Preparation is the key to being a successful pilot. You must be able to plan ahead and problem solve efficiently in order to remain safe in the air. This is no different when starting the flight training process. One might ask “Why is it necessary to train for training?” Believe it or not, preparing for flight training will give you the edge you need to make you a better pilot in the long run. Here are 3 ways to prepare for flight training in the US:
1) Fake it Until You Make It - Simulators
Learning the basics of how an aircraft operates will help you when you start your flight training. The next best thing to getting into an airplane doing it, is flying a simulator. It is not exactly the same to but even home PC based simulators have gotten dramatically better and much more realistic. Prepar3D (formerly Microsoft Flight Simulator) and X-Plane are the most popular platforms. You can download these to your PC or Mac (X-Plane) and fly anything from a Cessna, to a Boeing 747 and even the Space Shuttle. Remarkably they all fly with the same basic principles of pitch, yaw, and bank.
If you are already using these take it to the next level and get a Yoke and Rudder pair. Saitek makes some of the best on the market. For less than $300 you can get the software and a yoke and throttle combo. It is much more realistic than flying with a keyboard. Even though the new Airbus models all do come with a keyboard.
Learn how to use the main controls such as the yoke, rudder pedals, flaps, etc. This is what you will first learn training so you can get a head start by researching this information prior to flight training. Maneuvers are also an important part of training so you should familiarize yourself with the basic ones such as climbing, descending, straight and level flight, and the traffic pattern.
2) Aviation English
English is the official language of aviation. You can be German, flying a German plane, for a German airline over Germany but you have to speak English. Naturally aviation textbooks, lectures, and training aids are all in English. When you arrive to the first day of flight school you will most likely start at private pilot ground school. It is fast paced and covers a lot fundamental information. If your English is weak you will need to spend a lot of time studying on your own or paying for 1-to-1 tutoring to fill the gaps. That may get expensive. Start watching TV, movies, and reading books in English. It will help get your mind and ear accustomed to English. Watch Top Gun, The Right Stuff, and the News in English. You can also tune in to LiveATC.com and hear live Air Traffic Control on the internet.
Videos are a great way to learn new information. Prior to even starting flight training, you can gain a lot of important knowledge by visiting websites such as YouTube and searching for various flight videos. Make sure to search videos pertaining to the control of the aircraft, weather, communications, and any videos that appeal to you. The amount of video information on aviation is endless and there is much to learn. There are many pilots that have channels dedicated to aviation. ASA makes an excellent DVD ground school that is even available in Blue Ray. It has come of the best Master CFIs in the country delivering a complete ground school in your living room. You can learn a vast amount without even getting into the cockpit!
Beginning your flight training can be a bit overwhelming because of the sheer amount of information that is needed in order to make flying enjoyable yet safe. The key to mastering flight school is to be as prepared as possible. Every hour on the ground may save you an hour in the air, which translates in a lot of money. Researching the very basics of flight, how to navigate aviation weather, and simply watching informational flight videos are three of the best ways to set you on your way to becoming a successful pilot.