A few weeks ago, Patty and I were driving down the road. She reached over, gave me a big hug, and said “I love you just the way you are. More or less.”
As I thought about her comment, I realized I had room for improvement. The same can be said about my flying skills. Many owner-pilots fly 100-150 hours per year. Some even less. It’s hard to keep up our “A game,” especially if we go four weeks without a trip. Commanding a high-performance twin or jet is definitely not like riding a bicycle. And although we can safely operate our aircraft, we have all experienced the feeling of being “behind” the airplane after an extended layoff.
The same can be said for our level of training. When we complete a training event, we have satisfied the MINIMUM standards. Just for fun, the next time you fly your loved ones to their favorite spot, turn around in the cockpit and announce, “I just passed my minimum standards test.”
I cringe when I hear pilots asking others where to find the easiest or shortest training available. It is possible and legal to get a jet type rating in five days. It is also possible and legal to do an initial type rating in 15 days. Which one you chose says more about you than the training. “I just don’t have time to take two weeks from my business.” Or, “My family would never let me leave for that many days.”
Each of us has some method to maintain our skills. I brush off some of the rust by training more often. Every six months, I do a 61.58 check in a Part 142 full-motion simulator. Since I am currently flying both a Mustang and an M2, I do two check rides, one for each. I also take a mentor along on a trip or two each year. Yes, that’s a lot of training, but it works for me. Some of us, however, need more options.
For Citation pilots, a plan is now available.
Recently, the Citation Jet Pilots Safety and Education
Foundation was created to promote and support safety among our 800 members. One of our first efforts was to create the CJP Gold Standard Safety Award presented annually to any Citation pilot who meets or exceeds training standards. Our goal in creating the award is to raise the level and quantity of training our members receive. To raise the bar for all.
Some of the criteria for the award include:
Minimum of 100 hours of PIC annually;
At least one 61.58 check in a Part 142 simulator;
At least six hours of additional flight training in a simulator or airplane.
Also, our award recipients must complete one item from a list of additional training, such as adding an endorsement or rating, upset training, physiology training, survival training, aerobatic training etc. Our first awards will be presented at the Citation Jet Pilots annual convention in October.
By raising the standards and rewarding those who excel, the Foundation hopes to improve safety and perhaps save lives.
Certainly, we are owner-pilots and not professional pilots. But we can still aspire to fly like the pros. Perhaps someday you will not hear, “I am a doctor or lawyer or entrepreneur, and I fly a jet.”
Instead, “I am an aspiring professional pilot. In my spare time, I save lives, or practice law, or run a business.”