4 Must-Have Pilot Skills For Success

4 Must-Have Pilot Skills For Success

By Josh Page, CFI

Being a pilot is one of the most exciting and invigorating careers! You get to have many amazing experiences while flying an aircraft through the sky. You can’t beat that! It should come as no surprise that there are certain skills that will set a pilot up for success. If you can hone and sharpen these skills, you’ll be a much safer and much more professional pilot. 

Ability to Remain Calm Under Pressure

While flying a plane, there are many things that can and will go wrong. Most of these situations will be less serious issues, but it’s always possible to face a very serious emergency. It’s absolutely imperative for the pilot to be able to remain calm and not react rashly or in a panic. You want to think clearly, recall your training, and take the appropriate action. When a person fails to remain calm under pressure, they also fail to think clearly and will often make quick decisions that aren’t always safe or right. It’s very easy to forget important steps when you’re in a panic. This is why during your flight training, you will run through emergency scenarios over and over again until you can face those simulated emergencies with calmness and take the correct action.

Ability to Multitask

If there’s ever been a career one would need to multitask well at, it’s being a pilot! You’re not just flying the plane, which in itself is already a lot — You’re also communicating with ATC, looking for and avoiding other traffic, monitoring your instruments and engine gauges, navigating through varying airspace and terrain, and more! You don’t want to get tunnel vision while flying a plane. This can lead to accidents, airspace violations, and other serious issues. When you first start your flight training, it’s very common to feel overwhelmed by all the things you have to do while flying. Don’t worry! With the right instructor guiding you and with lots of practice, it will become more natural, and you’ll multitask with no problem! I remember how difficult this was for me when I first started my flight training.

Excellent Communication Skills

When you think of pilot, you might not think of a communicator, but this is a huge aspect of being a pilot. We have to be able to communicate with ATC, the flight crew, our passengers, and sometimes airport personnel. It’s important to be able to articulate clearly and concisely what you want to say. Like with any skill, this can improve with practice! When I was a flight student, I often listened to the Live ATC app in an effort to “immerse myself in the aviation language”. This helped me to see how pilots and ATC would communicate. I also did many radio practice sessions with my instructor to get used to the wording and structure of ATC communication. In the cockpit, I learned to communicate clearly so that there was no misunderstanding of what we were doing and who was doing it. Many accidents have occurred due to poor communication, so it is crucial to have excellent communication skills as a pilot. 

Situational Awareness

An unsafe pilot is one who is not situationally aware. A pilot must be able to continually perceive and understand things like — where they are, what airspace they are in and around, what FAA regulations apply at the moment, what traffic is around them, and what next steps do they need to take for where they’re headed. If a pilot can’t perceive and understand these things, they will quickly fall behind the aircraft and lose situational awareness. It’s only a matter of time before they’re in airspace they don’t have clearance to enter while also violating FAA regulations, getting dangerously close to other traffic, and being woefully unprepared for their arrival into their destination airport. We have many tools to help with situational awareness and practicing using them in real life scenarios will help you immensely. This is what flight training is for!

Skill Sharpening Journey

If you aspire to be a pilot, you’re going to have an amazing career! As you work toward that dream, continually work on sharpening these skills. Remember: Your whole flight training journey is your opportunity to grow in these skills. That’s what flight training is for! You’ll be faced with the need to multitask as you deal with lots of things at once in the cockpit. You’ll face simulated emergencies which will help you to remain calm under pressure and have good aeronautical decision making. You’ll grow in your communication skills as you deal with ATC and other pilots on the radio. Don’t worry about butchering radio calls for a while! You’ll get it. And your situational awareness will be excellent as you have opportunity to perceive and understand your surroundings. Think of your flight training as a skill sharpening journey! 

By Josh Page, CFI

Northstar Aviation References brings you the Pre-Tabbed ASA FAR/AIMDIY tabs for your FAR/AIM and other pilot resources so that you can more easily study the regulations that form the foundation of your flying career or hobby. Have any questions? Check out our FAQs page or contact us. Check out other blog posts here