The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has changed everyone’s way of life. The aviation community has faced the delay or cancellation of planned trips and beloved aviation events. For many student pilots, in-person flight training has been put on hold. And as mandatory Shelter in Place orders go into effect in cities, counties, and states around the country, active and student pilots alike are left wondering how they can fuel their flying passion and stay focused on their goals while staying at home.
Thankfully, there’s a wealth of training, education, and entertainment options available for pilots of all skill levels. Here are some things you can do to make the most of your extra time on the ground:
We all know the importance of staying proficient, especially when taking an extended break from flying. One good way to keep your skills sharp is to participate in the FAA’s WINGS proficiency program. Many of the online courses and webinars offered by AOPA, EAA, Sporty’s, and others qualify for WINGS credit, so you can refresh your knowledge and earn credit from the comfort of home.
Several flight training providers have also launched virtual classrooms and courses tailored for middle and high-school students now that classrooms are closed. Redbird Flight Simulations introduced free weekly classes, Virtual STEM+ Lab, to engage and inspire middle and high school students’ interests in aviation. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University made introductory online courses available for free to anyone interested in aviation.
YouTube is an endless source of flight training videos and aviation-related content. Dig into the AOPA Air Safety Institutes’s accident case studies to learn from the mistakes of others. Check out the Flight Chops channel for immersive flying clips and an inside look at building a Van’s RV-14. For helpful propeller care and maintenance tips, look no further than the Hartzell Propeller channel. You’ll also find exclusive interviews with some of our friends and partners in the aviation industry, like Mike Goulian and Sean D. Tucker, Matt Chapman, and more.
Now is a great time to curl up with a good book. Whether it’s a classic like Stick and Rudder or a page-turning memoir such as Skunk Works or The Spirit of St. Louis, there’s no shortage of interesting aviation-related reading material. For a shorter read, you can peruse blog posts or back issues of aviation magazines online.
The world’s best aviation museums are closed for now, but you can still take advantage of interactive online tours. Have a look at the collections in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Flight, the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and the EAA Aviation Museum, to name just a few. Some museums even offer 3D cockpit tours so you can see what it’s like to be in the pilot seat of historic aircraft. These virtual visits are another perfect activity for kids at home!
When you can’t be in the skies, a flight simulator offers the next best solution to build and maintain your flying skills. Redbird Flight Simulations has some expert tips for setting up and using a home flight simulator. If you don’t have a home-based sim, there’s always chair flying. Sit in a chair and visualize every step of a flight, using the same gear you’d use in the airplane, including your checklists, iPad or paper charts, and headset.