First Jet Type Rating

Whether you are flying a VLJ (very light jet) or Light Jet… or a high performance warbird, consider the importance of your initial training, type rating and core risk mitigation skills. You’ve jumped into a machine that requires either military or professional level training.

No matter what your jet, if it is your first, odds are you will want some extra preparation before traveling to your first full motion simulator based training, check ride and type rating.

Know The Facts

  • Failure rate: 30% to 50% of new type rating applicants who have never flown professionally or in a high performance aircraft experience check ride failures.
  • The basics: IFR preparation is typically a culprit – in the simulator you will regularly fly to minimums, execute a go around / missed approach and you’ll do that on one engine. If your IFR skills aren’t tip top – it is a difficult experience. Attitude flying, holds, instrument departures (either ODPs or SIDs), arrivals need to be second nature.
  • The glass: A young CFI who just got out of a G1000 Cessna 172 can fare better than a 10,000 DC-9 Captain raised on steam gauges. Sound crazy? It isn’t. Knowing how to manage a PFD and an MFD with ease while hand flying is a key skill. Know what the automation is doing, why it is doing it and what’s coming next on the “score board.”
  • New things: To the unfamiliar, jet aircraft require a thorough understanding of profiles (how you’ll fly), flows (how you’ll accomplish pre-checklists), memory items (things you’ll do before reaching for a checklist) and knowing the difference between a checklist and a QRH – quick reference handbook.
  • The tough things: Learning that while you are in a high pressure environment, there is actually plenty of time to accomplish tasks, especially during emergencies. Being able to manage check ride anxiety, needless future-izing and other counter productive tendencies get new pilots through the ride smoothly.

Mentoring Onsite – Post Rating

Insurance companies are increasingly reluctant to set new owners free without a substantial amount of time in type and that means SOE – supervised operational experience. The key in hiring a professional jet mentor is leveraging what matters most:

  • Much like your IFR rating, what is legal, isn’t necessarily safe.
  • Understand CRM with two and when it is just you. Either way having good cockpit “feng shui” as we call it, helps you understand how it all fits together.
  • Learn the hazards and challenges of visual approaches in the real aircraft – you’ll be doing these a lot – why not master them?
  • Learning the box – sit with pros who have thousands of FMS hours of various flavors, be it Garmin, Honeywell, or Universal – odds are that our mentors have a few tricks to help you leverage the full computing power at your disposal.

Schedule a time with your next type rating instructor and mentor here.

*The content of this page was compiled with the help of Neil Singer, is a Phenom 100 and 300 examiner, and Citation Jet 525 series mentor and instructor.

Buy Learn Fly

“Buy Learn Fly” was born out of the logic that focus is key.

Buy the aircraft, Learn in it and Fly. Why not do your training in the aircraft you also want to concentrate your initial experience in?

We help clients purchase their first aircraft through our Pro Buyer Program and then pair them with a flight instructor mentor that sees them through to their FAA Private Pilot License, IFR and beyond.

This avenue makes more sense than most flight schools might admit. This is especially true if you are approaching aviation in a serious and committed fashion.

The foundational tenets of starting from scratch in your own aircraft are:

  1. Learn Your Aircraft – Train in the aircraft you need to build time in. You are happier, insurance is saner and instruction is smoother.
  2. Availability: The aircraft is always available. In fact you can rent it back to a flight school or charter company if you are looking to have it offset some ownership costs.
  3. Why Wait?: You can do it in a cool plane, like that high performance taildragger you’ve been drooling over. Or that high speed cross country machine that will save you so much travel time.
  4. Deep Understanding: You will learn much more than you would from renting a flight school’s plane. The machine is yours, you want to know its nuances and eccentricities. Why start a whole new relationship with each lesson?
  5. Lower Insurance: Lower your future insurance costs by building time in your first aircraft. Your initial hours will be with an instructor, allowing you to build valuable “time in type.” Ask your insurance agent. If you don’t have one, let us point you to some of the best in the country.
  6. Save Money: While perhaps counter-intuitive, your cost per hour will be less. In fact, if you buy the aircraft right, your aircraft will hold its value, if not see some slight appreciation, depending on the age of the aircraft.

How to buy a Skywagon


You’ve decided to buy a Skywagon.

You imagine, very soon, how you will look in your outback magic carpet machine: Camping, float flying, ski fly-ins, and fishing at a lake that few can get to. You see it parked in your driveway. And then there’s the mobility: Alaska, finally… wait… maybe Maine? Geez, or Quebec… but then why not Labrador? Why limit your potential. With this beauty – you can go anywhere.

But never mind day dreaming … those big tires will make you so cool on the FBO ramp. The Gulfstream 550 captain stares at your bad ass rig with envy. That Gulfstream, incidentally, is going to the Cannes Film Festival.

Continue reading How to buy a Skywagon

A Rescue from Crustaceanicus

Per advice from well meaning advisors, this entry is entirely fictitious. It involves flying the sheriff out to the island, and turning right around and flying a distraught victim off the island.  It is an airplane story only on the basis of center of gravity and freedom of control movement issues.

The control and CG issues were due their only being two seats in the airplane – one for me and one for the passenger. (This was common on freight runs or in a medevac flight when the aircraft was configured into “no seats” mode with all of the seats, except the pilot and co-pilot’s, removed.)  But the meat of this story is around all the events that led to the fastest island extraction I’ve ever done.

The drama took place on an island that had a funky upslope runway.  You would “land up” from the sea (pointing south) and “take off down towards it” (to the north) typically.  It sounds heroic, but is pretty easy and casual when you get used to it.  If the wind was really blowing hard from the north, you could bravely land downhill (into the wind) since your actual ground speed could be as little as 10 or 20 mph if you had 40 or 30 mph on the nose.

We’ll call this island Crustaceanicus.  There are many such runways off the coast of Maine, but most are unknown, unpublished or no longer used.  This one, however, saw use at least three times per day, weather permitting.

Continue reading A Rescue from Crustaceanicus

Mentor Mortis (Part 1 of 3)

As you read the accident report, try and accept the fact that a mere 22 years ago, pilots often did things that were questionable at best.  To keep the job, to get your foot in the door, or to conform to norms in your company and culture you did silly stuff.  Never mind the customized approach to that god forsaken airstrip that you’d been sent to, you’d succumb to things that, technically, may not have been on the up and up with the FARs.

What is even more striking is that all of this “off script” behavior was rarely the stuff that got you hurt.  What killed my teachers, was a lack of simple risk mitigation, awareness, and plain old decision making that got the swiss cheese holes to line up.  In aviation we recognize that it is a series of things that typically lead to an accident.  Our job, to live and be safe, is to constantly be thinking the stacking of bad, vs. the stacking of good. (I wrote about this once upon a time for the turbine crowd here.)

This story is about the day I stopped flying, sometime in 2001, when enough of my mentors had died that I thought, at a minimum, I could take some time off to reflect.  I should take a good luck at my own suspect judgement, sub-par skill set and poor choices in equipment, destinations and jobs to fly.

Mostly, it was time to give thanks for the large scoops of good luck that had fallen on me in years where I was doing the riskiest stuff.

Continue reading Mentor Mortis (Part 1 of 3)