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Today’s Flight Plan

How did you do on your goals this year? Did you achieve them, or did you miss the mark? For most, it’s a mixed bag.

2015 is going to be a big aviation year, and it’s time now to plan.

In this episode we talk about how to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals (SMART).

We can’t wait to see what you do in 2015!


Big thanks to Atrasolis for providing the great music for our podcast. Please check them out on their Facebook Page or SoundCloud and get the music you’ve heard for free.


Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.

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Happy 2015! This is AviatorCast episode 50!

Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer.

Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators. You’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. With a new year in front of me, I can’t help but think about what this year will bring in my aviation life. There will be floats, skis, a commercial rating, CFI or more. What vistas will I see and what things will I learn. I don’t know about you but I’m excited for the year ahead. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility and a commitment to excellence. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to

So welcome to this, the 50th episode of AviatorCast. It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the 50 mark but it is the beginning of many many more. So we’re going to be at the year mark in a couple weeks here, getting to 52 episodes, so I’m really excited about that.

I have a show lined up for you guys today that has to do with the New Year, and we will talk about that here in a second. First of all, we get to a review from iTunes which we always do first on the show. This comes from SBCmore from the United States. He says “Great aviation training podcast. Five stars. Love the podcast. I’m a new pilot and appreciate training focus especially with simulators. I haven’t done any simulator training but plan to in the future. Also, the interview with Tally One’s Rob Burgon was so awesome.” Thanks for that SBCmore, really appreciate it. Glad you enjoyed the show especially that of our episode with Rob Burgon. We did enjoy having him on the show as well. So thank you for joining us and thanks for leaving that review. If you would like to leave a review on AviatorCast, feel free to do so on iTunes. I read one each and every week and maybe you will get yours read right here on the show.

So the year has come to a close. Most likely, you’ve put on a little weight from all that pumpkin pie and holiday treats. With the belt adjusted a few knots, the scales tip you to a new center of gravity and weight and balance. For most of us, it’s time for our personal and annual overhaul. No, not that kind of overhaul that we do on an aircraft but the kind we do on ourselves. In other more simple terms, it’s time for our New Year resolutions.

Just as with the typical aircraft overhaul, we need to look at ourselves in a similar way. We must dissect ourselves, check and see what’s right, be honest about what may be wrong, and fix anything that is out of place. Of course we aren’t looking for an entire reskinning of the wings and we aren’t even talking about getting a completely new power plant, but maybe there are some upgrades that we want to do, minor things that will make us better.

So just as an aircraft would come out of the shop after an annual, we want to come out after this next year having become better ourselves. So ask yourself specifically relating to aviation. What is it I want to become this year? How do I want to improve? What do I want to be? What dream do I want to achieve? Do I finally want to go for that PPL? Do I want to solo this year? Do I want to save up and take my first flight? Perhaps you want to finish up an instrument rating, get a tailwheel endorsement or simply get your biannual flight review, and maybe it’s not even real flight training, maybe you’re not in a position to be a real pilot yet and you have some simulation goals, maybe along the lines of getting all the flight controls you need for your computer, a flight sim computer itself or something else around enhancing your simulation experience, or maybe you’re a real pilot looking to get into simulation for the first time. The list of possibilities is long but there’s likely something you’re thinking of right now that you want to do, you know what it is so it’s probably at the forefront of your mind.

What I want you to do is write these things down. So pause this podcast is necessary and just give yourself a few minutes, a few undistracted minutes and think of you what you want in 2015 and you want it to mean for aviation for you. So you could ask yourself what it is you want to achieve, what burning desire that you have, something along those lines. You probably already know what it is but give yourself a few minutes to think of those. So for now, just write them all down, you can refine them, you can add or you can subtract later, but take a few moments here and write those things down.

So now we are going to get into the specifics of how to actually accomplish what you’ve written down. You want to repeat this exercise for each and every item on your list. You also need to be realistic with yourself when all of these are said and done, but we’ll talk about that here in a second. It’s better to be laser focused on some things or just a few things than to be scattered on too many, and we also can’t do anything that just isn’t possible so we’ll talk about that.

For example, just as an example here of the impossible. I may want to fly in space one day but that probably isn’t going to happen in 2015. There are just some things that can’t happen. So notice how I picked a big huge example there. That is because I don’t want you quitting before you even start something like a PPL or going solo or getting your instrument. So don’t make excuses right now. Just tell yourself it’s possible if it is really possible and let’s plan together as if that dream and goal will come to be. So let’s just plan as if it is possible, but again I don’t want you working towards something that just isn’t feasible.

Alright, so let’s start with this quote. “Stop setting goals. Goals are pure fantasy unless you have a specific plan to achieve them.” And that quote is by Stephen Covey. So that’s exactly that we’re going to do. We are going to come up with a specific plan to achieve each and every goal in your list. Otherwise, again, they are pure fantasy. As with many things in aviation, this is done with an acronym but this isn’t just an aviation acronym, this actually a popular goal-setting acronym. That acronym is SMART. Yes, it’s smart to set goals so we’re going to talk about that a little here. Let’s get started.

First, “S,” Specific. Define your goal with detail enough to leave little room for interpretation. So what does that mean? So just as you need a specific heading to go on the right direction and eventually end up at your destination, so is the case with a goal. Your goal must be defined well enough to leave no doubt to what is. If you say “I want to fly more,” that just isn’t good enough. That doesn’t set you up for success because you don’t actually know exactly what you’re going to be working toward. But if you say something along the lines of “I will fly 100 hours this year,” then you’re starting to get into the ballpark of where you need to be. So take your goal and turn it into a specific goal. For me, my aviation goal this year is to get my float rating. I turn all my goals into action statements so for me this means or is stated “get my float rating.” So the same for yours and write it down. Now for a quote to end “S” in SMART, so here’s the quote “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” And that’s by Henry David Thoreau.

Now for the “M” and this stands for Measurable. Each goal can be broken down into component parts so we are going to define those components and measure as we go along. So what does that mean? Like a flight plan, you need steps along your way to get to your eventual destination, right? Sure you could go direct GPS I guess but there are still landmarks and locations you’ll pass that will tell you as a pilot “I’m making progress.” So much is the same with setting and achieving a goal. We must break down our goals into component parts as mentioned before that we can achieve little by little. You don’t get a PPL by going and taking a checkride. You get it by memorizing thousands of things, learning hundreds of pieces of information, practicing hours in the airplane and checking off certain stages during your progress, and then you go and you take your checkride.

Can you imagine how crazy it would be to just set up an appointment with an FAA examiner and try for that rating without the proper training? Seems overwhelming right? That’s because it is. That’s exactly what a goal would be if you didn’t break it down. So what is not overwhelming is doing today what needs to be done so that you can get to the next step tomorrow. So studying this lesson, memorizing that airspeed, watching this training video or taking this flight, it’s all broken down into little achievable goals. You can do for any goal you want to achieve. It’s possible with a number of smaller steps, smaller component parts. So write these steps down for each goal that you have. An easy way to do this is going reverse. So you start with the end goal in mind and work your way backwards to things that need to be done. Or you can start from the front and work your way forward, whatever works best for you. This ends up being a timeline of sorts. It’s almost a chronological to do list of things that you must do to achieve this goal. So that is the “M” and it needs to be measurable.

So now a few quotes to end this section for M. “Most impossible goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them, and then going full speed ahead as if they were routine.” That quote is by Don Lancaster. The next quote, “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” And that is by Confucius.

Now, for the “A” which stands for attainable. If this goal isn’t attainable, there is no point going after it, so we need to be realistic. What does that mean? So we have to be realistic with ourselves. Common sense will tell us when something is truly attainable and when it is not. Some goals will be awefully hard to achieve but by definition if they are impossible then well they just aren’t possible. So to start off, I want to be the first to tell you that you can achieve anything. I believe you are more capable than you probably give yourself credit for. I know that when I myself am focused on a goal and I do all the right steps, I can achieve amazing things. This same thing applies to you as well. We are pretty incredible beings. So believe me when I say that I believe in you.

That said, we also have to be realistic with ourselves. If it just isn’t possible, then it’s not possible. So say I’m 18 years old and don’t have a private pilot license yet and I want to become an airline pilot by the end of the year. Well, obviously that’s just not possible. So give yourself a common sense test here. Is your goal actually possible? Of course the goal is intended to be hard to very difficult, and that is to be expected. But make sure that it is in fact possible. So that is the “A” in SMART. And now for a quote to close this section out. I like this quote a lot. It reads “A good archer is known not by his arrows but by his aim.” And that is by Thomas Fuller.

Now, for the “R” in SMART which is Relevant. So this is another year. Is this something you really want to be spending your time on? If not or not quite, then you need to reevaluate. And what do I mean by that intro there? So time is a very precious thing we all have. We split our time between work, play, family and other relationships. Somewhere in there, we fit in this aviation thing. For some of us, that is a large part of the work component and those are the people that can count themselves lucky in this area. For others that are weekend warriors or part-time private pilots or simulator pilots, whatever it is, it means aviation is mixed amongst all the other things that you have to do.

Although aviation is absolutely wonderful and almost always worth our time, there are other important things in the world. I think all of us can set some sort of aviation goal this year big or small and make room for it. So just make sure that it’s absolutely what matters to you is worth your best effort and most of all worth that precious time that you’ll spend on it, and that you aren’t taking away time from other more important things. Otherwise, you’ll get to the end having achieved this goal and you’ll feel dissatisfied. In another way, I think what this relevant thing is trying to say is that this needs to matter to you a whole lot. This needs to be relevant to your life. It needs to be something deep down that you know that you want and that you are willing to work for. So that’s the R in SMART and as with all the other sections, let’s end this one with a quote and this quote reads “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up some place else.” And that is by Yogi Berra.

Alright, now for the last one, the “T” in SMART. This stands for Time-bound. You don’t need a full year to achieve your goal, so set a time frame and go after it. Let’s expound on that. So although we are talking about these goals at the start of the year, it shouldn’t be assumed that the goals should take a full year. They could take less or they could take more. Just as we were specific about our goal, we also need to be specific about the time frame. I think at this stage it is important to add the time component to our goal literally here. So again, for my goal, it is to get my float rating. Now I need to add a “by” and the date. So now it would become something like “Get my float rating by Oshkosh.” That’s a specific time. Oshkosh marks the end of the summer for me and for the most part so I want to have it done before then. And that means that it gives me some good summer flying months to get the rating done which is really the only time that I can do it here in Alaska because otherwise the lakes will freeze and things like that. So that is my timeframe. That is when I need to achieve it by.

Now you need to do the same thing with your goal. That’s my goal. Do it with your goal. Just tag that on and add a specific time frame on to the goal. It’s that simple. Now it’s really important you don’t leave this open-ended. You really need a set of deadline and you need to work toward it. Very, very important. So that is the “T” in SMART. And now, for a quote to wrap up this section as with all other sections, and I love this one, very simple and to the point. It reads “A goal is a dream without a deadline.” And that is by Napoleon Hill.

Alright, so to wrap this up, we talked about setting an aviation goal this year by being SMART. Again, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. By being specific about what the goal is, measuring progress along the way, working towards something that is actually attainable, only working on those things that are worth your time and setting a time limit to your goal, anything is possible. As my wife always says, anything is possible if you just believe. Although just about as cheesy as a cat poster, it’s very, very true, so anything is possible if you just believe. I wish you all the best success in your year to come here in 2015. I hope you choose a worthwhile and a big goal and you go after it. I’m excited to see what you have chosen to do and we’ll love to hear more about it. If there is anything I can ever do to help you along your journey, do let me know. So all that said, bon voyage for this next year. I will be hear each and every week giving you a dose of motivation to help you out along the way and together let’s make 2015 a year to remember in our respective books of aviation history.

Alright, so let’s wrap up the show with our aftershow AviatorCast actions. Take a quick two-minute survey at Here you can give us ideas for upcoming shows. Second, continue the conversation by joining us on or write me directly at I’d love to hear from you in either location. I answer each and every email. Again, or simply

Third, you can subscribe. Don’t miss another AviatorCast episode. Subscribe through iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud and more. iTunes is the primary location to subscribe and we’d really appreciate you being here each and every week.

Last, certainly not least, we’d also love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This helps others learn about AviatorCast so that they can enjoy each and every episode as well. Again, iTunes is the primary place where we get reviews so we’d really appreciate you leaving your review on there if you like the show, and you may get it read on the show.

If you’d like to check out any of our training products, head to Start with the basis for free with Aviator 90, learn instrument flying and more with AviatorPro or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD-11 again at Angle of Attack also offers professional video services at

Many thanks also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all of their hardwork to make this episode possible and all they do outside of AviatorCast. These guys are awesome, and thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things. Let’s make sure that 2015 absolutely rocks. We hope you will join us.

Until next time, throttle on!



Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


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