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Are You IFR-Rated? Join VMC Club

By Radek Wyrzykowski

March 2017 - I am sure I don’t need to stress the importance of proficiency in aviation. We all know it is a critical aspect of anything we do in life.

When the Wright brothers’ first flight took place in 1903, there were no manuals, no books on the subject, and yet we humans were able to build, improve, and perfect our invention.

Then so-called “standardization” arrived, and we stifled our creativity by blindly copying our predecessors or just following flight school regimes.

Coming from a country whose aviation roots go back to 1920 — a country that Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud said produced the best pilots in the world in their book A Question of Honor — I have always had a great respect for flying. General aviation to all my friends and me was always a “sacred society,” a brotherhood of people joined with one passion and one love — the ultimate freedom of human being — the ability to freely move in a 3-D space. My favorite book by Janusz Meissner, Memoirs of a Pilot, which I’ve read at least 10 times, also supported this idea.

With the privilege of a pilot’s certificate comes an obligation and responsibility to be the best among the best, to continually train ourselves and fine-tune our skills, to educate ourselves about new techniques and technologies, and to keep our flying to the highest measure. Maybe we don’t realize it, but general aviation is in great danger of being infected by pilots who just do not care. As you are reading this, I am sure you are not one of them.

It has always been a dream of mine that as pilots we will genuinely care for and extend a helping hand to each other as members of our aviation community. When we gathered at our first IMC Club meeting in 2010, this was precisely our objective and mission.

Non-instrument rated pilots who want to improve their safety skills and knowledge now have an excellent new resource as VMC Club programs and content are available to the EAA membership. But let’s remember that all of our IMC Club, and now VMC Club, meetings are about sharing what we know and what we have experienced, and extending a helping hand to each other.

If you are an IMC Club participant, or just an instrument-rated pilot, shouldn’t you help your VMC Club pilot member friends?

VMC Club provides organized hangar flying focused on improving aeronautical decision-making and is focused on practical knowledge. It creates another reason for pilots to be part of EAA and brings more engaging programming for EAA chapters. Let’s remember that all IMC flights in general aviation will end in VMC (unless of course, if you fly CAT III ILS approach). Your experience is valuable to all pilots, and most of the time IFR-rated pilots do have more time in the air.

The monthly VMC Club meetings, just like in our IMC Club, use real-world scenarios to engage members and allow a free exchange of information that improves awareness and skills.

The IMC Club concept was born years ago when I completed my first solo instrument flight in actual IMC. The VMC Club concept was born when I realized that not every pilot is instrument-rated, but they all need to be proficient. That realization brought me to the conclusion that the training and minimum knowledge required by the government will never by itself bring real safety and skill. Practical knowledge is what will make someone a good and safe pilot, but this knowledge will only come with experience. The experience that you, as an instrument-rated pilot, could bring to the table.

I’ve said it already many times. As much as it’s needed and necessary, no government regulation or FAA-mandated training will ever make any pilot a safer pilot. Only learning from each other, constant mutual mentorship, and peer self-regulation may allow us to increase our safety.

Most accidents when they happen are the result of a chain of wrong decisions. At the point of the crash, which usually takes just a few seconds, they are most of the time irreversible. We all make mistakes, and most of us are able to recognize and stop them at the onset. Some of us are lucky and the situation resolves itself with a positive outcome. I firmly believe we not only have an obligation but also a responsibility to let others learn from our mistakes, and every pilot will have an almost equal share of them to contribute.

In EAA/VMC Club’s organized “hangar flying,” who would be more important than someone with your instrument experience to contribute?

There is no cost to EAA members to join this movement. Check if there is a VMC Club at your local EAA chapter and get involved. Are you an IMC Club member or just instrument-rated? Please join your VMC Club to help today!

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