Pushing through your comfort zone

I’ve been spending some time looking through our various social media platforms and found many inspiring stories from our members. I especially enjoy watching videos of new flight experiences. It brings me back to a time when I first started flying and the early parts of my career as a bush and survey pilot where almost every day was a new experience which in turn made me a better pilot. Those were the days! But I was a commercial pilot then and that’s just what commercial pilots are taught to do. But what about GA pilots?

How far should we (I include myself this category now), as GA pilots, push our limits past our comfort zones in order to become more experienced pilots?

I read an article in Plane and Pilot entitled “Six Cool Ways to Push Your Envelope” (dated 2017), that stated once pilots have mastered their airplane and the type of flying they do, this “routine” can become precarious. It goes on to state that the more pilots stay in their comfort zone and the less they push their envelope, the more at risk they are to become overconfident and complacent. In my opinion, I find this to be a fair statement, but special considerations should be noted.

Each pilot should know where his or her own comfort zone lies prior to pushing it and this zone changes all the time. It is depended on several factors which differ from pilot to pilot. Personally, my comfort zone from my years of commercial flying is nowhere near where it is now. The main reason is that I don’t fly as much as I used to. Pushing my envelope these days consists of navigating with a GPS! Easy for some, but new to me. It’ll definitely make me a better pilot but only if I learn how to do it right.

There are things that we shouldn’t teach ourselves. Developing the new skills required to push our flight envelope in order to move past our comfort zone should certainly be one of those things. Additionally, without regular practice and challenges, our comfort zone shrinks daily, our skills deteriorate and we are vulnerable to either being overstressed or complacent. Dual flight with a competent, current instructor can rekindle the passion for flying and tune up your skills while feeling confident. Likewise, exploring new flight challenges during a flight review or adding a new rating is an excellent safety prescription for continued safety and of course fun!

My challenge, in order to push my envelope past my comfort zone is to earn my flight instructor rating. Stay tuned for that chronicle! How will you expand your own personal flight envelope, safely and confidently, in order to gain valuable experience?