Blog Archive

Changes to AC on Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check (AC61-98D) Open for Public Comment

The FAA has proposed changes to AC 61-98D, Currency Requirements and Guidance for the Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check. This a good opportunity for the flight training community to review the document and any proposed changes and then provide feedback … Continue reading

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Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) Recommends Removal of Experience Requirement for CFIs to Train New CFIs

A recent recommendation of an FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) proposed that the FAA change long-standing requirements under FAR 61.195(h)(2)(iii) that a CFI must have been a CFI for more than 24 months before they are authorized to train … Continue reading

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9 Free Subscriptions to Help an Instructor Stay Up-To-Date

A good instructor must stay up-to-date on what is happening in the aviation training industry to be able to provide quality training to their students. The hard part is finding resources that keep you up-to-date, without having to go digging … Continue reading

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Tracking Recent ATP/Commercial Pilot – Initial Certificate Issuance Statistics

Below are some recent data points in tracking commercial pilot and ATP pilot initial FAA certificate issuances. The source of the data is derived from FAA original certificate issuance by each period data and has been compiled to the current … Continue reading

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Commercial ACS Final Documents Available – Effective June 12, 2017 (Private and Instrument ACS Updates also available)

The FAA has released the new ACS standards for the Commercial Pilot Certificate along with updates to the Instrument and Private Pilot ACS. These documents become effective on June 12, 2017. All parties involved with receiving and/or providing training and … Continue reading

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Student Pilot Certificate Issuance Numbers Down Since Change to Plastic Student Pilot Certificates

In accordance with federal guideline changes, on April 1, 2016, the FAA was required to issue plastic student pilot certificates, breaking from the historically issued joint FAA Medical/Student pilot certificate. Whenever a change like this happens, it is always interesting … Continue reading

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FAA Data Shows Declining Trend in ATP and Percentage of US AMEL Pilot Certification

Recent data from the FAA empirically indicates that we are experiencing a declining trend in US Commercial Multi-Engine pilot and ATP certificates being issued. There are many motivations for whether people choose to become pilots and seek professional employment in the … Continue reading

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UAS (Drones) Exempt from Mode C Veil around Class B Airport? – Asked of and Answered by FAA…

In multiple discussions over the past year or so, the question of the Mode C veil around a Class B airport applies to “drones” has come up. With a lack of an ability to definitively Here is what was asked: … Continue reading

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Scenic and Uneventful.

Scenic and uneventful. The best way I like to describe a ferry, transfer, or delivery flight, especially one of significant distance. If it is scenic, it typically means it is VFR and the travel can continue, and if it is … Continue reading

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FAA Requests Instructors Sign Off Applicants in IACRA as Soon as Ready for Practical Tests

An FAA/Industry group has been working to decrease delays in scheduling of practical tests that are being experienced in some regions recently. As this work continues, an effort to better understand where and why some of these delays are being experienced … Continue reading

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Easily Look Up FAA Knowledge Test Codes Free at www.FAATestCodeLookup.com

Tired of trying to look up FAA Knowledge Test Codes for your student or applicant in a pdf file or on a scrolling website? So was I. So, I created a website that does it for you with help from … Continue reading

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Beyond the Purchase Price of an Aircraft – Considering and Calculating the Real Cost of Aircraft Ownership and Operation

Determining how much it costs to buy, own, and operate an aircraft isn’t just about the initial purchase price. There is much more to consider, including things like maintenance, hangar costs, insurance costs, any loan costs you may have, or … Continue reading

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Finding the Correct Aircraft Code for IACRA Applications – A Search Link

Ever have a hard time determining the correct aircraft model, make, or code to enter into IACRA for an applicant’s practical test? I know I have! Some aircraft are much harder to find than others, so here is a little … Continue reading

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Calculating Descents from Higher Altitudes

One of the major benefits of flying higher, is that you get to descend for a longer distance, using less fuel, and typically at a faster speed across the ground. But taking advantage of these longer descents takes a little … Continue reading

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Generic LSA Aircraft Codes for IACRA When Aircraft Not Found

In a recent practical test, I ran into the IACRA challenge that the aircraft to be used for the test, in this case, a Flight Design CT, was not available in the list of aircraft for the applicant in IACRA. … Continue reading

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FAA Clarifies Interpretation of ACS material to allow use of non-installed equipment for navigation demonstrations on private pilot practical test

Designated Pilot Examiners have experienced discussion debating what was intended in the private pilot airman certification standards (ACS) for use when demonstrating use of an installed electronic navigation system and demonstrating use of installed navigation equipment function and displays under … Continue reading

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A ceiling is not a ceiling is not a ceiling.

For those of us who have flown IFR actively, we know that sometimes a 500′ overcast ceiling will allow us to easily get down an ILS approach to our destination airport when sometimes the same reported 500′ ceiling on an … Continue reading

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DME Arcs, The Case Against Them (at least for Practical Testing requirements)

UPDATE – June 2017: With the implementation of the updated Instrument pilot ACS standards that become effecitve June 12, 2017, the DME arc is no longer required to be demonstrated on an instrument pilot practical test. It is required as … Continue reading

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Rebuild, Refurb, and Overhaul – Not the Answer to Our Future GA Aircraft Needs?

We have a major problem brewing in the GA aviation sector:  we are going to run out of planes. Through the 1950’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s, aircraft manufacturers pumped out thousands of aircraft that the general aviation flying public bought and … Continue reading

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ATC Query Helps Pilots Land on Correct Runway

Ever line up to land on a runway you have been cleared for only to find out that you were slightly off and it was the wrong runway? I’ll admit it, I have done it. Ever not notice it until … Continue reading

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Near tragedy due to complacency in oxygen system procedures

A friend recently texted me a picture. It was a flight track screen shot of a plane a contact of his was onboard when they experienced a catastrophic pressurization system failure. The flight was a demonstration flight for a Citation … Continue reading

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Forecasting ATP Pilot Certification Flows – Decreases Expected Based on Testing Trends

A couple of short years ago, the certification process for ATP pilots changed. We are all familiar with the reasons and what the changes were, but we are starting to see data that can help forecast some of the effects. … Continue reading

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Avoiding Other Traffic by the Lake

As the weather gets better in the spring and summer months, many of us fly more for pleasure than during the winter months. A fantastic pleasure flight that many of us do near the Great Lakes is to fly the … Continue reading

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Step by Step Process for Issuance of Student Pilot Certificates Using Updated FAA Student Pilot Certificate Procedures

Changes to the issuance of the FAA student pilot certificate now allow CFIs to issue student pilot certificates. Click here for a pdf that is a step by step walk through of the process for the student and the CFI. … Continue reading

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Airman Certification Standards (ACS) Becoming Effective June 15, 2016

Get Ready for the ACS – Airman Certification Standards! These represent exciting improvements are on the horizon for airman testing and training. Effective June 15, applicants for the private pilot certificate (airplane category) and the instrument rating (airplane category) will … Continue reading

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The Unique Consideration of Personal Minimums in Public Benefit Flying

When we fly as pilots in volunteer organizations such as those that fly patients for medical treatment, veterans for memorial services, wounded warriors, or even animals to places of new homes, we do so with the trust of those people … Continue reading

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‘Tis the Season for Carbon Monoxide in Flying

While this winter has been warm to start, it will get colder. And winter flying increases the likelihood that pilots will experience carbon monoxide while flying. The FAR/AIM details some information in section 8-1-4 (Click here to see more – … Continue reading

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Super Pilot Chad and Examiner X – How a Checkride Should NOT Go…

We did this video a couple years ago to use with a presentation at the AOPA Summit in Palm Springs, but I thought I would share it in a public forum now. This wasn’t a real checkride, obviously, but it … Continue reading

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Check Those NOTAMS – Know Before You Go if Your Intended Approaches are Active

Over the past month, I have on at least 3 occasions noted prior to flights that the approaches I would normally have intended to use for my destination airport were Out of Service when I checked NOTAMs. This was able … Continue reading

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Perspective on Airline Reliability

  I was talking with an acquaintance not long ago who was complaining about a commercial flight that had arrived 20 minutes late and how much of a problem it was and it got me thinking. Twenty minutes is actually … Continue reading

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Practice the Glide….

Gliding is for gliders, right? Well, it’s not just for them. Something I notice in many checkrides I give and I know is the case for many pilots is that they don’t really know how to “glide” the aircraft they … Continue reading

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Out of the Air for Two Weeks, but Planning a South America Trip Again?

It has been a long time since I wasn’t in the air for more than two weeks. In fact, it may have been more than a decade since this happened. Wow. Wonder when the shivers of withdrawal will start? They … Continue reading

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Reflections and Tips from Recent Practical Tests

I would like to share a few reflections and tips from recent practical tests I have given. In most cases, the tests I have given are proof of fantastic candidates who are dedicated to learning and progressing as pilots, but … Continue reading

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Ok, so the GPS Was Doing What it was “Supposed” to Do, Just Not What I “Would Want” it To Do

Well, the GPS was working properly after all on the flight from the previous post (Normally when a pilot had a depiction of 3.9 nautical DME miles from a Class D airport and hadn’t talked with the tower on a … Continue reading

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Normally when a pilot had a depiction of 3.9 nautical DME miles from a Class D airport and hadn’t talked with the tower on a practical test, I would have failed them….but…

In this case, things weren’t exactly as they seemed, and a little more detail is required, and it brought up a very interesting question. What if your GPS data is not depicting correctly. If you look at the first picture … Continue reading

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Solving the Pilot Shortage – New Solutions Developing As the Shortage Develops

The question of a pilot shortage continues to draw comments from all sides of the discussion, showing that interests instead of fact may be what are gaining media press, clouding the real situation from real analysis. The Air Line Pilots … Continue reading

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Ferry flight for 337 on hold…maybe to revive at a later date….

Well, with more information in hand, the trip may happen in the future. While a number of things remained outstanding for our original proposed date of departure, the day came and went without solution, for good reason. We have since … Continue reading

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Why a ferry flight through central Amazonica is not as good as of an idea as the coastal route…

Just an odd follow up…I think this speaks volumes why I would have chosen a coastal route. … Continue reading

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337 Trip Plug Pulled?

With less than a week to go before the proposed departure, the question of is it time to pull the plug on the trip looms. A pilot must know when to say no right? And if too many things are … Continue reading

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Less than Two Weeks Out for Ferry Flight…and a Route

Wow. Less than two weeks to launch.The goal is launch on Sunday, May 3rd. I am pretty certain it is going to by very fast and there is much yet to do. Much has been done, but a trip like … Continue reading

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Getting the Weather En Route the Old Fashioned Way Still Works – Flight Watch and Flight Service En Route

Ever find yourself flying en route on a long leg and start wondering if those storms you were watching before you left had moved at all? How about if the ceilings had come up enough that you could plan for … Continue reading

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Good flight to Michigan in the 337…now to prep everything to go back south…

Had a great flight today in the 337. A nice climb out of Jacksonville up to 10,000 MSL and I headed enroute using GPS direct (and I’ll be honest, the autopilot most of the way) to Knoxville for a half … Continue reading

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When your gut tells you not to leave your overnight bag at the hotel…trust your gut

Ok, so a slight change of plans. The plane is mostly good go to, but we are now going to bring it up to Michigan for the few weeks before our planned departure to deal with the minor discrepancies I … Continue reading

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337 Looks Good to Go…only a couple minor discrepancies…

AFter a thoroughough pre-flight and a review of the logbooks…she looks good to go. Annnual is good through the end of May and pretty much everything works. Only discrepancies were a beacon bulb that isn’t working now and will be … Continue reading

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Enroute to a 337 Check out…for me and for it…

Starbucks and Chic Fil A secured…time to drive to Jacksonville to check out the 337 and to get me checked out in the it. Next stop… Jacksonville. … Continue reading

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To Ferry or not to Ferry…

The job…. Ferry a Cessna 337 from Jacksonville, FL to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is something that I have never done before, but want to expand my pilot experiences and said I would do when the offer was made to … Continue reading

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Where is the Best Weather for Flight Training (In the United States)

Weather is a major factor in the ability for pilots to safely and successfully conduct flights. It is the same for pilots seeking training. We all know that cancelling training flights slows down training, can result in increased training costs, … Continue reading

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Runway Safety – Multitasking….A video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety Online Course

Here is a video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety online course….with a special appearance from Jason Blair. Check out the full course at: http://www.aopa.org/lms/courses/runway-safety/ … Continue reading

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Runway Safety – Communication Breakdown….A video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety Online Course

Here is a video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety online course….with a special appearance from Jason Blair. Check out the full course at: http://www.aopa.org/lms/courses/runway-safety/ … Continue reading

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Runway Safety – The Big Picture….A video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety Online Course

Here is a video from in the AOPA Air Safety Institute’s Runway Safety online course….with a special appearance from Jason Blair. Check out the full course at: http://www.aopa.org/lms/courses/runway-safety/ … Continue reading

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Stop. Go. and Confess to Avoid Runway Incursions.

A couple of the biggest accidents in aviation history have been the result of “runway incursions” where more than one aircraft were on a runway at eh same time due to confusion, missed clearances, or just human error. Avoiding runway … Continue reading

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Turns around a point – to the right you say?

“Ok, so let’s do a turn around a point next.” Common words I say to a student as an instructor and as a DPE examiner. This is most commonly followed by the student or applicant setting up at an altitude … Continue reading

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Why (I Think) You Should be Staying for the Summer Semesters if You are Flight Training at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation

Flying in the summer months at Battle Creek, Michigan is, on average, almost 40% more likely to result in experiencing weather conditions that allow flight training to be successfully completed. Flying when the weather is better allows more flight training … Continue reading

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Inspire me…

“I just don’t feel like I’m inspired to fly,” a good friend of mine said in a conversation we had not too long ago. We were having a long conversation about the state of General Aviation when we came to … Continue reading

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Discussing the Area Forecast

Remember those vague Area Forecasts (FAs) that you try to interpret and figure out what portions of what areas the un-decoded text is talking about as you think about alternate minimums, cloud ceilings over an area bigger than a TAF … Continue reading

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The Tough Job of Being an FAA ASI

One of the most thankless jobs in aviation has to be that of an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI). This cadre of experienced aviation professionals has made the choice to work for the government bureaucracy that is the FAA and … Continue reading

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Finding the Freezing Level…

Fall flying brings us all back to needing to worry about icing on our flights, but still gives us warm enough days that flights in IFR conditions may sometimes still be able to be completed. We all know that icing … Continue reading

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Flight Training and Pilot Supply a Priority for Big Industry Players

A global pilot shortage continues to grow, airlines airlines in the United States (with regional airlines being hit hardest) continue to feel the pilot shortage. On a global basis, Asia and the Middle East continue to see the largest growth … Continue reading

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One Mistake from Infamy…

Vehicle ends up in pond. Everyone gets out safely. Can you imagine this making national news if it were a car? Even a bus? Probably not. But if it happens with a jet it will be major news. Don’t believe … Continue reading

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Not Every Phone Briefing is the Same…

Not every phone briefing you get is the same. Not every briefing you get is complete. If you don’t know what you are missing, you might miss something important. In some cases, getting a local briefer can be important to … Continue reading

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CFIs – More of Us, but We’re Getting Older – What’s it Mean?

In 1999, there were 79,684 flight instructors according to FAA records. By last year, there our numbers had risen to 98,328, an increase of 23% in just 10 years. This however isn’t necessarily an indication that we have a greater … Continue reading

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Trinkets, Tokens, Memories, and Dreams…

Little things motivate us in aviation sometimes. Sometimes they motivate us to stay engaged when we might not otherwise do so. It is these little things that sometimes keep people from giving up on dreams, leaving a reminder for us … Continue reading

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United States – Former Pilot Training Provider to the World?

The United States has been the world leader in training pilots for many years, but the words “has been” might be more applicable in the near future than we might desire. As airlines expand in international markets, a strong desire … Continue reading

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Two Pilot Training Paths – Professional Pilots and Pleasure and Business Pilots

In our first century of aviation, many professional pilots got their training at local airports. A few went away to “schools” that offered promise of jobs and career prospects, and during times of war, many were trained in the military, … Continue reading

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Wanted: The Perfect Training Airplane for the Next 50 Years

The last twenty years or so aviation training has seen aircraft used that, well, worked. They haven’t been ideal. We have used old airplanes, airplanes that cost a lot, airplanes that are too big, and in some cases aircraft that … Continue reading

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Down the Wrong Path – Did Light Sport Aircraft Hurt Forward Progress in GA?

Sometimes when you choose between two paths in the woods, you choose the path less taken. Sometimes this is the wrong path. General aviation has chosen the wrong path when we started walking down the road toward Light Sport Aircraft. … Continue reading

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Is GA Aircraft Manufacturing a Boutique Business? – Considerations of Consumer Aircraft Buying Power

New aircraft are expensive. I doubt anyone will disagree with this statement. But exactly “how” expensive are they and are they “affordable” for Americans? And has their cost in relation to consumer buying power relegated modern GA aircraft manufacturers to … Continue reading

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Proper Documentation Means Better Aircraft Maintenance – Documents Aircraft Owners Should Have

Owning an aircraft comes with additional responsibilities beyond that of just being the pilot that flies the plane. The owner of an aircraft is responsible for ensuring that it is maintained and operated in accordance with FAA inspection requirements. Most … Continue reading

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Aviation Roots…

I still don’t know why I learned to fly, but for some reason I almost feel like it was always in my blood. Perhaps it was, even though when I began, I didn’t know it. Yesteray I received a letter … Continue reading

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What the Government Shutdown Means for FAA Knowledge/Practical Tests

We all are hoping that the government shutdown will be over soon, but in the mean time, a few things that are important for instructors and examiners to know: FAA Knowledge Tests Halted – FAA knowledge test providers have been … Continue reading

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Determining the True Cost of Aircraft Rental

Aircraft rental and instruction rates are too low in many places around the country. I know, this sounds blasphemous and like I am advocating that companies raise their rates just so they can make more profit. There is no doubt … Continue reading

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Goodbye to the Flight Bag…

The image of the senior pilot carrying his big flight bag full of charts, plotters, headsets, and other goodies is one that remains strong in my mind from my initial days of flight training. The big flight bag full of … Continue reading

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Keeping Pilots Active, Growing Aviation, New Student Completions Isn’t All We Need

New students and their completions isn’t the only answer to the dropping activity levels we have seen in aviation over recent years. Over the past two years, much has been highlighted about instructors need to “do a better job” at … Continue reading

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What if we had to deal with a user fee for GA?

The argument over user fees for general aviation activities doesn’t seem to be going away. The President keeps putting them back into his budget proposals. Outside the U.S., user fees have had significant effects on GA activities in other countries. … Continue reading

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Solving the Pilot Shortage – Other Options?

Just three months from now, the United States aviation system is poised to experience one of the most significant regulatory changes in its history; the deadline for implementation of the requirements of Public Law 111-216. On August 2, 2013, along … Continue reading

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Be Your Fellow Pilot’s Keeper

We discuss aviation safety regularly in the aviation industry, promoting safer operations, discussing previous accidents, helping pilots make the self-evaluative decisions that are intended to make them safer pilots. But what is our communal role? Do we have a greater … Continue reading

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Would I Stop at My Own Airport?

I think I might be an airport snob. I know, it is a weird statement to make, but I will explain. I have historically flown a significant number of hours in my aircraft each year for business and personal travel, … Continue reading

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The Last Mile

Travelling by use of general aviation (GA) aircraft is extremely effective for pilots who take advantage of the benefits. Many times our job as an instructor is to convince our customers that becoming pilots is a logical choice, a useful … Continue reading

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Wanted: A Methodical Means to Close Towers

Discussion surrounding FAA Control Tower closures as a result of sequestration has dominated the transportation community recently. Some of the concerns and opinions are valid, while others could be characterized as fear-mongering. In any case, sequestration cuts will likely result … Continue reading

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How Much Should Pratical Tests Cost?

This is much debated at the national level. In Michigan, we are currently charging $350.00 for most checkrides (private, instrument, commercial, etc) and $500.00 for CFI checkrides. For most examiners, a practical test takes roughly 5 hours from start of … Continue reading

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The State of the Flight Training Industry

This week we heard President Obama discuss the State of the Union. This got me thinking about the state of the flight training industry, so I decided to take a stab at my own version of a “State of the … Continue reading

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What’s in a Tail Number?

N7801U – that’s the first plane I ever flew. It was a Cessna 150.  I soloed in it too.  I didn’t get my private pilot certificate in it, that was in N13527, a Cessna 172.  I also did my instrument … Continue reading

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Just How Useful is VFR Flight?

As an instructor and pilot examiner, many times when I train or test private pilots, they ask me if they need to get an instrument rating to really be able to fly for travel.  I started thinking about the question … Continue reading

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Flight Training Capacity in the Context of Recent Legislation

An Examination of the Impacts of Reduced Training Capacity, and the Declining Rates of Airmen Certification by:  Jason Blair & Jonathon Freye To download a pdf of this paper click here. Executive Summary Industry forecasts predict that the North American … Continue reading

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I Drove to Work Last Week

I drove to work last week. It’s a new thing for me. It’s only the third time I’ve really done it in the last two-and-a-half years. The trip takes me from roughly Grand Rapids, Michigan to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s a … Continue reading

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The Thin Line: The Difference Between “Simulating” and “Creating” an Emergency

by Jason Blair  Originally published in NAFI Mentor Magazine, April, 2008 Click Here to View a PDF of the Article As instructors, we have the duty to provide training to our students that simulates potential emergency situations. Our intent is … Continue reading

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