Buy, Fly and Learn

Some new or aspiring pilots know what they want: Big tires, a tailwheel and being “off airport” just as much as “on airport.”  What do you seek?  The cookie cutter flight school program? Or do you value critical skills early on?

It wasn’t too long ago that we all learned to fly a tail dragger in a field somewhere near a bigger airport.  Most also turned out to be really good pilots for the simple reason that they had to use their feet (i.e. rudder) and an intuitive connection and approach to much of their flying.  Just ask Sully.

Continue reading Buy, Fly and Learn

What Should You Charge as a CFI?

More money is safer.

As a new, old, or “returning” (in my case) CFI, a nagging question might be:  “WTF should I charge?”  And stumped you should be, since general aviation can be an opaque place that doesn’t love you back as much as you love it.  So you ask yourself, “How can I do this for a living?”  The answer is you can, but it takes a few key ingredients, rumination and simple action.

What a flight instructor is paid has a huge range and your question might be, where do you belong?  And how can you belong, appear, smell or act in such a way that you can ask for sustainable income?

Continue reading What Should You Charge as a CFI?

Astronaut vs. Bus Driver (Part 2)

Image credit to therogueaviator.com

For those of us that extract money from airplanes and aerospace related things, the evolution of the pilot archetype fascinates me.

Jeff Friedrich outlines the current trend of the marginalization of skilled labor in one of the best articles on the subject.  Labor, regulation, technology and business models conspire to forsake a key ingredient – people.

While many debate that automation will do us in anyway, why not have some competent people around just in case?

If Elon Musk has anything to say about it (prediction), it might not be a bad idea to keep them even better trained and fed too.  The car you can park.  For critical aircraft failures, why not have a pilot with a compass and watch? And throw in some half decent training and compensation for good measure.

NOTAMs: “What if, instead, the Authorities had simply written what they meant?”

Routes of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Singapore Airlines Flight 351, including airspace restrictions

 

Mark Zee’s statement above is sticking in my mind as I prepare for the IFR add on to my CFI.  Mainly because I see it leaking into how we learn.

Archaic CFII and IFR prep questions remind me that much aviation is more about a right of passage than learning.

Becoming a rockstar at decoding weather outputs should make you wonder.  And on a more crazy note, let’s look at the rafts of NOTAMs we’re all asked to process – before each flight.  Then consider that a NOTAM’s obvious urgency could have saved Malaysia MH17.

What if the crew knew what the NOTAM meant, that would have saved their lives?

Continue reading NOTAMs: “What if, instead, the Authorities had simply written what they meant?”

Evaluate vs. Teach (Flight Instruction)

be76 (1)
Duchess in flight thanks to Denis Hersey

I recently added my MEI (multi engine instructor) to my FAA CFI license.  (Certificated Flight Instructor).

This is a simple way for expired old timers (me) to get back in the game of teaching flying.  The FAA flight instructor rating expires if you don’t teach enough (and endorse enough) or take the proscribed renewal classes.  I fell off the teaching wagon in 2001 and lost the legal ability to teach.  This was no travesty until I aged a bit, moved to the Bay Area and realized that I not only like teaching, but I like specific types of teaching such as tailwheel training and endorsements, bush flying, TAA (technically advanced aircraft) as well multi, turbine and high performance transition related training.   Continue reading Evaluate vs. Teach (Flight Instruction)

BFL and why it matters

BFLFor those pilots out there this post will cause you to wonder “why is he writing that?” followed by: “I know about that.”

I know you do – this isn’t for you.  It’s for everyone else.  With the high profile accident at Bedford, MA (KBED) this past weekend with a Gulfstream G-IV N121JM running off the departure end of its runway, it at least warranted a post.  While the cause of the accident is yet to be determined, a lot of our non-flying followers and members queried us about what happened.  While we can’t answer, we thought it at least appropriate to have a balanced field length or BFL explanation since when everything works as advertised, balanced field length is what makes every departure, or aborted take off go smoothly.

The good news is that BFL is all about safety.  And while a non-pilot will never have to compute it, knowing what it is will at least make you feel better about those hot and heavy take offs on days when you think that the airplane is working extra hard.  Continue reading BFL and why it matters

Staying Relevant as an Astronaut or Bus Driver

900px-Astronaut-EVAGlamor fades.  Whether it is the sun, radiation, or just the sum total of alcohol consumed by pilots, the trend is that we are on our way out.  And many of us don’t like such talk.  But this article on Sully and the Miracle on the Hudson really brought it home for me.  Learning years ago was harder since you had to do more of it yourself.  With a pen.  Or pencil.  And an E6B maybe.  Oh, and a watch.

The best quote from the article might have been: “Twenty-five years ago, we were a step below astronauts,” says one veteran pilot. “Now we’re a step above bus drivers. And the bus drivers have a better pension.” Continue reading Staying Relevant as an Astronaut or Bus Driver

Simulation is Risk Management

simulator_cae5000For those non-piloting / aviator readers, let me bring you into a little oddity about the FAA, and by extension the world in general. If the airplane you want to fly weighs more than 12,500 lbs. or has jet engines, you need to go to school for “it.”  Namely, your pilot licence has it “named” on your licence. It would be like your Maryland driver’s license saying “Toyota Camry – no restrictions.” (You can drive it alone!)  But, fear not, this is logical and a good thing, because when they get that big and complicated, you don’t want to be licensed on too many of them, at least not too many at once. Continue reading Simulation is Risk Management