Recently, I had a conversation with a flight instructor (CFI) and we debated whether flying slow or fast was better. If you ask anyone that’s thinking about becoming a pilot, they’ll probably tell you faster is better. If you’ve watched any flying movies, they can never go fast enough. But that’s not always the case. In fact, for us mere mortals, the reality is, that flying slower is better for several situations.
When it comes to flight training, a pilot starts to solo very early on. In fact, most pilots will have their first solo after their first 10 to 20 hours of training. Flight schools have a standard set of lesson plans to get student pilots to a point where they can solo and safely build their practice time on their own in a set amount of time. Of course, every student is different. But we can generalize for this discussion.
To release a student to solo and consequently have them fly around safely, speed is the least important consideration when choosing an airplane that is right for the situation. Other features such as standardization across the fleet and reliability of the engine and airframe are much more important. Also, lower cost of fuel and maintenance are critical to the success of any aviation school.
Speed is actually the enemy of training. When a student is flying in the pattern, they need time to carry out all of the tasks they’ve been trained to perform. These should be done repetitively and consistently. A pilot needs time to get all of this done every time without fail. When these items take thoughtful consideration and are not yet rote memorization, the slow speed will buy more time when needed most. If you’re flying downwind doing 90 knots in a Cessna 172, you have 33% more decision making time than an Cirrus SR22 doing 120 knots on downwind. This gives you more time to establish a stabilized approach for landing.
Later, when you move on to your instrument rating and you are flying instrument approaches, you’ll find out just how busy these times really are and how much your attention seems to be divided amongst several tasks at once. The more time you have to keep all these balls juggling, the better.
More time = time building. Your logbooks tell the story of your training. When you apply for insurance, they will ask about the number of hours you have logged in various situations such as time in type, time in make and model, etc. So, if you take more time to reach your destination, you get more time to log in your logbooks. In the long run, this will reduce your insurance costs. Plus, you got to do more flying. That’s a win-win!
Slower speeds typically mean lower fuel costs. When it comes to owning an aircraft, one of the major considerations is the hourly costs of fuel. The number of gallons per hour can affect your decision. On average, the faster the plane, the more fuel it burns.
As you can see, there are many reasons to fly slowly. This won’t be forever, but it is perfect for students learning to fly. If you’re looking for a flight school in Orange County, California, Fun Outside provides students with the skills they need to be safe pilots. In Fullerton, CA, you’ll learn to effectively work within the busy airspace of southern California while becoming pilot in command safely and effectively.