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I don't get to fly as often as I'd like. I know that simulators are good for brushing up on technique, learning new systems, etc.

Are there techniques that pros use (commercial or military) to stay sharp about things when they aren't able to actually fly? Specifically things that I would do not in a simulator, but say I have a couple months where I can't fly, but have an hour commute, or 30 minutes per day that I could do something flying-related to stay sharp.

I realize there is no substitute for actual flying, but I always feel a little rusty (mostly I just feel a little behind the airplane) when I haven't flown for a month or two. Are there things that other pilots do that I could learn to do in my down time that would mitigate this?

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Reading a lot is key; staying on top of your checklists too. I noticed I'm behind the airplane more depending on the complexity of the aircraft in question. I keep photocopies of my checklists at home to refresh my mind prior to a flight.

It should also be mentioned the value of sitting in your aircraft on the ground; it costs nothing, and you can take your time working through checklists and scenarios in your mind.

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I am not a professional but I'll offer up a few things.

I like to read here. Its actually quite a good place to learn things and see questions you might not otherwise ask yourself.

Read the FAR/AIM (or at least the most recent updates). This may seem boring but its a good way to stay current on new rules and regulations.

Fly the simulator. I like to fly the sim mainly for fun, but some times it's good just to remember what the instruments are shown when a variety of things happen. X-Plane now offers the ability to capture and use live weather. Plan a flight, then get in the sim with current conditions and see how good your wind calculations are.

Read your POH (if you own a plane or fly the same one frequently). Do you remember all your emergency checklists? All your operating procedures? Everything to check for preflight?

You would always buy a road atlas, get in your car, get yourself lost and try and find your way home using only paper maps and a compass. Might be a good navigation exercise.

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