Flying With a Friend

Approached properly, sharing a flight with another pilot can be a valuable learning tool.

If you're a scuba diver you'd never dive without a buddy. Some say that's because, if you meet a hungry shark, there's a 50-50 chance he'll choose your buddy from the menu. There are other good reasons for flying with the companionship of another pilot; if not all the time, at least occasionally. This is different from recurrent training with an instructor-another good idea. But flying with a non-instructor pilot takes on a different dimension with its own unique benefits.

If the pilot you choose to fly with is more experienced than you, the advantage is clear. You can learn from his or her technique. Conversely, it is said that the best way to learn is to teach, so flying with a less experienced pilot can help you to crystallize your own hard-won techniques-thus implanting them that much more firmly in your own mind as you pass along your wisdom to your companion pilot.

If the pilot you fly with is roughly at your level of experience and skill level, you might have the best of both-the two of you will be comfortable sharing techniques and tips, and there will be little or no pressure to impress or feel embarrassed by either of your shortcomings.

It could be regular monthly flights to practice approaches, business flights with a pilot colleague or recreational flights in search of the $100 hamburger. Even better, consider volunteering for Angel Flight (www.angelflight.com) and using your flying time to benefit those in need of transportation for medical treatment. Whatever the mission, sharing the cockpit with another pilot can solidify a bond between a pair of kindred spirits.

Sharing the fuel bill is a welcome side benefit.