Strategic approach (goals, vision, flow) towards flight currency

I’ve found success (with large and comprehensive projects) by entraining closely towards specific goals, with a clear vision (and realistic calendar schedule), of what success will look like.  Because there is a known working plan for aviation projects, which are fundamentally designed to achieve expected results, a logical flow can be followed.  This logical flow assists in keeping me focused on current project and avoiding distractions.

Within the Goals Section, you see a list of projects sorted in order of priority.  Prioritized in the sense of various dependencies that arise in aviation.  For example, it makes sense to get the medical out of the way before starting flight training again, towards the BFR (Biennial Flight Review).  It would suck to put a bunch of money into flight training, and then do the medical right before solo, and then find there is an issue.  As the cockpit is the worst classroom (noisy and all-encompassing) it’s suggested to get the written work (theory) completed before in-cockpit flight training.  While there may be an ultimate start date delay, possibly due to finances, there are still projects to work on (for free)  – ground school review.

This page will be used to cross-reference blog-posts and other pages for project action support.  Another purpose of the Goals Section is to record the completion date of various project deliverables.

In general, the strategy is to follow an end-to-end flow, where some line-items may be worked in parallel.

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IMSAFE Checklist

The IMSAFE acronym is really important for all pilots to follow as a self-check before taking flight. In my opinion, this is the ultimate test of whether I’m behaving as Pilot in Command or not. I’m categorizing this as Checklists, Health – because it really is a self-check on all the human factors we may be experiencing, and confirm if we’re compatible with flight right now.

There are numerous checklists to attend to, that other people can witness, but only the IMSAFE checklist can be discerned by ourselves.

IMSAFE stands for:

I – Illness. Is there any form of current illness that may deter from PIC duties? There is a reg for this — (14 CFR 61.53). The key is to meet the relative requirements of your medical certificate.

M – Medication. There is a reg for this in the same place – (14 CFR 61.53). Also, AOPA has a medication database to review at

S – Stress. This is a large topic, and I’ll write more articles on this over time. I’m a Certified Hypnotherapist, so can specifically talk to this topic.

A – Alcohol. There is a phrase, “8 hours from bottle to throttle”. I don’t really drink, so for me it’s more like 24 hours from bottle to throttle. There’s a reg for this at – (14 CFR 91.17). The focus typically is on drinking alcohol, but this addresses any form of drugs.

F – Fatigue. In general, this means getting enough sleep/rest. As a Certified Hypnotherapist, I can also talk more on this. If the subconscious mind doesn’t get enough rest to process everything in there, who knows what havoc that can play on the conscious mind.

E – Emotion. This is also a large topic, but if you’re under some form of negative emotion that is negatively impacting your thinking, how is that going to play while being a PIC of an aircraft? This is also an area I’m specializing in, which are all the Human Factors to consider, as it relates to aviation — Pilots, A&P Mechanics, everyone.

In practice, this would be a part of each flight, and reviewed prior to flight. Ideally with a pen mark checking off each item, and a signature. It can be logged with any paperwork you have. You could even do a quick post-flight debrief to document how you felt, what stuff came up to review, etc.

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End-to-End Flight – Master

Purpose of End-to-End Flight – Master (Checklist)

Master Summary of all Checklists required for a successful flight from initial flight planning to securing the aircraft at the end.

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Medical Certificate incl BasicMed

20210709 – I’m including a link to an AOPA article on this topic.  Seems that BasicMed is still viable.  My only concern is that my relationship with medical provider is more with a Physician Assistant – does that make a difference?  I’m still eligible for BasicMed, and don’t need to see an AME, because my last medical was in 2007.  But, the question is — is it worth it, and should I go to an AME when I’m ready to get back into flying?

Looks like there have been some changes in medical certification. In the past, I’ve always gone to an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner). Now it looks, for specific medicals, there’s something called BasicMed.

One thing similar to what I remember is that a 3rd class medical for a pilot over 40 lasts for two years. (14 CFR 61.23). What’s definitely different is that for under 40 it lasts for 5 years!

BasicMed (14 CFR 68) came effective May 1, 2017. Instead of going to an AME, a pilot can go to their personal physician. The pilot also has to take some online course.

There are some items you need to meet to qualify for BasicMed:

  • Valid Drivers License – check
  • Have held a valid FAA medical after July 15, 2006 – awesome, because I had gotten a Medical in 2007.  Let’s say that wasn’t the case – I would need to go (one time) to an AME
  • In order to maintain BasicMed, every 48 months you go to a physician with a FAA checklist called, “Comprehensive Medical Examination Checklist”.  This signed off checklist stays with your logbook. Also, every 24 months you do a free online medical education course.  Completion of the 24 month course gives you a certificate to include in logbook.  So far so good. 

While BasicMed appears on the surface to be a good deal, there are a bunch of restrictions, which reveal what kind of medical this really is:

  • The aircraft can only be up to 6000 pounds with a max occupant load of six and fly with no more than five passengers.  Note: A Private Pilot is certificated up to 12, 500 pounds.
  • Only fly within the USA, with some exceptions
  • Fly at indicated airspeed of 250 KIAS or less.  That would rule out really high-performance aircraft. 
  • Fly at or below 18000 feet.  That keeps you out of pressurized high performance aircraft most likely then. 
  • Cannot fly for compensation or hire.  This now reveals that this is not for Commercial Pilot flying.  But, you can do the share of cost deal with passengers and do charitable flying.  One thing interesting is that you can fly as a pilot (as an employee) for a business only if it’s incidental to the business — meaning you’re not charging any passengers/property on the flight. 

I’m not a CFI yet, but…  there’s something about BasicMed for instructors that doesn’t make sense, so I’ll need to clarify:

  • Flight Instructors can give instruction as a PIC without holding a medical certificate to a student who may not have a medical certificate.  Note: I think that means that a CFI without a medical from an AME can still instruct students (without medicals) if the CFI has done BasicMed.   


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Documents required for pilot

There are several physical documents required to be in the aircraft with the pilot:

Pilot Certificate. The FAA standardized several years ago with a hard plastic version, which I have. There is a regulation for that – (14 CFR 61.19(g)). In the past, I had a paper certificate (which I laminated), but that doesn’t count anymore.

Government Issued Photo ID. I think this is a new requirement, as I don’t remember that. Something like a Driver’s License. There is a regulation for that – (14 CFR 61.3)

Medical Certificate. In general, the duration changes after age 40. In the past, I would get a second class medical (required for commercial pilots), which would auto-downgrade to a third class (required for private pilots). A non-commercial Private Pilot only needs a third class. I will cover medical in a separate blog post because now there’s something called BasicMed. My understanding is that a Private Pilot over 40 would have a medical for two years. The regulation is within – (14 CFR 61.23)

Biennial Flight Review. Every 24 months, I need to have a BFR in order to fly. A Private Pilot certificate does not expire, and the BFR is how it’s regulated. The regulation is within – (14 CFR 61.56) and the requirement is a logbook signoff and CFI signature. This signoff is what needs to be in the aircraft with you. In my case, right now, my BFR process will probably be much more intensive than if I had been flying consistently. In general, it involves ground instruction and airwork with a Certificated Flight Instructor. You can also do a BFR in any Make/Model of aircraft, even if it’s not one you typically fly. For example, I typically flew Cessnas, and did a BFR in a Katana. But… the place you rent from may want currency from a CFI in the “other aircraft” – the Cessna.

90-day Landing Currency. This is the last portion of a signoff that would need to be in your logbook and with you in the aircraft. In general, you’re avoiding being ramp checked in a remote airport from home, where you have to prove everthing. The regulation is – (14 CFR 61.57). For day currency, it’s three takeoffs and three landings within 90-days. I suppose that’s where touch-and-goes come in handy. For night currency (which is defined as one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise) it’s also three takeoffs and three landings — but you need to do a full stop for each one. Of course, seeing as I’m current a Private Pilot, I get to keep track of these takeoffs and landings myself in the logbook. Ideally use the same pen – I remember that suggestion for some reason.

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