"There is no such thing as just a pilot. A pilot just so happens to be a doctor, a physicist, a lawyer, a meteorologist, and so forth. A pilot consists of multiple titles, which means that he or she must be tip top perfect shape with everything. Focus is just merely part of the job, and so is flying."
Oh wow, the FAR/AIM... The dedicated pilot will be able to thoroughly comprehend everything in that so called 'aviation bible.' Okay, let's face it, it is merely very impossible to know that book cover to cover. Furthermore, it is only obvious how thick this book is. I personally was very intimidated by the 'aviation bible' at first, but soon came to love it. Right now I am very self indulged within this book because of the rules, laws, and regulations. It is so important that every pilot understands the basic fundamentals to both flying and being on the ground.
See, think of a car. Your car has basic parts to function. There is the alternator, the spark plugs, the wheels, the frame, a gas gauge, batteries, a radiator, breaks, and so forth. The same thing happens with a plane. Just like while driving, there are several rules, limitations, and procedures that pilots must follow in order to execute a safe flight. Aside from the aircraft Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) and the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK), the FAR/AIM is the best place to find all of these rules, laws, and regulations. Out of all of these sources I truly feel that the FAR/AIM is the best source, as it just makes logical sense in my mind and it has all of the necessary laws and procedures in one place. The Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) is curated directly for that specific plane. The general laws and such are found in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) section of the book, while the more basic flight information is found in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) portion.
With that briefing made clear, we can now kind of explore this 'manual' even more. First we must understand the difference between Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Visual flight rules are pretty straight forward. The pilot can land, takeoff, and control the plane just with their eyes. Now, it is really much more than that. There are always several regulations accompanied with that though, but that is the most straight forward way I can explain that for now without going into too much detail. Then there is Instrument flight rules (IFR). IFR means that the pilot cannot solely rely on their eyes and body feeling in order to safely execute a flight. A pilot must rely on the flight instruments on the cockpit dash. In this blog post we will discuss various requirements for VFR day flight. All of this information is taken from the FAR/AIM.
It is also necessary to note that there are not just limitations for IFR and VFR conditions, there are also limits for airspace, altitude, time of day, time of night, and so forth. This information is a little too much at times, so this blog post will be the basics. I always like to start with the most basic fundamentals and build it up so it is more and more. With that being said, aviation is a funny industry because we require a lot of memorization. In order to make that easier on us, there are several acronyms to help retain information. Do not ever let the seeming information overload steer you away from the industry. There are several methods and acronyms used to help make life a little easier. One of these hundreds is ATOMATOFFLAMES.
FAR 91.205 holds all of the necessary basics for a VFR day flight. VFR night flight has a different acronym that the pilot must know. VFR night is FLAPS. We will discuss FAR 91.205 first. Primarily, the pilot must insure that their aircraft has the following to fly VFR during the day.
Oil pressure gauge
Manifold pressure gauge
Oil temperature gauge
Landing gear position indicator
Magnetic direction indicator
Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
It may seem complicated, but really, it is not. This simple list will ensure safety while flying. It is very necessary that all pilots make sure that their planes comply to this list in order to be legal. There is a difference between being legal and being safe. We can also go into the inspections necessary to execute this flight. Pilots need to make sure that they also comply with the acronym THEAA. I like to think of this one as 'THEAA'dore inspects planes and makes sure they are safe. These are the actual necessary inspections that pilots need to insure their planes are passed off as safe to fly.
Emergency locator transmitter
Along with those inspections, there always needs to be certain documents in the plane to hold a legal and safe flight. These documents can be exhibited and remembered by the acronym ARROW. This sounds a little bit weird, but the way I remember this one is 'if you don't have these documents in the plane, your plane will get shot down by an ARROW.' This acronym can also kind of go along with driving as well. What do you need in your car at all times? Well think of what a cop says when he/she pulls you over on the road, "License, registration, insurance please." Well, an airplane also needs a registration. Here is the complete list:
Weight + Balance
Pilots also must carry documents on them while flying as well. The acronym for that is CLIMB. I personally remember this one by thinking about how the pilot needs a bag full of stuff in order to CLIMB. Think back to the example about the car I mentioned earlier in this post. What documents and equipment does a driver need in order to be 'worthy' to drive? Well, they need a valid driver's license. So what does a pilot need?
Identification (Government issued photo ID)
Medical (class 1, class 2, or class 3)
Biennial flight review
There is a huge difference between the terms legal, current, and safe. As a pilot they must make sure that they are all of the above: legal, safe, and current. They must ask themselves if they are current for the situation they are in. A pilot must make sure he/she is legal with all necessary documents, inspections, and equipment on them, in the aircraft, and on the ground. DIE is how we remember the break off points with the different sections of the acronym PAVE.
Each of these categories breaks off into another section with each of the acronyms to create a map. In order to make sure that everything is align and in precision, just follow these acronyms and the FARs. Safety is the first priority both in the air and on the ground. Pilots must make sure they are safe by asking themselves a series of questions regarding their own safety and health. Just because a pilot has their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical doesn't always mean they can fly whenever they so desire. These series of questions come from the IMSAFE checklist. A pilot must ask themselves the content on this list in order to make sure they comply and are safe to fly. Pilots develop what is called personal minimums. For example, one of those has to do with sleeping. When do you feel too tired or too fatigued? What do you deem safe to fly? Always remember that flying and driving often go hand and hand. What are your personal minimums for driving? Take those and become stricter while flying. Remember that pilots do not have a shoulder they can pull over on, park on, and take a rest. There are really no breaks while flying.
Emotions + Eating
A pilot needs to always stay in compliance with the FAA rules and regulations. It's really just a no brainer as to why. The answer to that question is sort of dumb. However, we don't really realize much that these laws are here to protect us and others. If we do not comply, then who does that rest on? If a passenger on a Cessna 180 flight does not comply with safety, who's fault is that? See, the pilot in command (PIC) has a lot on his or her shoulders. Besides managing the flight, they also need to take into consideration several other factors that deeply affect everyone on board. Going more in depth with this idea would make this post too lengthy, so be watching for another post on PIC requirements and rules.
Remember how above I mentioned the difference between IFR and VFR? Do you also remember how I mentioned that there are also regulations for day and night flight for VFR? Well the acronym that helps us remember VFR night is FLAPS. Now keep in mind that ATOMATOFFLAMES applies to flying all times of day (day/night) and types of flying (VFR/IFR). In this case, ATOMATOFFLAMES still applies. However, we also add on the acronym of FLAPS. I like to think of this one as 'in order for the bird to FLAPS, he must have lights.' What do you need at night to see other cars? Lights. So take a look at the acronym and see if you notice a pattern. Right, there are a lot of lights in that acronym. Memorizing this one at first was super tough for me until I realized that it all ties together with the saying, 'in order for the bird to FLAPS, he must have lights to fly at night.'
Source of power
Those are the basics to flying really. Remember that this is a basic introduction to the world of being a pilot. Do not feel intimidated with this information because these acronyms are super easy to memorize and understand. Start now and just keep going. Always remember the reference 91.205 in case you do not want to memorize ATOMATOFFLAMES right off the get go. I highly recommend grabbing a FAR/AIM, sitting down, tabbing it, and reading it. My best friend right now is that 'aviation bible,' a highlighter, and sticky tabs. Always keep in mind that a safe and complying pilot is the best pilot. Good luck and stay tuned for more aviation related posts.
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My name is Jetta, and I am a student pilot currently attending Southern Utah University to become an airline pilot. Join me on my journey from zero to the left seat.