It’s an age-old question, one contemplated across the aviation industry by students and new pilots alike. “Should I get my IFR certification?" The truth is, nobody can answer that for you except for, well, you.
What is IFR certification?
First, let’s get down to the basics. When a pilot first starts out, they operate under a VFR rating, which stands for Visual Flight Rules. Later, they have the option to get IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) certified. What’s the difference? Pilots operating under a VFR rating rely solely on visual references, such as landmarks, highways, and bodies of water. In contrast, pilots who fly under IFR operate their aircraft by relying almost entirely on their instruments.
The thing about an IFR certification is that there aren’t any cons actually having one. The hesitancy aviation students often feel towards getting IFR certified has more to do with the process.
IFR certification is infamously costly and rigorous- it involves super-specialized training outside of basic flight schooling. It’s also much more difficult than VFR flying on account of the fact that the pilot is relying on machinery and ATC for commands and instructions instead of their own visual observations. They often can’t see past their own front windshield, so they must be remarkably level-headed and confident in their skills.
Being IFR certified, of course, comes with a hefty handful of benefits. First of all, extra skills and knowledge never hurt anyone, did they? Many aviation enthusiasts find that you’re a better and safer pilot overall with an IFR certification due to your extra time spent studying.
However, the main reason so many pilots choose to go through the whole process of being IFR certified is that when it comes down to it, you open up a whole new world of flying opportunities. Once you know how to effectively rely on your instruments to navigate, you’ll be able to fly in weather conditions you’d never so much as dreamt of without it. You’ll no longer have to cancel flights due to poor visibility, and you’ll have the ability to do things like fly inside of clouds.
So, should you get IFR certified?
Again, it’s really up to you. Since IFR certification isn’t required for a pilot certificate, some people choose to forego the whole process. This could be the acceptable choice for the casual hobbyist pilot, but if you’re serious about flying, it’s probably worth the effort.