Guest Article

Tips for That First Flight After Down Time

For this month’s issue, we’re going to pull content from one of our largest and most trusted markets, Starr Aviation. Starr has long been one of the standard bearers in aviation insurance, so it makes sense to disseminate their expertise and commentary. Plus, as a reader, it’s nice to have a different perspective and a varied tone once in a while.

You’ve probably had some downtime from flying since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your flights may have been reduced or stopped, or maybe winter kept you away from the hangar. Chances are, you haven’t touched your aircraft in some time. Have you thought about how you will approach your next flight? Here are a few ideas and useful resources to refresh your skills prior to pushing those levers forward.

  • It starts with you. Several sleepless nights worrying about your job, the health of your kids and family members, an aging relative, masks, social distancing, etc., all contribute to your overall stress and well-being. The basics still apply when utilizing the FAA’s IMSAFE checklist, which is a good start to eliminate errors. The acronym stands for illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue, and emotion (or eating). Ensure these items are in check before going to the airport
  • Flight simulators. Using a desktop flight simulator can assist with your scan and procedures. For less than $300, the minor cost of a software package and accessories, a home sim can provide useful, but priceless, training. Even the most seasoned pilots can benefit from using desktop flight simulators, practicing emergency procedures, or experiencing unique flying circumstances before they happen in the air. In simulated flight, having the ability to quickly repeat procedures allows you to build up the necessary knowledge and muscle memory that make you totally prepared when you hop in the cockpit.
  • Evolving environment. During these uncertain times, be attentive to the evolving environment we operate in. The FAA has extended expiration deadlines on medical certificates and airworthiness directives and issued Special Federal Aviation Regulations (SFAR) for regulatory relief due to COVID-19. ATC and control tower hours have been adjusted, and some airport closures are possible. The FAA Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update website is a great tool for staying informed. Be mindful of your insurance requirements relative to any exemptions and remember pre-flight briefings are essential before any flight. 
  • Your aircraft. Last, but not least, the aircraft has been sitting, so pull out the manual and review all of the pre-flight checklist items. Prior to the pandemic, you were likely comfortable with the routine, day-to-day or weekly flights and possibly skipped over an item or two. Also, take time to inspect for bird, mice, bees, or other animals nesting, any leaking or empty reservoirs, and that the battery is in operating condition.