Today I successfully completed the flight portion of my Biennial Flight Review. The Biennial Flight Review (BFR) is a review required of every active pilot at least every 24 calendar months. Since I first got my license back in mid-September of 2008, I actually have until this September 30th to complete all the requirements. My instructor uses the FAA WINGS program to handle the ground-school portion and track completion of the flight portion. FAA WINGS is basically just an online tracking tool developed by the FAA. I still technically need to complete 2 credits of online training to fully complete the BFR, but today I completed the actual portion that requires an instructor and flying a plane (in other words, the hard part).
The Biennial Flight Review is not actually a true TEST like my initial exam with the FAA examiner get my license – there is no pass/fail criteria, although the instructor can decline to endorse your log-book that a flight review has been completed. As such, I wasn’t too stressed about it, but really wanted to use the time to revisit flight procedures and maneuvers that I don’t frequently use. We ended up going through pretty much all the activities that were required for my initial license exam – and I was happy that I handled them all very well. We practiced “under the hood” – to simulate being stuck in clouds – and utilizing the autopilot to help manage our way out. That was fun and something totally new for me.
I purposely chose to take the BFR in a 4-seater Cessna 172SP plane since that’s the type of plane I’m mostly flying now (since I’m usually carrying a few passengers). It was nice to practice stalls and emergency procedures in the larger plane. We actually practiced an emergency engine-out landing from about 5 miles away from the airport. As always, I’m amazed how far these planes can glide with absolutely NO engine power. We made it back to the airport with plenty of altitude to spare – I actually had to perform a slip on final to lose the final altitude and speed necessary for landing.
Back at Westosha, we reviewed short and soft-field landings, and went into a little more detail on the autopilot and GPS functions of the 172SP’s. All-in-all, the review went great, and it was nice to have a “clean bill” from an instructor that I still fly safely and smoothly. Once I complete the ground-school portion (which I’ll do early in September), I’ll be good to fly for another two years – until 2012.
I logged 1.5 hours of dual and Pilot-In-Command time.