The Five Biggest Mistakes Rookie Pilots Make

In a recent analysis of more than 1,000 fatal crashes, pilot error was determined to be the biggest cause of air disasters in the world. There are various poor decisions that pilots can make that end in a crash. Sometimes, a pilot makes one major error that has immediate and obvious effects. Other times, a series of poor choices culminates into a massive problem.

At Aircraft Sales, we want you to have a safe and positive flying experience. Check out our list of mistakes that you should avoid.

A quick pre-flight check

You have bought an airplane, you have your license, and you’re ready to go. The clear blue skies beckon you, and your heart beats with excitement as you imagine the freedom of the air. In a situation like this, people rush through their pre-flight check and take off as soon as possible.

You are going to want to get in the habit of doing a very thorough pre-flight check. Take your time, and do it right. This is one of the best ways to avoid a problem once you have started the engine. Dealing with a malfunction is easy on the ground. Once you are a couple thousand feet in the air, these issues are far harder to fix, and can be far more catastrophic in their results.

One part of the pre-flight that is too often skipped is the document portion of your pre-flight. As the aircraft ARROW, do you have the FAA required documents onboard? Did you do a weight and balance check? Just because you know you’re underweight doesn’t mean your loading is safe. Have you looked at the aircraft logbooks lately? When was your last inspection?

Another often-neglected pre-flight check is your own. Just because the aircraft is flight worthy does not mean you are. In the past few years, the FAA has put a special emphasis on pilot wellbeing as a part of training. This is not a coincidence. Recent studies have shown that pilot well-being is a major factor in aircraft crashes.

Use resources such as the IMSAFE checklist to ensure you are physically and mentally ready to go. You will want to take a quick look at your own logbook as well, especially if you haven’t flown in a while. Are you current? What about your IFR Currency? These are all important questions to ask, long before your wheels leave the ground.

Feeling pressured into flying

It is a better decision to cancel a flight when you are not prepared or if the weather does not look good. After you get your license and your plane, you are going to want to take to the air at every opportunity. We understand that. However, if your intuition or your common sense are telling you not to fly, then don’t fly.

As the old saying goes, there are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old and bold pilots. Cancelling a flight is not the end of the world, and a storm will pass. When you do not have enough fuel or the right equipment, fly another day. This gets harder when the passengers are signing your checks, but remember YOU are Pilot in Command and ultimately the safety of the flight is your responsibility. You can always replace a job, but you can’t replace a life.

Not listening to experienced pilots

Many pilots are alpha types, who don’t like doing what other people tell them to do. If no one in your family flies, having a mentor could make a huge difference. Going through flight school can give you some information, but it is a good idea to trust someone who has lots of real-world experience.

Asking for help or for advice every now and then can not only show you the right way to do things, but it can help you avoid some difficulties that you had not even thought of. Just remember you don’t know what you don’t know. Someone else just might.

Errors in Takeoffs

Once you are on the runway, everything is in front of you. You can practically reach out and touch the sky. This is a make or break point, and some rookie pilots go for broke. You should know how far down the runway you ought to be before you should be airborne. Set an abort point before you start rolling. If your aircraft should only take 1,000 feet to get airborne and you are 2,000 feet down a 5,000 foot runway, something has gone wrong. Continuing the takeoff will almost certainly have undesirable results.

At a minimum, you should employ the 50/70 rule; by the time you have reached 50% of the length of the runway, you should have reached 70% of your takeoff speed. If you have not attained this speed, you should abort the takeoff.

This is another one of those areas where your flight checklists are huge. The NTSB can show you a lot of missing trees from pilots who skipped a line on the checklist. There was a corporate jet recently that took off with the control locks still in. It sounds ridiculous, but it happens. Don’t be afraid to abort a takeoff. The runway and the sky are not going anywhere, and you can give it another go.

Trying to Impress Everyone

If a pilot says, “Watch this,” chances are, they are about to do something exceptionally stupid. An impromptu air show with a few low-level maneuvers may impress significant others and friends, but it is also a good way to wreck that new aircraft of yours. Monitor your speed and bank angle, and make sure that you are not doing anything that is endangering your life. You are flying for you, and knowledge of fancy aerial tricks will come in time.

When you are just starting out, erring on the side of caution will serve you well. A flight instructor once told me, “if you make it to 100 hours without kissing the ground at least once you’re either lucky or dumb.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, but by 100 hours I was neither.

At, we want to help you. Whether you are considering buying an aircraft or are just looking for some tips and tricks, we can guide you. Our experienced pilots would love to help you buy or sell your airplane.


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