Considering the fact that many of us have flown little in recent months, we may have lost some skill over the winter. There's no better time to assess our recent experience and look at our personal minimums. Why have these personal minimums?
It is said that all pilots must know their abilities and skills and define them within the limits that they set themselves to frame their decision-making. It is better to define your limits on the ground, with your head rested, without the presence of emotions. These minimums will help us resist the temptation to negotiate with ourselves even in the heat of the moment. Our ability to make the right decisions decreases when we are under stress and busy trying to drive. You all know of cases where the pilot made a bad decision that led to an accident, often fatal. It is often difficult for humans to change their plans and cancel a planned flight in the heat of the moment. These minimums will serve as a guide and help you avoid finding yourself in difficult situations.
The minimums differ from pilot to pilot and depend on several factors like the weather, your experience with the type of aircraft, and your skills, to name a few. Here are those factors that should be part of your minimums:
Weather : One of the most important factors in any go / no-go decision is the weather, such as the ceiling, visibility, and winds. Are your minimums different for a cross country flight compared to a local flight? You may prefer a higher ceiling on long flights, or perhaps greater visibility when the ceiling is lower.
Plane : The minimums such as the length of the runway required in hot and humid weather, the maximum crosswind, etc. vary depending on the type of aircraft you fly. It is important to put them on paper so that you can easily review and refer to them.
Pilot : Your minimums also greatly depend on your level of experience and skill. Your skill level will not be the same if you fly regularly or if you fly only a few hours per year. It is therefore important to determine your limits before boarding a plane. For example, what is the maximum gust speed that I am comfortable driving?
So take the time to define or revise your personal minimums. They just might help you avoid making a bad decision!
For a PDF copy of this checklist, click HERE