Take the Back Seat

There is no substitute for getting hands-on experience from the left seat of the cockpit when learning to fly. But, whether you are a budding pilot or an experienced one, you can learn a lot while sitting in the back seat observing how other pilots conduct their flight operations.

As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat, and the analogy is definitely true in the world of aviation. Whether it is something as simple as when to add flaps or lower the landing gear or something more complex such as how to set up for an instrument approach, the is no real right or wrong way to do things. However, there are ways that can make the flight more efficient.

Riding in the back seat is particularly educational if you are working on your instrument rating or if you are not very current with your instrument skills. With so many possible clearances and thousands of approaches, each with their own peculiarities, there is always something to learn.

Ask an instructor if you can ride along in the back when one of his or her students is training. You'll be amazed at how much you can learn without the distraction of having to control the airplane yourself. But just make sure that you keep completely quiet. Unless you fear for your life, you should allow the student and instructor to concentrate on their tasks. Leave any questions or comments for when you've safely exited the airplane.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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