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  Currency, Competence and Confidence
by Kevin Ware
  In my area of the country at least (Pacific Northwest), the COVID pandemic has resulted in a serious reduction in the amount of business
and personal f lying being conducted. This has been particularly noticeable to pilots like me who fly professionally on a fill-in or contract basis. Even the full-time guys are just barely getting enough flight time to justify their pay.
It has also affected pilots who fly their own airplanes for business or recreational reasons beyond the im- mediate touch-and-go pattern, given all the issues of arranging accommo- dations and meals at distant locations as opposed to just staying home. In turn, there is a reduction in pilot cur- rency, which then makes you won- der just how “competent” you still are...this thinking (even for the most
18 • TWIN & TURBINE / January 2021
egotistical of us) tends to decrease our confidence. We might be more reluc- tant to tackle weather that would have otherwise not been a concern, which leads to an even further reduction in flight hours. It is like falling dominoes.
So, with all this in mind, I got out of bed on a recent winter sunny morn- ing, thinking about how much (or how little) flying I had done over the past couple of months – frankly, not quite as confident in my flying abilities as this time last year. I decided the only way to deal with this discomforting feeling was to go down to the airport and actually fly the airplane. Which I did, being particularly diligent about watching myself closely.
I started out carefully running the before start flow pattern I have used for the past 20 years and 2,000 hours in
my own Cessna 340. And then, just to make sure I had not missed anything, I ran the written checklist through verbally more than one time. Grin- ning to myself that I had not missed anything in the flow pattern, I then started the engines.
Now, it is not just the pilots who are suffering from this lack of utiliza- tion currency malady, but also the airplanes. My own airplane had not been flown since the middle of the last month, and it took just a bit more priming and coaxing to get the en- gines started than it normally does. Once they fired up, I got all involved in keeping the RPM down to just over idle levels until the oil pressure finally came up. Before that, my mind visu- alized pistons grinding up and down against the cylinder walls without any

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