Don't Spin Your Wheels with Your Recurrent Training Hours

To "train the way you fly," you might first have to educate your instructor.

Even if you fly a lot, you'll agree that recurrent training is a good investment. But too often, pilots find that the time they spend with an instructor is largely wasted on procedures that simply don't match up to the way they fly. For example, some instructors insist on ignoring GPS in favor of conducting an IFR refresher using only VORs. It might be that the instructor just isn't familiar with the operating system of the unit installed in the airplane-especially if you're doing the training in your own machine. Even popular GPS navigators such as the Garmin 430/530 series interface differently with autopilots and other systems in certain installations, and the instructor may be reverting to using the equipment that is more universal.

It might also go against the grain for the instructor to ask you to spend 20 minutes or more of your valuable time (with the meter running) letting you do the "instructing" on how the equipment works. But it could be well worth your investment. First, you'll refresh your memory on the unit's operation by explaining it to someone else (the old saying is, "the best way to really learn something is to teach it"); and second, once the instructor is more comfortable with your panel, it will be easier for him or her to advise you on ways to improve your technique.

Even if you are lucky enough to always fly with the same instructor, the preflight sit down is still in order to bring him or her up to date on changes to your flying patterns-and to reinforce, once again, how you use the combination of equipment in your airplane.