At some point during my formative years, a friend of mine once said, “The only New Year’s resolution I ever make is to drink more water.” Anything else was deemed either too complicated or too unachievable—or of dubious merit in the long run.
So, like every year, that’s mine too.
On second thought, there’s more. The year that’s quickly slipping under our wings flew by, and we made considerable progress on the new FLYING. I also took steps forward on a few key aspects of my aviation life that are worth it for you to consider adding to your plan for 2023.
1: I Flew More. I Want to Fly More.
Weather put a hold on the flying I’d planned for our winter holidays. But I still managed to squeak in 30 percent more hours in 2022 than the year before. That’s a great start—but it’s just the beginning.
Flying is a sport in that it takes practice and exercise to continue to perform well. Or—on the flip side, what happens when you try to run a 5K on a Sunday morning and you haven’t put in the miles during the weeks before? You pull some muscle you didn’t know existed—and it hurts.
Going flying when you haven’t been practicing exposes you to pain. So while I’m happy with my progress, I know I will fly better and feel better the more I am able to put in the miles.
2: I Made an IFR Proficiency Plan.
A close corollary to the “fly more, fly better” mantra has to do with instrument flying. For those of you who earned an instrument rating at some time in your life, you know the work that went into getting that ticket. Few pilots call it “easy” and most consider it the most critical phase in their training. I know I do.
So all that work will quickly go to waste if you don’t keep your skills up. A good friend who recently earned her rating sets up a plan to fly every week under the hood—or in actual. That’s great. She may not make it every week, but it’s on the calendar so those hours add up to the required approaches and procedures as she needs them to stay current.
I know how important this is because I let my IFR proficiency lapse. I laughed out loud—and somewhat ruefully—when I was proofreading Martha Lunken’s latest column about regaining her instrument ticket, for our next issue. It was difficult enough to regain the skills when we were flying with a six-pack of analog gauges and a BendixKing KX 155 nav/com—now the levels of complexity resident in the standard G1000 NXi fill a tome literally two inches thick.
Make a plan for your flying—whether it’s VFR or IFR or both.
3: I Renewed My CFI.
In April, I’ll celebrate a milestone: 30 years since I earned my initial flight instructor certificate. After the instrument rating, it was by far the most challenging credential to achieve—and if you let it lapse, you’ll need to take a check ride with an FAA inspector to get it back, whether for a new instructor rating or just to reinstate the old one.
I don’t ever want to be in this position, so every two years, by hook or by crook, I make the time to renew. I have used a variety of courses to do so over the past three decades—at one point, I was on the development team for Jeppesen’s CFI Renewal program, so I like to see what all the providers are doing. But I never take it for granted. I always end up missing a couple of questions that I thought I knew cold. And I’m inevitably humbled by accepting the responsibility each time to recommit myself to teaching this craft we love so much.
4: I’m Looking for Unleaded.
I live in the Mid-Atlantic U.S., not California. So a year ago, when the specter of airport shutdowns in the Bay Area loomed large, it might have felt like the potential sunsetting of 100LL avgas remained a faraway problem.
But as 2022 wore on, more pressure developed on the quest to field an unleaded aviation gasoline solution—and a lot of progress was made. However, the fact that we’re sitting here a good 18 months after GAMI first obtained an STC for its unleaded solution—and six months after a broader acceptance of the fuel was granted—without unleaded fuel coming into our local airport is no surprise. Even with a drop-in solution and a mandate from the EPA closing in, it still takes a lot of work to build the infrastructure and supply chain to get the new juice into our engines.
The same is true of sustainable aviation fuel. We get press releases every week of new loads of SAF delivered to airports across the country. I read news from colleagues in Europe who feel significant pressure to switch over their fleets as soon as they can get their hands on a supply of SAF—lest the court of public opinion start to move on banning operations that don’t use it.
We have a lot of smart people working on those supply and distribution issues—but you can still feel helpless. But instead of sitting around and waiting for better fuel to arrive at my home base, I’m looking for ways to fly more efficiently now. This has two benefits—any less avgas I use is a little less that flows through the system. And with the price of 100LL still at elevated levels, every penny I save turns into more hours I can fly.
5: I’m Working on Some Good News.
I’m excited for 2023…there are a lot of airplanes out there to fly, and places to go, and pilots to visit—with the opportunity to tell their stories. My only resolution here is to help bring to you more where this is concerned, and we have great plans in the works to do just that.
So, perhaps you can gather some inspiration from my year to propel your own.
Or maybe just drink more water. I guarantee you’ll fly better when you’re properly hydrated.