Looking at the long range forecast, lately, and seeing nothing but wave after wave of moisture heading this way from the north Pacific, I realized that the summer flying season was well and truly over. That’s a little sad, of course, but it does give us the opportunity to change gears and aviate in other ways. There are many other ways we can ‘fly’, if not in the sky.
Studying for the next rating is the first that comes to mind. Sometimes it’s easier to get into the books with an enforced stretch of time on the ground. If you’ve gotten your license recently and have been flying on nice days with no wind, now is a great time to start reading about instrument flying. There are free FAA pubs available for download, YouTube videos to watch, and simulators to fly. Chapter meetings and IFR seminars are great places to meet instrument rated pilots and ask questions. Even if you’re not immediately intending to take a check ride, studying the material will make you a more informed pilot and make the later transition to the rating easier.
My next challenge is the commercial rating. While I have no intention of becoming an airline, corporate, or even banner-flying pilot, the commercial rating precedes the CFI or Certificated Flight Instructor rating. As a long time teacher, that is intriguing. Even if I never taught, though, just the study for the ratings would refresh a lot of material and make me a more informed pilot.
The second thing we can do is gather. Christmas parties, monthly WPA chapter meetings, FAA seminars, VFR and IMC Clubs, EAA meetings . . . They’re all excellent reasons to gather with other aviators. Tell stories, listen to others, learn, teach, and make plans for flights when the weather clears. Aviators are fun people and I’m always glad to meet them in groups.
Maintenance is always good to catch up on. I’ve got a few projects that I didn’t want to down the airplane for when the weather was perfect but now is the time. The concrete floor in the hangar is getting cold, though . . .
The last thing we can do is plan. Spring will be here soon enough and there isn’t a better corner of the country to fly in. Plan flights that will qualify you for one or more FlyWashington Passport patches. Watch for June Fitzpatrick’s Fly for Fun Ticket and pencil in a few fly-ins. Sun-n-Fun? Oshkosh? Don’s back country seminar was a huge success last summer. Angel Base is working up a list of events that will give us a reason to get out there.
Even if the skies are grey, the icing level is coming down, and our feet are on the ground, we can still keep our head in the clouds.