Pilot Prerogatives - Learning good judgment


Of all the FAA/GAMA/industry-sponsored slide-tape presentations developed thus far, in support of FAA's Accident Prevention Program, this one, more than any other, embodies the crux of flying, the challenge of flying, which is the use of good judgment.

A pilot prerogative is, effectively, a demonstration of judgment. It's the ability to make an "instant" decision which assures the safest possible continuation of the flight. Judgment is a series of evaluations you make, over a period of minutes, hours, or even days, to keep you out of danger.

Good judgment guarantees the positive aspects of flying the freedom to walk to your aircraft, go flying, and return to earth, safely. Good judgment is an intangible component of flying which enhances safety. Good judgment can be the lifesaving edge in the midst of an unforeseen situation. General aviation flying is a safe mode of transportation, but with good judgment, it can be made safer.

Through education and experience, pilots and pilots-to-be can learn good judgment just as thoroughly as they learn the mechanics and basics of good flying. In fact, learning good judgment is just as much an important part of flying as learning to make good takeoffs and landings. What it takes is the ability to assimilate that all-precious commodity, called "experience", and then translate it into good judgment.

This learning process starts with training by a well-qualified, FAA certificated flight instructor (CFI) or at an approved school that employs CFI's in a programmed curriculum. There's nothing wrong with learning about flying from a relative or a friend who flies, but seek your formal training from a certificated instructor who is trained to teach flying. Bad habits are hard to break. The CFI is the key to safe flying. Whether you're taking a refresher course or getting checked out in a new, perhaps more complex, make and model, or just have a basic question, seek the guidance of a qualified instructor.

The best way to learn good judgment is through flying. You don't have to fly every day to be good-to be sharp-but you do have to fly and to practice often. Practice makes better pilots. What is needed, then, is to gain exposure to flying in small, digestible chunks, and to effectively evaluate this experience. This is how judgment is developed.

Ironically, we carefully and meticulously preflight our aircraft, but frequently fail to preflight ourselves-even in a cursory manner. Too often we forget that man is usually the weakest link in that crucial "man-machine" interface. Flying with others can offer an extra margin of safety by providing redundancy and "backup" in case you need it.

Seven Ways to Develop and Enhance Your Flying Judgment

Pilots: You Have Certain Prerogatives - - -

What is a pilot prerogative? According to Webster, a prerogative is "an exclusive or special right, power or privilege belonging to a person, group or class of individuals."

Flight Service Stations

Before Taxiing



In Summary, we all need to work on improving our judgment because, from good judgment, comes the ability to make good decisions, and to correctly exercise our pilot-in-command privileges. Good judgment is the priceless element gained through proper training, through purposeful proficiency flying, and through experience. Flying is not a trivial exercise; to do it right takes time, effort, discipline, money, and above all, precise skills, both mental and physical. But, the challenge of flying brings Its own rewards, through fulfillment of dreams and through the freedom to go where you want to, and when you want to, safely.

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