If good study habits are to be fully effective, the pilot in training must consider the nature and sources of information. "Hangar flying," while an impressive and pleasant pastime from which some information may be gained, is a poor means for resolving problems and gaining knowledge. All too often, exaggerated tales of wild experiences or "war stories" are related merely to impress the less experienced pilot. Frequently, such sources of information reflect subjective opinions and personal prejudices of those least qualified to give sound advice. The instructor is usually the student's prime reference source, but all pilots should obtain and use appropriate reference texts, manuals, handbooks, periodical, technical releases, etc.
The FAA develops and makes available to the public various sources of aeronautical information, some free, others at a nominal fee. Of particular interest and value to those persons getting their start in flying are the Student Pilot Guide, VFR/IFR Exam-O-Grams, Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, Airman's Information Manual, and the Private Pilot Flight Test Guide, in addition to this Flight Training Handbook (Fig. 1-2). Also, there are several excellent commercially produced reference books, and audiovisual aids. All of these, however, should be used only under the personal guidance of an instructor.
High on all the lists of reference material should be the FAA approved Airplane Flight Manual, or the Pilot's Operating Handbook issued for the airplane being flown. It will prove beneficial for all pilots to acquire a basic aeronautical reference library and to study or review specific topics from time to time.
The FAA issues Advisory Circulars to provide a systematic means for the issuance of nonregulatory material for the guidance and information of the aviation public. These circulars contain an explanation of various subjects of interest and importance to all pilots. They are issued in a numbered subject system corresponding to the subject areas in the Federal Aviation Regulations. This makes it easy to locate both regulations and advisory material which the FAA has issued on any subject. Most of these circulars are available free of charge and can be obtained individually or by having one's name placed on FAA's mailing list for future circulars. Others may be purchased for a small fee. Complete listings and instructions for ordering are contained in the latest issue of AC 00-2, Advisory Circular Checklist, which can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Publications Section, M 443.1, Washington, D.C. 20590.
Learning to fly, like all other learning, should be approached one step at a time. It is a waste of time to study advanced maneuvers before becoming familiar with the basic maneuvers. A training syllabus should be followed and each lesson studied in progression. Each step must be understood in proper sequence in order to avoid waste of time and money.
Good study habits include the practice of visualizing the instructor's explanation and those of the textbook. In addition to reading the text, a clear "mind's eye" picture should be developed in terms of airplane attitude, reaction, and performance. "Study," especially as it pertains to learning to fly, is the development of precise, meaningful images in the mind.
Good study habits in pilot training also include time spent in the cockpit reviewing checklists, identifying controls, and learning the cockpit arrangement. (Fig. 1-3). The more familiar a pilot is with the airplane and its equipment, the more time can be devoted to precise airplane control. Lack of familiarity with the airplane is the cause of a high percentage of pilot error accidents. Incomplete knowledge of aircraft equipment, systems, and capabilities often results in improper use of emergency systems, hard or gear up landings, undershooting or overshooting the runway, fuel exhaustion, stalls, spins, etc. In a very real sense, such accidents are the direct result of poor study habits.