If you are dreaming to fly then you must know the aviation rules of thumb for beginners from the outset. Find out the secrets gathered from those bold pilots before you.
In any industry, there is always a secret language, a code, even a secret handshake, however, the complexity of aviation brings with it the need for aviation rules of thumb for beginners. Rules of thumb that those of us that have been around a while have learned via the gift of still being here to tell the tale. A gift that is not to be a secret, which we find our duty to pay it forward and share with those that follow, you, the beginners with a dream to fly.
We want you to know everything we know so that you get to be old pilots like us and share the gift of flight. This article is dedicated to any beginner, or parents of a beginner, and is a compilation of our best stuff, our best aviation rules of thumb, and once known, is bestowed upon you to share with all of your flying colleagues starting out.
Learning from the ground up
At first when you walk towards that (hopefully) shiny metal beast we know that secretly deep down inside, you have a bag full of emotions, excitement, doubt, even a touch of fear. Perhaps like all of us you are hoping that you are going to be a ‘good’ pilot.
First rule of thumb – Is understanding that a ‘good’ pilot is only measured by coming home safe.
So, if you want to be a ‘good’ pilot, it is important that your skills are rooted in what was initially taught. Learning how to fly correctly from the ground up will make everything easier, as your training progresses it will become more intuitive with less wasted effort on behalf of both instructor and student!
Safety1 is the ultimate goal for a pilot, and this begins even before you get to the airport, ensuring you are fit for the flight, well rested, and spent some time researching and planning your days flying. Even planning your rest is an important element of your responsibility.
Second rule of thumb – 5 P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
What is flying instinctively?
The process of learning how to fly instinctively is not an easy one. It requires a level head, patience, and determination that may not always be intuitive at first, but it is possible to develop, and essential for those who want success!
That is where the instructor comes in as they have been trained to know exactly where each piece fits into place – making them invaluable during our quest towards mastery. It is ok to start off with repetitive practice as this is the beginning of the journey towards the eventual flip to instinct.
It will take discipline and time but with your instructor’s help you can find out what ‘flies’, what is life and death knowledge, and why something may not be working, a few things that are not learned from books alone.
Third rule of thumb – Listen to your instructor and observe always.
Note: This website is no replacement for a qualified flight instructor.
Note 2: If you find that you are not ‘connecting’ with a particular instructor, it is reasonable to seek another … remember it is your money.
Always know your default behaviors
A default behavior is one that is very likely to have become a habit that you learned in your life up until the time you started learning to fly. They appear when your guard is down, like when you are experiencing something unexpected or feel slightly overwhelmed. Even experienced pilots have a default behavior however over the life of their career, they have developed (hopefully) an understanding of their default, go-to, behaviors.
This does not mean they were always ideal, but they have learned to recognise them and adapt them to the best outcome in the flight. It is a good idea to reflect on times when you have felt overwhelmed and take note of how you respond. Once you recognise them, you can adjust them as required to fit the task you are confronted with.
Fourth rule of thumb – Always observe your responses to make sure they match the task
Understand the intent behind the rules
“Rules are for the obedience of fools, and guidance from wise men.”Douglas Bader
This saying is never to substitute rules for sound judgment; it is just that rules should not do all your thinking when in flight mode! A rule2 basically has its measure value within aviation or any other type of situation where there can be errors made by either party involved (you included). The first step must always involve considering the consequence of applying a rule without comprehending its limitation.
We generally start out in aviation with two buckets – a bucket of luck, and a bucket of skill. As we progress through our careers, the aim is to fill the skill bucket before our luck bucket runs out. We all begin at the same level of inexperience and so need to follow rules and standard operating procedures as a guide, but it is only through experience that we learn where we can interpret and apply rules flexibly for safe and efficient aviating.
Whilst sometimes it can be difficult to memorize the plethora of aviation rules and laws, as well as technical concepts, from takeoff performance (including takeoff speed, takeoff distance), landing speed, landing distance, bank angle, density altitude, standard temperature, airspeed, navigational tolerances, rotation speed and any crosswind component, understanding the reasoning behind the rules and concepts can make it much easier to fit into the aviation safety culture.
It is often said that “Rules in Aviation have been written in blood” and this saying is trying to explain that we need to learn from our mistakes, which, in aviation, can sometimes be fatal.
Fifth rule of thumb – Seek to understand why a rule is a rule
Find the ‘right’ coach
Take a minute to think about elite athletes, perhaps your favorite basketballer or grand slam tennis player. Do you think they got there on their own?
Nope. There is a saying that when you get a pilot’s licence, it is a licence to learn which means it is the beginning of your quest to gain experience.
Every career step you reach means there is a gap between you and the next step. It you want to be elite at aviation, then be like the athletes and find a coach, someone who has made the step you are about to make and find out what they know. A tip to finding the right coach is if you feel empowered when talking to them rather than judged.
Sixth rule of thumb – Seek a coach even AFTER you have got your license
How to bounce back after an operational event
This section comes with a caveat … and that is to read it in the spirit of being a ‘complete’ pilot. Aviation is unique and with that comes complexity. To be a complete pilot you need to understand that sometimes things do not go as planned. Mostly small things but they can lead to a safety investigation.
Remember that you are human and knowing how to bounce back after things do not go as planned is important. It is easier to bounce back if you give yourself a chance to remember what behaviors you did well BEFORE you focus on an operational event. Your brain3 is a powerful tool and is designed to protect you like you are a cave person facing the threat of wild animals daily. For now, just remember to read this article again if you are reacting to something in your aviation life.
Finally, remember, humility is an important virtue in a pilot4 because it allows you to see your own flaws and mistakes and learn from them, which in turn leads a person towards professional aviation mastery and a long, safe, and prosperous career. If you make a mistake, it is important to share the gouge with other pilots so that they don’t make the same mistake and surround yourself with the ‘right’ crowd.
Seventh rule of thumb – Stay humble. Stay safe. Play it forward.
It is the responsibility of experienced pilots to pass on and share everything they know and have learned throughout their career as they are inherently aware that it is a complex environment. To ensure you have an exciting and safe career, you need to know the aviation rules of thumb for beginners as it is the small things that can turn out to be the things that save your life and the lives of your passengers. For some more technical rules of thumb, you can check out this article HERE on PlaneandPilotmag5.
No longer is it about hiding the mistakes you made as it is those experiences that may save another fellow pilot from the same fate. Now that you have been gifted the behind-the-scenes stories, it now falls on you to share with the next generation of aviators. This industry is awesome, but it takes the aviation village to ensure it stays the safest form of travel for years to come.
We hope these quick tips and rules of thumb were helpful for you. What do you think are the best rules of thumb for aviators? Do you have any other rules you think should be added here? Let us know in the comments!
- ‘Pilot Safety Tips You Need to Know’, Avion Insurance. Published: July 11, 2020. Accessed online at https://avioninsurance.com/pilot-safety-tips-you-need-to-know/ on Dec 22, 2022.
- ‘Rules’, CASA. Accessed online at https://www.casa.gov.au/rules on Dec 22, 2022.
- ‘Debriefing with the brain in mind’, Air Pilot 2022 Issue 1. Accessed online at https://issuu.com/afap-australianfederationofairpilots/docs/air_pilot_2022_issue_1_final/18 on Dec 22, 2022.
- ‘The importance of being humble’, Kreisha Ballantyne, Flight Safety Australia. Published: Jan 29, 2018. Accessed online at https://www.flightsafetyaustralia.com/2018/01/the-importance-of-being-humble/ on Dec 22, 2022.
- ‘Top 10 Rules Of Thumb’, David Ison, Plane and Pilot Mag. Published (updated): Feb 6, 2016. Accessed online at https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/article/top-10-rules-of-thumb/#:~:text=If%20you%20haven’t%20heard,an%20abort%20is%20in%20order on Dec 22, 2022.