A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Summer and Fall Goals…

Regardless of whether you’re a student, private, instrument-rated, or simulator pilot, or if you’re an aviation enthusiast, always look to increase your knowledge, experience and skills. What are your goals this summer? They may be to finish your private certificate, visit a new airport, fly the Hudson River, gain proficiency in Redbird, earn your tailwheel endorsement or instrument rating, improve your skills with crosswind, or to introduce someone to flying. Whatever those goals, make sure to write them down and come up with a plan!

Once you have your goals in writing, share them with family, friends and flight instructors. They can help support, encourage and, in the case of instructors, guide you. Whether or not it’s specifically required, it’s always a good idea to go up with an instructor. An instructor can help you achieve your goals more safely and more quickly. All goals that will result in your personal minimums increasing should only be accomplished with an instructor.

The goals themselves should be ‘SMART’: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This common acronym from the world of project management applies very well to your aviation goals and will help set you up for success to achieve them.

How do you make your goal…


Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it, what is preventing you from accomplishing it, where you will accomplish your goal and who is involved.


Ask how you will measure the attainment of your goal. How will you know when you’ve succeeded?


Is the goal reasonable in the time frame you’ve specified? What are the steps you will take to accomplish your goal?


Is your goal something you are willing and able to work toward?


By when are you going to accomplish your goal? Is this reasonable based on your plan?

Write down your goals and come up with a plan of action.

That being said, risk management always has to be at the forefront of goal-setting and goal achievement. Pilots are often very goal-oriented. Generally, this is a very good thing, especially when combined with a healthy work ethic. However, it is possible to be overly focused on achieving our goals. To determine if this is the case, ask yourself and answer specific, relevant questions, such as:

“Am I putting too much pressure on myself to fly to that new airport?”

“What are my personal weather minimums to fly the Hudson River?”

“Are my passengers putting pressure on me despite weather being outside of my minimums?”

“There is moderate turbulence forecast – is this the day to introduce someone new to flying?”

The answers to these will guide your risk mitigation and aeronautical decision making.

What are your aviation goals for this summer?! What steps are you taking to achieve those goals? Share your goals on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo

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