According to the FAA, my flight instructor, and FAR Part 61.56, I completed my Flight Review early last month. That means I can “act as pilot in command of an aircraft” for the next 24 months.
Ryan, my instructor, and I flew an Aviat Husky for the flight portion of the Flight Review. What a kick that was. The Cub I usually fly is wonderful, but has only 75 hp up front. The Husky has 180.
So on the windy day we flew, the short field takeoff and landing performance was a thrill.
And since I didn’t break anything, I’m legal to fly as PIC. I can even take passengers with me, if I choose.
While I feel comfortable with the idea of hopping in the J-3 and cruising over the countryside for 30 to 45 minutes, it is something else entirely to take along a passenger.
Sadly, I don’t log as much flight time as I’d like. So while I do OK at maintaining my currency, my proficiency seems to be in a steady state of “getting there.”
When I do plan to take along a passenger, I make it my practice to go practice. By myself.
Mostly slow flight (which I know is redundant in a Cub) and pattern work. You know, basic control of the aircraft from start to finish.
Because the J-3 is such a relatively simple aircraft to operate, system-wise, proficiency is a bit lower of a hurdle compared to a Beech Baron or Cirrus SR-22.
The dictionary defines proficient as “well versed in any business, art, science, or branch of learning; skilled; qualified; competent: as, a proficient architect.” Or pilot in my case.
The Learning Line
Now that I think about it, in the lower grades of the school my kids attend, they use the concept of a “learning line.” The four steps along the learning line are:
Too often, while at the novice stage, students think, “I’m not any good at this.” The idea behind the learning line concept is to encourage an alternative mindset. One that changes the mental attitude from “I can’t do this” to “I’m still learning this.”
Students aren’t “bad” or “not good” at something, we’re merely a novice on the learning line. The more we work and study anything, the further along the learning line we should move.
Because you can doesn’t mean you should
So, back to flying.
As I wrote, I believe the J-3 to be a relatively simple plane to fly. It helps that the ultralight I started flying when I was 13 was a taildragger. The next airplane in line for me was a J-3 Cub. So I’ve always had a healthy respect for taildraggers.
If I were to rate myself, for the J-3, I’d put myself between apprentice and practitioner (maybe a little closer to practitioner). Maybe I should ask my instructor his opinion.
However, if I was looking to fly either a Cirrus SR-22T or Baron, without hesitation, I’d select novice.
I have a few hundred hours in a Baron. But the last time I flew one was 20 years ago.
With some dedicated study, I believe I could move along the learning line rather quickly. But today, without that study or instruction, no way would I take the controls as PIC.
I don’t care what the regulations say I can do. My certificate includes “Airplane Multiengine Land.” And my Flight Review in an Aviat Husky qualifies me to fly anything in all categories and classes of aircraft on my pilot certificate.
However, I also know what I shouldn’t do.
And that, to me, is the proper attitude of a pilot in command.