Tag Archives: Flight Training

Pilots Rejoice!

A great start to the new year, the 2016 FAA reauthorization has gone through and the new aeromedical rules have been announced! The new CFR Title 14, Part 68, BasicMed will become effective May 1, 2017.

While the changes may sound like they are a reduction of safety to non-pilots, they are in fact going to improve safety AND make flying more accessible. It should also be a boon to general aviation overall, which includes the largest segment of aviation in airmen and the number of aircraft.

2017 is already shaping up to be an epic year for GA; or at least the beginning of some major shifts in the industry. With the new rules for part 23, changing the certification process for small GA aircraft and parts, and the new aeromedical rules, it should open things up for manufacturers, experimenters, and pilots. These changes should make both pilots and the aircraft we fly considerably safer and less expensive to achieve that safety.

I don’t think these things will affect flight training, or significantly reduce regular operating expenses like fuel, consumables, annuals, or insurance, but there should be a reduction in the cost of upgrading aircraft to newer avionics and radios. What may affect regular operating expenses are the possibilities that the new part 23 rules will make it easier for fuel system, engine, and battery developers to bring more efficient products to market.

As a pilot, A&P, and experimenter, I am hopeful that these and other changes in my personal situation will make it less expensive for me to get back to flying and get back to building an experimental aircraft. I am looking forward to seeing how these changes affect the industry.

This post was brought to you by the sheer excitement that my last medical falls within the time limits of the new rules and makes me eligible under the new rules without having to go to an Aviation Medical Examiner before flying again! This also includes getting my CFI/II and instructing in the aircraft as well as in the classroom without a visit to an AME or needing a Third Class Medical!

Here’s looking forward to a new year, and flying again soon,
~FlyBoyJon

Post 201

Profile PicYesterday was an odd day. I suppose it was odd for many Americans for a variety of reasons. The most obvious of course being the 14th anniversary of 9-11, so I didn’t notice that my post yesterday was my 200th post.

For me September 11th has a strangely linked secondary meaning, it was also the day I started my formal flight-school training in 2003, though technically my first flight was April 22nd, 2003. I only had three flight lessons before deciding to go the professional academy route and the next available start date began five months later on September 11.

I always seem to think about aviation stuff on 9-11. Most of the time it is a sub-conscious shift in thought. I don’t even realize I have been thinking aviation until after my thought have shifted. Yesterday’s post obviously was aviation in theme and I have been mulling around a lot of stuff the last 12 hours or so.

When I notice the post being #200 this morning, it got me thinking of the many firsts I have encountered in the last decade or so; first pilot’s license, first college class taken, first instructors license, first aviation class taught, first mechanic’s license, first college class taught, first college degree, first amateur radio license, and my first VE session.

I’m sure there have been many other firsts along the way, certainly many smaller firsts came about as a result of these, but these in particular are mile-stone moments to me. They are all significant events marking recognized achievements in areas I am passionate about. Aviation, and radio, are things that are deeply embedded in my being. They have been a part of me in some form for much longer than a decade.

My contemplations of yesterday and today have been not only a pondering of opportunities and ideas. They have been a review of accomplishments, a review of the goals I have set for myself, how they intertwine, and how at several points I allowed myself to be distracted from the task at hand. Looking back from today’s vantage point, many of those delays were actually necessary. Ether to gain non-related skills, take the time for technology to change, or just let some things ruminate.

FrieslandIn many ways it is analogous to the farmer. Working the soil, providing nutrients, and sewing seeds. As the farmer must wait for the seeds to germinate and grow, I have been doing other “chores” waiting for that germination and growth. Stuff around the farm that may not directly relate to that crop, but still important for the overall operation of the farm. Now it’s time to do the finishing. Harvest comes soon, some will be reaped and some let go to seed.

What I really want to be doing as shifted, reformed, and modified, but those basic goals are still the same. The same as they have been for over a decade. Now I am in a much better position to see them through. Now it’s time to refocus on the finishing before harvest and make things happen.

I like it when an analogy comes together.

Until next time,
~FlyBoyJon

Something weird happened today

My unread magazine pile was building up so I figured it was time to get caught up on several areas of interest. I was getting to some recent additions to my reading list 1st Freedom, American Rifleman, and Guns & Ammo when I was smacked in the face with an unwelcome personal reality… I was overtly conscious of whether or not someone might see what I was reading and how they might react. WHOA!

I never had a second thought about having on the table an issue of Sport Aviation, Vintage, Warbirds, Home Machinist, Mother Earth News, QST, or anything else for that matter. Why did my interest in firearms somehow make me overly concerned about other peoples opinions? What the hell was that all about?

In part, I think it has to do with living in a state that abhors guns. Its okay if I like, and own swords, bows, staves, or a wide range of other weapons, but if it even looks like a gun the P.C. wing-nuts are gonna’ rip you a new one for being some kind of anti-social, homicidal, gun-toatn’ maniac.

Sadly it’s not just the California P.C. wing-nuts that seem to have this attitude. A growing voice across the country is hell bent on taking away your and my second amendment rights. Keep in mind that this group is growing in volume, not numbers. A few people with lots of money, a platform, and personal interest (Obama & Bloomberg) are trying to rewrite the Constitution to suit their own agendas.

New rules, policies, and laws keep rolling out all over California and elsewhere, sponsored and funded by these wing-nuts, to restrict access and ownership of firearms. None of them do anything to advance safety, or protect people from stupidity, ignorance, or criminals mind you. What they do have going for them is lots of spin that make complete B.S. sound like it will save us from all the evil in the world. Many of these new rules and laws are being overturned in court because they are in fact unconstitutional.

It’s not just the unconstitutional nature of these rules and laws that frustrate me so much. It’s fact that they accomplish absolutely nothing their proponents are saying they want to accomplish. It’s all and agendized scam that has nothing to do with safety or security. They do however produce copious amounts of fear mongering and misinformation. Two examples are what has been happening with “High Capacity” magazines for handguns, and Concealed Carry permits.

The proponents of the various bans on “High Capacity” magazines for handguns want you to believe that by limiting the number of rounds in a handgun magazine to ten, rather than the eleven or thirteen, or some other arbitrary number, which are standard from the manufacturer, will some how miraculously prevent gun violence. Like the thought will cross a bad guy’s mind “I only have 10 rounds in this magazine, that’s not enough to rob that liquor store. If only I had a 13 round magazine. Oh well, I guess I’ll go play chess instead.”

One of the effects of these bans are having is that they make criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens by not providing enough time to surrender the now illegal magazines that came with the gun, or if they forgot about a spare magazine in a box in the attic. It then adds further insult by making them go out and buy a compliant magazine, which the gun was not originally designed to hold. By the way, do you think the criminals will be surrendering their eleven or thirteen round magazines? How about postponing criminal activities while they wait for a compliant replacement magazine? Ya, didn’t think so.

Result: Criminals keep their magazines. Honest law abiding citizens surrender their magazines and wait for a back ordered replacement effectively rendering the gun useless. How does this reduce gun violence? How does this do anything beyond wasting tax dollars in surrender operations and enforcement of a ridiculous law that does nothing to improve public safety? It doesn’t.

As for Carry permits… The demands of some municipalities that a law abiding citizen provide extreme reasons why they should be allowed to apply for a Carry permit is not only unconstitutional, it is just plane dumb.

Anyone who applies for a carry permit is outright telling local law enforcement who they are, where they live, that they own weapons, they have been trained to safely carry and use them, and they wish to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in a responsible manner. They are registering themselves with the local authorities voluntarily.

How many scoff-laws do you think apply for a Carry permit? There are always exceptions, but I have difficulty imagining a gang-banger or career criminal walking into a sheriffs office expecting to get a carry permit.

Result: Criminals do what they were going to do anyway. They illegally carry a concealed gun and local law enforcement is none the wiser. Qualified law abiding citizens are run through the ringer and denied their constitutional right to bear arms because they don’t have an extreme need to protect themselves or their families. Does this make anyone safer? Does this reduce gun violence? Absolutely not.

Right to keep and bear arms - Franklin2I am not a gun-toatn’ homicidal maniac or a paranoid zealot. I am someone who is fascinated with the mechanics of firearms. I enjoy target shooting. I enjoy hunting for sustenance. I enjoy having the right to defend myself and my family if the need arises. These are all part of the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness. These are also part of a desire to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic. If I choose to own or carry a gun, I am choosing to be a responsible and safe gun owner, and I am choosing to exercise my second amendment rights.

Not everyone chooses to own firearms. Not everyone chooses to vote. These are personal decisions. These decisions should not be dictated by anyone other than the individual unless these right have been suspended by due process for criminal acts of violence.

And yes, I do hold the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms on the same level of importance. The founding fathers did too, they are a complementary set along with the freedom of speech, each protects the other. Any agenda or policy that seeks to suspend one, should be held suspect of trying to suspend the others and cast out. 

The first two rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are the right to speak out against usurpations and the right to defend ourselves from those usurpations if the need arises. These two rights alone provide the means of ensuring that none of our rights are diminished or taken away.

This is not paranoia, it has been born out repeatedly throughout history on every continent. When people lose their right to speak out or to defend themselves effectively they are soon terrorized and subjugated.

I have always been honest about who I am, and what my position is on most subjects. Now I have expressed myself on the matter of firearms. I am passionate about this issue but I am also willing to listen to other opinions. I continue to respect others opinions even though I may fervently disagree with their position. I ask only that they respect mine in kind.

If you see an issue of Guns & Ammo on the coffee table and want to make a comment, you know where I’m coming from.

Frequent Quitters Club

FlyBoyJon.comI just finished reading Rod Machado’s “licence to Learn” column in AOPA Pilot about the ‘Frequent Quitters Club’. Having had some interesting experiences in my own flight training, I tend to agree with Mr. Machado.

Flight instruction is a noble profession but for better or worse, it is most likely going to be a first aviation job for most working pilots who are not going to be instructing long term. What this may mean for a newcomer is an instructor that is under 25, has less than 500 flight hours, and is looking to build time so they can go and get a “real” flying job. This certainly doesn’t describe all instructors, but it does describe more than we would like to admit.

All of the “how to get started” literature makes a point of telling perspective pilots to take the time and look for a good student/teacher match before getting started on the meat of flight training, but it seems as though many ether don’t try, or don’t really know what to look for.

Here are a few recommendations for the perspective flight training student.

First off, make sure you have a good feeling about the school and instructor. Trust you instincts. As a pilot you have to learn to trust your instincts. I’m not suggesting that your instincts are the be-all-end-all but it is often the gut feeling that something is wrong that causes you to analyze your situation and re-evaluate it, leading to the discovery that something needs correction. If something feels wrong about the school or instructor move on and keep looking.

Next is punctuality and courtesy. They are important on both sides of the relationship, both student and instructor must respect each others time and schedules. If an instructor is habitually late, or flakes on appointments, call them on it and if it doesn’t stop, find an instructor who respects you.

Another thing you should understand is that there is hard work involved, there will be times when you get frustrated, there will be times when you hit a plateau of learning, these are all part of the learning process and in the long run you will look back and remember how much fun it all is. There is no free lunch as it were, anything worth doing requires effort on your part.

The best way to gain some perspective when you are not sure about something, or something doesn’t feel right, find an aviation mentor and ask them questions, get that second opinion.

Flight Schools (pt. 2)

A few years ago I spent a significant amount of time developing a plan for a major academy program with two other people. We started with what we thought our graduates should be able to put on a resume right out of the Transport Pilot program. We made sure to provide a wide variety of actual flight experience covering single engine, multi-engine, piston, turbine, and jet in aircraft with standard instruments and glass panel systems. The program was constructed as an expanded version of a standard part 141 program and an eye toward working with a four year university to ensure an available degree program for our students.

The whole idea behind our program was to give students actual experience in turbine and jet aircraft and some level D simulator training in a transport aircraft allowing for a type rating while enrolled. It was our intention to get our students in position to interview for a regional airline job right out of the academy with all of the experience they would need for a right-seat position.

At the time, the cost to set up this academy program was in the neighborhood of 40 million dollars. A difficult nut to crack to say the least. Since then, the cost of developing a comparable program has dropped significantly to some where around ten million dollars, still not an easy number to reach. All of this was for a transport pilot program though, and thats not the direction I am looking at now. While I am still looking at the development of a professional aviation program, it is not for transport pilots in particular, and not just pilots. There are a number of non-pilot certificates that are very important to the aviation industry, and are difficult to find in the AvEd marketplace.

My desire is to build an academy that caters to aviation professionals across the board. Of course I want to train for and acquire many of these certificates myself, and teach classes for them, but the goal is to make them available to all who are interested.

For now, much to do, and many plans to make. ✈

Flight Schools

Today has been a combination of studying aerodynamics in the PHAK and FAR Parts 141 and 142. One might be inclined to ask, Why?

The answer stems back to my first Ground School Class in an academy setting. Some time around the second week of class it occurred to me; I have absolutely no desire, what so ever, to be an airline pilot. Becoming an airline pilot is, it turns out, the primary goal for most academy style programs. Also as it turns out that a vast majority of pilots who move on to the CFI/II not interested in that path, it’s gonna take a lot more time and a lot more studying on your own, and then more time and studying. Not to mention getting out there to see what other kinds of flying jobs are available.

So what does this have to do with my studying 141, 142 today? Back when I had my epiphany about career paths, I had thoughts of establishing a different kind of aviation academy program. Or, at least one that had more career track options. There are accommodations in Part 141 for schools teaching a wide variety of courses. If there is a certificate or rating for it, one could develop a 141 program for it. Even areas not certificated or rated can have a 141 program, a Test Pilot program to name just one.

Beyond certifying a 141 program, it makes sense for a school or career minded instructor to develop flight and ground school programs around the Part 141 program requirements. If you develop a 141 program and operate it as a Part 61 program you can accomplishing several things, beta testing a program that you could later certify, and teaching to a higher standard. Some of the complexities can weigh down the process, but a clear understanding of how a 141 school needs to be organized on the back end can go a long way in making a Part 61 program look, feel, and act more professional.

Building an career aviation school from scratch is a lot of hard work. It requires a clear understanding of the certificate programs the school will offer, the resources it can and will be able to provide its students, and what the target markets are for the school and its graduating students. These days it also requires a lot of planning for sustainability, flexibility, and endurance for a business to survive. And lets not forget, aviation training is a business.

As FAR 91.103 puts it “Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight. …”

Climbing Back On Pegasus

Gone FlyingAs the old saying goes “when you fall off the horse, climb back on.” Well, my horse has wings. I have been sitting on the ground far too long. It’s time to climb back up and get in the air.

My return to the skies begins with reacquainting myself with a stack of printed materials published by the FAA, which by the way, have all been revised since I last purchased said publications. So off to The Airport Shoppe at Reid-Hillview Airport (KRHV) I go. Now, I could just download and read them all as PDF files. They are all available for free online at www.FAA.gov/library/manuals. I have downloaded them, I like having the digital versions for quick reference when working with students, it’s a lot easier to have them on my laptop than carrying around many pounds of paper “just in case”, but for studying I prefer, and recommend, a hard copy book. Oh, and in case you were wondering, printing the PDF files… several of the handbooks are well over 300 pages making printouts a costly option.

Pilots Handbook of Aviation Knowledge (PHAK)Now, with several new-edition handbooks and a years worth of aviation magazines, AOPA PilotAOPA Flight Training, FlyingEAA Sport Aviation, and NAFI Mentor, sitting on my desk, it’s time to hit the books, and I have been in a big way. Along with the most current issues of the magazines, I have been reading my way through the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge (FAA-H-8083-25A) or PHAK. At 471 pages, it’s available for free download (in 19 PDF files, 110 MB for all of them) or you can buy it for $22.95 at most pilot shops at airports and online.

Reading through the PHAK, all of the hours spent in American Flyers CFI Academy and teaching ground schools are coming flooding back. I am on chapter 4 – Aerodynamics of Flight, one of my favorite subjects. After completing the 30 day CFI Academy program I sat in on the next two Academy classes to help out as a TA of sorts. I also taught ground school classes for Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot and Instrument Ratings, and put in a significant number of hours tutoring one-on-one with students in Private, Commercial, Instrument and CFI programs. Aerodynamics of Flight is a subject I taught frequently and well; I must confess though, cross county Navigation and Planning are my top favorites.

To get back in the game as a certified Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) and Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI) I need to study up and demonstrate to an instructor (flight or ground), who is current, that I still possess sufficient knowledge and skill in aeronautics and at the instruction there of, get a logbook sign off stating as much making me current, then I can start teaching again. So this is the first step toward getting back on track over all.

Once I get current as an AGI/IGI and teaching again, it’s will be time to get back in the air and knock the rust off my piloting skills by getting a Biennial Flight Review (BFR) and becoming current for day and night flight, Then it’s back to practicing Flight Maneuvers so I can wrap up my initial Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Once I have my initial CFI in the bag I can move on to my Instrument Instructor rating (CFII). While I am more attuned to primarily being a ground instructor, I do want to take on primary and advanced students in flight instruction.

There are other certificates/ratings I plan on working on soon as well, but the time tables are not worked out yet. For that matter, nether is the funding. There are so many things to do in aviation, flying new aircraft, fly different categories of aircraft, becoming certified to fix them, building them, and a ton of related skill sets and certificates, not to mention all of the flying adventures themselves. So much to learn, do, and teach. One could spend a lifetime just trying new things in aviation; and what a lifetime it will be…

Recording Training Flights

FlyBoyJon150x150-newWhen I first began my flight training I, being a media dork, decided to record my training flights. I made audio recordings from engine start to shut down. Now it’s been a few years and I wish I had continued the practice.

In the aircraft I was flying at the time, recording in-flight audio required me to go and buy a portable comm system because the aircraft were not equipped with audio in/out jacks on the panel other than for headsets. I picked up a modular four position comm that had the in/out jacks I needed and began using it with a small digital recorder. The quality was not great but it worked surprisingly well. I have seven or so hours of me and my instructor at the time, bouncing in, out, and around Oakland International Airport (KOAK) in September and October of 2003.

I started listening to the recordings this last week while I added ID3 and IPTC tags to the files. While listening to the recordings I had several revelations about my training and about that instructor. I am not going to go into the details of the revelations just yet, but I decided to post about in-flight recording in general. It is a simple process and does not require a whole lot of technical knowledge to do, and depending on your aircraft’s capabilities (in/out jacks in the panel and such) it could be darn near effortless.

Why do in-flight recording?

The most obvious is reason is to have a record of your training flights that you can show off to your friends (impressive to non-pilot folk). Beyond that though, I becomes an effective tool for post-flight debriefing. An instructor can go over a segment of the flight with a student with perfect recall. Demonstrating bad habits, from the left and right seat, like maintaining a sterile cockpit at critical phases of flight, positive exchange of controls, missed radio calls, all kinds of things. It can be an invaluable tool for education.

In-flight recordings are also a good tool for instructor evaluation, how you as a student interact with an instructor. This gives the student pilot a tremendous tool to use at a time when the new pilot does not have the experience to recognise lapses in the instructors skills. Had I thought about it, I could have presented information to the chief instructor at the academy that could have helped my instructor improve his skills and enhanced my training.

Lastly, it is a permanent record for you to review years later, maybe on a stormy day when couch flying is the only good option for the day. Listen to one of those old flight recordings and see just how much has changed. What you can do better, what areas needed work. Use it not only for enjoyment but for providing reference points for your current skills. A record you can pass down to the next generation of pilots.

What did I learn?

On first listening I felt awkward, not wanting to share any of the recordings because I look back at what a dufus I sounded like, then I started to analyze what was going on, in my head and in the cockpit, I began to see things, nuances in my training that I had not recognised before.

I had looked back at my early training while I was in a CFI/I academy later and had several revelations about my instructor and the training program I was in at the time, I think It would have been beneficial for me and the rest of my academy class to hear some of the recordings to demonstrate several points.

Now that I am older and wiser I look back again at those first few flights. I now know that It is a good idea to use in-flight recording on training flights as a student or an instructor. I can use those recordings as tools to improve my skills and those of my students. Don’t be frightened of by the thought of sounding like a dufus, the recordings can only help you improve your flying experience as a student or an instructor.

Spend a few bucks on a comm and a digital recorder if you have too. It is a wise investment that will pay rewards throughout your aviation carrier.

Blue skys and tail winds,
~FlyBoyJon