09 January 2012

Why do XC pilots land?

What has always struck me is how wonderfully complex flying cross country is. We all know that the basics are simple: go round in circles when the vario beeps; glide off in the direction you want to go; repeat as many times as possible without landing. In an effort to better understand how UK pilots think about their XC flying I carried out a survey about what they saw as the reasons they ended up on the ground at the end of each XC flight. The most common reasons were:

  • ·         Being unable to find a thermal even though the pilot believed there was one there
  • ·         Lack of patience
  • ·         Tiredness or lack of concentration
  • ·         Getting into a bit of bad sky or terrain
Differences between individual pilots were marked. For example a number scored lack of patience and tiredness/loss of concentration highly, yet others, especially experienced pilots did not score these as major factors. Looking at the range of causes of landing it is obvious that some errors are much easier to avoid than others, which can take years of experience and focus to master.
Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and being able to build from them is one of the keys to being a really good pilot. Try to learn something from every flight. Soak up knowledge from all sources and above all, keep challenging yourself. Get to the hill as often as you can, go XC every time you can, enjoy every minute of it! To gain more insights please click here to have a look at the full analysis. 
Happy flying.

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