Safety and Training
Slow down! I know you think you can read METARS, but a lot of us (myself included) are not so strong on the remarks section. We've got the visibility, ceiling, and temperature down, but the remarks section can be difficult to discern--and super important. You may find yourself flying into a mountain airport with strong but manageable winds at the surface and few clouds at 1,000, but if the remarks say "SL," your flight is probably a no-go. Why?
This is something you must read if you plan to fly in the San Francisco Bay Area between February 4 and February 9, but I think it's interesting for all pilots. (I'd never seen this before.) You will need a ramp reservation to land, even at our small, local GA airports, as if you were flying into SFO or JFK. This even includes some non-towered airports. Checking NOTAMs seems like a PITA thing to do that never tells you anything interesting, but that's exactly what's so dangerous about flying in general: you can be sloppy 99.9% of the time and get away with it, but being wrong 0.1% of the time is far too often. So check your NOTAMS people!
As a beginning pilot, your radio communication goal is just to get the clearances you need and avoid breaking any rules, and you therefore ignore any communication not for you. As you become more experienced and your capacity for situational awareness grows, you start to listen to all the radio calls on your frequency (or monitor a frequency even if you're not talking to ATC). By listening to what's happening with other aircraft, you can learn about unforecast weather ahead, avoid other aircraft (and their wake turbulence), and discern what routing to expect.
These guys call their YouTube channel AirTrafficVisualized, which is what it sounds like, and they do a great, great job. Follow the last Quantas 767 passenger carrying flight, and then set a goal of eventually being able to paint the same picture in your head while you're flying.
Mike Busch is one of the top experts in GA aircraft maintenance and writes here for AOPA about the dangers of misfueling--generally speaking, putting Jet-A in an aircraft that's supposed to be getting 100LL. I thought I knew most of what there was to know about misfueling, but I was wrong. This is a topic on which every pilot should be conversant, but that's doubly true for anyone flying a twin, a turbocharged aircraft, or flying internationally, each of which increase the risk of a fueling mistake.
Right before Thanksgiving, the FAA released a revised AC on pilot currency and what they expect to take place during flight review and instrument proficiency checks. If you're a CFI or have a BFR or IPC coming up, check it out to make sure you're ready to go. The new hot button items are loss of control in flight and over-reliance on automation. (Presumably, your CFI is actually going to make you fly the airplane.)
PS: The FAA is quite insistent that we're not calling flight reviews "Biennial Flight Reviews" anymore, because it gave the impression that training was only necessary every two years. I'm still calling them BFRs, because I think it gives the quite accurate impression that they're legally required every two years.
Thinking about a move up in capabilities to a turbocharged aircraft like a Cessna Turbo Skylane, a turbo Bonanza, an SR22 Turbo or (if Santa thought you were a good boy/girl this year) a turbo-normalized Mooney M20TN? Check out the basics of how the turbocharger works. Like most mechanical devices, they seem to run on pure magic until you see the right explanation or diagram, and find that they're really pretty simple.