I recently completed my Biennial Flight Review or BFR as it’s known in aviation circles. You see, when you get your driver’s license, you take a driving test and that’s it. You may have to go back to take a written test from time to time but you probably won’t have to take the driving test again as long as you live. In aviation it’s different. You don’t get a pilot’s license per se, it’s a certificate of demonstrated ability. You must periodically demonstrate that ability, in fact, every two years.
A BFR consists of recurrent training with a Certified Flight Instructor or CFI. The CFI must spend one hour with you in ground instruction where regulations, aeronautical knowledge, weather, charts, and the like are covered. Then you must spend one hour in the air doing… well whatever the CFI senses your weak areas are… that’s what you do.
I got through the ground portion easily enough. It’s always the flight test that gets me. It’s not that the manuvers are that hard, it’s just that I don’t fly a Cessna 172 that often. After flying an RV-4 for two years, a 172 handles like a big truck with manual steering. I plunked it on the runway twice and then made one good landing. I think the CFI signed me off just to get me out of there.
I hate doing it but I know it is all about flight safety. I really enjoy this hobby but I always have to remember that aviation is “terribly unforgiving of any carelessness or neglect.”
Beware, dear son of my heart,
lest in thy newfound power thou seekest
even the gates of Olympus….
These wings may bring thy freedom
but may also come thy death.
— Daedalus to Icarus,
after teaching his son to use
his new wings of wax and feathers