure stalls are where, in my opinion, the highest risk is. Of course, life isn’t like that in reality, but a flight review isn’t reality anyway.
The other maneuver that I practice is steep turns around a point. Frankly, I used to find it difficult to impossible, and I can still remember struggling with this in my private flight test in 1968. When I got my commercial in 2017, I was motivated to get this right. When I practice these maneuvers the day before my flight review, my actual flight review is quick, easy, and stress free.
The FAA’s FAR/AIM Manual
Finally, every two years I purchase a freshly printed copy of the FAA FAR/AIM. While our friends in Washington would like us to purchase one every year, I find that to be a waste. It’s hundreds of pages, and I try to review it every couple of years. So when it’s flight review time I go to Sporty’s or Aircraft Spruce and purchase a fresh copy for approximately $20.
If you spend enough time online with your favorite web browser, you may find many more solutions to the flight review challenge. In this article, I’ve chosen to discuss only the two that I use. If you have other solutions that I’ve missed, please email them to me and we’ll list them in an upcoming article.