Congratulations on earning your private pilot certificate. As a private pilot, you are a member of a small and distinguished minority who have tasted the incredible freedom and exhilaration of personal flight. Now that you have come to appreciate the value of your private pilot certificate’s privileges, we expect that you have seen some of it’s limitations as well. As flight training professionals, we at Lanier Flight Center believe that there are a number of very good reasons to continue your aviation training to the extent of seeking an instrument rating.
1. Safety – The training and experience we receive while working on an instrument rating contributes toward our overall pilot safety. We learn a great deal about weather, aeronautical decision making, navigation, ATC services available to pilots and the operation of our airplane and it’s systems. At the instrument rating level of training, we’re training precision and the ability to multi-task while operating the airplane. Who among us wouldn’t improve their total safety picture by increasing their aeronautical knowledge and developing more precise control over the airplane they fly?
2. Enhanced Certificate Utilization – In the southeastern US (as well as most other areas of the country) the weather can make it difficult to be a VFR only pilot. Especially if your personal VFR minimum ceiling/visibility are higher than the legal minimums (and we hope they are!). The instrument rating can help us to see the most potential from our pilot certificate. It’s rare that we spend an entire cross country flight in the soup, but it is so much more comfortable to climb to the clear skies at higher altitudes ABOVE the low cloud layer…than trying to maintain VFR underneath it. Relax, it is not necessary to fly in Low IFR conditions, with approaches down to minimums, in order to utilize the instrument rating to it’s full potential. It is, however, useful to us to be able to complete our planned flight when one or more segments of the flight have weather that would be too restrictive for VFR flight.
3. Greater Confidence – The precision with which we operate the airplane by reference to instruments necessitates a deeper level of understanding of the airplane and it’s systems. That, in turn, translates to more efficient, intuitive operation of the airplane, which leads to a greater sense of confidence..the good kind. Add to that the confidence that comes with knowing that we can remove any pressure to maintain VFR and the confidence that comes from your improved ability to use and understand weather reporting services. Within limits, a greater sense of confidence in the airplane directly translates to a more successful and satisfying experience in the airplane. Your pilot certificate was hard earned, we want you to enjoy it…confidently.
4. Access to ATC – The security and comfort of working with ATC from departure to destination along your XC route is a valuable aspect of instrument flying. At virtually all points along your route, you will be in radio contact with other planes and a controller, with your precise location known to the controller. While these services are often available to VFR pilots, it is on a ‘workload permitting’ basis. Fly IFR with the guarantee that ATC will be there as a helping hand while you complete your flight, adding a predictability and security that isn’t there for VFR flight.
5. Weather – Who wouldn’t be a better, safer, more proficient pilot with a higher level of understanding of weather and a stronger command of the weather reporting language? We should all be committed to becoming meteorologists: studiers and observers of the weather. It will only serve to make us better decision makers and safer pilots. As an instrument pilot, we make more complicated weather decisions and exercise our weather knowledge regularly.
6. Continuing Education – We earned a pilot certificate and then flew away from the nest. The bulk of our recent experience may be out on our own, without the refining and striving to higher levels that comes with evaluation by an instructor. Continuing education in the cockpit helps us to become more proficient and gives us exposure to better techniques for carrying out the procedures. The opportunity to discover any shortcomings in training we have previously received or to uncover any less than ideal habits or cockpit practices provides an important safety net and helps us to mature into safer, more competent pilots.
7. Greater Precision – The act of flying an airplane by reference to instruments demands a high degree of precision. During the instrument training, we teach techniques that allow pilots to fly the airplane to much tighter tolerances than they are perhaps used to. This deeper level of control of the airplane transfers directly to ALL flying that pilot will do: VFR and IFR. More precise flying is easier, more satisfying and ultimately safer flying.
At the private pilot level, we’re training such a large, broad knowledge base that it’s impossible to give any one area of knowledge the time and effort that it really deserves. The goal is to produce a safe pilot who has the tools to learn through experience and who makes good decisions. I encourage new private pilots to go flying; get 25-50 hours of cross country experience and exposure to real world situations and handling them as pilot in command. With that foundation in place, we can refine and perfect in the instrument training to produce a competent and capable pilot who can handle a higher workload and remain in control of more demanding situations.
Continue your aviation education by starting work on an instrument rating. With our experienced instrument instructors, Cessna/King Schools training material, modern fleet of Cessna airplanes and our Level 1 FTD in which you can log up to 15 hours of instrument training time; Lanier Flight Center is the natural choice for your instrument rating flight training provider. Contact us today to discuss your plan for earning an instrument rating, it’s a decision you’ll be glad you made!