Advanced Flight Training



Advanced Flight Training includes any type of flight training you do to learn new things and that is not Instrument Training. There are two good reasons to pursue Advanced Flight Training:

  1. You want to earn ratings, endorsements or check outs to do things in aviation that you would not be allowed to do now.
  2. You believe, as we do, that aiming to become a better is the surest way to prevent becoming a worse one.

For the second purpose, you don’t necessarily have to pursue a new rating in the near future. You could design a currency plan that includes going up with a CFI a few times each year to learn a new maneuver, and practice it on your own as part of your repertoire during your solo practice flights. Look in the Commercial Rating section for an idea of maneuvers most private pilots can easily learn in their regular aircraft.

Commercial and ATP Certificates

To earn a Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) is a measure of significant accomplishment in the aviation world. You have proven that you are taking this flying thing seriously and have committed yourself to increased skills, knowledge and specific experience. It looks good.

What you can do with a Commercial or ATP certificate is a subject of significant confusion. Like the spinach rule (spinach is a green vegetable but not all green vegetables are spinach), you need a Commercial or ATP certificate to get paid as a pilot, but you can’t get paid as a pilot just because you have a Commercial or ATP certificate.

Confused? You’re not alone. Contact us to set up a discussion on requirements for your specific aviation plans and aspirations.

Outside career considerations, think of it this way:

  • It is fun.
  • It will make you a better, more knowledgeable, more skilled, more confident, and more respected pilot.
  • It may impact your insurance rates (ask your insurance broker)
  • It is not that difficult to do.

In 2018, the FAA has moved to make it easier and less expensive to get a Commercial certificate by dropping the requirement to do the check ride in a complex airplane. You still need to log complex airplane experience as part of the required aeronautical experience, but because you can do the check ride in an airplane you are most comfortable with, you can also practice the commercial maneuvers in that airplane. This makes a huge difference.

Like with a private certificate, getting a commercial certificate involves a knowledge test and a practical test. The knowledge test covers some of the subjects you have already learned a bit more in-depth (great refresher, if nothing else) and details on privileges as a commercial pilot.

The practical portion involves a number of maneuvers that are brand new. This is where the fun comes in and where you will become a better pilot. Some of the maneuvers are:

  • Lazy Eights – A very slow, coordinated maneuver in which the bank and pitch attitude constantly change.
  • Chandelles – A performance maneuver that will allow you to turn 180° in as little space as possible
  • Steep turns To 50° – Rather than 45° for Private, makes more of a difference than you think
  • Steep Spirals – A great planning maneuver for when you arrive above a good landing field with a power failure and need to lose altitude to set up for a sure landing
  • Emergency Descends – For when you need to get down quickly but in a controlled manner
  • Eight on Pilons – When is the last time you did ground reference maneuvers? This one is really challenging, especially with some wind.
  • 180° Accuracy Landing – Spot landing without the use of power.

Even if you are not pursuing your Commercial or ATP Certificate, ask your CFI to teach you one of these the next time you fly, and add it to your repertoire. It will keep your flying more interesting and you will work on improving your flying skills.

Certified Flight Instructor

Once you have a Commercial Pilot Certificate, you can pursue a Flight Instructor Certificate. Of all the examinations the FAA does, most people agree this is the toughest. So what does it take?

The examination consists of two knowledge tests and one practical test.

The knowledge tests are split into an aeronautical knowledge test – not dissimilar to the Private and Commercial knowledge tests, and a Fundamentals of Instruction knowledge test, which covers the somewhat dry topic of how people learn and what methods work to teach.

The practical test has a very long, thorough orals portion. The difference with other orals is that you should not just know the answers to questions, but you should be able to explain the answers to someone who doesn’t know the answers (instructional knowledge).

The flying portion of the practical test is different from the commercial practical test as follows:

  • You have to fly from the right seat.
  • You have to do a lot more talking while flying, explaining the most fundamental and complex aspects of the maneuvers as you do them.
  • You have to diagnose and correct errors the examiner is making when acting like a student.

Apart from being a commercial pilot, there is only one aeronautical experience item to check off for the CFI ride, and it is unique to the CFI ride: Spin Training. The Flight Instructor certificate is the only FAA certificate where you need evidence that you have, at least once, spun an airplane.

Want to know more: contact us if you are interested in pursuing a Flight Instructor certificate.

Other Advanced Training

You don’t need to pursue an additional rating to challenge yourself and become a better pilot. A pilot certificate gives you privileges to do very challenging things as a pilot, but your during our pilot training, we only experience a limited number of those. Someone who trained and mostly flew in the Bay Area may be very comfortable with complex airspace and air traffic control, but may not be so comfortable dealing with the weather, turbulence and high density altitude of mountain flying. The pilot who trained in the mountains may have the opposite problem.

We encourage all pilots to actively plan to add new experiences and skills as part of their personal currency plan. Here are some advanced flight training ideas:

  • High performace, tailwheel, complex airplane endorsement – or just getting checked out in a new airplane keeps you sharp and on your toes.
  • Airspace lesson – class B transition, fly to one or more airports in busy airspace, or fly to the primary airport in Class C airspace
  • Cross-wind takeoffs and landings – when the wind is 10-12 knots, find a field with a cross-wind runway and go practice.
  • Gusty takeoffs and landings – on a day with gusts between 20 and 30 knots, do some pattern work.
  • Short field takeoffs and landings – ever landed on 2000 ft?
  • Soft field takeoffs landing — unless insurance or club/FBO procedures don’t allow it, find some turf to land on and take off from.
  • Mountain pass crossing – fly across a high mountain range to a high density airport, and depart there.
  • Practice approach – learn to fly a practice instrument approach as an alternative way to approach the airport
  • High altitude – learn how to use oxygen safely and feel how the airplane behaves near its service ceiling
  • Long cross country – fly beyond the airplane’s range into unfamiliar airspace.
  • Flying from the right seat – another great way to keep you on your toes. This is very challenging at first, don’t try this on your own. But especially if you have some hours, this makes you aware of what you are doing by ‘muscle memory’ and allowing for correcting some bad habits picked up over time.

Though with our private pilot certificate we are allowed to do all this, not many people have experienced all of these and would (or should) be comfortable doing this with some extra guidance.

Why Great Landings Aviation

At Great Landings Aviation, we are focused on you. We will help you make a plan that fits your goals, aspirations and ongoing requirements as a pilot. You want to be a safe pilot. We want to help you stay one by exercising your License to Learn.

Contact us for a free one-on-one discussion to create your learning plan.