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Are You as Good a Pilot as You Think You Are?

By Bob Mackey, Vice President, Falcon Insurance Agency, Inc.

As I look back on my years of flying I recall that the first three or four years were spent mostly on flight training and achieving various pilot certificates and ratings. (I did my early flying and college learning at Southern Illinois University, which has a great aviation program.) I earned my Private Pilot Certificate and Single-Engine Land rating and later I obtained my Commercial Pilot Certificate and Instrument Rating.

My core business classes in marketing and business administration kept me from finishing my Instructor Rating and Multi-Engine Rating. During my years at SIU it seemed I was always enrolled in flight training and ground school. Ironically, once I finished college my formal flight training pretty much stopped with the exception of passing a biennial flight review and an occasional rental check when I was between airplane ownerships. All this makes me wonder: Am I as good a pilot as I think I am?

What does flight training have to do with saving money on aircraft insurance? Actually there is a big connection because aviation insurance underwriters look at your overall pilot qualifications when they set the price for your insurance. If you continue to advance your pilot skills, this is also considered, especially when you move up to a more complex aircraft.

What are we doing to become better pilots beyond the FAA's required biennial flight review? But what are we doing on a voluntary basis? Here are a few suggestions that will make you a better pilot and, in the long run, will save you money on your aircraft insurance, not to mention prevent bad things from happening.

  • Go get 2 or 3 hours of recurrent flight training from your local flight school or a local independent flight instructor. (If you don't have a flight school located on your airport or know a local independent flight instructor, contact the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) at 920-426-6801 or nafi@eaa.org.
  • If you belong to an aircraft type club, check to see if it offers any weekend training courses. These are great ways to get more enjoyment out of your aircraft ownership and improve your pilot skills.
  • Why not go out and earn an additional rating? Earning your seaplane or glider rating is a great way to improve your pilot skills. Or you could get your tailwheel, high-performance, or complex ratings. If you're really looking for a major accomplishment, you could pursue your flight instructor or instrument rating!
  • The FAA Wings Program is another good way to advance your pilot skills. To find the location and date of an FAA Wings Program near you contact your nearest FAA Flight Service District Office (FSDO).

Are you as good a pilot as you think you are? If you are honest with yourself you'll agree that any additional training is a good thing, so start looking for opportunities. Trust me they are out there.

Better pilots pay less for insurance!

EAA INSURANCE TIPS is a special EAA Member benefit. If you have an insurance related topic you’d like to see addressed or if you have any comments, please email bmackey@falconinsurance.com. If you need an insurance quotation call 866-647-4EAA (4322).

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