Rotation Speed (Aviation Blog)

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A New Pilot's Challenge - The No Fly Decision

This is something I've been grappling with for almost two years, and I expect some of you have too.  You book a flight with the expectation and anticipation of flying.  As the following week or more unfolds, you watch the weather every day beginning to see the potential for weather challenges.  The flight day finally comes, you look at the latest conditions and make the decision not to fly.  And then, on those days when the weather isn't dangerously terrible, and the decision wasn't totally obvious, you second guess your choice every hour after that.

And this happens time and again.

For me, some of these feelings might come from being a renter.  Since I rent the planes I fly, the choice to not fly is a money saver.  I don't fly, I don't pay.  If I owned the plane however, a decision to not fly could be seen in some ways as a money waster.  But I worry that I'm sometimes making the no-fly decision in part to save a few bucks, especially when the weather isn't perfect.

Mostly of the time, the no-fly decision is made because I feel that the weather is not safe for my level of experience.  And on those days I wonder if I am choosing not to fly because it is safe, or out of a lack of confidence in my skills.  I mean I can always call it a safe decision, but as a new pilot I'm asking...when should I push it a little further?  How much cross wind is OK?  How much gust is too much?  How low can the clouds be for my planned trip?  Is there any risk for icing?

How do other pilots handle these moments?  I'd love to hear from others about this issue.  I guess over time I am coming to terms with the evolution of my decision-making.  I'm not surprised that I feel conservative, because I think I'm a conservative pilot overall, but I do think I will slowly begin to challenge the edge of my safe minimums in the years ahead.  As my flying years advance I know I should try to fly with winds slightly higher from time to time to gain confidence, with gusts slightly bigger, with crosswind slightly larger.  I know I need to do this and I'm sure I will, but sometimes as a new pilot, I worry that I'm being too conservative now.

I wonder if others wonder the same thing.