Professional Aviator

Professional Aviator

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    January 29, 2009

Just wanted to point out some valuable web resources for flight planning and flight materials. While sites like AOPA and AeroPlanner have excellent resources if you are a member of AOPA or EAA, I wanted to list some FREE resources if you're not a paying member. - FREE Flight planning and terminal charts (Approach Plates). - FREE. Pretty weak flight planner (in my opinion) but an excellent source for Approach plates and en-route chart snippets. and - FREE resources for locating the best fuel rates along your route. - Online VFR Sectional Chart viewer.
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    August 1, 2007

Finding a good CFI

Read an interesting article in the July 2007 AOPA called “Finding a good CFI”. I personally found it easy to answer 8 of the 9 questions, but really labored over how I handle the ground instruction question. So, I’ve decided to answer the questions here.

1. Why did you become a flight instructor?
I love flying and I love sharing what knowledge I have about flying with others. I’m active in the Civil Air Patrol and this was just a natural progression of my flying.

2. What are the chances of your being hired by an airline or another aviation company in the next 6 months?
I am seeking a professional flying job, but I do not know when that opportunity will present itself. In the past, I have been able to work my students into my schedule in order to finish their training.

3. How many private pilots have you trained, and how many have passed their check ride on the first attempt?
I have had 11 students. 10 have passed on their first attempt. The 11th is a skilled pilot but was simply too anxious about testing. This was a known and understood circumstance and the DPE was informed in advance and scheduled for enough time to give the 2nd attempt the same day.

4. How many hours will it take for me to solo if I fly three times a week and learn in the simplest airplane available?
This is, in my opinion, the wrong question to be asking. When folks approach me with this question I answer them my own question: “Do you want to get your license in the most efficient way (fewest hours), or do you want to solo in 4-6 hours?” The reason I present this is from a students first flight I am working on getting them their ticket. I have my own personal style of teaching that literally crams a ton of information in each lesson with a check ride as close to 40 hours as possible. My teaching style has a student soloing around the 12-15th hour of flying, BUT they are practically released from me at this time. This means they spend the next 20 hours solo flying with only a few dual flights to insure they are not developing any bad habits. So a person wanting to solo ASAP can basically expect to add the time it takes to solo to the time it takes to get their license. If an extra $600-$1200 in training is worth the bragging rights, then that is fine by me.

5. What is the average length of time and how many hours does it take your typical student who trains consistently to obtain a private pilot certificate?
I would say the average time is around 50 hours.
I had one student get his ticket at 40.1 and the DPE really gave me an ear full after the flight. I took some pride when the DPE confessed that he gave a more difficult exam solely based on the “40 hour applicant” and that my student caught every “trick” that he threw at him including spotting an airfield with a nonstandard traffic pattern. (on a side note: I use another DPE now, one that values a student that has my endorsement in their logbook)

6. If we assume that I’m you typical student, and if we assume that I might have the problems of an average student, what areas of difficulty might I expect to encounter during flight instruction?
Sorry, there is nothing “typical” about students. Some have problems landing; others have problems with VOR’s. All I can say is that everyone will have their own unique difficulty and that everyone has been able to master them.

7. Tell me about you best and your worst students and why they became the best and worst.
No best or worst per se, some have just been more challenging than others. I’ve had the student that came to me knowing everything and I got to log instruction time for being a passenger. As for a challenge; I had one student that flew well but over analyzed upcoming tests to the point that he could not function. I could present him with any task or emergency and he would react in the proper fashion every time, but letting him know the day I was going to solo him rendered him unable to fly. I ended up flying another day with him and on one stop-and-go and surprised him by simply getting out of the plane on the runway (class C airport and all ^^). He soloed great! His upcoming Private Check ride was the same way. The review day resulted in me having to reschedule the check ride several times. The end solution was to coordinate with the DPE to let him get his “failure” out of the way so he could get his ticket. Worked like a charm!

8. How much ground instruction do you do on every lesson.
I suppose this is my Achilles heel, and why I decided to answer these questions on my webpage. The article suggests my strategy for ground school is reason for a student to keep looking. My answer (and excellent pass record) is my justification for why it is not.

I have all my students learn their ground school from the King DVD. I also have them practice their written with the Gliem software. My feeling is they have laid out the ground school in a very precise way that maximizes the students understanding. The student is free to replay a difficult subject and to call me with questions. I just don’t feel the need to reinvent this wheel, and from a cost perspective, the $200 for the DVD kit is much cheaper than paying me for what would be much more than 20 hours.

I still have a preflight and post flight ground school (and charge for it), and reinforce their ground school in the air. But the focus of my “ground school” is to test the student’s knowledge and answer questions students got from their assigned homework and to discuss their next assignment.

The training I give is based off a syllabus and a schedule. So a student knows at any time where they are on the road to their private pilot license.

All of my students have scored above 90% on thier written exams.

9. May I speak with three of your previous private pilot students?
Sure, email me for info!

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September 11, 2001

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