Online Ground School & Flight Training
Now for today’s flight plan, we have two great segments for you that are quite unrelated, but still quite fun to talk about. You’re sure to learn a thing or two to help you on your way.
First, our flight training segment, we’ll touch on “What makes a solid, IFR Aviator”. This is an in depth topic that will touch on a lot of attributes, attitudes, and aptitudes that you as an IFR pilot should build.
Then, for you virtual aviators out there (and prospective jet pilots) we’ll talk about “How to Nail Virtual Jet Landings- Every Time”. We’ll talk about the myths, challenges, and acronym that will help you out a lot, and also the differences between landing varying aircraft.
Pilots and Aviators often approach IMC with too much caution when first obtaining their instrument ticket. Why get an instrument ticket if you aren’t going to use it in real conditions?
Although many pilots are simply obtaining an instrument ticket on the way to a career, and primary getting their instrument rating for advancement, we believe that we should approach this IFR pilotship from a different perspective.
Why not work to achieve confidence in IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) rather than just another checkmark?
What will happen when these necessary skills are called into action during real world flight, and although you have the rating, you don’t have the confidence to perform the tasks?
Here we’ll discuss some of the topics, but certainly not all, that you should be familiar with in becoming a “Solid, IFR Pilot”.
Let’s now discuss some of the subjects that you should focus on, while undoubtedly missing some important subjects. Sorry, just not enough time to cover it all in this one podcast.
Knowing your weather and what to expect does come with experience, but there is an incredible amount of work you can do ahead of time.
Get prepared, get briefed, know the scenarios before you, and then monitor those changes while enroute.
Types of fog?
How it phases.
What are the trends and unique attributes about your particular area?
What about the areas you’re flying into?
Rely on multiple sources of weather briefing
Airport Ground Conditions
Consider what happens when you’re not in the air
Is it worth flying IFR at night?
The IFR system is a very complex set of procedures, traffic and timing considerations. Know how you fit in all of this, and how to fly efficiently in a system meant for high accuracy.
Your relationship with ATC is very unique. As a result, you as a pilot need to know what you can request, what you can do, and what you can’t do.
This is a two way street. Controllers can help you, and you can help them. There are times where they are bound by protocol and can’t do what you want, and you need to know what to do then as well.
A perfectly executed procedure is one of the most beautiful parts of being an IFR pilot. All the complexities that come with flying an exact flight profile, and ending up on target, will be sure to build your confidence.
How can you best set yourself up for success? Let’s talk about it.
Condition yourself and your mind to fly in actual conditions, and use that ticket. Don’t just become a guy that squeaks by on his check-ride. Rock the checkride because you know it, and cherish the beauty and comes from floating amongst the clouds.
Much of IFR comes down to safety. You will be faced with decisions that are potentially dangerous. But don’t let that hold you back from experiencing IFR.
Get educated, know what is front of you, and know what situations you’re putting yourself into. It’ll become obvious when there is too much risk and it’s simply time to say ‘no’.
Parting the Clouds
Eventually, it’ll all come together and things will click along. It takes a lot of work, and patience, but you can arrive at a place where your mind, actions, and passionate spirit all join in harmony to become a sharp and efficient IFR aviator.
Being an IFR pilot is absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever done. Some of the most beautiful experiences as a pilot have come from floating amongst the clouds, accomplishing difficult tasks, and arriving safely at my destination.
There is just nothing like single engine, single pilot, IFR.
Landing a jet precisely is a lot of fun! But it’s a rare and often unseen skill among flight simmers. Have you ever heard or learned of the ACTUAL procedure used by real airline pilots to land?
Although we’re primarily talking about a visual approach here, these tips are still very much a part of all approach to landings.
After this segment, and with a lot of practice (which we’ll talk about) you will be landing your virtual jets like never before.
“AFFTR” is an easy way to remember how to setup your landing correctly. This acronym will ensure you setup a perfect landing, step-by-step. Get one of these wrong, and it could cascade down into a lot of other mistakes.
Getting setup on the approach correctly, and having a decent flight profile, is half the battle. Once you’re setup and stable, the rest is much easier.
Remember the AFFTR acronym. Work on the escalation of precision, and become excellent at the small stuff.
Landing the aircraft on your own can be an absolute blast, and a very rewarding experience. This isn’t something that is easy, and each little step takes much practice and a lot of repetition.
Now go learn how to land that jet!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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And now, the flight training segment…
What makes a solid IFR aviator? Pilots and aviators often approach IMC or instrument meteorological conditions with too much caution when first obtaining their instrument ticket. Why get an instrument ticket if you aren’t going to use it in the actual conditions. Although many pilots are simply obtaining an instrument ticket on the way to a career for example and the primary reason in getting an instrument ticket is to advance and get to the next rating, we believe that we should approach this IFR pilotship if you will, from a different perspective. Why not work to achieve confidence in IMC or instrument meteorological conditions, clouds for example, rather than just another checkmark on your way to that career? What will happen when these necessary skills are called into action during a real world flight, and although you have that rating, you don’t have the confidence to perform the task. Here we’ll discuss some of the topics but certainly not all and these are just things that you should be familiar with in becoming that solid IFR aviator.
Let’s now discuss some of the subjects that you should focus on while undoubtedly missing some important subjects. Sorry about that. This is just a lot of stuff to cover in one episode. I think some of these sections we could focus for just one whole episode and maybe we’ll do that sometime in the future. We could definitely talk about these subjects quite a bit, just stand-alone on their own. We’re going to go through some different subjects here that have some titles. They’re a little bit catchy and so you might be able to remember them. I’ll tell you what those are now.
We’re going to talk about weather wisdom. We will also talk about system savvy, communication clarity, predictable procedures, conditioning, sailing safely, and parting the clouds. That will conclude the solid IFR aviator subject, and obviously there’s a lot to cover there. Each one of those subjects has a lot to cover, so let’s get right in.
The first that I mentioned is weather wisdom. Knowing your weather and what to expect does come with experience but there is an incredible amount of work you can do ahead of time. The biggest thing is to get prepared, get briefed, and know the scenarios before you and then monitor those changes while you’re en route because undoubtedly, things will be different from what your reports were before you go but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you just go out and fly in whatever weather. You need to know what you’re going into, but it will be slightly different from what was reported. We’re trying to minimize a risk and trying to be as familiar as possible with the situation but we aren’t going to be able to have a full and perfect picture of what’s going on unless you’re in an area where it’s just absolutely zero wind, perfect weather which I have found to be extremely rare.
Some of the things that we need to be concerned about when talking weather and IFR, icing is definitely one of them. Do you know how to read an icing map, and seeing the different levels of those icing maps and the prediction and estimating that around your time of departure. Do you have the skills to gain an overall picture of the icing conditions and determine if it will actually be safe to fly? Now, icing is obviously very rare – it is actually a rare instance. It takes perfect, perfect conditions for icing to form but that doesn’t obviously mean it doesn’t happen because it does happen and it is something that us pilots, especially IFR pilots, we have to be aware of. Although it is rare, it still is quite dangerous.
When you go into these conditions, if you do plan on going into these conditions, obviously, you can’t fly into known icing conditions unless your aircraft is set up for that. You also need to know what your aircraft is capable of. There are also instances where you – I guess you determine the risk right? So obviously if there’s an area where there is a light probability of icing and you feel like you can get through that cloud there quickly or whatever it is then that’s something that you have to weigh and ask yourself, “Is this something that I can do?”
You just need to know – first of all you need to know how to read all of these icing maps. You need to know how to get an overall picture of this situation. You need to be educated on this subject and I can give you something in the show notes that will teach you how to do that and give you a really great look at icing from a scientific perspective. Then you obviously need to know what the aircraft can handle as well. Apart from all that, you need to be communicative with air traffic control, about the icing conditions, and you need to find out during the process what’s going on because obviously you don’t want yourself in a situation where you are building a lot of ice that can become very dangerous.
There is this NASA course that they put together and they put online. It’s multimedia. It’s great. It teaches you a lot about icing from their perspective because they study this stuff constantly. They’re up there, always learning more about icing conditions. I will put the link to that NASA course in the show notes and you guys can check that out. That is one of the biggest sources I learned from and kind of dispelled a lot of the myths I felt about or thought I knew about icing was through that NASA course. It dispels a lot of those myths but it also show you some extreme conditions with icing because there are conditions where icing is just absolutely incredible and it can take your aircraft down within a matter of minutes. Anyway, I’ll link to that as well. So that’s icing.
Another thing you need to know and we’ll just touch on this briefly because this is just kind of basic. You need to know what the clouds are telling you. As an IFR pilot, you need to be able to look and say, “It’s a little darker. That’s cumuliform.” You need to know – standing lenticular, you need to know what those types of clouds are tell you and really what all types of clouds are telling you. You may want to study up a little bit on the differences between certain types of clouds and you need to find out why to you, as an IFR pilot, that matters. Is that a type of cloud you can go through, is that a type of cloud you should avoid, is it worth requesting going around it from air traffic control. You need to know those things to just gain an overall picture of the situation and obviously clouds and icing are very closely related because icing happens in moisture essentially, so whether that’s in a cloud or a fog or actual rainfall, snow, things like that.
We’re done with clouds, but closely related to clouds is types of fog. You need to know that different types of fog. How that fog phases in and out and how you can plan ahead as an IFR pilot for those types of situations because there are types of fog that will linger a very long time. There are types of fog that burn off as the day goes on. Although those situations aren’t always exactly how it is, so even though it’s a type of fog that essentially generally burns off, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to do that but as a pilot, you can know that that might be possibility, okay? That’s fog, just very, very general.
Another that you should now about and perhaps study and this one’s a little bit harder, is what are the trends and unique attributes for the particular area you’re in. Knowing the area you are flying into. Are you flying into the rockies, are you flying into the plains, are you flying into a coastal town? What type of area you flying into? What are the challenges of that particular airport or area? Each flight route is very unique and it’s going to take you across different areas that have different challenges to them. You need to know what those challenges are and the reason why this one is a little difficult is this stuff isn’t necessarily published that well. You might find it in an airport facility directory or you might find it on airnav.com for a specific airport.
But if you’re really concerned about a particular airport, you may want to ask other pilots that have flown into that airport, what the conditions are like, idiosyncrasies about that particular airport, and you can even call the FBO for that particular airport and ask to speak with a local pilot there if there is something you are actually really concerned about. I wouldn’t bug people with that too much but I would think that they are very open to actually talking about their local area because as we talked about before, you should plan on using your instrument ticket, flying in actual conditions, and so you want to get everything on your side and have as much information as possible. Having those area changes in mind or specific attributes about that area would be very important for you to know. So that’s area changes.
Another thing that you should do and you should make a habit of is having a multisource brief. You should not only be getting things from the flight service station but you should be also relying on a lot of the online sources these days that are out there and then there are a lot of great services that are available now live while you are in the cockpit especially if you have something like an iPad where you can get actual current, excellent weather for example. A lot of different things you can get that will give you a broad scope and in a lot of situations and most situations, cross verification of the information you’re seeing.
Getting an overall picture of the weather that you are going to be going into and flying through because that’s the point of all these right? This is one of the biggest things as an IFR pilot you’re going to be looking out for and the largest thing that differentiates IFR flying from any other type of flying is that you are actively flying into weather and flying through it and around it and you’re in the weather. That’s one the biggest things you need to be aware of as a solid IFR aviator if you will.
A couple more here for the weather wisdom is airport ground conditions and this is very closely related to knowing information about that particular area. You should just know what type of area you’re flying into, what type of approaches are available, what it’s going to be like once you hit on the ground, what facilities are available, things like that, and also, what the taxi way and runway conditions are like because it could’ve snowed the morning before and melted a little bit and cooled down so now it’s icy. You have a lot of these different considerations to keep in mind with the actual airport conditions. That’s important to keep in mind as well and that is actually something that you could call an FBO about if you’re concerned and see what the conditions are like on the ground as far as even just taxing around and breaking action on the runway and what things are like, so that’s something else you could do.
Last but not certainly not least and I just threw this one here because it feels pretty well here. It could also fit in our human factors area which we’ll talk about later, is night time. You need to ask yourself as a single engine IFR if flying at night time in instrument conditions alone is the smartest thing to do. Now obviously if you’re in the clouds and you can’t see anything, that definitely kind of negates the purpose of night and day, right? There’s no difference if you’re in the clouds. But once you’re out of the clouds, you’re not going to be in the clouds all the time, it’s super rare. We are just going to be in thick, thick IFR all the time. Once you’re out of the clouds, it does make a big difference to you from a safety perspective and just stacks the cards in your favour if you are not flying at night time, and you are able to do a lot more visual things that you can do during day time.
It’s just really a personal choice I suppose, is if you’re willing to fly at night or if that’s something you want to stack in your favour and try to fly during the day instead, because there are dangers that come with night-time flying that don’t come with daytime flying.
Alright, so that’s it for weather wisdom. Now, system savvy. The IFR system is a very complex system obviously. A complex that are procedures, traffic and timing considerations. You need to know how you fit in all of these and how to fly efficiently in a system meant for high accuracy and honestly in a lot of cases, it’s meant for airlines. It’s meant for getting people reliably from point A to point B in pretty much any type of weather.
You need to familiarize yourself with certain things and you need to ask yourself some of these questions that I’m about to ask. How does the IFR system work? How does it all flow together? How do the controllers fit in with the pilots and the pilots with the controllers and controllers with the ground crew, all of these things. How does that all work together? By knowing that, you can more efficiently operate in IFR.
The next question is, what is the most efficient way to fly an IFR? That’s one question that you need to always be asking yourself, is what is the most efficient way I can do this? If you can find some short of shortcut in your route, and I’m not saying taking a dangerous shortcut or something that was unplanned or just unpredictable, but rather maybe cutting a little corner from this VOR to that VOR instead of having another VOR in between or a way point and saving yourself a few minutes. And so you arrive a little bit earlier, you save a little bit of fuel. These are always things you need to be stacking in your favour. What’s the most efficient way? Again that’s the question you need to always be asking yourself.
Another question or rather a set of questions is what are you trying to accomplish? Are you out there to experience the IFR just to gain experience in IFR or are you trying to do it efficiently, or quickly rather. Efficiently and quickly are closely related. I would say you are always looking to do it not necessarily quickly but with expediency. You are looking to do things the most efficient way you possibly can. That’s where you gain the most experience and that’s where you start to really understand how the IFR system works although there is some book knowledge that goes with that as well.
Another question you need to ask yourself is do I need to be doing IFR the entire time? That’s more of I guess a personal question, what you are willing to put up with as far as clearances because sometimes air traffic control can hold you on the ground. It takes way too long. You can depart VFR and get in the air and pick up IFR in the in the air and be just fine. You need to ask yourself, “Do I want to do this the entire time? Do I need to practice my radio communication so it would actually be advantageous for me to start of my IFR in the ground and wait twenty minutes or whatever it is,” or do you want to get in the air and get to your destination. That goes back to that experience in expediency question, is what are you trying to accomplish there?
Those are things that you should experience. You should experience how to actually pick an IFR in the air. That are just obviously different situations that you want to try and you want to do. Another couple questions that are closely related is when is it inconvenient or too slow to do IFR? Should you really be doing IFR in VFR conditions if your goal and mission for the day is to get somewhere at a certain time? Although we shouldn’t use that somewhere at a certain time as an absolute, we always have the decision to say no even if there are consequences. You don’t necessarily need to be doing IFR if it’s very restrictive for the area you’re in if your goal is to be somewhere. You don’t want to stack that against yourself as far as getting somewhere. Although IFR can actually be expedient, in a lot of cases it can be faster than VFR, you just need to ask yourself, “Should I be doing IFR or shouldn’t I be doing IFR?”
The last one is the conditions. Should you be doing IFR in VFR conditions? Again, I’ve always really enjoyed myself. I’ve always enjoyed just doing IFR all the time. I find it’s easier to work in the system that way when it’s just a habit of doing IFR even if I’m departing VFR first and then picking up IFR, I just feel it better to work in a system all the time. But that’s a personal preference. It really depends on I guess the flight mission that you are operating in. That’s system savvy. Just some questions and thoughts and ideas to help you understand your mission in the IFR system and what your purpose is and how you would like to utilize that time in the IFR system.
Next comes communication clarity. Your relationship with air traffic control is very unique and as a result, you as a pilot need to know what you can request, what you can do and what you can’t do. You need to know a lot of different scenarios and how to best utilize air traffic control and how to assist them as well. Obviously this is a two-way street. Controllers can help you and you can actually help them too. There are times when they are bound by protocol and can’t do what you want. Obviously you don’t always get what you want and you need to know what to do in those situations as well.
My biggest first thing with communication clarity here is just ask. Ask a controller if you have a question or a request or anything in between or if you need them to clarify something. It never ever hurts to ask. I can only envision one situation where it would hurt to ask if you can tell that everyone else is doing one particular thing and it’s a super busy area and they’re cramming traffic in and landing them in sequence and it’s just really tight and there’s really no badgering. You’ll understand those situations. You’ll understand that you can’t request another runway without there being a lot of consequences. It’s kind of common sense but there are a lot of situations where you can ask the controller, even clarifying questions or whatever you need, whenever you are in doubt of the instruction given or you would like to do something maybe a little different and you would like to request something from them, it never, ever hurts to ask a controller. I think that’s probably the golden rule of communication clarity.
Next is, know your place. There are a lot of planes in the skies obviously and you need to know where you fit. You need to know where you fit in priority, and you’re going to experience that a lot especially as a general aviation pilot and you will experience it at different levels as you grow up if you will through multi-engine incorporate and up in the jets or airlines if you’re getting there. You’ll recognize that the priority handling of air traffic control is different as you go up through the ranks. Again, you just need to know your place and how all that works.
Next is work with the controllers. This is one of my biggest things and something that I really appreciate when I hear on the radio and one thing that I really try to do myself is I really try to help controllers. I want to know their challenges in that particular area. I want to know if I’m being a hassle. If I’m being a hassle and I’m on their scope and they’re having to stop traffic in an international airport for this little airplane that’s coming in to some satellite field and it’s VFR conditions and I can go under bravo, then I’m going to cancel my IFR and continue VFR with that same controller. These are just situations and things that we can help controllers out by making their job easier and so they can focus on the things that really matter.
Now, if you needed that IFR, if you’re in IFR conditions, obviously you don’t want to cancel just to make things easier on the controller. You need to do what you need to do as a pilot and really that’s the overreaching thing of communication, is you are in control of your aircraft and you are responsible at the end of the day. That’s the way that any aviation law states it. That means that even if you have to, you will ignore or break an air traffic control instruction in order for the safety of yourself and your passengers.
Be careful with that one because you will have to answer for it if you do it incorrectly. That’s kind of branching off into a different subject but really helping out the controllers as much as you can I think goes a long way and they will be more able to help you as a result, and it’s kind of this unsaid rule in aviation that you try to help out the controllers and then they can help out you and it’s kind of just pay it forward or karma type thing that keeps going back and forth between the controllers and the pilots. Obviously, we don’t want to be a nuisance to each other. We’re there to fly safe. We’re there to get to our destination and that’s a goal that everyone has, and so there’s that give and take. That finishes communication clarity.
Next is predictable procedures and this one is a little bit longer. I’ll try to breeze through it. A perfectly executed procedure is one of the most beautiful parts of being an IFR pilot. All the complexities that come with flying in exact profile and ending up on target at the runway will be sure to build your confidence as an IFR aviator, and confidence is one of the things we really want to get to when we’re talking about IMC and being an IFR pilot.
How can you best set yourself up for success? I have a few things here that we can just touch on. I think we’ll just touch on these so we leave enough time for the other segment. But first and foremost, just know your aircraft. Know what it’s capable of. How does it operate in IFR. What kind of IFR capabilities does it have that has a lot to do with avionics but also the performance of the aircraft has a lot to do with the capabilities. What kind of departures you can do and arrivals, things like that. It does matter. You need to know how to best set up your aircraft for success. That goes to cockpit resource management, actually using the tools around you in order to assist you in doing great approaches and great procedures, departure procedures, arrival procedures, there’s a lot of procedures. You need to know how to best set up your particular aircraft, that unique aircraft for success.
Next is highly scrutinized routines, and the reason I put scrutinized or highly scrutinized in there rather than just routines, is because we don’t want to get into routines that are fixed when there may be a problem with that particular routine, okay? What I’m saying is you don’t want to get into a bad routine and so you want to always be evaluating that routine that you’re getting yourself into. Again, highly scrutinized routines but routines are very important. Routines and how you go through the ABCDEFG of how to set up your approach, how to do everything you need to do during a procedure is incredibly important. Setting up a good routine, a healthy routine is very essential. By doing all these, it makes a lot of what you do during your procedure second nature and almost like a checklist in your mind. Checklist usage is obviously super important. With all these, with anything IFR but we’re not really talking about it in this particular episode.
Another big thing that was huge for me in really coming to a place where I was confident in IFR was power and configuration envelopes with the particular aircraft I was using and this could go back to knowing your aircraft. There are a lot of power and speed combinations and flap combinations so on and so forth. Different configurations of the aircraft where you can essentially set power to a certain place and your aircraft will slow to a certain speed and do certain things where you essentially set it and forget it.
The Bonanza that I once flew was very, very good at this. You set it to a certain power setting, it slow down to approach speed, you would put down the landing gear at the final approach fix or the intercept and essentially you wouldn’t even have to touch trim or anything else, it would just descend right on a three-degree glide slope, barely anything else you have to do. Those sort of things help you out a lot. Otherwise, you may get behind the aircraft. But helping the aircraft will help you in getting everything stable and being able to set those certain configurations and knowing that you will get a certain airspeed, a certain descent, things like that. Then you can make fine adjustments for your particular situations. Those help out a whole lot.
Also knowing how to do that in your transition from cruise, the intermediate approach, approach landing and obviously different – this is the big place for power configurations and different aircraft configurations because when you’re talking about departures, you’re essentially high-powered just getting out of there if you will. That’s important to know as well.
Last for this predictable procedures area or subject if you will, is varying situations. Try flying into new places, try flying different approaches that you aren’t familiar with. Just broaden your scope of the system and procedures that you could do and see what you are capable of. The big idea here is to just keep sharp on all the different types of procedures that you are wanting to do, and by doing all the things that I mentioned, you’ll definitely be super solid in your procedures. You want everything to be nice and predictable, and you want to slow things down for yourself. You don’t want to be behind the aircraft, and so a lot of these things I mentioned and obviously some more things that I failed to put in here will assist you in doing just that in having predictable procedures.
Now we’re into condition conditioning. That’s a little confusing. What do I mean by condition conditioning? The big thing here is to condition yourself and your mind to fly in actual conditions and use that ticket. Don’t just become the guy that squeaks by on his check ride. We want you to rock that check ride because you know your stuff, and then cherish the beauty that comes with floating amongst the clouds. That’s really what an instrument ticket is all about. You really want to be actually flying in these conditions. This is some of the most beautiful and rewarding type of flying that you can possibly do. Although there’s a lot to consider when taking on actual instrument condition flight, it is definitely rewarding. Condition conditioning means you are conditioning yourself to fly in instrument conditions okay? So I hope that makes sense.
The big thing here and first and foremost is to fly in the actual conditions. Go and fly in what you would do every day if you have someone saying, “I need you to fly here today.” I’m not saying do that regardless of what’s in front of you, but don’t hold yourself back from going to a place or flying into weather. Get yourself educated on all you need to know to feel comfortable with getting into that situation. That goes down to a lot of things, even your ability and confidence in handling the aircraft when you can’t see outside the airplane. We just need that confidence to do these things before we actually go in. But again, it’s kind of a conundrum because the experience comes from actually going to those conditions. One of the best things I feel to do this is find an instructor that is willing to fly in actual conditions with you, and so you get a feel for what these things are like, and so you guys can experience it, that it becomes an integral part of your training, to know what it’s like to be in the clouds, not with just a hood over your eyes but actually in the clouds.
The big idea here is to get comfortable and confident. I’ve said that so many times. Finding an instructor that will do that or actually being on those conditions, you’ll know what it looks like, you’ll know how it feels, it’s very different from having a hood on because it’s real. It’s not this fake thing where the instructors says, “Okay, we’re getting out of control a little bit, pull up your hood, look outside.” It’s not like that. You don’t have that choice. I feel like our minds and our bodies react different when it’s for real.
A lot of what goes on with that as well is decisions are completely different in these situations. We act more sharply and the real thing has no replacement and I really do feel that way. Once you’ve done all these things, once you’ve flown in actual conditions a lot with your instructor, once you’re comfortable with IFR, we’ll talk about what that feels like later, but plan on actually using your IFR ticket. Stay proficient. Proficiency goes beyond what your governing agency requires you to do. I don’t think proficiency for their requirements is enough. I think you should be flying IFR a lot more. I know financial concerns come into play there, but if you’re going to get your ticket, just use it. It’s a great, great experience to fly in the clouds. Again, I keep using the B-word, the beautiful word, but there’s just nothing that replaces IFR flight.
Now we’re going to get to sailing safely. We don’t have a lot of time here to finish up these subjects but we may run a little over on this particular podcast. I like to keep it over or rather just around an hour, but we’ll see how we do here. The next subject is sailing safely. Much of IFR comes down to safety and we’ve talked about that a lot. You’ll be faced with decisions that are potentially dangerous, but don’t let that hold you back from experiencing IFR. There is a bit of danger in everything we do I suppose and you want to mitigate those risks by having a knowledge of all these things and the experience. Safety is key. It’s connected to everything we do as pilots.
Again, get educated, know what is in front of you, and know what situations you are putting yourself into. It will become obvious when there’s too much risk and it’s simply time to say no or stop. You need to be able to walk away from the airplane at the airport and do the hard thing at times. Some things you need to know. We’ll just kind of breeze through these.
Although I’m big on human factors, I feel like it’s going to be a common thread through a lot of what we do with Aviator Cast and so I feel like we’ll touch on that a lot later and I can breeze through it now but, human factors is a big deal with safety. You need to know what your physical limitations are. You need to know what your mental limitations are. All of these things are interconnected. We as humans interact very differently when we’re in the air with our bodies. Our bodies do some things like altitude issues and spatial disorientation issues, and also our decision-making processes and things of that nature that we need to be aware of. We’ll be touching a lot on human factors. I’m a huge believer in approaching aviation at a core level from a human factors perspective.
Also, you need to know how to make a go, no-go decision. You need to be brave enough to not go. I know that sounds silly but the bravery is often now in actually going into a stupid situation. It’s in staying in the ground and just saying, “You know, this is too much. I’m gonna wait it out. I’ll sleep in the lobby at the FBO, whatever it is.” You need to be brave enough to not go. Along with that, you need to learn to say no and we’ll talk about that in a few more seconds with passengers but you need to learn to say no, and I’m just going to leave it at that.
Also, you need your own personal minimum when it comes to IFR. There are obviously limitations that come with what the government has, the FAA, the JAA for example. What are your limitations? Obviously you can’t break those rules but what are your limitations beyond what is required by law? Is that something that you need to take a step further and say, “This is the rule, three statute miles but my rule is actually five statue miles. Those are things that you can investigate as you get more comfortable or even when you’re just starting your IFR training, or really even just taking your IFR ticket to a different level. I recognize that a lot of you already have an IFR ticket but maybe a many of you want to take it to a new level and actually use that ticket.
I already talked about learning to say no and that is very related to passenger pressure. Now, you are the boss, you are the leader of the aircraft. You are in control. You are in control when you’re not even flying. You get to say if you go or not. Sometimes you need to be an a-hole and just say no. If that’s what you really want to do and that’s what you need to do, you need to say no and you need to stand your ground, okay? If you’re flying any sort of passengers regularly, you’re going to find that eventually that you need to say no at some point. That kind of does it for passenger pressure, leaving that.
Another point in here is when you’re in doubt, you just shoot and go. Don’t guess. Take the guess work out of everything you do in IFR by either learning from experience with an instructor or gaining that confidence and then learning little by little. Obviously we learn a lot and then we get in a situation where we learn a little more but we’re learning at a safe level. We’re not putting ourselves in a dangerous situation in other words in order to learn more. We’re actually learning more safely. I think a lot of that comes with experience. But you can take the guess work out of what you do. If you don’t know what you need to know, obviously learn it. If you need help, ask. Those are sort of things that you just need to know.
Another big question and kind of to polish off this sailing safely section is when to divert. When you’re already in the air and you need to find a place to go and you need to stop your flight, when is it time? When do you say it’s time to stop this flight? Obviously, you want to be looking ahead of time and you want to be very aware of what’s ahead of you and what’s around you and what’s going on and that has to do with your aircraft, your mental state, the weather. It has to do with a lot of things. You need to know and be aware that you can actually divert in flight and that that is always a possibility, okay?
I guess the climax of what we’re getting to as an IFR pilot is eventually we wanted to all come together and just click. We wanted to just be this thing that just happens because you’ve engrained it in yourself and you’re working well through the system. You’re communicating well. The procedures are just clicking right along, okay? Now it does take a lot of work. It takes patience. You can definitely arrive at a place where your mind, actions, and that passionate aviator spirit all join in harmony to become a sharp and efficient IFR aviator, so definitely it’s possible. It’s this “a-ha” moment. It’s almost like the clouds part and the light shines through and concourses of angels are around and you just know at that moment when you do something right and you’ve completed this wonderful actual instrument condition flight and you’ve just landed, you know that it’s working and you know that you’ve arrived if you will and that you really do have these skills and attributes and knowledge in order to do all these safely. It’s one of the best achievements you’ll ever, ever feel. It’s on par with getting your first license or your first solo.
Being an IFR pilot is absolutely one of the best things I’ve ever done as a pilot. Some of the most beautiful experiences as a pilot have come from floating amongst the clouds, accomplishing difficult tasks and arriving safely at my destination. I just love, love, love IFR. There is just nothing like single engine, single pilot IFR. That is how to be a solid IFR pilot.
And now, the flight simulation segment…
And now, how to nail virtual jet landings every time. Landing a jet precisely is a lot of fun but it’s a rare and often unseen skill among flight simmers. Have you ever heard or learn of the actual procedure used by real airline pilots to land? My guess is no, it’s not really knowledge that’s shared. It’s kind of actually one of these experiences where I think airline pilots learn it just by experience and necessarily procedure like this but this was explained to me and has really, really helped me out with landing virtual jets and this is what real pilots use all the time and how they do the final part of their landing. We’ll talk about that.
Although we’re primarily talking about a visual approach here, that’s what we want to get out. Again, I’m kind of branching out from our hand flying segment in last episode. These tips are still very much a part of all the approaches in landings that you’ll do. After this segment and with a lot of practice which we’ll talk about as well, you will be landing your virtual jets like never before. Getting right into it, I would like to dispel some myths that comes with landing in jet.
One thing I heard at one time that really annoyed me was great pilots always make perfect landings. If you’re judging a pilot by how smooth his pilots are, you’re focusing on point 00.1% of what matters in that pilot’s toolbox if you will. It doesn’t have to be an absolutely smooth landing all the time. In fact, sometimes you actually have to plant the wheels down, that’s what you have to do so we’ll talk about that a little bit. That’s one myth. Get that out of your head. You don’t have to do this perfectly smooth squeaky landing. That’s not what it’s about and it’s not what you’re supposed to do. If that happens, great, but you don’t need to be measuring the feet per minute upon touchdown. It’s just not useful, not the pain, and we’ll talk more about why that’s the case or you’ll why that’s not the case as we go on and talk here.
Crosswind versus regular landings. Essentially all landings are a crosswind landing. All landings are very different. There’s always air moving around, blowing the aircraft to and fro almost always and so you’re always having to deal with some sort of challenge with controlling the aircraft. You’re never going to be able to just leave the control wheel there stationary and just keep lined up and just flying perfectly. It’s just not realistic.
Another myth is that jets land themselves and they’re easy to land. Completely untrue. This is not an easy procedure. This is actually a very difficult procedure because it happens so fast especially once you get to the flare stage. Yes, jets do land themselves with autoland but pilots land them too. That’s been happening all this time and they still do it. Although it is pretty rare, pilots still do land the jet themselves completely by hand, and it definitely isn’t easy.
Another myth is that jets land like GA aircraft or general aviation aircraft and you should be essentially landing in what is often referred to as a controlled stall. That’s not how jets land. You don’t want to hear the chirp of the stall warning horn before you hit the ground. It’s a completely different procedure than that. You’re essentially driving the aircraft to the landing and you’re not looking or seeking that stall like you would with a Cessna for example. Although that is just one technique, I understand there a lot of different landing techniques than just the controlled stall.
Another myth and another thing I hear thing I hear people say and this saying in aviation really alwa thing I hear people say and this saying in aviation really always bugs me is that if people walk away, it’s a great landing. That’s not true. You want to be able to use your aircraft again. It’s not a great landing if people can walk away, so get that out of your head. We broke this down into an acronym that I just so happen to come up with. I tied this stuff out and it was an actual acronym, so it actually kind of worked really well.
The procedure is called AFFTR, and that’s with two FFs. It’s spelled A-F-F-T-R, so it still kind of spells “after.” I think it works really well. This is an easy way to remember how to set up your landing correctly. This acronym will ensure you set up a perfect landing if you do it perfectly and it does that step by step. If you get one of these steps wrong along the way, it could easily cascade down to the other large mistakes and eventually you’ll need to go around or you’ll screw up your landing, so just keep that in mind that each one of these procedures or steps is very essential for the success of the next step.
Alright, so we have the AFFTR acronym. The first which is “A” is approach. Getting set up on the approach correctly and having a decent profile is half the battle. You really want to get this approach right. Once you’re set up and stable, the rest gets a lot easier and can just really just be much, much better. With approach, you want to be aware of your aircraft configuration. Are you configuring your aircraft at the right time? You need to know when to make your decisions on when to extend the flaps and the gear. Obviously the flaps come before the gear, that’s kind of how it works. You can see that through some of our training products. You need to know how to configure your aircraft through that phase, that approach phase, and how to get yourself slowed down and in your landing configuration if you will.
You also need to know your flight envelope. Are you too fast? Are you too slow? Are you too high? Are you to low? Those are a lot of things you need to constantly be asking yourself and adjusting is your flight envelope. Another thing and I kind of have a little I guess math homework here for you with this one, but another big thing is glide scope. You want to be essentially on a good descent angle, much like an ILS to your landing. You can do that very, very easily and we can do that by knowing what vertical speed we should have.
Now, a ballpark figure works just fine and I’m going to teach you how to do that here. Once you use this ballpark figure, you’ll be able to do that three-degree glide slope just right. What you do is you have your airspeed and add a zero. For example if your airspeed was 150 knots on approach, that was your VRF, then you would basically be at 75, right? That’s in half, and then you add a zero. Really, these are the numbers you are looking at. You’re looking at 750, so 75 plus a zero. Essentially what this is doing is just giving you 750 feet per minute in order to do that descent. You want to be negative 750 feet per minute. That’s going to get you on about a three-degree glide slope at 150 knots. Again, half your airspeed, add a zero. Very, very simple. Again, ballpark works. That’s just something you look at yourself as your VRF and ask yourself what does my descent rate need to be for this particular airspeed and just do that quick equation.
Approach, again, big adjustments for small adjustments later. You want to get stabilized as soon as possible because later on down the road or down the approach, big changes won’t be possible. It just becomes much more difficult when you get close to the airport and your aircraft gets in that slower configuration with everything out, it just becomes less maneuvarable.
The next part of the acronym, an “F.” We have two FFs here. The first F is final approach. At final approach, this is where the procedure gets very specific for a jet. This other approach stuff that I mentioned, that’s pretty basic for any aircraft that you use but now that we’re into this final approach phase and down into the flare and rollout, this becomes quite specific to a jet. Pay attention. These steps are super, super important and you really shouldn’t deviate from them. I haven’t put a lot in here of what not to do but I’ll try to mention some of those.
Again, we’re on the first F of the AFFTR acronym and that is final approach. The first thing you need to do on final approach or at a specific point is you need to go visual. That means that you are looking outside the aircraft and not using your instrumentation. At about 150 feet at latest, you should be fully visual for the runway. Obviously, we’re talking about a visual approach here. I know that you could argue, “What about an ILS?” Let’s not talk about an ILS right now. Let’s talk about fully visual. At 150 feet at latest, you should be fully visual. At this point, you almost need no power adjustments and you won’t need a lot of adjustments to align because we set up the approach correctly and your flight profile won’t change much at all. You need to be fully visual outside the airplane. You’re not looking anything inside the airplane. You’re not paying attention to your feet per minute or anything. This is where you are controlling the aircraft based on visual references outside the airplane and how all that is looking going back to the core skills you gained as a VFR pilot.
Also at this point, you should be stabilized and on target. If you aren’t stabilized and on target, it’s time to go around. If you’re not ready to land at this point at 150 feet, it’s time to get out of there and try again. You can make this decision at any point to get out of there. If anything looks off even before 150 feet or 100 feet or 50 feet or even if you’re on the ground already and things just aren’t going well, you can always go out of there. Obviously, there is some point during the rollout where you can’t just go around but if you’ve touched on the wheels and the slats haven’t come up and you’re not reverse thrust then you can still go around, but we’re talking about final approach here. You always have that decision to make to go around if things just looked off. That’s the first F.
The next F is flare. The flare is in basic terms, when you’re transitioning from that descent angle that you have that you calculated right, you’re transitioning from that to a very smooth touchdown or as smooth as you can possibly get in most situations, obviously not in all situations. You’re not always going to want to plant your wheels down smooth as butter but that is essentially what you’re doing is you’re transitioning from the descent angle to an angle or a descent rate or a touchdown where the situation. Because if you just get that one descent rate, you just drive the thing right in the ground, you’d really bend up the aircraft and cause millions of dollars in virtual damage if you will. That’s what the flare is. But, this flare process is the most specific part you need to pay attention too and this will really, really help you out. I think you guys are going to love this, because it gives you some specific guidelines finally on how to land a jet properly.
Again, just like the final approach, the flare is based 100% on visual cues. You should not be looking in the airplane. You should not be looking in the airplane at this point. You should be looking outside the airplane using your peripheral vision and that’s very difficult to do in a simulator but you should be getting the visual cues from outside the airplane.
With that said, now, everything that I’m about to tell you, all of these next few steps, they all happen simultaneously. It’s kind of like this three-step process or four-step process where you’re doing several things all at once to smoothly land the airplane.
Here’s what you need to do. Smoothly roll back power at about 50 to 20 feet. When you hear that altitude callout – I found that 30 feet is where I’ve really tried to work it into. You want to smoothly roll back your power between 50 and 20 feet, 50 is a little high, 20 is a little low, and so it’s somewhere in between. You can get used to it, but that’s when you want to start rolling back your power. You listen for those altitude callouts and you start to roll back that power. Don’t be afraid to roll back your power aggressively if you need to because you’re about to touchdown. You really don’t want to be carrying extra power as you roll out this flare. This is a very sensitive part of this procedure and again like I told it’s all simultaneous. We’re going to go in rolling back your power to essentially which is the next step. You want to be idle by the time you’re about to touchdown. When you roll out that flare, you want to be idle on the power.
It’s a transition from that descent rate and then you start to roll out between 50 and 20 feet and then you’re pulling up as you’re flaring or pulling back on the stick. You’re pulling out that power simultaneously. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive with it as well but don’t be too aggressive. You’ve just got to find that sweet spot. This transition from where you’re at between 50 and 20 feet, usually again for me I find that it’s about 30 feet. After it’s transitioned and the thrust roll back, it only takes a few seconds and you’ve got two different skills to hone in here at this particular point. We’re not to the touchdown point yet. You’ve got the how fast and how aggressively you’re rolling back the power and at what altitude you are actually starting your flare. You’re flaring and pulling that power simultaneously. I hope I’ve said that enough. I’m just trying to repeat it for you guys so you understand and so you’re not missing anything there. It only takes several seconds. It’s very quick and even just a millisecond on each end matters. Pulling back too early or starting your power reduction too late, all of these stuff matters in a big way during this entire transition.
The idea with the pitch and again this is all simultaneously is you want to do so smoothly. If you pull back too hard on the yolk when you’re doing this flare then you have the potential of floating the aircraft and especially if you’re carrying too much power at that point, it becomes a big problem if you flared and suddenly you’re 20 feet above the runway and you’re flared and kind of level and you still have some power and you’re going to be floating a long way down the runway. That’s why I say that milliseconds to this and you’ll have to practice this over and over and over again. You just need to watch out for those particular details, is really the timing. The timing is huge, so you need to watch out for that.
Again, the pitch, this whole process, the pitch and the rollback and the thrust is a simultaneous thing that happens. Now that we’ve done that, our aircraft should essentially be in a situation where we’re settling into the runway. This in and of itself when we’ve already made a good effort to get pitch just right and we made a good effort to roll back the power, now we’re set up to touchdown correctly. This is why earlier I said that you don’t need to smoothly land the aircraft. It’s not like landing a GA airplane because with a fun little Cessna, we can squeak landings all day and it’s fun to not even feel the touchdown. But with a jet, you do not want to float. You have a lot of runway or sometimes too little runway, you have rather a heavy aircraft to deal with as you are on this runway, and chewing up a bunch of runway by floating too far is just very dangerous.
My point here is don’t be afraid to plant your wheels down. There is nothing wrong with that. At this point, you have idle power. You should essentially be flying the airplane into that touchdown. If you’re floating too much, you got to fly it down. You’re still flying the airplane. You’re not just stalling. You actually got to fly the airplane down. Again, floating is not desired here at all. That is what you are trying to avoid. You’re trying to get to that touchdown or you can then get all your stuff out, meaning your slats, and you can start your reverse thrust. You can put that nose wheel down. All of those things to get the airplane stopped.
The touchdown, this entire process, takes small quick and deliberate adjustment to make sure that the flare process all happens correctly. Really, there is no difference between the actual flare and the touchdown. All these all happens within just a few seconds. These are all like little tiny skills you need to work on. The combination of timing and quality of what you’ve done during that process will determine how great the touchdown is. It starts with the approach really, to the final approach, to the flare and then that will determine your touchdown.
Although I’ve said that it’s not about touching down smoothly, unfortunately passengers do determine a pilots ability to land smoothly. That’s how they judge a pilot is by how smooth he lands. They don’t really care that he went across continents to get them where they are, and that in and of itself is an amazing thing but that’s how pilots are judged. You do want to touchdown if you can, if the conditions call for it, smoothly if you can. If you can. There are situations where you don’t touchdown smoothly. Some of those situations would be if you’re in a crosswind landing situation. It is very difficult and you really can’t do that smoothly. It’s just the aircraft is really doing a lot of work where if you have a strong crosswind to where you have to get into the place and often that is quite a hard and aggressive maneuver that you just have to do with the airplane. It isn’t very comfortable for passengers.
Another would be if you’re planning into standing snow or water on the runway, you don’t want to be just landing yourself on to a smooth hydroplaning situation. That’s I guess the touchdown. That’s the “T” in the AFFTR acronym.
Now we’re on to the “R.” This is the last part, the rollout. You want to smoothly bring the nose down after landing and again you’re still flying the airplane, you want to fly that nose down, you’re still working with the yolk, so you want to fly that nose wheel on to the runway. During the rollout, you also want to make sure that all of your systems are working properly, things like autobreak, slats and reverse thrust. All of those things start to matter a whole lot at this point because now we need to get the airplane stopped, and then maintaining alignment just like any other landing is very important for the rollout and you need to also think about exiting safely. You don’t want to exit too fast. Exiting too late can be potentially annoying for people behind you that are trying to land if things are crowded. You want to get off the runway when you can. You don’t have to get off too aggressively, but just keep in mind that you need to exit safely and exit in a timely manner.
Remember that acronym, AFFTR, that is approach, final approach, flare, touchdown and rollout. Work on what I call the escalation of precision. The further you’re getting down that approach path all the way to touchdown, the more and more and more precise you need to be with your control movements to make it happen. But I know that if you do those things, then you can do really, really well with it.
The big key here is that practice makes perfect. This is the big, big thing here. As pilots, we spend very, very little time actually in the flare process because it only takes a few seconds to do this entire procedure. Even over the broad career with tens of thousands of hours as a pilot, you’re only going to have several minutes to several hours of practice in that actual situation where you’re flaring the aircraft.
Practice is a big, big thing. One thing that I really, really recommend and this is how I learned to do this initially, is save a flight file for each aircraft you love. What you want to be doing is you want be setting up varying situations. Most importantly, at least from a beginner’s standpoint is you want to be doing straight-in and already stabilized setup for the approach. All you have to do is worry about maneuvering the airplane down the touchdown. Well, through rollout I supposed too, but that’s all you want to do, is worry about doing that over and over again. But you can also try base to final or downwind and then what you want to do is you want to be restarting this flight over and over and over again, practicing for hours and just getting it right. Just over and over and over again. Eventually, you’ll just nail it. You’ll really start to get this down when you’re practicing this procedure over and over and over again.
You can mix it up like I said with different situations. You can also mix up the weather and wind and things like that. Mostly just wind. I wouldn’t add too much weather. I wouldn’t add rain or anything but mainly add weather or rather wind. And so you can feel the differences of how that looks. Now, you won’t want to add too much wind because then we’re talking about a completely different procedure when you’re getting into a difficult crosswind landing.
Another way to get proficient and stay sharp is to have competitions with friends. I found that very fun when I first started and it just adds kind of an intensity to this whole process to make you nail that target, hit the landing really well when you’re taking turns, seeing who can do a better landing. That’s essentially what it all is. Practice is a huge thing. If you know that after a procedure, then you can come in and you can practice all these.
Now, there is actually an add-on out there that is really great for this process, because one of the time-consuming things about this is actually getting your airplane set up for this situation. It’s called FS Instant Approach Pro and I’ll put a link to that in the show notes and you guys can go and pick that up if you’d like. Essentially what it does is it sets up your airplane on final approach, all set up, ready to go at a particular distance and you’re set up at that runway. I think you can even choose any runway you want in the world and it will just set you up. It also set you up on base. It will set you up on a downwind if you want that. A lot of varying situations and this will just mean that you can focus on this procedure, this AFFTER procedure that we have talked about and you won’t have to focus on anything else.
Last but not least, I just want to mention this quickly. I have a few more notes that I’m actually going to share. You need to know the difference between very light jets, small corporate jets, smaller narrow body jets like 737s, that type, that range, and then wide bodies. Obviously, all of these aircraft, they land differently and have different characteristics and the cockpit sets higher above the ground than others or the cockpit is further ahead of the wheels than others. You need to be aware of the target for those aircraft are different. The visual cues are different. Just be aware of that. Just be aware of the airplane you’re in, and if you’re having trouble landing that particular aircraft, ask yourself, “Is it due to the visual differences of what I’m seeing in this particular aircraft and just the aircraft itself.”
If the wheels are a hundred feet behind you, then obviously you’re going to be landing ahead of your target point. There will be some differences in your approach in your landing procedure. But as far as how this after procedure works, it’s all the same. These differences with airplanes mainly come with your target and how it looks when you’re flaring. The actual distance that you’re flaring at doesn’t necessarily change but it’s really what it looks like when you’re going through that procedure, when you’re in that mandatory visual phase.
Landing the airplane or the aircraft on your own can be an absolute blast and I know you guys would love to do that and you’d love to know how to do great landings because it is one of those things that is sought out greatly by anyone. Everyone wants to know how to land great and obviously it’s a very rewarding experience when you do that correctly. Landing a jet again isn’t something that is easy but each little step you do here with practice and repetition will mean that you do really, really well with this and eventually you’ll just get it and it will make sense and you’ll continue to do it really well.
So that does it for this episode of Aviator Cast. I want to give credit to Atrasolis for providing us with the great music for this podcast. You can download his aviation-themed album for free by liking Atrosolis on Facebook and there should be a link to that in the show notes so go ahead and check that out. Huge, huge thanks also goes out to the great crew at Angle of Attack. They worked very hard to keep things going behind the scenes so we can do great things like Aviator Cast and Aviator 90 and a lot of the things you see here at Angle of Attack that come out in the public. A lot of stuff happens in private that keeps all of that going. Big thanks to those guys. Definitely, I am only really the voice of Angle of Attack. They are really the workhorse of everything that happens behind the scenes.
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Thank you so much for joining me on this episode of this AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here and have you as a part of our community and to be so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things that we have. I just really appreciate you guys being here and hope you continue to enjoy AviatorCast. Until next time, throttle on!
The post AviatorCast Episode 3: What Makes a Solid, IFR Aviator | How to Nail Virtual Jet Landings- Every Time appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Feb 01 2014
At some point along the way, several education departments in the aviation industry decided that learning to fly had to be scary, sad and boring. Well, that’s just not how flying really is. Flying is a joy. So why not have training that matches that joy?
Today we’re honored to have Rod Machado on the program. Rod is long time flight instructor, speaker, and entertainer. He believes in ‘edutainment’, a mix between education and entertainment. This is something we believe in big time here at Angle of Attack, and on AviatorCast.
Join us as we talk to Rod about his insight into flying. What can pilots do to get better stick and rudder skills? Why is flying still the coolest thing around? How can a pilot keep and maintain a lifelong commitment to learning? All these questions and more in this great episode.
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Huge thanks to Rod of joining us! A very enlightening and inspiring conversation. I always find myself learning something from this guy.
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This is AviatorCast episode 88! Sticking the rudder smooth as butter!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer, regardless of where my skill level is at as a pilot, I’m always looking for ways to improve and progress. Where am I lacking? What haven’t I tried before? What can I do better?
One of the biggest joys of aviation is how much there is to learn. The limits of learning go far beyond the sky and personally, I’m dedicated to a life of learning in aviation. Welcome to this, the 88th episode of AviatorCast, it is my pleasure to welcome you here. This podcast is brought to you by Angle of Attack, a Flight Training Media Production Studio.
If you haven’t been to AviatorCast before let me tell you what it’s all about. AvaiatorCast is obviously a place where we bring a lot of aviation passion and get pretty excited about flying things. First and foremost, that’s all were about is passion and really we’re about a passion for learning continued learning. You heard that in some of my opening statements.
We bring on inspiring aviators and interviewed them and find out about their story or asked them about their knowledge and things that they have to teach us. Again, growing our knowledge, we get inside into the industry and track what the industry is doing, how that affects new pilots, current pilots, and pilots that maybe want to get back into flying so we talked about that too, getting back into flying, reigniting that flame or maybe you’re starting for the first time. We’ll talk about the getting the courage to do that, the steps it takes, all those sort of things to demystify flying because really at the end of the day if you put your work into it and you’re passionate about it, I believe that everyone can become a pilot so long as you’re financially and medically able. Even those things, you don’t really have many excuses because they’re still is a way.
Alright so we have a fantastic episode lined up for you today. I lined up Rod Machado on the podcast today. He is a fantastic speaker and educator in the flight training industry a long time instructor. I just really like his style and he’s a funny cool guy and very intelligent about aviation so I’m happy to have him on the show to ask him some questions for your benefit, for your learning, and for my learning too.
Before we get to that, I always read a review on the podcast from either iTunes or Stitcher or some of the other podcasts avenues out there where you can get this podcast and feel free to subscribe by the way. That’s a great way to make sure that you don’t miss anything so this review comes to us today from Scott Heizer and it comes on Stitcher and I actually know Scott. I met him in Oshkosh. He hadn’t heard about my podcast before, but his friend had loved the podcast.
His friend got a Fly or Die t-shirt himself. He actually got number one. He got the Fly or Die t-shirt and Scott is just now reviewing the show so I’m going to sending him a t-shirt so here’s Heizer’s review. He says, “For pilots, dreamers, and even simulators. I had the pleasure meeting Chris from AviatorCast through my buddy Glen last year at Oshkosh.”
I kind of already mentioned that. “I’ve been listening to this show since. One of the things about Aviation is Aviators usually say, ‘Immerse yourself in aviation.’ And this podcast certainly helps do that. I was literally just working on my experimental RV7 aircraft, which I’m just getting started on. I wasn’t feeling very motivated so I cued up AviatorCast and next thing I know, I’m knocking out portions of my project and an hour went by.
I was right there with experience the Stohl competition in Valdez, Alaska, completely forgetting that only an hour earlier, I was lacking motivation to do much of anything. If you’re reading this review, I can certainly attest that AviatorCast covers a wide range of aviation topics. Come on in and be welcomed to the community-like family.” Summed it up perfectly man. I really appreciate you sending in that review. Totally awesome, I’m going to send you an AviatorCast, a Fly or Die t-shirt it is, something you’d be proud of wearing it doesn’t have AviatorCast all over it.
Just a cool flying shirt that you can wear and Scott, I’m going to send that to you before Oshkosh even so maybe you can wear it at Oshkosh one of those days and I’ll see you there. Really appreciate that, if you guys want a Fly or Die t-shirt as well, feel free to leave a review on iTunes, Stitcher or some other location. If you do leave a review, just write me right away and tell me that you’ve done it, me@AviatorCast.com so I can be aware of who you are. If I ever read your review on the podcast then I’ll make sure to get a shirt sent out to you, really appreciate that. Alright so I’m excited to get into this interview with Rod. He is an awesome guy. I just love the humor that he weaves into his teaching moments, very cool guy so let’s get right into it. Here is Hanger Talk with Rod Machado.
Now a special Hangar Talk Segment.
Alright everyone, we’re honored to have a very special guest with us today. We have Rob Machado with us. How are you doing Rod?
Rod: I’m doing very well, Chris. Very well, thank you.
Chris: It’s an honor to have you on the program. Last year, I was helping my wife with her job down in the harbor here in Alaska. I was helping her clean boats and I was listening to your wonderful books on flying and just having a great time with all the knowledge that you had so if you can for just a moment, please tell the audience what it is you do and what you’re known for if they haven’t heard your name before.
Rod: Chris, pretty much what I do is I’ve been a flight instructor since 1973 and I teach people how to fly and right now, I’m doing a lot more proficiency flights and general familiarization flights and I’ve been writing books for the past 30 years and I’ve written and illustrated personally, I do all of my own writing and all of my own illustrations, but written and illustrated seven aviation books. Six of which are textbooks and textbooks, how to fly books, and useful books that every pilot can find benefit from and audio books and videotapes. I’m currently involved in creating quite a few eLearning type courses, integrated electronic eLearning courses that you know, nowadays people like to be more engaged on their computer. It’s wonderful way to learn so that’s what I’m doing right now and I have about of these interactive courses on my website at RodMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com. They both go to the same place.
Chris: Perfect, so if you can, tell people as little about what sets your training material apart from other people’s training material because what I really like about what you do is you inject a lot of humor in it, but at the same time there’s this deep knowledge involved in the process so share a little bit about maybe the unique things that you do that other people don’t.
Rod: Sure and I’m sorry for coughing there.
Chris: No worries.
Rod: I should take up smoking. I already have the cough. No, I don’t want to do that because the surgeon general once said that smoking was four times worse than they originally thought and they originally thought it would kill you so I mean, that’s bad. I have to stay away from that. Chris what I do in terms of how I teach is I use a process called Edutainment and it’s a way of—it’s a philosophy, it’s nothing new to me of course, but it’s something that I do.
Philosophy of teaching people using humor as essentially behavior modification tool, I learned a long time ago and I went to school and studied psychology for many years. You can learn this just as a practical matter. When teaching round school, especially the accelerated type of ground school, you can—you need to get people’s attention and you can get their attention in one or two ways. You can either make them cry or you can make them laugh and it’s a lot better to make them laugh because they like you more for it versus making them cry with let’s say with drama and tear jerking stories and so on so I guess use humor as a way of reinforcing points, keeping people’s attention and of course the ultimate benefit for me is I just—it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun teaching people, engaging them, and getting them to pay attention to you, but humor is the ultimate behavior reinforcement tool.
I just want to make sure people understand humor is not necessarily telling you jokes and I spent ten years in comedy clubs, not doing standup, but studying the comedians. That’s what I do. I study people and learn the skills that they have and then try to replicate them, to acquire them, and turn them into something useful I can use and that’s one way, telling jokes is one way of getting people’s attention. Being playful with people is another and I’m always very playful on the cockpit when I’m training people. Playful to the, with the intent of helping them acquire behaviors and in a much more fluent and accelerated and that’s an extremely effective thing to do.
You know, when I say playful too, you know I’m—as somebody does something, they put us into a spin, you know, I may say something like an understatement like, “Well that’s not exactly the type of entry I was looking for and decide we’ve got to do something about the Earth spinning underneath us right now so I think I’ll take the controls.” You have to be light of tongue so to speak, but being playful is something that every single person can do because we all have that playful instinct within us, and it’s every—the thing I think a flight instructor’s capable of doing if they just get into that mindset, but remember you never want us to mistake kindness for weakness so playful and yet having standards is extremely important in the flight instructor position.
Chris: I remember you talking about that when I saw you speak and I think it was at that moment when I realized I had to have you on the podcast, not only the way you that you teach and your philosophy on this edutainment if you will, but also the fact that you have those standards and you set those standards so why don’t you talk about those standards a little bit and what you mean by that.
Rod: Sure, I learned to fly, I’m so proud of this. I never really thought about it, but it taunted me about six months ago. I learned to fly in a War Bird. Yes, I learned to fly in a War Bird, a Taylorcraft L-2 and so that’s my one claim to fame at the moment, but I learned to fly in a school and I know you read aviation and the instructors there were all the prime of the—if not, the direct applicators of stick and rudder flying or a World War II stick and rudder flying skills. I learned some fairly good, basic flying skills, and I realized that in World War II of course, if you didn’t have good stick and rudder skills, you simply were unable to survive.
Rod: It was impossible. You had to know to how to fly your machine. That’s why an instructor or a pilot in World War II can jump from a P38 to a D51 or a vice a versa by simply reading the manual and we you know we’d probably have a hard time doing that today, but again, they knew how to fly and apply those principles from one airplane to the next and that’s what I did. When I started flight training in 1973, when I began teaching people to fly starting in 1970, but I began teaching people to fly in 1973, that was something that I thought was extremely important and so I made it a point to understand that students understood the concept of altitude instrument. I’m sorry, altitude VFR flying. You know, altitude plus power equals performance and the concept of flying the wing, which is extremely important and that allowed me to train students in such a way that they were masters of their machine. Today, I’m not so sure that that philosophy of stick and rudder flying is as important to many instructors as it was when I was learning to fly and by that I mean that today, we’re not as much—oh let’s say, stick and rudder oriented as we are interface oriented and by that, I mean that we are in a sense today more interfaced pilots than we are stick and rudder pilots, interfacing meaning that work with the equipment in the airplane to fly the airplane versus the flying the airplane directly. Now not all the time, but just as general statement.
Chris: That’s one of the points I wanted to get to actually pretty quickly was where was the stick and rudder skills maybe when you started as an instructor and where it is now so I really like that idea of the interface pilots. That’s actually the perfect example and I know exactly what you mean when you say that because we’re in the world of glass cockpits now and iPads and things of that nature, which are kind of keeping us heads down and maybe not active with our limbs so what’s the answer to that? How can we get back to those stick and rudder skills as pilots and maybe if you could answer a little bit how can the education community, flight instructors out there help out with that as well?
Rod: Well, number one, I think that to understand stick and rudder flying, you have to go back to the very basics of flight and as I mentioned, that would be altitude plus power equals performance, flying the wing, being able to look at the wing and many flight situations determine the angle of the tap, being able to fly by the seat of your pants. Assuming you wear pants when you fly, I recommend it especially on your check ride. That confidence of feeling the airplane and think ahead of the airplane and that’s something that comes with basic training and it’s something that should be taught of course, in the formative hours of flying. Certainly, if you fly a Tail Dragger, one tends to be a little bit more adept at using his rudder or her rudder as an example and many of the airplanes we have today have a rudder or Aileron coordinations springs or cables, which makes the, well the need for rudder, not quite as great as it once was and other airplanes, but of course in strong cross winds and in conditions where you’re doing some extreme maneuvering, irrespective of the rudder or Aileron interconnections still needing to know how to use Aileron and rudder together in coordination appropriately as well as fly altitude. The answer to your question, how do you get back to that? I’ll give you an example of one having a good stick and rudder syllabus for your students and if anybody goes to my website, RobMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com I have a private pilot syllabus that’s—you can download for free as well as a ground school syllabus for any students that wants to have a map for going through ground school on his or her own or for instructors to teach ground school. You can download those for free and I recommend you do that and the stick and rudder syllabus is something that I use to train my private students and any instructor might consider using to train their private students.
Chris: Perfect, yes, I’m actually looking on your website right now at these—at your training syllabus and the ground school syllabus so that’s a really great resource. We’ll make sure to get those so I was actually listening to your book. It was How to Fly an Airplane and you know I have about 700 hours. I don’t have a great amount of hours, but I kind of thought that I knew a little bit about flying an airplane, but when listening to your book, I found all these little intricate details about the controls and things that I could be doing different and how I could be thinking ahead of the airplane more. Give us some idea—some general exercises or some general ways that interface pilot can go back to the beginning and maybe exercises that you would put them through to get them those stick and rudder skills that maybe they didn’t get in the beginning of their training.
Rod: Great question, Chris. Here’s what I would do first if—I would find an instructor who has a philosophy of stick and rudder altitude baseline and take some training with this individual and there are instructors out there that of course understand these principles. I meet quite a few instructors that understand those principles and emphasize with their students, good stick and rudder flying skills. That would be the first thing. The second thing is and here’s a shameless plug from my book, but my How to Fly an Airplane handbook talks about for example of the many things it talks about in terms of this philosophy.
Making a turning airplane—when you make a turn in an airplane, the questions is how much rudder do you use, entering the turn and once established in the turn. Let’s say—let’s talk about just entering the turn and when you turn to the right or you turn to the left, the Aileron is rolled into the turn by using Aileron of course and the adverse yaw caused by the Aileron that goes down is in instances what yaws the airplane to the outside of the turn. The problem with that is that if you look at the ball, let’s say the ball and the inclinometer, the same ball that—well if I—when I was a student, if they had put cold Vaseline in that inclinometer too—I would have gotten that ball to bang against the side of the case, one side or the other. That’s one way of developing a sense of how to coordinate the controls, but there’s a far better way that should be taught from the very beginning. When you roll into the turn, you use enough rudder to make sure the airplane knows points in the direction you’re turning and that means as you roll into the turn, you apply enough rudder to compensate for the adverse yaw and that means just rolling in the very short period of time that that takes to roll in and establish the bank, a fraction of second.
The nose actually doesn’t move. The airplane just rotates around the longitudinal axis. Now once the turn is established, then you can back off on that rudder, but the roll in is what you’re looking at to apply rudder to make sure the nose at least doesn’t yaw outside direction turn so that’s how much rudder you know how to use. Then once established in the turn, you apply enough rudder to keep the nose pointing along the arc of turn and then you compensate and add the other sense of feel on your posterior, whether you are adding too much rudder or not enough rudder and that’s how you develop that stick and rudder sense of rudder Aileron coordination for a rolling into a turn and the same thing with rolling out of a turn. When you begin to roll out of a turn, you apply Aileron to level the wings and at that particular point as you’re rolling out, the nose actually pivots around some spot straight ahead of the airplane and what the nose shouldn’t do is yaw due to adverse yaw so consequently as you roll out of a turn, you apply enough rudder to keep the nose actually straight as the airplane rolls out. That’s the basic quality I think that a pilot should have. Those qualities, if they’ve mastered stick and rudder skills.
Chris: I think that’s a really good example of what is in your How to Fly an Airplane book because I remember that specific example talking about adverse yaw and using your rudder when you’re initiating a turn and coming out of a turn and I had actually never heard that before and it ended up moving right into my practice. You know, I started to practice that a little bit.
Rod: It’s one way to again that every person can improve their stick and rudder skills. I’ll give you another example, Chris.
Chris: Go ahead.
Rod: You got me so excited talking about this. One of the things I watch for when I’m giving you, buying a part review is if a person understand the concept of minimum effort, maximum performance and by that, I mean in the traffic pattern, flying the airplane generally anywhere, but in the traffic because that tends to be that—let’s say the crucible where one’s stick and—well where one’s—let’s say improper piloting techniques are seen in full display and we’re good stick and rudder skills are quite evident. I watched a pilot—if they’re flying in the traffic pattern, I watch them very carefully and I see how much work they’re doing because if they’re working too hard what that means is, in other words, too hard to fly the airplane. They’re not thinking about where that airplane is going. They’re not able to plot planning scheme to put the airplane exactly where they want on the runway if they even put it on the runway, the one they were aiming at so and the point there is, I’ll give you an example, turning from downwind to base.
Turning from downwind to base, assuming that you own the traffic pattern in this case and there are no other airplanes in the pattern, you turn from downwind to base and let’s say you’re close enough, you pull the power back and when people pull the power back, generally what they’ll do is they’ll kind of establish an altitude, the carburetor heat of course if appropriate. They’ll establish an altitude and then they’ll give it a little bit of trim and they’ll reestablish the altitude for the proper air speed, give it some more trim. A person is a good stick and rudder pilot, doesn’t want to work that hard. That pilot will turn the airplane and once established on base, pitch the airplane for the altitude he or she knows is going to give the airspeed they want or somewhere in the proximate altitude given the air speed they want. Then hit that trim and trim that airplane very quick to keep that airplane right at that altitude. It only takes two or three good twists of the trim to keep the airplane right there and now it’s a done deal. Then if they have to adjust the altitude a little bit, they can do that, but this doesn’t take a long time, it’s something that happens quickly. It’s that concept of altitude plus power equals performance and that allows then once they do that, turning base, turning final, turning from crosswind to downwind, what have you to put the airplane where they want with a minimum effort and therefore, now they’re able to look outside, they’re able to look at the run way and then do what pilots do best and that is think. Think about how they’re going to fly their airplane safely.
Chris: That’s a really good example and it makes me wonder what it would be like to have you in the right seat watching me do that and what I would do and so it almost makes me want to be really honest with myself about what I’m actually doing. I guess kind of as a self-evaluation exercise if someone didn’t have Rob Machado on the right seat, they could even self evaluate with maybe a Go Pro. Film what you’re actually doing and the traffic pattern. Don’t look at the scenery out front the airplane, film what you’re hands are doing and how you’re handling things and that’ll give you an idea of I guess how busy you are. How busy you’re keeping yourself?
Rod: I think that’s actually a great idea because it is hard to self evaluate, mainly because it’s you know, it’s hard to be self reflective when you’re flying an airplane and moving several thousand pounds of sheet metal or plastic through the air and your job is to put it on a runway. You can’t be thinking, what am I doing now or maybe I should be doing this? Well you can be thinking that, but you can’t do it enough to perhaps offer yourself a honest critique or a thorough critique of your behavior. I really like that idea. That’s a good one.
Chris: Do you have any other common problems and solutions that you see that pilots have today, especially these interface pilots that you’re mentioning?
Rod: You bet. I used to call them panel pilots because the pilots, well when they give biennial flight review, what I’ll typically do is bet the person if I haven’t flown this person this before, I’ll be them that they’re not going to look outside enough and that they will get close to traffic and keep in mind, I’m in Southern California and there are a lot of airplanes here.
Chris: Yes, yes.
Rod: Of course, they’ll hey you’re on and I’ll bet them a coke or a soda pop and so what I’ll do is we’ll take off and of course people with movie map displays are typically looking at the movie map display more often than they are looking at the lets say five to seven actual gigantic moving map displays they have in the airplane, which are called windows. I’ll just wait until an airplane is off in the distance and I’ll say, let’s turn right headed 35 zero degrees, they’ll turn. They won’t look and say, “Clear right, clear left” or whichever we return. They’ll turn and then I’ll say, “Ha, looks like I get a coke this afternoon” because we’re pointed right toward another airplane and this happens. I bet it happens eight out of ten times on air you know assuming that the airplane’s nearby.
People won’t look. Looking for traffic, I’ve almost come to the point Chris where I’m wondering whether it’s actually possible now to teach people to look out for traffic given all the goodies in an airplane so it’s a real challenge. That’s one of the things and that’s why called them panel pilots and now with interface pilots, which I think is a more appropriate term people are spending a great deal of time controlling the automation in the airplane and the only saving grace there is something called his TAS and ADSB where you actually do have some traffic monitoring that is providing them with some degree of heads up information regarding traffic, but you know, nothing beats a good old pair of eyeballs quite frankly and I know it works because I spent now 43 years flying in the LA Basin so I have a very good idea to eyeballs do work when it comes to warding traffic. You have to use them.
Chris: What’s your favorite scanning technique that you use. Is it by the book or do you have your own type of technique that you use?
Rod: Yes, it’s calling looking outside. That’s my favorite scanning technique. Actually, I used to know a military technique. Military had the best technique for VFR flying and that is on a 17 second cycle. You spend three seconds inside looking at your panel, looking at whatever you want to look at maybe looking at the Hobbs Meter and making sure it’s not running too fast and the ultimate fear to any pilot is a one way Hobbs Meter as you well know. Out of that 17 seconds cycle then 14 seconds are spent looking outside so three seconds inside, 14 seconds outside and what you’re doing is divvying up the time in that proportion while looking outside and taking chunks of airspace, maybe 20 degrees in scope as you take that chunk, you look at that through that 20 degree span.
Then you look off in the distance, focus, then look at another 20 degree chunk off in the distance and focus and try to do that systematically. I spent a lot of time looking behind me when I’m in an environment that has faster, you know, let’s say I’m training in a Cessna 150, which means you are defacto. The slowest airplane a loft at any one time.
Rod: Of course I’m just kidding, but maybe not and therefore you know, you’re more likely to have somebody over take you and when you look at AOPA’s accident database, you’ll find that 82% of all mid airs that occur typically occur with one airplane overtaking another, a faster one overtaking a smaller one. That’s pretty scary when we think about it so we need to look behind us. How do we do that? Well, if you can’t bend your head to the side and look which I used to be able to do when I was in my early 30s, a little harder to do now so what I do is I just make a turn and look behind me, assuming I don’t have windows back where to look through. I just make a turn and see what’s behind me and that’s a very effective way to do this. Same way military pilots used to do when they checked their six so to speak to see if they were—they an enemy target behind them or enemy pursuer.
Chris: Perfect so as a pilot gets a little more experienced and a little more self confident in their skills what would your recipe be for some humble pie to make sure that that person stay’s in a good mindset to continue to be safe.
Rod: If you’re asking what maneuver I would have them practice if that’s what you’re talking about. Let me give you two things. I’ll give you the psychological aspect and the physical aspect.
Chris: Perfect, yes.
Rod: I can tell how well a pilot flies an airplane by having them do one maneuver and this has never failed me. It works so well. We’ll be in the practice area and then I’ll ask him to give me some slow fly to minimum control blow air speed and that’ll be with a stall warning horn or right audible or visible. You can feel this of course in the airplane’s—the buffeting as the boundary layer begins to separate depending on the airplane of course that you’re flying. In that condition and then I’ll have the make right turns, left turns, climbs and descends and slow fly and if they can do that and keep the airplane coordinated, they are definitely masters of their machine. I would suggest and I say this as a general caution. Have them practice that in a long time go up to art least 3,000 feet and practice it because I’ve seen people take the airplane in slow fly, make a left turn or a right turn and put the airplane right into a spin. That is not uncommon, depending on the airplane of course. Hard to do when it’s air humid and 40, much simpler to do on a Cessna 150 because the different airplane types.
Rod: It’s very very very important to you know, we might even take a flight instructor up with you, but those are the maneuvers that I use as an evaluation tool and that works out really well. As far evaluating somebody psychologically, you get a flight instructor—well something somebody can do psychologically that would enhance their confidence let’s say. One of the best things a person can do is take his or her airplane and go on a cross country flight to some place you—that they have not been. Cross country flying is a tremendously helpful tool for developing what general confidence all over. It’s one of the reason’s why the—let’s say the founding fathers of general aviation that and you know those maybe Orville and Wilbur Wright of course and then all the folks who came after them, all the Jimmy Doolittle and so on.
These folks, you know, were all very smart in their collective wisdom, which I can be seen in the federal aviation regulations and it used to be that we required more solo cross country time for the private pilots certificate that we do now and that was an important thing to do because it built confidence. We don’t require as much now so consequently, a private pilot or any new pilot, even an experienced pilot, if they haven’t been on many cross country flights, it’s just tremendously helpful in terms of giving them confidence to be able to put their airplane at a different airport of their choosing. You know, several hundred miles away and to return to their home base airport and then to solve all of the decisions and make all of the decisions and solve all of their problems that one has to solve on route.
Chris: I totally agree with that and I think that flying gives us this great opportunity to experience something different, but I believe that doing a cross country flight gives us a purpose to fly, a mission, and I’ve always found that in my time as a pilot, I you know, I really, probably have spent more time doing cross country flights on average than I have doing the pattern work like most pilots at my hour range. The experiences and even the things you see I think just give you a lot of purpose to what you’re doing and the adventure of it and I think down to the core of it. That’s why aviation was created in the first place to get somewhere, to go somewhere, to experience something new and to explore the world, I think that’s the heart of what it is so.
Rod: Oh I agree I absolutely agree. Cross country flying in a sense shows you at your best and shows you at your worst and by that I mean when it comes to making decisions if you really haven’t had practice making decisions about oh should I deviate here. Do I have enough fuel to get there and what have you? That is what cross country flying does for you. It gives you a chance to make those decisions. It puts the idea of how you can make those decisions in perspective and keeps them in your mental real house and it also shows you at your best because the moment you land in an airport 200 miles away, you get out and of course you do what I tell my students to do. Get out and claim this land for Spain and if you can stick a big flag in the ground everybody would treat you like royalty when you landed. Okay, maybe not, but the point is that it’s always so you’re just so always fun to do. I don’t know how many airports around here my students now have claimed for Spain, but I think it’s quite a few.
Chris: The you know, there’s a special experience too looking in your log book over time. You know, I just transition my log book from the paper form, putting it into a digital form and the memories that I had on so many of those flights, especially the flights where I was in new territory exploring if you will just—it’s irreplaceable and I can’t imagine having spent that time just in the pattern around my home so.
Rod: Oh that’s.
Chris: I really like that idea.
Rod: That’s very true. It’s interesting. I have yet to you know, I have like what eight or nine log books somewhere around here and I have not done—in fact, I just don’t log my time like I used to anymore.
Chris: Right, yes.
Rod: Except for currency as you’re required to, but the thing with digital log book, I’ve never become a big fan of those and I know my students want digital log books so I say, “Okay, fine.” I tell them to also keep a paper log book. There’s something about going to a paper log book and opening it up and flicking through it, which is typically more difficult to do digitally, but looking, seeing something in your handwriting. Let’s say after your first solo cross country flight and you look at your handwriting and it looks like it’s handwriting within EKG type script added to it because it’s jumping all over the place. Mainly because you’re knees are still knocking against each other and you know, there are subtleties that you can’t get from digital, but you know, I’m old fashioned in that way so call me old fashioned.
Chris: Yes and I think there’s wisdom in keeping both even though you know keeping things in the cloud is technically safe. I don’t really trust that and plus I like having my log book here on display and it you know kind of in that same vain that you mentioned. In the front of my log book, I have a statement and I actually learned this statement from the wonderful movie One Six Wright because the guy talks about this in that movie and it says, “This is a love story, please, please, please return to this address. This person, if you find it.”
Chris: That’s what it’s all about so.
Rod: I think so and you said, “Keeping your log book in the closet” which is great, don’t even need an instrument ready to do that so.
Rod: Sorry, I couldn’t resist. You see that’s the kind of stuff I look for. As soon as you say it, I have to say something back.
Rod: It’s just the instructor I am.
Chris: Yes, good, good so let’s—I want to ask a question for the younger generation if you can answer this one for me. Last night, actually, I had the boy scouts over to my house and we had a big video game party right. These young kids, they have all these options out there, all these entertainment options, can you tell us why aviation is so the coolest thing out there for these kids to do? Why if you’re thinking about getting into aviation, it’s going to be way better than any video game you could ever play or any of those things out there that may be taking their attention away.
Rod: Sure, aviation has consequence. When you fly an airplane, when you’re motoring around and several hundred thousand—two or three thousand pounds of sheet metal within a motor, an engine attached to it. You have to do things right. Now don’t get me wrong. Aviation can be very safe, if I didn’t think that that were the case, I would never get in an airplane again. That’s a fact. I do believe we have control over our destiny and no, I don’t believe fate is the hunter. Nice book title, but in practice we can’t operate that way.
Rod: Aviation is safe, but when a young person gets in an airplane and actually flies an airplane versus flying a video game, what happens is that young person learns something new. Yes, maybe you can learn something flying a video game or playing a video game and shoot down Klingons in and out from their home world, but realistically in an airplane, what you do has consequence and in the back of your mind you know, oh my gosh, “I’m actually flying this large piece of machine around. I’m doing what people do that was unthinkable a 100 years ago—120 years ago and now I’m doing it.” The most important thing is when you learn something new you become something new and that’s what happens.
You become something new, something as a result of your having developed confidence, your having applied your skill, seen the result of that skill and there are many other attribute and derivative attributes that occur from flying an airplane and that is powerful, powerful stuff for a young person. I know that for a fact. I’ve seen the changes that it makes in young people and I can assure you with 100% certainly that the changes this flying an actual airplane makes versus flying let’s say a flight simulator. You never really getting out of your easy chair or your bathrobe, there is no comparison. It breeds a whole new type of personality again when you learn something new, you become something new.
Chris: Those that do decide to get into flying and they are going to be jumping into it, what can expect and what are maybe the three top things they should be looking for. Let me just mention one I want to hear about from you, finding a good instructor, maybe wrapping into that, a good school and how do they apply themselves. I know that you probably will answer that one really well so how did they apply themselves to making sure that they become a fantastic student, not only for a license, but a student for life in aviation.
Rod: Well and if I haven’t said this, you’re asking some great question by the way so.
Chris: Appreciate it.
Rod: Great questions, one of the most important things that anybody can do in learning to fly is to find a good instructor. Without any doubt whatsoever, it is the single most important thing for a person to do. In fact, there’s an old Chinese saying, would you like to hear it regarding instructors?
Rod: Okay, now do you want to hear it in Mandarin or English? Okay, English it is so it’s so much more elegant in Mandarin, but it goes like this, “It is better to look for an instructor for three years than to spend even three minutes with a bad one.” That’s extremely important. How do you find a good instructor? Here’s how you do it. Go to my blog piece at RodMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com, same site, go to the blog area and look at the article on how to find a good instructor and I list something like around 12 points in there that tell you how to go about doing that.
Requires a little Gumshoe work. You have to check out the person’s reputation, there are certain questions you want to ask absolutely do not want to spend time with a bad instructor and unfortunately, like in many professions, not everyone who has a flight instructor certificate is a good instructor and perhaps, to be fair, maybe not everyone is appropriate and maybe a good instructor—maybe they’re not appropriate for you. That’s what I would recommend and if you find somebody that knows something about stick and rudder flying then that is a absolute must. You want to, you want to try to look for somebody like that. The other things that one can do and that one should do is consider having some good books to study and of course, another shameless plug I happen to have the perfect book, Private Pilot Handbook, which covers all the basics in aviation for the general knowledge and then How to Fly Handbook available in physical form as well as in digital form or audiobook form too. Again, I write these all myself. I do all of the illustrations. I do everything myself. The only thing I don’t do is print it because I can’t fit a Heidelberg Press in my garage and have room for my car so that’s the other thing and also to be fair, there are many good courses that you can take, courses that are written test prep courses that are offered by the John and Martha King ASA Sporty’s, these are all fun courses. You find something that best fits your personality and pursue that means of study. The other too Chris, if you couldn’t—if a student could attend a live ground school where you have an experienced instructor talking to you over let’s see, a nine week period, two nights a week something like that, a live ground school local to your airport then that is an absolute must if you can get in that ground school.
Chris: Perfect. I’m actually looking at these blog articles that you mentioned here. You mentioned something
that I want to ask of you and that is training for the certificate or training for confidence or proficiency and this is something I always wonder of really experienced instructors out there, how they answer this problem because obviously, it gets a little complex with the time that it takes to get a license and obviously, people are very eager to get their license and be able to take up their family. Obviously, money is a motivator, but can you speak to that a little bit. The difference between passing a written or passing a check ride and actually being able to perform those skills and what that takes, do you know what I’m asking there?
Rod: I understand completely what you’re asking.
Rod: Again it’s a very good question. It’s a very insightful question and my response is this, first of all, private pilot certificate and this is important to remember, private pilot certificate is a license to learn. It is not a license that says you learned everything. A private pilot certificate accomplishes one goal and that is to allow you to go out by yourself and carry passengers and be safe enough to acquire additional experience. No, private pilot certificate does not say that you are qualified to fly every airplane and to fly every place in the United States under any type of VMC conditions. It doesn’t state that at all.
That was never what it was intended. It is philosophically impossible to accomplish that let’s say that level of performance after you’ve spent 40 hours or so learning the skills necessary to pass a private pilot practical exam. This is something people forget about so and it’s extremely important so as a private pilot, you’re thinking, okay, I’ve got my private license, this is what I can do. I can go out and learn how to develop skills beyond what I have now. How you do that is this, you take your airplane and you go on a cross country flight. You fly a different airplane. You develop—in other words, you go out and you fly a different airplane. You get checked out in another airplane.
You go to the local aerobatics school and you take aerobatic training and you develop yours and then maybe you go out with an instructor and then you perform or develop some other type of skill such as let’s say emergency landing skills. Yes, you have emergency landing skills already, but what about emergency landing skills such as engine failure on take off. Such as being directly over an airport, having the power fail and spiraling down to that airport and being able to land on that runway, which you could do at certain airports that are not too busy, which means pretty much no airport in southern California, but I’m talking about somewhere out where you don’t have that much traffic. You can do those kind of things. You can always find a way to improve your skill so, but unfortunately Chris and this is a slightly different aspect of that, today there’s a very large movement in the aviation community that wants to essentially raise the let’s—the level of thinking sophistication of the private pilot to the extent that the intent is to train a private pilot to think with—for a lack of a better phrase airline transport pilot skills, skills in terms of decision making risk assessment situation where I sit and what have you. You know what?
You can do that, you can do that if you’re willing to sacrifice obtaining a private license in 40 hours. You can give a private pilot airline transport like thinking skills if you want to spend 1,500 hours with that private pilot in dual and solo flight training. It’s just not realistic to do that. My whole thing with learning, teaching people is one thing. My philosophy and my guiding statement is, “I want the average person to be able to acquire a private pilot certificate at a reasonable cost without having to jump through too many government hoops.” That is extremely important because again, we can over regulate private pilot flight training to fulfill the ideological desires of some people in aviation because they want aviation to be so safe. Yes, I want aviation to be so safe too, but there are ways to make it safe without having and to increase a pilot safety and inspiring them to be safer without having to mandate that they spend more time and more money in private pilot development and training, which eventually means, ultimately means that your average person is going to look at the curriculum for private pilot training, look at the amount of money spent and say, “Ah, there’s no way I can do this.” Go home and fly flights simulator and that’s it.
Chris: I suppose that’s a crux in my question is we—I feel like we have a pretty good system right now where regardless of the school, you go to, meaning if it’s a Rating Mill or if it’s a 141 School, you’re going to get a license at a pretty reasonable hour and from there, it’s a license to learn. Just like you said and I found that in my experience, you know, once I hit private pilot. I started doing a lot of cross country and at that time, I started flying with more experienced instructors, was very blessed to be able to do that and it completely changed my perspective, you know.
Rod: That’s very wise by the way because you ferreted out more experienced instructors after you acquired a private pilot certificate and what you did was you went to this is the best analog for that, you went to graduate school for private pilot training because you found a different instructor and sort of like you became a Rhodes Scholar and apprenticed yourself to this one individual and that’s Rhodes Scholar, not Road Scholar, R-O-A-D. I want to make sure you got that or rodent scholar, I did not say that. You raised your level of awareness that way and that was—that’s brilliant on your part, but again, what we do in aviation is we want to get the private pilot qualified. To think with the highest order thinking skills all up front, which is physically impossible to do without having to have that person spend more time and more money and in essence drive them out of aviation. At least, that’s what I worry about so inspiring private pilots, people who are newly readied to then go on and develop these thinking skills that’s what I like to do. It’s what I do and I like to think I might be effective at that with some of the things I write and my lectures and things like that, but that’s my ambition.
Chris: I certainly think you are so one last question I have for you before we part ways here and that is how does a pilot, any pilot at any level, whether you’re a brand new student pilot or you’re a 10,000 hour pilot. How do we collectively and individually commit ourselves to life long learning, continually learning? What are the steps or even maybe it’s just a psychological mindset that you can tell us about that commits to that for long term. Sure there are only two ways to get smart. At least only two ways that I know of, you have to read a lot of books and ask a lot of questions. I don’t know of any way that works better than that so reading a lot of books means that you find the aviation book that has the answers to your questions.
There are a lot of great aviation books out there. You know, I look back at some of the books I read when I was working—just became a flight instructor, Robert Bucks—Bob Bucks’ book, Weather Flying as an example. Richard Collins had many wonderful books and he shared a lot of insight and wisdom. Wolfgang Langewiesche had Stick and Rudder, which became a classic. Then Richard Bach’s, A Gift of Wings. It has in it probably one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the—on anxiety in flying and it’s called Loops, Voices, and the Fear of Death and it was an amazing book. Then Antoine Saint-Exupery book, Wind, Sand, and Stars is probably one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read and there’s actually a great deal of wisdom in that sort of autobiographical tone of his and it was just so well done and but there are—those are the books I’m talking and there are many many books like that. Another shameless plug if you don’t mind.
Rod: My book Plane Talk, which is one of my—actually, one of my most favorite books and it’s a book that has 100 chapters in it with articles that range from how to think critically, how to learn more efficiently those things are extremely important. That method of learning is extremely important. Read a lot of books, ask a lot of questions and I think the ambition is this. Nobody wants to fly an airplane and worry about hurting themselves or their passengers. You want to fly an airplane knowing that you have the training that allows you to handle the most common things that could happen to you as a pilot. In all the seminars I’ve taught on handling in flight emergency just as an example, I have yet to have somebody give me an emergency that doesn’t have a solution, that is not what we would call classically an act of god. In other words, getting hit by a meteorite on the downwind leg, nothing I can do for that.
Rod: That’ll teach you to hold a heading and that’ll teach you not to have the airplane degaussed so the fact is that there is an answer for everything and that answer is what we call—there’s a reason why get trained. Getting you know example—door pops open in flight. There’s a way to handle that. A gear doesn’t come down, there’s a way to handle that runaway constant speed propeller, there’s a way to handle that. There’s a way—in flight fire, electrically based fire, control malfunction. First of all, these things are all extremely rare, but they sit resonant in the pilots mind sometime and he or she wonders, “Gee, I don’t know what I’d do if that happened.”
Therefore, they feel anxious when they fly. You should never feel anxious when you fly because you should have an answer for the most common problems, but one should fly in a heightened state of awareness, always ready to handle anything that could happen. Sort of like a trained martial artist when he operates or she operates in an environment where she’s not familiar with, you know, a little heightened state of awareness, not uncomfortable, just always prepared like the boy scout motto that you of the boy scouts you had over at your place. By the way, I always have boy scouts over when I need to start a fire. They are great at starting barbecues. Yes, it’s pretty good. Of course, I’d normally end up with that on the barbecue, 5% meat, 95% barbecue fluid so lighter fluid. They’re great at starting fires.
Chris: I’m not sure they’d appreciate that down there, the starting to the smog.
Rod: Definitely not. That’s true, Los Angeles is a great place to be if you’re a muffler.
Chris: Perfect, well I really appreciate you spending time with us today. I’ve always appreciated your wisdom whenever I’ve been able to see you speak and personally I’ve enjoyed your training material too. I knew that my audience would enjoy listening to you and if they hadn’t heard from you before, getting introduced to you so I really appreciate it. I really appreciate your time, Rod.
Rod: Chris, thank you so much and I appreciate what you do too. You do ask very thoughtful good questions. I’ve been on several of yours before and your questions were very well thought out so thank you so much for asking great questions and you do great work too with you radio program, your podcast so I want to wish you continued success with that.
Chris: I appreciate that and we’ll catch up soon, maybe at Oshkosh, we’ll run across each other.
Rod: I look forward to it.
Chris: Right, thanks Rod, take care.
Rod: Thank you.
Join us next week for another exciting topic or interview with a great guest. Spread the AviatorCast message. Please review AviatorCast on iTunes or submit an audio question for the show at AviatorCast.com. All iTunes reviews and audio questions that are aired on the show will get an official AviatorCast t-shirt. You can write AviatorCast directly on AviatorCast.com where you can interact with the AviatorCast community or write AviatorCast at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
For more information on Angle of Attack simulation training videos for FSX, X-Plane and more, go to www.flyaoamedia.com. If you are looking for a professional aviation training video services and other media, inquire at www.angleofattackpro.com. Now, for the final release clearance, back to Chris Palmer.
Chris: Alright so a huge thanks goes out to Rod for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. I was talking to Rod after the show and he was nice enough to actually give you guys a coupon to get onto his store and order some of his books. Now, Rod and I didn’t arrange this ahead of time at all. I didn’t bring him on the show so he could promote himself or anything like that. He’s a great guy.
He’s part of the community, really wants to see the community move forward and be safer and I love his stuff. That’s why I brought him on the show. Now since you guys are listeners, of the podcast. I know that you like listening to material so what I found actually is that I actually don’t sit down and read as much as I should right now, but I found that I could really absorb some good material with some of the other busy work I was doing by just listening to stuff. It’s cool that Rod has his audiobooks with most of his books and I think that’s a really useful tool if you guys are open to that. Otherwise, if you are a book kind of person, obviously, great stuff too and with the audio, you’re missing the great illustrations and things that Rod does so you would certainly get more with the actual book.
I think he does a fantastic job. I definitely recommend his material. If you go on his store, it’s going to be for the next week. This will expire the 27th of May you will type in the code Alaska so that’s where I’m from. That’s where the podcast is recorded from here on C plane court in Homer, Alaska. He is doing that coupon code Alaska, 20% off on all orders. It’s good for one week, expires the 27th of May. Great material, I think you guys will really enjoy it so if you are looking for something, I think that’s a pretty dang good deal and honestly, I’m going to go take advantage of it myself. I do have the How to Fly and Airplane book and really enjoy it, but I think I would enjoy some of the other stuff as well.
Make sure you check out his website, BecomeAPilot.com. Again, huge thanks to Rod. It was a pleasure to have him on the show. I wish we could talk to him for hours. Maybe we’ll have him again some time in the future, but always love talking to an experience educator in the community. Really, really, appreciate it.
Also, big thanks goes out to the Angle of Attack crew for all that they do outside of this podcast to help the company move forward so that you and I can spend time doing things like this often. I’m glad we’re doing the podcast often. It’s a lot of fun for me and thank you the listeners for all you do to make this podcast possible. You know, I know that we have this—a bit of an exchange going here with, “Hey review this show and I’ll send you a t-shirt” but really you know, I really appreciate getting that feedback and knowing that this show is doing something for people. If you guys ever have any ideas, any guests you want to see on the show, send them to me, email@example.com. Let me know what is troubling you.
What’s in your way, what kind of blocks you’re maybe having to getting into flying or keeping flying, whatever it is let’s talk about it. Let’s get someone on the show or I’ll address the topic myself and we’ll make sure that we answer some of these things that pertinent to you guys right now, some of these challenges. You know, I just went through a process myself in renting local 172, getting insured, getting checked out, all of those things and I can tell you, it does take a lot of work. It takes a lot of work to call people you don’t know and show up and do these things, these steps that allow you to fly. I can tell you, it’s totally worth it.
You know, this aviation is one of those things where people will help you, but you have to help yourself as well and you have to take those steps. I would love to help you guys out. I’d love to give you some knowledge, some assistance in getting where you need to go, but I really want to see you taking those steps. If there’s anything I can ever do, let me know. Again, firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write me on any of the social networks that we’re on and I’d always love to talk to you guys. Again, really appreciate it. Keep up the good work. Keep pushing forward. Keep reaching for your dreams and try to stay in the air as much as you possibly can so long as you have fuel, okay. Alright so that’s it for this episode of AviatorCast. Until next time, throttle on.[/transcript]
The post AviatorCast Episode 88: Rod Machado: Flight Instructor | Becomeapilot.com | Speaker | Edutainment appeared first on Angle of Attack.
May 21 2016
You’ve heard of the 7 Habits for Highly Effective People- What about the 7 Habits for Highly Effective Aviators? Aren’t we people, too? Extraordinary people even?
Today I share my thoughts on what these 7 Habits should be.
They are as follows:
This is a short yet powerful episode. I think you’ll enjoy the thoughts and ideas. We’d love to hear your own thoughts!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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Sailing the seven cloudy seas, this is AviatorCast episode 62!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! My name is Chris Palmer. Being an aviator for me isn’t just about the beautiful vistas and the crafty flying machines. It’s about the challenge, bringing together knowledge, skill and perseverance to consistently and expertly navigate the world above. It’s not just about what happens inside or outside the aircraft I love, but also the challenge it offers my mind and the joy flying brings to my soul. Yes, yes, yes, I love aviation. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I am here on AviatorCast.
So welcome to this, the 62nd episode of AviatorCast. It is my pleasure to welcome you, to have you here, to bring you into our fold, to have you part of our flight crew today. What else can I say? I’m glad you’re here and I’m excited that we’re going to be talking a few great things. So, AviatorCast is a weekly podcast. We talk about great flight topics. We try to bring the flight simulation community in with real aviation, bring the two communities together. We have great interviews on the podcast with influential aviators out there. So if you go and you search kind of outside of this episode, this isn’t necessarily an interview episode but you’re going to see that we have a wide variety of topics and a wide variety of guests from all different walks of life in aviation. Outside of this episode and even this episode, I hope that you enjoy what you find here at AviatorCast.
On today’s episode, coming up here in a few minutes, we have the seven habits of highly effective aviators. So that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I’m excited to share that with you guys. It’s going to be short and sweet but I think it will be effective and I think it will kind of snap you back on the right path if you’re getting strayed a little bit, so I hope you guys enjoy it.
But before we get to that, we have a review that came to us from iTunes. This came from Passed:). I’m guessing that maybe he passed a checkride or something but anyway, Passed:) from the USA he says, “Eight plus hours of yoke time while driving, five stars.” He said “Just subscribed a couple months ago and I love it. I was unable to fly to Northwest Ontario last weekend due to weather and I was forced to drive. Listened for three hours on the way up and the full eight hours on the way back. The closest I could get to flying. Great guests, great info and I look forward to all future episodes.”
So thank you Passed:) from USA. Really appreciate it. You got a free AviatorCast t-shirt. So I’m gonna send it to you. I’m not sure if you live in the USA or Canada, I know it says here that this came from the USA but I will even send it to Canada if that’s where you are. Really excited to do that so I’m gonna send an AviatorCast t-shirt your way, just make sure to reach out to me at email@example.com. It’s coming your direction buddy so I appreciate it. Glad you had such a good time on your drive listening to the show. I can’t take all the credit. Our guests are awesome, and all the people that make this AviatorCast podcast going from week to week, it’s them. It’s not necessarily just me. So I really appreciate it. Glad you’re enjoying the show.
And if you want to leave a review on iTunes, you can nab one of those AviatorCast t-shirts as well. So let’s not waste any more time guys. Let’s get into the seven habits of highly effective aviators. So here we go.
And now, the flight training segment…
Chris: Alright, so this week, I couldn’t line up a guest so I was trying to think what kind of quick topic could I share with everybody that would kind of just snap us back on the right direction, say “Hey, let’s get right back on the right path.” And I came up with this spin on seven habits for highly effective people. I said “You know, there have got to be seven habits for highly effective aviators so why don’t I talk about that. I’m sure I could come up with seven.” Now, there is probably more than seven but these are definitely the big ones that kind of jumped out to me right away that just screamed this is what really matters, this are kind of the overreaching things that as an aviator, you need to be highly effective, so that’s what I came up with.
So we’re just going to buzz through these one of the time. Again, there are seven of them. Let’s start with number one and that is “transcend control.” As pilots, we focus a lot on a perfect landing, a great maneuver or a well-executed stall. It’s been said that controlling the aircraft is only 10% of the job a pilot has and personally, I believe that’s true. There’s a lot more to it. So as pilots, we should be perfecting our control and maneuver skills to the point where they become mindless and instinctual. Then we can spend our time focusing on the other 90% of the work that really matters.
So keep this in mind as you are going through training and throughout your career. Truly, it’s not about the simple act of a good landing or a well-controlled maneuver although a sign of our skill and knowledge, those types of things, if you grease a landing or whatever, it’s just that. It’s just the sign of your skill and knowledge. So call this the type of the iceberg if you will. The skills at the controls are sometimes the only thing that shows to other people especially when it comes to passengers, but the rest of the iceberg underneath as you know is huge and it’s a huge mass of information and knowledge and decision-making and human factors and abilities and so on that you as a pilot have that really make up who you are. Again, it’s that 90% of who you really are.
A flight is composed of hundreds of decisions based on thousands of points of knowledge that you must know as a pilot so why then would we judge someone just based on one takeoff or one landing or one turn. First of all, we shouldn’t be judging ourselves too harshly on these little maneuvers, these little skills because although they’re important, they’re not that important. It’s not the big picture.
So what I’m trying to really articulate here is that if we get really good at controlling the aircraft, really good at those maneuvers and skills, they can become second nature for us and we can transcend above just that control of the airplane and transcend into a higher level of being as a pilot. So that’s it, that’s number one, transcend control.
Number two, tailored training. So here’s a thought for you whether you are a seasoned airline pilot or a brand new student. What if you sat down with your flight instructor and actually tailor the training to your specific needs, wants and desires? A good flight school would actually do this. You may even be able as an airline pilot to do this with your airline instructors there. You have pretty strict requirements based on what you need to do as an airline pilot but that doesn’t mean that you can’t tell your instructor “Hey, I usually have issues with this. Let’s talk a little bit about it” or you can study ahead of time, that sort of thing. This is applicable to all levels.
So here are some examples of tailored training. So as a student pilot, you could share your fears, your apprehensions and maybe even your goals as a pilot. And again, not any one path is the same to getting your license, so why not set out a plan that is specifically geared toward your goal? So that’s for a student pilot. As a private pilot, you should be training much more often than your BFR or your biannual flight review which is every two years. I personally believe that private pilot should be imposing a regular training schedule at an interval much more like airlines. So say six months recurrent training. Why not get that recurrent training? There’s a reason why even professional airline pilots, I mean, these guys are respected by us as just awesome aviators. There’s even a reason why these professional airline pilots need this recurrent training so why wouldn’t you as a private pilot?
So when you do go and actually do a BFR, say there’s that two-year interval or whatever or this self-imposed recurrent training that I’m talking about, don’t just work on the stuff that is required. You can go there and you can check out the boxes but you can meet the regulations and meet the requirements for the BFR by doing a wide variety of things. I mean, really what you have to go up and do is prove that you know what you’re doing still as a pilot and to get a refresher.
So rather than go up with your instructor and do all of kind of that wrote stuff, why not go up and actually tell your instructor “You know, these are my weak points,” or point out maybe some things that you always wanted to work on and practice those more. Or even places you haven’t gone before. Say you want to practice short field landings or soft field landings, you want to land on a grass strip or a gravel strip. Expanding your horizons during this time. All of those experiences help you become a better aviator.
So in a few points here, I’m going to talk about variety and you’re going to hear that in another one of the points and how important that is. And so that’s kind of what I am talking about here, is variety matters a lot when it comes to training and you can definitely work variety into your training plan.
Okay, so we talked about student pilot, we talked about private pilot a little bit. So as an airline pilot, going and flying in a GA aircraft is also not a bad idea. Many airline pilots actually hate the idea of flying in a single engine aircraft even though a lot of them obviously have to move up through those types of aircraft. They are used to flying various safe and well-maintained twin engine aircraft with a crew. It’s a very safe environment in the airlines. The statistics of accidents are just so low whereas in general aviation, they are still relatively higher or at least much higher than airlines.
So a lot of airline pilots don’t want to do this. They don’t want to go back to the basics basically because it’s outside of their comfort zone. So more and more it’s proving that airline pilots benefit from going back to the basics. While the large majority of airline pilots are professional and can get by without going back to the basics, many of the airline accidents happening these days are happening because of too much reliance on automation. And this is just something that is prevalent in the industry. There are those aviators out there, those airline pilots that are doing a great job making sure that they’re maintaining their handflying skills but then there are some airlines as we’ve seen in some accidents where it’s the mentality of I’ve said it many times on the show, gear up, flaps up, sports page. And it’s all about engaging the autopilots and it’s even mandated by company policy sometimes.
Getting back to the basics as an airline pilot, actually flying the airplane even if it’s your airliner, it’s technically legal in most cases where you can take control of the aircraft yourself depending on altitude. There is nothing wrong with handflying the airplane. Those skills, if not practiced will go away.
So all of these is just food for thought. Just little anecdotes about what you could do as a pilot in kind of those different phases that could help you out. So the question is, are you going to feed yourself the healthy aviation foods that will help you remain a strong-bodied aviator? So with that food for thought, are you going to eat those healthy foods? It’s a good question. So I encourage you to tailor your training to your specific needs and really think about things that you’ve never done that you would like to do now or things that you are maybe weak at and work on those and tailor your training. So that is number two.
Number three, kind of mixed in is mentorship. So one of the best things you can do in aviation is mentor someone else. Aviation, if you haven’t learned already, is a very big happy community, happy most of the time. This community is full of passionate aviators that have vastly different backgrounds and things that they would absolutely love to share. There’s a reason why hangar talk or standing around in a hangar and just talking about stories and thoughts and ideas is a powerful exercise in aviation. I’m almost starting to wonder if hangars were actually really built for hangar talk and not really for the airplanes. I think maybe that could be argued, the primary purpose maybe for hangar talk. That might be the most important thing hangars do.
Regardless of what stage of your aviation training you’re at or aviation career, there is always someone to mentor so let’s use the extreme example of a student pilot. So as a student pilot, you can reach out to your friends that want to get into aviation too. You can invite him or her along for a ride with you when you go out for a lesson with an instructor, introduce him a little bit. I would consider that mentorship, and kind of telling him what you’re going through. If you find that you’re interested in it, that’s a bit of mentorship and you’re going to help him out.
So airline pilots are often seen while parked at the gate with someone in the cockpit. This could be a 10-year-old child that dreams of flying or a 44-year-old grown male that always dreamed of flying. This is kind of on the opposite end of that. So you have the student pilot that can help out and then you have everyone in between and then you have the airline pilots that invite people to the cockpit when they’re on the ground and when I look at the switches and stuff. I always love doing that and I always love asking those airline pilots where they learned to fly and what their careers have been like and things like that. It’s always a fascinating conversation. Very inspiring.
So mentorship opportunities are all around us in aviation. Don’t hesitate yourself to share your part because after all, you are a unique aviator with unique experiences. You can help someone out and they can learn from and become impassioned about aviation through you. So that is number three, mentorship.
Number four, variety. I mentioned this before. Aviation is a large space. It expands a sky that encompasses a large world, it’s a 3D space where we can go here and there with relative ease. Aircraft fill this space which we call the sky of all shapes and sizes. The earth underneath this space is filled with a variety of terrains and locations where different types of aircrafts can operate. As pilots, we can literally own the space of land, air, sea and in some cases you could even argue fire. We can own all of them as aviators. That’s really cool. Can you really say that about anything else?
So why not go out there and get a float rating? Why not get a tailwheel endorsement? Why not learn aerobatics? Why not learn to land on a glacier or a river sand bar or even something as simple as a grass strip or a gravel strip? We own the sky. We own the air. We own the land. We own the sea. We can make this happen guys. There is so much out there that you can do different with your license. You don’t have to just be the point A to point B guy that does the same thing every time in the same airplane. What I’m saying here is there’s a lot of different opportunity in aviation to do different things.
Variety does a lot of things for us as pilots. Each new thing we venture into teaches us a unique set of lessons about the aircraft and about this space that we live in, this bag vast space. A takeoff in a float plane is not the same as a takeoff in a wheeled plane. For those of you who haven’t experienced that, you just have to experience it to know. There is just a ton to learn from every corner, nook and cranny of aviation. So why not put ourselves out there, try something new and learn something new from this vast world of aviation?
Then we can put another proverbial feather in our cap saying I can do that, I had a blast doing it and I learned so many things along the way and that is what variety can do for us, number four.
Continual learning. If there is anything I can teach you about aviation, it’s this. You can’t possibly learn everything about being an effective aviator but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In developing yourself continually in aviation will keep your head in the game. When you’re not flying, you’re thinking about flying. When you’re not engaged in hangar talk with someone, you’re reading an aviation book. There is course a great knowledge component to aviation. You’ll never be able to learn it all but you can learn a whole lot of great new stuff all the time especially with how much media consumption is going on these days. There is always something to learn.
Keeping refreshment, excitement and curiosity in this building of your knowledge is so key to being great aviator. Learning from the books isn’t just the only way to learn. Learning from experience is also a powerful tool to grow and remain sharp. There is a good reason why our requirements exist for certain ratings and milestones as a pilot, the reason being is that little pilot life lessons happen all the time all along the way and put a new twist on something or show you what something really means or reminds you that you aren’t hot stuff. What you experience while you’re out there building your flight hours, as you’re out there just piling on the flight hours, maybe flight hours don’t even matter to you anymore, you’re experiencing and learning new things all the time so the knowledge component isn’t the only part. Experience and just time is very, very valuable. As aviators we need to put the craft is aircraft. Building that craft comes with time, practice and effort. So that is number five, continual learning.
Number six, flight simulation use. You guys have heard me say this many times. I am a big preacher of flight simulation use. So with skyrocketing aircraft rental prices, fuel that is expensive and what seems like a mountain of money that is required to get or maintain a license even, there’s a way to save money and time with flight training and staying sharp and you guessed it, it is flight simulation. So with an initial investment of a few thousand dollars which may seem like a lot to you, you can get yourself a high, high quality flight simulator that will then give you infinite amount of practice. This isn’t just limited by clocking the hubs and all that stuff, infinite amount of hours of practice.
So no, you won’t be able to actually log this time, at least not in most cases. What we’re talking about here is a home-based simulator and really logging the time isn’t the point. The point here is to keep your head in the game in between flights, practice what you’ve learned in the books and get a general feel of the things before you ever even turn the key on a gas-guzzling money-chugging airplane. So this just gives you the opportunity to try all the stuff out, to perfect it, to get those flows, those checklists down, to get the maneuvers down, to get your scan down. There are so many different things.
So simulation can become a powerful tool for private pilots of all shapes and sizes but not just private pilots, any pilot, airline pilots even, but it’s especially effective when it comes to instrument training and all of those spaces. A simulation can never give the feel of a real airplane even with a motion platform. It’s just not exactly the same. The type of stuff where you’re bumping around, you’re slamming hard on the landing, you’re just not going to get that from a simulation but what it can do is it can give you a believable and immersive instrument environment.
Instrument training on a simulator, instrument practice on a simulator is fantastic. It works so well. One great thing that a flight simulator does, an effective flight simulator, is it makes you forget for certain moments that you’re actually on a simulator and if you can get your simulation experience to be that real where you forget even for a few minutes that it’s not a simulator, then you have really done yourself a lot of favors when it comes to preparing yourself better to be in an actual airplane.
So with that initial investment in a simulator, you will save time and money. It’s a fact not only that you will be safer and a more practiced pilot. Today’s tech is to the point where home-based simulators can no longer be denied their strong position in a pilot’s toolbox. A simulator is truly something that every pilot should have. I’ve said it. You guys need to go get a simulator okay? So that’s number six, flight simulation use.
Seven, attitude, and this is a big one. I’m not talking about the indicator. I’m talking about your attitude. So do you have an upset attitude? A good instrument scan is completely reliant on an attitude indicator, that central instrument. If that goes out, everything will be out of whack. It’s not necessarily impossible to not fly instruments without it but gosh, it makes it hard. So we need to constantly ask ourselves what our mental attitude is and just as much as we would an actual attitude indicator.
So you’re using that attitude indicator at least in the way that most scans work, in a way that most IFIS or glass cockpits are set up these days. With the attitude indicator, it’s the central, most important primary flight display background, front and center, that’s what everything it revolves around, that attitude indicator.
And then in a basic six, it’s the central part of your scan, your bouncing back and forth to that attitude indicator. Just as much as we’re doing that, we need to be watching our own mental attitude. So that’s what I’m saying here. So here’s a couple bulletpoints to think of, things that we need to think about for attitudes. These are just things that I just kind of popped off the top of my head.
So be humble, resist macho and invulnerability. Be risk-averse, so avoid risk. Make sound decision-making a focus of who you are as an aviator. Approach the aircraft and I would even offer a simulator into this. Approach the aircraft and the simulator with respect. And be teachable. Now, these are just a few of the ideas that quickly came to my mind when I thought of what it takes to become an affective aviator.
So you’ve heard the saying “There are old pilots and bold pilots but there are no old, bold pilots.” In other words, you’re not going to live long if you’re taking risks and being the hotshot. There are awesome and amazing aviators out there especially the forefathers of flight, Chuck Yeager comes to mind, Charles Lindbergh, the Wright brothers you can throw in there, like amazing, amazing aviators but guess what? I’m giving your permission and me permission, personally I’m talking to myself here too. I’m giving you permission that it’s 100% okay to be just an average pilot. You don’t have to be exceptional, you don’t have to be bad, as long as you are consistently doing the right things, learning from your experiences along the way, being teachable and humble, you will have a long and enjoyable journey as an aviator.
It’s okay if we’re average. We don’t have to be Chuck Yeager, okay? You just have to have enough of the average stuff. You don’t necessarily need to have the right stuff. You know what I mean? It’s good enough. It’s good to be the good pilot, let’s just put it that way. Some of those things, most of those things just come from the attitude of how you approach this.
Recently, I keep coming back to the word respect and I think we need to continually push ourselves to respect what we are really doing in this aircraft. The fact that this aircraft have a lot of moving parts, a very complex maintenance plan, the possibility of things falling apart, the air space system, air traffic controllers, other pilots, the dangers that come with weather. There are so many things as pilots that we need to respect and we need to respect the fact that we ourselves are inherently flawed as people and we need to approach things that way.
Now I’m not saying be scared about everything. I’m not saying that. I think in a way we as pilots take fear to the curb and we kind of transcend it, not saying that fear isn’t a component of being an aviator because I think knowing that there is that vulnerability to us drives us to do things really effectively and to be sharp on our skills and to be sharp on our knowledge. But what I’m saying is that we need to approach all of these things with respect and perhaps that’s the biggest attitude that we need to have. So, it’s definitely a very big one.
So truthfully, it really is all about your attitude and how you approach the airplane, your career, your growth and inevitably as a pilot, your life. So that is what the seventh and final effectiveness or a point here does for you and how it makes you an effective aviator.
So that’s it. So just a quick summary. We talked about transcending control, making controlling the aircraft that 10% invisible second nature. We talked about tailoring your training, working on the things that maybe you don’t work on that much or haven’t done before. We talked about mentorship in number three and reaching out and being part of the community and giving back. We talked about number four, variety, offering variety to your repertoire of aviation training, of experiences.
We talked about number five, continual learning, never ever, ever stop learning. We talked about six, flight simulator use. We talked about that a lot on this show. It’s a big one guys. Flight simulators are awesome. Today’s day and age, these simulators are top notch and they help out so much. And then we talked about number seven, the attitudes that we have as pilots. Not the attitude indicator but our mental attitude and that is so, so important. Again, I kind of went off on a tangent there and talked a whole lot about respect.
I hope you guys learned a few things. These are just kind of my candid thoughts on the subject. I think there are couple powerful points here that definitely kindle in me a fire to be more respectful of what I do, and this profession and this honor we get to go and cruise the skies above. I mean, gosh, it’s awesome. It is so amazing that we get to do that or have the opportunity to do that. So let’s take care of that and let’s nurture that.
So that’s it guys. We’re gonna have a few messages here and then I will close up the show, so I’ll talk to you again in a few seconds.
Join us next week for another exciting topic or interview with a great guest. Spread the AviatorCast message. Please review AviatorCast on iTunes or submit an audio question for the show at AviatorCast.com. All iTunes reviews and audio questions that are aired on the show will get an official AviatorCast t-shirt. You can write AviatorCast directly on AviatorCast.com where you can interact with the AviatorCast community or write AviatorCast at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
For more information on Angle of Attack simulation training videos for FSX, X-Plane and more, go to www.flyaoamedia.com. If you are looking for a professional aviation training video services and other media, inquire at www.angleofattackpro.com. Now, for the final release clearance, back to Chris Palmer.
Chris: Alright guys, so thanks for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. It really has been a joy to have you here. I hope you enjoyed the short content that we had on this episode. I like hearing from you guys. If you ever want to reach out and talk to me, you can do so through AviatorCast.com. You can write me at email@example.com, that will work. And if you did enjoy this show and you want to leave a review on iTunes, I’d really appreciate it. That helps others learn about the show and helps us get more listeners and bring people into this community and help them out with some of this information, so that would be much appreciated if you could do that.
Thank you for all of you who have already done that, and again, if you do leave a review on iTunes and it is read on the show, you will get an AviatorCast t-shirt. I’m still in the process of getting those designed, I just want to make sure it’s top top notch so I’m taking my time. It’s gonna happen but they’ll be there.
So thanks to the Angle of the Attack crew for all they do. These guys are awesome. They truly do a lot behind the scenes, stuff that you would not want to do, not necessarily going dumpster diving or anything terrible like that or cleaning out the lavatory in the aircraft, but these guys do a whole heck of a lot to make sure that AviatorCast and Angle of Attack as a whole is a well-oiled machine. These guys are rock stars.
Thank you to you the listeners as well. You guys are awesome. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks so much for your encouragement, for you sharing AviatorCast with the aviation community, for leaving those reviews and for writing in to me at AviatorCast.com. You guys really are top notch. I would even go as far as to say I love you guys but there’s one person I love more than anyone else, and that’s Jesus, and then I love my wife. But you guys, I definitely love you guys too. Keep it up and keep being an awesome aviator and keep working hard. I hope that you learned a couple things from today’s episode.
Join us next week. We are going to be talking to Jeff Nielsen, Airline Pilot Guy, you guys have probably heard of him before, so that is what we’re going to be up to on the next episode of AviatorCast. Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]
The post AviatorCast Episode 62: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Aviators appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Mar 21 2015
What can you do to bring your simulator into the 21st Century? What is the single largest upgrade you could make without breaking the bank? Look no further than the Oculus Rift.
Many flight simmers have heard of the Oculus Rift already. What many don’t know is that it’s already working with FSX and Prepar3D. Not only is this an awesome upgrade for a hobbyist flight simmer, but a compelling product for actual flight schools as well.
Today we talk to Daniel Church, Developer of FlyInside. Daniel takes us through his thorough development of making the Oculus Rift work with both FSX and P3D.
It’s real, it’s here, and it’s just the coolest thing EVER that I’ve seen come to flight simulation- and that’s saying something.
Thanks for joining us, Daniel! Looking forward to this VR stuff busting onto the scene.
Seeing is believing. This is AviatorCast episode 77!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. As an aviator myself and a forever student of the flying art, I immerse myself in a wide range of tools to the benefit of my flying skills. Flight simulation is just one of those tools that helps me become a better master of the air. Today we will be discussing the use of virtual reality in a simulator. Yes, the VR revolution is here, it is real, and you’re going to want to be a part of it. But first off, welcome to this, the 77th episode of AviatorCast. It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you. You guys are awesome. Thank you for being here week after week. I am really excited for this new year, but as always, I just want to get on with new and great things. So I’m going to be planning on some things for the new year internally. I want to grow AviatorCast. I want to make it better.
If you haven’t here before at AviatorCast, we talk to inspiring aviators out there. We have interviews with these people, learn about their careers, what makes them tick. And get their passion for aviation and just some different storylines of how people go through an aviation career, how they enjoy it. Today, we have such an interview. We also get insight into the industry and what it’s like, what flying is like, things to do to improve your flight repertoire. We also serve the purpose of reigniting the flame or the passion for flight if you’ve lost it for a while or you’ve been out of the cockpit for medical or financial reasons, whatever it is, or maybe you’ve always wanted to fly but you’ve never taken that step, this is a place where you can demystify the industry, get the courage to go to your local airport, talk to them about it, that sort of thing. We talk a lot about those sort of subjects on this show, and we also talk a whole lot about flight simulation as well.
One of the first things we do as many of you know is we have a review that comes to us from iTunes or Stitcher or another place on the internet that gives us a look at what other people think of AviatorCast. So this week, we have a review that came to us from BomberBoy479 and he says “Amazing,” gives us five stars, he says “This has completely changed my life. I am now pursuing a career in aviation as a missionary pilot to spread not only the love of Jesus but also the importance of aviation for third world countries. Keep inspiring.” BomberBoy, super awesome. Two thumbs up. Good for you for deciding to pursue a career in aviation. There are many people out there that are doing the work that you are wanting to do in aviation by serving people, not only through supporting third world countries and those sort of areas but also through spreading the gospel, so great job. As a token of appreciation from us here at AviatorCast, we are going to send you a free AviatorCast t-shirt. It says “Fly or Die” on it, has a corsair from World War II, super awesome t-shirt. So to shoot me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a t-shirt.
If you guys want a t-shirt, you want to review AviatorCast, go ahead and do that on iTunes, Stitcher, post it somewhere else where people can see it, show it to me, I will take reviews from anywhere. I really appreciate you guys sharing and spreading the word of AviatorCast, and hope that my small token of appreciation with one of these cool t-shirts can pack you back in some way.
On today’s episode, as I mentioned briefly, we are going to be flying in virtual reality. So we are going to be taking your simulator into the future. This is mainly for a couple things, for you flight simmers out there that are using a home-based PC, for you pilots that are using a home-based PC for training, for maybe a flight school that is on a budget that is looking for a cool tool to use for their students, Virtual Reality is here, it is part of the future plan, and it is happening. It is happening here in the next few months. It is absolutely going to explode, and I’m really excited to be able to give you guys a glimpse into what it is like to run the Oculus Rift which is one the most notable virtual reality headsets or gear, what it is like to run the Oculus Rift with Microsoft Flight Simulator or Prepar3d. I’ve been using one for about six months now.
I can’t say I’ve spent hours and hours a day on it, but I’ve done enough of it where it just completely blows my mind. I bring people into the office here, friends, acquaintances, pilot friends, things like that, I see them down in the seat and I say “You’ve got to try this thing out.” They put it on and they’re just blown away at how realistic it is. I have all the control set-up and so when they are in the Virtual cockpit, they reach out, they can feel the controls. Virtual Reality is here, it’s real, it’s one of the most immersive experiences you can have in a flight simulator, and if you haven’t tried it yet, I hope you can try it soon. We are going to talk to Daniel Church.
Daniel created a piece of software called FlyInside FSX. It also works with Prepar3d. So this piece of software essentially connects up the Oculus Rift with the Flight Simulator and it looks dang good. It works really well, he’s been in development of this thing for a long time now, and this is very, very good stuff. So if you guys are interested in this sort of thing, this is an episode for you, this Virtual Reality episode, and I hope you enjoy it. So let’s get into this hangar talk episode with Daniel Church from FlyInside.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Alright everybody, we are honored to have a very special guest with us today, we have Daniel Church joining us from FlyInside. Daniel, how you doing?
Daniel: I’m good. How are you Chris?
Chris: Doing fantastic. Surviving the Alaska winter which is nothing like winter. You’re in New York right?
Chris: Great. So you guys are feeling the winter too. Now, I want to get into quickly what it is you do because you have been working on some developments within the flight simulation community that are very compelling, and I have been using them myself. So tell everyone what FlyInside actually is.
Daniel: So, I’ve been developing a piece of software called FlyInside and what it does is it lets you use common flight simulators, currently Flight Simulator X and Prepar3d, and it lets you place them inside Virtual Reality, right now with the Oculus Rift DK. So essentially, you run your flight simulator, fly inside, feeds it into these goggles, and when you put the goggles on as if you’re sitting inside an airplane. It’s a full flight simulator but you’re in instead of looking at it.
Chris: That’s a really good explanation. So as I mentioned, I myself have been using it and I tell you what, other than the limitations that are present because of the Oculus Rift, being that it’s a fairly low resolution, other than that, I have to say that this is one of the most immersive and exciting technologies I’ve seen in Flight Simulation for a really long time. You really feel like you’re there. I mean, it’s so odd to be inside a virtual cockpit in a flight simulator, have this headset on and be able to peak around the corners and lean in and see the panel closer up or whatever it is. And although there has been the Track IR out there right, the Track IR has been pretty popular, this is a whole different dimension because it’s immersive. Your entire field of vision is full of the flight environment so it’s pretty incredible.
So tell us how the idea came about of actually starting FlyInside. How did you get to the point where you started developing this? Obviously, you probably started out as a flight simmer. So take us from there, and even kind of your love for aviation.
Daniel: Sure. So my grandfather was a pilot. He rode in airplanes in World War II. He got his private pilot’s license after and he always told me how much he loved flying and he was passionate. So, that drew me into the flight simulator world. I spend a lot of time with the older versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator while I was growing up and I had a lot of fun with that but eventually the interest kind of wear of. I played it less and less and I let it sit for a while. Eventually though, the past few years, I started reading about Virtual Reality. I think a few years ago, it was just a really cool experiment at Valve headquarters but what really drew me in, I was reading how people would have these goggles on. They’d be put in a room that’s just a cube with nothing else be on the cube, and just nothing fancy, unrealistic graphics, just a cube with a Valve logo on it, and they’d ask the person with the goggles step off the cube, and people couldn’t do it. They’d hear the person, they’d know it’s not real but at the same time, it tricks their brains in such a level that they just couldn’t step off the cube. I hadn’t had a chance to experience it yet but just reading about that, I can tell it had a lot of potential.
So once Oculus put out an order for them for their dev kits, I made sure I was in the first batch. I’ve refreshed that page about a hundred times and once I got my dev kit, I was thinking this could really bring a flight simulator back to life because there was just so many cool things about flight that are visual. You have the sky which looks beautiful. You have large geographic features around you which are cool to look at, and then airplane cockpits have their own thing. You have a hundred buttons and knobs and dials. Most people aren’t going to have the chance to sit in a 737 cockpit or something like that but just looking at pictures, you can tell that would be an experience just to be in it. So inside my dev kit, one of the first things I tried to do was get a flight simulator working with it so I could just experience it in one of those cockpits, and it sparked the idea of FlyInside for me.
Chris: Gotcha. So from there, a couple things. First, for those that are ignorant and haven’t heard about this yet, tell people about the unit itself, the Oculus Rift. I know there are others out there that are potential competitors but tell people what the Oculus Rift actually is, what it looks like, how it fits on your head, those sorts of things.
Daniel: Sure. So the Oculus Rift is what’s called the head-mounted display which kind of downplays what it does. The purpose of the Oculus Rift is to just place you into whatever world or environment you want to be in. So, inside the headset, there is just a fairly standard screen similar to a cellphone LCD screen, and a couple of lenses that blow that screen up. So you put the headset on and you can’t see the world around you, the only thing you can see is what’s on the screen and it blows it up so it just cover all of your eye. And then they put highly accurate sensors into the unit so that it can track where you’re looking, where your head is, how you’re moving, and it combines it all together where it updates the screen as you move your head so that it completely tricks your eyes, so that as you look around, the world moves as if you are actually looking around and it basically casts you inside this environment and dependent upon the demo you’re in, it can be hard to distinguish from reality.
Chris: Right. So you talked about tricks. You’ve mentioned tricking the brain and all these things that the headset actually does to make feel as though it’s real, not being able to step off the cube for example. So kind of just a quick funny story, we had a kid here in the studio, he’s five years younger than me, a guy here in the studio, and he’s a non-pilot, and we had him testing out the Oculus Rift in the simulator, and I kind of talked him through some things as far as how to take off, how to turn, those sorts of things, and then we had hhim come back in for landing. So my simulator is set up on this really simple kind of, I wouldn’t say flimsy but just a simple desk right now. It doesn’t have a lot of weight to it. And he came in down toward the ground and he really didn’t know to flare the airplane or anything like that, and he yanked back the controls and yanked the entire desk back toward him because he was so scared of the ground coming towards him. So it definitely freaks you out.
Now, if you’re a trained pilot, it also helps you really get that feel as though you’re in the airplane, and for the first time, it helps you use your peripheral vision to land the airplane and all sorts of things. It’s just amazing for VFR-type stuff. So as you said, it does trick your brain into thinking it’s real and I think inevitably that’s what a quality similar eventually does, whether that’s the airline level, whether that’s a home simulator, is it tricks your brain for even just seconds at a time, maybe even minutes at a time, that you are in a real airplane. It tricks your brain as if you’re in a real airplane so it definitely does all that.
So moving on from there, you got the dev kit, you started to play around with the simulator. Eventually you took this to a Kickstarter kit right to see how the community would support it. Can you tell us more about that?
Daniel: Sure. So actually, I worked on the project for probably six or seven months. No Kickstarter, just seeing if I could integrate with Flight Simulator X, seeing what was possible, what worked well, what didn’t, because I wanted to have a campaign with integrity. A lot of people promised features then they figure out that they can’t do those features or they go over budget or what-not. So I spent about six or seven months just derisking everything, building out features, sharing some video and screenshots, building up a mailing list which is obviously very helpful for a Kickstarter campaign, and by the time I launched the campaign, I had enough people on the mailing list who were excited for it that I managed to fund in a matter of days and at the same time, I had maybe a 70% working software demo where people could just pop into the rift and fly in Flight Simulator X and that was huge because it’s something people had been asking for pretty much since these dev kit started shipping, and they didn’t even need to back the Kickstarter or wait for the Kickstarter to try it, they could just download the demo, realize it’s amazing, and then go back to the Kickstarter because they wanted to see it finish through the completion.
Chris: And I think that’s a good point because at the end of the day, with something like this, seeing is truly believing. You really don’t understand how immersive it is until you actually experience it yourself. So like you said, having that working demo that can actually operate correctly… You know, I came in at a later time. I came in when your Kickstarter was already completed and you were still releasing the beta of the software to where now you have the paid version and I already know I’m going to buy the paid version so I signed up for that. It’s dang good. It’s just so fun to get in there.
Here’s another quick story. For me, this is full of stories because it’s just one of those things that is a paradigm shift for a lot of people. So, the guy I share an office with here, his name is Richard, his father who would be like a grandfather to you, his father was in World War II, and his father flew P-38s in the pacific. So, imagine how Richard felt when we loaded up a P-38 and he got to fly in the same airplane that his dad flew in. He was completely realistic. You got to look around the cockpit. The aircraft was from Milviz and they do some fantastic airplanes, add-on airplanes for flight simulator. It’s like this generational gap was just closed and he was able to place himself in that situation. I loaded him up in Pearl Harbor, we had him in the P-38, he got to choose the paint and everything and it was just a transformative moment, and you just forget that it’s not real.
Daniel: Yeah. Oh, that’s great. One distinction I’d even make, because a lot of people see the Oculus videos online but they don’t quite get it, where they’ll think it’s like Track IR where you can look around which yes you can look around but with Track IR, it’s very clear you’re looking at a monitor. Or they think it’s like 3D TV where things they’re still very clearly on a TV, it’s just sometimes they pop out at you a little. Or even they see those videos and they don’t want to touch it because they think they’re going to put it on and have a fish eye effect like in the video. But at the end of the day, what happens is you put the headset on and you don’t see a screen or a fish eye effect or any of that, you just actually see the world around you, almost as if you could touch it.
Chris: And it’s funny because if you sit someone down, anyone down, first of all, anyone looks like a complete idiot with the Oculus Rift on, you just look like a fool looking around. But you’ll put the Oculus Rift on someone and they’ll reach out for the flight controls. Their hands will be doing kind of this cat-clawing motion, like where is this thing, I need to grab it. And I actually, I used that effect to my advantage in my flight simulator in making sure that my yoke and my throttle and everything was in the correct position so that when someone does reach out, they actually do grab the throttle or they do grab the yolk. You know, I don’t have the full panel up there or anything like that but you can actually grab the things that you think you’re seeing. So that does help a lot.
And you saying that and saying that it’s not a 3D movie, it’s not Track IR, I think a lot of people out there have seen the Blue Angels video that is out right now. It’s floating around YouTube, it’s really popular. You can actually move your phone and see in 3D what’s going on from the cockpit of one of the Blue Angels through an entire show sequence. That is probably the closest example to the Oculus Rift or virtual reality that I’ve seen without actually putting the headset on. Now just imagine you being able to have your entire vision full of that look and being able to look anywhere and not only that, you’re controlling the airplane and going where you want to go. That is what FlyInside connected to the Oculus, connected to the flight simulator actually does. And so I think people making that connection, that Blue Angels video is pretty dang close to what it looks like and being able to move your camera around will give them an idea of just how immersive it is. But again, at the end of the day seeing is believing.
Chris: So one of the limitations with Oculus right now and I’m sure it seems like you’re very educated on this stuff and you keep up with the community, one of the limitations is actually being able to see your hands or manipulate things. Obviously, we have flight controls that we can buy and things like that. Can you speak a little bit to the future of what Oculus is planning for those things, what those may mean for say flight simulation?
Daniel: Yeah sure. So, obviously the first thing Oculus shipped was their head-mounted display which, it’s really cool but it doesn’t give you any form of input or a way to see your hands, anything like that. It’s just the part that actually lets you see. So, after that, a bunch of different third party technologies came about to try to solve this problem. One of them is the leap motion which it’s basically a camera you mount to your faceplate and that tracks your hands and tries to give you 3D position which FlyInside supports the leap motion. It’s pretty cool, you can see your hands but it has its limitations because the camera’s sensor resolution isn’t perfect. It can lose them or be jittery.
But coming about later in 2016, the Oculus has been working on what’s called the Oculus Touch which are a couple of handheld controllers where if you hold these controllers, they’re very, very accurately positioned in 3D space and they’ll give you things like mouse control or they have buttons, they have touchpads and they have perfect 3D positioning. So in the long-term, I’m planning to support those with FlyInside. I’m sure most products will be working with them because they give you a very robust positional input that lets you use your hands in that 3D space.
Chris: Great. Can you expound? It sounds like you’ve actually used the leap motion a little bit, right? I mean you’ve developed for it so you’ve actually used it a little bit. Can you tell us a little bit more what that’s like, and educate me because I haven’t actually used it either. That sounds pretty interesting.
Daniel: Yeah sure. So the leap motion, it’s this little camera you strap to the Rift like I said and it maps out your hands and after it maps out your hands, it tries to use some image processing and tries to map out your skeleton and it lets games access that skeletal data to see where the user’s hands, where the user’s fingers, that sort of thing. So I use that with, if you have it with FlyInside, you’ll see a 3D representation of your hands inside the cockpit which it’s kind of nice just to be able to see your hands.
And then the other thing I’ve set up, it’s still kind of preliminary stage. Most people try it, they say it’s cool and then may they use it a little bit but it’s not practical to replace the other forms of input entirely. But you can use it to click on things in the cockpit, click on panels, move virtual windows around. So it’s pretty cool technology. It gives you a taste of what hand input should be like.
Chris: Wow. That’s pretty impressive. That’s one of the bigger challenges I think moving forward but I think it’s just a matter of time before someone figures that out, whether or not that’s the leap motion or that’s the Oculus Touch controllers. It will be interesting to see kind of where it goes.
Daniel: Yeah. There are quite a few companies in that space at the moment.
Chris: Now, just kind of skipping forward a little bit, I have some other things to talk about here but just skipping forward a little bit, what is the projected worldwide release of the Oculus Rift? So in other words, if people don’t want a development kit which a development kit certainly works, when is Oculus going to release their rift?
Daniel: So if all things go smoothly which they should, it’s in production already, it should be shipping sometime in the first quarter of 2016.
Chris: Great. So just here in the next few months. Now, I have to say that largely, FlyInside is also plug and play so as long as your rift is working currently and you’re getting the test scene all set up right, it’s generally plug and play. Now, I know a lot of flight simmers or people that would be using such a technology like this for maybe even their flight school are wondering what type of computer is needed to handle this sort of thing, and let’s even speak a little bit to the type of simulator you would need as well. So just briefly, we could get into the weeds here on the type of flight simulator build you would need for the PC that is, but let’s talk a little bit about what is expected from a hardware perspective that they would need along with the rift.
Daniel: Sure. So with FlyInside, you’re either going to use Microsoft Flight Simulator X or Prepar3d, one of those two flight simulators. And if you have experience with those, you have a rough idea that they’re already pretty demanding on your hardware. Prepar3d is a GPU killer. Flight Simulator X is a CPU killer. And once you have FlyInside, you’re rendering a much larger field of view because it’s not just on a monitor, it’s for your whole eye. You’re rendering it twice and you’re drawing everything at a high resolution. So you’re going to want a higher end graphics card, a decent CPU, and you’re going to find that even if you built a computer to max out everything on ultra, you’re going to have to actually tune your settings a little bit more. Now you can’t just push all the sliders to the right even with a really good computer. You need to balance it a little.
Chris: Right. And I think with me, one thing I’ve noticed is that my flight sim PC is from 2011. At the time it was built to just be maxed on everything pretty much and be able to capture HD video at the same time because of the training stuff we do here. But what I found is that when I plug in the Rift and use FlyInside, that I was perfectly willing to make sacrifices on some of the sliders because what you’re doing by maxing out the sliders and the flight simulator or for those of you that aren’t familiar to sliders, in other words, trying to make it look as good as possible, the best looking flight simulator out there, the best looking video game out there. Instead of doing that, you’re not overcompensating for the lack of realism by adding more realism to the visuals, your realism comes through in the headset and with the Rift, and so it’s very easy for me to sacrifice things like aircraft shadows and a certain amount of anti-aliasing because I still forget for a few moments that I’m in a fake airplane. It just feels so real. So I think that although it is so demanding, and by the way you explained it perfectly, P3D being a GPU-hog and FSX being a CPU-hog.
So apart from those things, I think that most people are going to find that it’s an easy transition and one that they want to make, and they’ll find themselves using the Rift almost all the time.
Daniel: Yeah. At the end of the day, Oculus is recommending at bare minimum a GeForce 970 and I think with that, FlyInside will still run well. You just aren’t going to max out your flight simulator but it’s going to look so real around you that it doesn’t matter.
Chris: Right. And I’m running much older video cards in mine, and they seem to do fine, but it’s standing on shaky ground because not all of them will work. It’s kind of a pick and choose thing and that’s one thing I found just going through your forums, is some people will have the same card and just based on their PC set-up, it won’t work. So it just depends. So there may be an extra investment there for people to make if they want to upgrade to the Oculus or they might already be ready for it.
Daniel: Yeah. And especially the newer Maxwell level cards have some functionality that’s not just in the specs that’s going to, once I add support, going to really increase performance, but it won’t be available on older generations of cards because it’s actually a hardware change you’re taking advantage of.
Chris: Cool. So do you have any, other than what we’ve talked about so far, do you have any future view on how you feel that VR is going to change the flight simulation world?
Daniel: Sure. So I’ve spoken with quite a few flight instructors about this, a couple of companies and I think over time, it’s going to replace monitor-based flight setting for just about every home user, and a lot of flight school level things too. It’s just it’s so much more real and it lets you look around naturally that it’s going to draw people in and it’s going to keep them engaged in a way that current simulators don’t.
Chris: Right. I think that’s a completely fair assessment because when I look at what I have now, other than a couple setbacks that I’m trying to get past like the hands thing and being able to actually manipulate the controls and being able to actually view my iPhone for ForeFlight which is a flight-planning app, an electronic EFB app for the iPhone or iOS. Other than those limitations, whenever I can, whenever I’m not doing like an IFR-proficiency type flight on my simulator, I am just going and doing VFR stuff because it’s with the Oculus and it looks so real, and actually feel like I’m out there flying rather than just kind of going through the motions on instrument flight or something so I completely agree with your assessment.
Daniel: Now have you tried any of, the way I’d put this is I know that sim users like to have notepads, they like to have multiple windows open, they’re looking at things like ForeFlight and my goal is to encompass things like that, not just VFR is fun and easy, but I’m trying to encompass a more power user workflow at the same time. So you can actually do things like if you have an application on your computer, you can bring that in and plop it next to you in the cockpit to interact with it.
Chris: Well that would be perfect because although there is the idea of looking at the screen and actually touching like an icon you need to look at, although there is that expect to it, I figure that most of what you do with ForeFlight and everything is kind of preflight anyway and post-flight. Much of what goes on in between is just monitoring. So yeah, you can airplay things like having your iPhone screen actually on a PC and so if that same screen could be brought in the simulator, that’s a perfect solution. That’d work out really well. Because from an IFR perspective, you want to be heads down and just flying, and you want to be manipulating the instruments and things like that but if all of that stuff is in place, the simulation world from a training perspective completely changes because then you have a very low cost, incredibly immersive solution at your disposal, and you could even get into crazy scenarios about accidents and seeing if you could get through that crazy scenario yourself or even just general proficiency on shooting approaches to minimums and things like that all from the comfort of your home, and I know this directly competes with fixed based simulators that flight schools have but it’s an incredible tool. At the end of the day, it’s just an incredible tool. And if it’s not an incredible tool for a real pilot, it’s incredibly fun for someone that’s a flight simmer.
Daniel: Yeah. And having spoken with a few flight instructors about this, it’s not about to replace the six-degree of freedom gigantic jet cockpit simulators that they have, but when it comes to the smaller ones flight schools have where it’s basically a chair, a cockpit and then three projectors, why have three projectors when you can have the full field of view. It’s just a whole different story compared to that.
Chris: Exactly. And, big bulky simulators like that cost a lot of money and so if there is any way to pear that down and get back to some basics while still having control and all that, it just opens some possibilities or at the very least, fills quite a large void that’s been there for a long time. Some of the biggest challenges with a home-based simulator I’ve run into is that they just aren’t that immersive. And I’ve even gone so far as to tell flight simmers out there, being a real pilot myself, that an airplane in a flight simulator and a real airplane do not fly the same. And I think the biggest reason why I felt that they’ve never actually flown the same is just because of the visuals and how I am able to manipulate the controls based on what I’m seeing and feeling. But with the addition of the Oculus Rift, my landings have never been as good as they are now in the flight simulator. They are on par with what my real world landings are like because I’m actually able to see the field of vision. I’m actually able to see out of my peripheral vision as I’m coming down for the flair and I can make a soft touchdown and those sorts of things. Whereas it was just weird guessing game before with the flight simulator, with your speed and pulling back correctly. But now, it’s the mix of all those things. It’s the mix of what you’re seeing visually, what you’re feeling tactically with your hands, and it’s just a completely different experience. So I’ve been enjoying it. I hope you have to.
Daniel: Oh certainly.
Chris: What has the community response been like? It seems like obviously you said you built that email list and your Kickstarter campaign is almost instantly funded. What has the growth been like since then? Are there a lot of people as excited as I am?
Daniel: Oh yeah. It’s been a fantastic community response. People have been excited for the future. They have been understanding of bugs that happen when you take something as buggy as these flight simulators and tie them to beta-level hardware. It’s been hugely positive. That’s the best way I can put it.
Chris: Great. And for good reason. So do you have any final words from us before we depart here?
Daniel: I think what I would really reiterate is that you don’t know what it’s like until you’ve tried it. It’s such an immersive visceral feeling to put on the goggles and actually find yourself sitting in an airplane. You can’t guess at it and compare it to things you have tried.
Chris: Yeah. That’s a very good point. Where can people find FlyInside? What’s your website URL and other locations where they can interact with you guys?
Daniel: So my website is at FlyInsideFSX.com. You can see a video, learn about the software, purchase it. There’s a link there to the message board where plenty of people will be happy to speak with you about it. I frequent the message board of course. It has a free download too. You can download the FlyInside preview and be up and running in about 5 minutes. The biggest roadblock is just the hardware itself. You need Oculus Rift which I think in a few months that won’t be as much of a problem. With the amount of money I see people put into their flight simulator rigs, I think Oculus Rift the first consumer version is going to be a real no-brainer. It will be the best single investment you could make in a flight simulator set-up.
Chris: You have a really great ability to say things in few words because that’s perfect. Because I would recommend one big thing for this next year or a new upgrade for someone moving up in the simulator, moving to a simulator, it would be “Hey, if your simulator does not support an Oculus Rift and FlyInside, then you’re not doing it right. There’s no reason you should not be doing this.” And we’re not talking about breaking the bank here. Like you said, a lot of people build expensive flight sim PCs and commercial-level flight sim PCs or just incredibly expensive on their own, and so getting something like this is an absolute no-brainer. And it’s soon. It’s coming here in quarter one, and so it’s just something people should be planning on if they’re a serious flight simmer. It is really, really cool.
Daniel: Yeah. Everytime I see a post where someone just bought five new monitors to make a circle around them, I cringe a little bit because that’s so much money and they’re going to, I’ve had people email me because they were choosing between a 60-inch 4K TV and they tried different Oculus Rift and went that route instead.
Chris: It’s so true though. It’s so true.
Daniel: And the CV1, the resolution is going to be clearer, it’s going to fix a lot of the issues that people talk about with the current model to so it’s getting better rapidly.
Chris: Right. And then once they have the support of a fanatical community that has an open pocket book, it’s just going to accelerate the process that much faster. I tell you what, there’s no doubt that it is one of the next big things, if not the next big thing in gaming, and flight simulation being a subsidiary of the gaming industry, it’s happening. So you may as well jump on board and enjoy it.
Chris: Alright man. Well I really appreciate you coming on the show. We wish you the best success here in the future. I have a feeling that the first half of this year for you is going to be absolutely crazy because I can see a lot of these flight simmers jumping on board. And again guys, you can find Daniel at FlyInsideFSX.com and I will also mention that you can FlyInside P3D as well, Prepar3d. Daniel, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
Daniel: Thank you. It’s great meeting you Chris.
Chris: You too. Thanks. See ya.
Join us next week for another exciting topic or interview with a great guest. Spread the AviatorCast message. Please review AviatorCast on iTunes or submit an audio question for the show at AviatorCast.com. All iTunes reviews and audio questions that are aired on the show will get an official AviatorCast t-shirt. You can write AviatorCast directly on AviatorCast.com where you can interact with the AviatorCast community or write AviatorCast at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you.
For more information on Angle of Attack simulation training videos for FSX, X-Plane and more, go to www.flyaoamedia.com. If you are looking for a professional aviation training video services and other media, inquire at www.angleofattackpro.com. Now, for the final release clearance, back to Chris Palmer.
Chris: Alright, a huge thanks goes out to Daniel for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. Man, I am just so pumped for the future of Virtual Reality. Obviously I’ve already been experiencing it. I’m a huge believer. I will stand up and I will support it 100% because this technology is absolutely awesome. I see it going places. I see that it’s here to stay. I hope you guys can try it out soon as well. You know, the entry to getting into this virtual reality is not as big as you’d think. We’ve been spending tons of money over the years creating these powerful PCs that can run large resolution displays at a high frame rate. But I tell you what, there is nothing like actually being in the environment. The only thing that’s missing is that lack of motion but I’ve seen people almost fall over because they think this stuff is so real. This Virtual Reality stuff is awesome. It’s coming up here in the next few months. If you haven’t heard much about it yet, go ahead, check out FlyInside, learn more about the Oculus Rift. Notify yourself as far as when the customer version is going to be coming out which seems to be quarter one. Start saving your money. This stuff is really, really cool. I’m excited to share this with you guys, and huge thanks to Daniel with his expertise for sharing that with us here on AviatorCast. He’s been working on this for a long time so that when this customer version does come out, when this Virtual Reality thing blows unto the scene like I know it’s going to, he’s right there, he has a software, it’s working well. It’s already really awesome. So it’s going to be good stuff. Again, huge thanks Daniel and if you guys haven’t checked it out, go and do so.
Thanks to the Angle of Attack crew for all they do. These guys work hard day to day to keep the doors open here at Angle of Attack. Thank you to you, the listeners. We could not do this without you. If you guys want to review AviatorCast, it means a lot to us. It not only motivates us and keeps us going, but it lets others know in the industry or in the community that this is a worthwhile place to be. So if you enjoy the show, go ahead and review us. If that review is read on the show, I will send you guys a free AviatorCast t-shirt wherever you are in the world as a token of my appreciation.
So join us next week. We will have another episode lined up for you guys. Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]
Jan 02 2016
Recently I picked up a book called “The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual: Or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It“. This ended up being an absolutely fantastic read! Why? Because it was real. Real conversations about real aviation topics that not a lot of people want to/dare to talk about.
Rick Durden, the author, isn’t new to aviation, however. He’s been around the hangar block a few times, and knows a thing or two. His career is speckled with and painted with many unique experiences and many interesting paths.
For example, at one time he was a lawyer for Cessna. As a company perk, he got to learn to fly basically everything they had.
Rick is down to earth, fun to talk to, and a guy that is worth listening to. I know you’ll really enjoy this episode, and learn a whole lot from it.
Your history as a pilot:
Who were your role models?
The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual: Or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It
If you could do any type of work full time in aviation, what would it be? (particularly one of the jobs you’re doing now or have done, but you only get to pick one)
Say that I’m a new student pilot and you were my instructor. How would you handle me as a student? What tools would you give me? What technique would we use? What is your approach to instructing?
What are our biggest challenges in aviation safety?
Where do you see aviation going in the future, especially in training?
A big high five and thank you to Rick for coming on the show and gracing us with his presence and passion. Much appreciated, certainly inspiring, and of course, a grand ol’ time. Thanks a million, Rick!
Chris: Carb heat, gas, undercarriage, mixture, prop, switches and seatbelts. This is AviatorCast episode 18!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff! Here’s your host, Chris Palmer.
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. For me, flying an airplane is a symphony of connected magical moments that culminate in another flight, a flight where I love to learn something new and admire the blessing and opportunity it is to be aloft. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility, and a commitment to excellence. Each episode of AviatorCast will have real flight training and flight simulation topics or an interview with an inspirational and influential aviator. Our desire and mission is not only to create awesome aviators, but also bridge the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Show notes, transcript, community discussion, and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So thank you for joining us on this, the 18th episode of AviatorCast. It is our pleasure to have you with us today on what is no doubt going to be a great episode. We have an awesome guest lined up for you, and it’s very kind of him to come on the show. But before we get to that, we have a review all the way from iTunes and from right here in the United States. This comes from Nicks, and he says “A niche gone unnoticed no longer. Five stars. AviatorCast takes the unique stance that pilots and flight simmers are the same type of person and that each can benefit from the other’s perspective. It backs this stance up with a real flight training segment and a flight simulation segment as the episode format, as well as special hangar talk episodes that anyone interested in aviation will appreciate. In this, AviatorCast has found an important niche that it executes on very well.”
So thank you from Nicks, really appreciate that, and I think you’ve nailed it. We really bring it together with the flight training and the flight simulation topics, and then from there, especially recently you’ve noticed that we just had some incredible guests on that really anyone in Aviation, whether you’re in simulation or real flight training, no matter kind of your hours ends up being a fascinating discussion, and we’re very grateful to have had some of these guests on the show. We have another one today. A really, really great guest. I’m so honored to have him on the show and so grateful that he took the time away from his busy schedule to be with us. This guest is Rick Durden. Rick is a big wig in the aviation community. He’s been doing a lot of work seemingly behind the scenes for the most part, but he’s also done a lot of great, great writing, and that’s how I came to know of him through a book called “The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual: Or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It.” Now, one of the big reasons I really loved this particular book and why I really enjoy Rick’s writing and perspective, is he talks about topics that perhaps we wouldn’t talk about before. Some of those being how to survive an aircraft crash, ski flying, taildragger flying, float plane flying. He talks about stupid pilots, people that should do way better than they’re doing now because it’s killing people, and so that’s a very interesting topic in this particular book.
This particular book was derived from one of his columns called The Pilot’s Lounger which you can easily find by just googling that term. All of these will be in the show notes though, and Rick just has such a wide body of experience. We’ve only talked about what he’s done as an author. He’s also a very accomplished pilot. Over 7000 hours of flight experience, but he’s not the type of pilot where he’s an airplane captain and building hours that way. He’s flown over 200 types of different airplanes. He’s worked with Cessna as a lawyer, and a lot of different, just amazing roles kind of in the aviation community which gives him a very unique perspective. So I think with all that said, you’re really going to enjoy this hangar talk episode with Rick Durden and the information that he shares with us. This was a really enjoyable time and I know that you will feel the same away. So here is hangar talk with Rick Durden.
Now, a special hangar talk segment.
Chris: Welcome everybody. We are very honored today to have Rick Durden with us. How are you doing Rick?
Rick: I’m doing real well Chris, how about you?
Chris: I’m doing well, doing well. You just got back from a really busy week at Sun ‘n Fun. I know you were doing quite a bit of work there too so you must be exhausted and excited with some of the stuff you saw, so thank you so much for being on our show. We really, really appreciate that. So, just as an introduction, I’d like our listeners to get to know you a little better and who you are. I learned about you through one of your books, and then it started to unfold this large history that you have as a pilot and as a contributor to the aviation community. So tell us first a little bit about just what you do in general in aviation which is actually quite a bit.
Rick: Well currently Chris, I’m sort of splitting my time as an aviation lawyer, primarily working in the areas of airport access and pilot representation when the FAA comes after them, and then, you take that, I often put on the aviation writing hat and like the senior editor for Aviation Consumer, and a feature news editor for AVweb, the internet aviation magazine, and then still contribute a couple of articles for some other aviation magazines, as well as working on finishing up the second volume of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual.
Chris: Oh wow, I’m excited about that.
Rick: I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a weary soldier on the war on boredom, always looking for something to do.
Chris: Yeah, yeah. So tell us, this is a question I always ask our guests on this show, but tell us how you fell in love with aviation.
Rick: It just always seem to be something that I thought was really cool from the time I was a little kid. I run outside in the backyard and yell “Air-pane! Air-pane!” My brother says I was 13 while I was doing that, it could be true. My father had been a naval aviator in World War II. He had stopped flying after the war because all he could afford to ramp was a 55-horsepower cub and he’d be flying 400-knot airplanes, so it wasn’t as fun. But there was always stuff about aviation around the house, and my aunt had learned to fly and her son who was a cousin who was just a little older when he had his primary rating and he was always talking about it. So it just always seem like something I wanted to do if I possibly could.
Chris: Definitely. What were your beginning training days like? What would that process like?
Rick: Oh man, I locked out. In ninth grade, I got to know a guy that was an explorer scout post, this is in Des Moines, Iowa. This craft which is still on Des Moines Airport sponsored the Explorer Post along with the Flying Club that was there, and every Thursday, we’d go out to Elliot Beechcraft. Instructors from the Flying Club would go to ground school. We got a free ground school, the old Sanderson film strips every Thursday night, and then on Saturday mornings, three of us would get to take a lesson in the Beech Musketeer. We would fly for half an hour and watch for an hour. The instructor donated his time, I think it was $4.50 for half an hour in the airplane, and I got to job working in a shirt laundry so I could make enough money to start taking lessons. It was great, having free ground school, and then the flying club members that were supporting the teenagers and starting to get some flying time out of it.
Chris: Yeah, at that age too when you’re so moldable and so impressionable. Definitely a huge impact even just from that perspective.
Rick: That’s right. You fall into a bad crowd at a young age and you’re just out of luck for the rest of your life.
Chris: Right. So how do things progress from there? When did you get really serious about this, because I know that you have over 7000 hours of flight experience it says on your website and you’ve flown 200 types of airplanes, so there’s a lot of history in between the explorer program and that number.
Rick: There was a craft tester at the small Iowa town where I had relatives, my grandparents and some aunts. Jefferson Iowa, about 16 hours northwest of Des Moines. So I started going up there and taking lessons because I couldn’t solo the airplane that was being used by the Explorer Post, and so I started taking lessons at the little airport in Jefferson and got hired right after I turned 16 last summer, to work round trip for the craft testers and it paid really well. You wave flags and eventually I get to where I mix the chemicals as well, and it paid enough over the course of the summer, working some very, very long hours that that fall, while I was able to fly in the school year, just taking my pay on account at the little FBO. So I was able to take my private checkride on my 17 birthday, and then I wasn’t able to get my commercial done by the time I turned 18 but I did get it done just after I graduated from high school. And then, as a freshman in college, I got my flight instructor rating. That was back, you didn’t have to have a [inaudible-00:11:45] back then to be a flight instructor, so I started instructing at various locations and just kept adding ratings. I scared myself very badly, take off one night. We all thought it was clear, we could the see the stars, and when we got about 100 feet in the air, we flew in the fog, it was over a river at the end of the runway and went zero-zero.
Rick: Yeah. So I finished my instrument rating where I got filled out and got my double I. Coming out of college, I had most of my ratings in a fair amount of flying time, but that was also a time when the airlines required 20:20 vision so there was no hope for me, I had corrected lenses. So I went to law school, trying to come up with some sort of a fallback, and then again I locked out there. I was at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and there still is a large student-owned flying club Delta machine flyers where I instructed and then we got a lot of instructors there wound up, getting pulled over little run airport, having forced airport to rebuild between forests in World War II and this should become a freight hub for the auto parts for the Detroit area. So I hold freight in various different types of airplanes while I was going to school. Somewhat in time, I got my ATP before I graduated from law school and then sat around there for a while, flying single and twin Cessnas and got a pilot job in inner jets hauling free all around the country, and having a great time until the recession of ’78 and all then all the free hauling stopped and everybody went broke, so I had to look for a real job as a lawyer.
Chris: Gotcha. And that’s when you got into kind of the aviation lawyer end of things? Is that what you always intended or did that just kind of happened by chance?
Rick: Well that’s what I wanted to do. I had clerked one summer during law school for a law firm and which started aviation law and got to know some of the people in the area. Cessna’s legal department had two lawyers and I got to know them. Well, about the time that things were collapsing in Michigan, one of the two attorneys at Cessna has decided he wanted to go do something else, and so there was a job opening. I applied for it and got it which was one of the best jobs I could ever imagine. Because there were just two of us, we were very, very busy because at that time there were a lot more lawsuits being filed than there are now [inaudible-00:14:45] but I was also told that for product knowledge, it was required that I stay current in everything that Cessna built. Don’t throw me in that briar patch. So once a week, I was expected to go over the transportation department and choose one of the airplanes and go fly for a couple of hours.
Rick: They sent me to flight safety, and so I got tuckered in citation and with a turbo prop, I generally just ride along on flight tests and so I got time in those.
Chris: Wow. That’s quite a big step. And what age were you when you started that process?
Rick: I was 24, 25 when I started at Cessna.
Chris: Wow, that’s amazing.
Rick: I was there for seven years and at that time, they had added a third lawyer by then in the department, but it was doing the same thing. I mean, you were constantly just defending lawsuits from people who were telling you that you are horrible people and building terrible airplanes, and I wanted to fight back a little more effectively. I got to know some of the aviation law firms in the country that actually has an in-house council; you don’t go into the courtroom generally. You hire attorneys that are trial lawyers, and I thought I decided is actually go into the court room and walked inside an aviation law firm in Chicago. Did aviation and then wound up doing some of the very first space law cases.
Chris: So, tell the listeners a little about that, and I don’t know too much about that either but there is a period there in the 80s where from my understanding that there were so many law suits that some of these manufacturers actually started pulling back on simply just manufacturing certain kinds of airplanes because of the liability. So tell us the repercussions there as far as what that meant to general aviation or even from the corporate stuff.
Rick: There wasn’t a lot of hard data but the biggest year for general aviation was 1978, and there were a lot of law suits but they weren’t driving decision-making and in terms of the amount of money involved, it wasn’t terribly out-of-hand, but then they did ramp up. There would be occasionally a high profile one, whether it be one against the manufacturer, but at the same time, some of the investment tax credits that we had went away, and sales started down from a high in ’78. The manufacturers reacted by raising the prices of the airplanes. While they were selling fewer, they were making more money. And the aircraft prices went up really fast in the early 80s. By 83, they’d gone up substantially. There had been cost increases on the law suits although they want the major driver. There was a recession going on in the country. There were problems with airport access. More and more airports were closing, there were more communities that were putting pressure on airports from noise. They were a combination of things that were driving sales down. The price to manufacture a Cessna-152 was almost as much as it was to manufacture a 172, so it was hard to price them to make a profit and still have some money set aside for after-sale service and for the potential of a law suit. One law suit on 152 could wipe out the profits for the entire line for one year, so that was the concern.
In ’85-’86, Cessna made the decision to stop building piston engine airplanes. They said they would start again when there was some sort of a [inaudible-00:19:07] primarily a big whole statue of repose that said “after X number of years, a service in the field in airplane is considered to be safe and you can’t sue on it anymore.” Cessna said they’d go back and the production of something like that was past, and that did happen and Cessna went back into production. But the cost of defending lawsuits was one of the factors that drove down general aviation, although I have not seen hard data on it.
Chris: Yeah, just your gut instinct from what you experienced it sounds like.
Rick: Primarily, and seeing that it costs a lot of money to defend a lawsuit whether win, lose, or draw. It’s very expensive.
Chris: Yeah. So tell us a little about, well maybe more than a little bit, but about your writing because this is something that’s been obviously public for you as well. I came to know about you through reading your book called “The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual: Or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It.” It was a really great book. It opened my eyes to kind of who you are and your writing style because you have a very different writing style which I enjoy. It’s more of almost a fiction-based novel but with all of these factual stuff behind, and I really enjoyed it, and that kind of comes from I think probably one of your biggest contributions to writing which is The Pilot’s Lounge, so can you kind of tell us, or rather tell the listeners, kind of I guess the premise behind The Pilot’s Lounge and what it means.
Rick: That came about in the late 90s. I’ve been writing articles for AOP Pilot Magazine on classic airplanes because I like antique aircraft, I like flying and I’ve been lucky enough to have an opportunity to fly a lot of different ones. Then I was trying to make them as accurate as possible, just essentially as a historical artifact. I was approached by one of the editors of AVweb to do a column monthly with essentially a lot of leeway as to what I wrote about, so I created The Pilot’s Lounge in what we called a virtual airport. It was a mythical airport. It’s actually based on a combination of Jefferson Iowa and Michigan Fliers in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where it’s a little airport. It’s got a number of different airplanes at the FBO. There’s a pilot’s lounge where people hang out and talk and I brought in people I looked up to in aviation and made them characters in this Pilot’s Lounge. People that I have learned a great deal from, and so each month, the topic is very alive but often times, I start with, I was always getting questions about flying with babies and kids and I had some very good experience with it and I had some doctor friends that have given me some advice. So we put together a column about that subject, about hearing protection for babies and restraining them appropriately, and even down to the airplane selection.
And then looking at subjects that people don’t really talk about, that they talk about when they’re putting the checks in the boxes to go through a rating. They say “Well okay, if the weather is below 1500-foot overcast and 4-mile visibility, don’t fly.” Well, that’s like telling teenagers not to have sex, it doesn’t work. Because every month, we kill people in scud running. Alright, so let’s talk about. I was very lucky and I got trained how to do it by somebody who was very good at it, and then I stopped doing it because there are too many towers now. So let’s do an honest article about scud running. And if you’re going into a subject that could be very dangerous, the more knowledge you get I think allows you to make a better set of decisions as to whether you’re going to do it or under what condition you’d like to do it or under what condition you’d like to do it, and maybe stay alive.
Chris: Right, exactly.
Rick: When I was in high school, I was deeply impressed when I person I knew was killed on a bad weather day. I went to funeral and it was clear and a million. So talking about it I think openly, honestly is important for flight safety, and so I put some of that sort of things into the Pilot’s Lounge column at AVweb, and had some pretty good responses and now the first volume book came out two years ago and the second one, trying to wrap up here, Rod Machado was kind enough to write the foreword for it, so I’ve got to get the rest of it done. Everything is written, it’s just a matter of working with my editor to get cover on, some picture in it.
Chris: Great. Well, I’m excited for now. You know, you explained exactly what my draw to it was and it was these controversial or less talked subjects like scud running for example. One of the most interesting parts of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual for me was a the section on Oshkosh where you were reproving the pilots that were just acting stupid I guess you could call it, and potentially calling the death of other people. It’s essentially just saying why aren’t we doing better than we’re doing. That one actually had a great impact on me and just made me realize that yeah, we really do have to stay on top of this.
Rick: I wrote that one in the heat of battle so to speak. I lost a friend at Oshkosh that year. When I was camping, I looked off to the west and there was that awful pillar of smoke not far off beyond the runway and it turned out to be a friend of mine. It appears that it was caused by a combination of events and it was also, people were landing the wrong way on the runway so they couldn’t hold out to the airspeed building up the railroad tracks and VFR arrival. I’ve watched way too many stupid pilot tricks and I came home and wrote about it, and without pulling any punches and that’s one of the nice things about AVweb, is that there, I could be absolutely honest and not worry about somebody that oh my goodness, you’ll offend an advertiser or something. So it has been an excellent vehicle for being able to talk about some hard truths in aviation.
Chris: Which is something we need more of, because it seems like we’re getting the same old information over and over again, and the kind of information that you have to share, stories like this, are things that younger pilots don’t really even hear about unless it’s written or said obviously, and so those are things that absolutely need to be said no matter how difficult they are. We need to having those difficult discussions about particularly aviation safety.
Rick: I agree with you and I think it has to be, I was so tired of reading the preaching that is done so many places and used to be done. The FAA would have a safety seminar 30 years ago and the speakers would compete with each other to who could be more boring and preach more. So you turn off your audience, they don’t listen. I of course was a young pilot, thought that I could walk on water, and I would fly anything. I’ve had five engine failures because of that. Your flight junk, you can get away with it for a while, but if there’s a way to talk about it in a fashion that reaches someone, then I think maybe I’ve accomplished something and maybe kept somebody alive.
Chris: Definitely. Yeah. The interesting thing about I guess being an author kind of in your position is maybe in some cases you realize the impact you’ve made on other people. I hope that some people have reached out to you and told you different stories about how your articles have helped them, but there are a great many people that have read that stuff and will have that in mind when those situations come up potentially which is a great thing. What kind of feedback have you gotten from your writing that kind of validates the things you’re saying?
Rick: Well, it rangers from what kind of idiot are you to a couple of emails of “Holy smoke, this column saved my life,” and it feels incredibly good.
Chris: Yeah, because it’s a true impact, very personal and makes it all worth it I suppose.
Rick: I would speak as one of the things that I learned early on is that aviation writing isn’t ever going to make me wealthy, and you do it because it becomes a passion and you hope that you can leave a little something for the future and help somebody out.
Chris: Definitely. So you already mentioned that you do work for AOPA or have done some contributions rather to AOPA pilot magazine, what other magazines or outlets have you contributed to as well just for informational purposes for the listeners?
Rick: Aviation Consumer Magazine, I’m still the senior editor there and so I have at least one or two articles a month. I was the editor of IFR Refresher Magazine for a period of time. I do Aviation Safety and IFR magazines from time to time. The editors are panicking and scraping the bottom of the barrel, call me up and asked if I can do something. So that’s pretty much it.
Chris: Good. Well, still a lot of work and now you’re doing the AVweb stuff. I looked on your AVweb feed if you well and noticed that you were doing a lot of work while you were just down there in Florida doing articles on some of the newer technologies coming out and just things you were seeing, so you’re still very, very active. I can definitely see that.
Rick: I write two features a month for AVweb and then also do some news coverage.
Chris: What are the features you do each month for AVweb?
Rick: They vary a great deal. I just did one that came out today about the oldest flying DC3 in the world, and others what might be of interest. I had something in a chat with the editorial director, it may be an opportunity to rekindle The Pilot’s Lounge column, because sometimes opinion pieces are sometimes straightened in those pieces.
Chris: Right. I noticed that The Pilot’s Lounge stopped in 2009 if I’m not mistaken.
Rick: I think that was the last one. They sort of phased out all of their columns a little before that, and then they kept me around the longest, and then said “Now, we got to stop the columns.” But if you go in there, there’s a fascinating collection of columns by a lot of very, very smart people that I have relied on over the years. John Deacon’s material on engine operation. Mike Bush’s material on maintenance with some actual stuff.
Chris: Great. So I guess that’s a question that I actually forgot to mention or rather ask you earlier is if you could name just a few or whoever your most influential mentors were, who would those types of people be in your career?
Rick: Oh that’s a good one. As I started flying, my primary instructors were hugely impressive. And then my dad had stopped flying after the war but there were times he flew with me. All those experience, and he made some just passing remarks that like “Gee, I wish I would’ve thought of that,” type thing that made a difference for me. When I was worrying about being a ground crewman for a ground crewman for craft tester, there was a kid that was just out of college that was hired to work around crew and then fly sprayers [inaudible-00:33:18] and he was a huge influence and I stayed in touch with him to this day. Then as time went on, I started instructing at FBOs and I would fly with the sharper pilots that were thoughtful and would have conversations with me about weather and “yes, I’m not going, I’m cancelling this flight today because of this and that,” or they’d gone out and approach to minimums and couldn’t get in and they went down another 300 feet to try to get in and they went down at 400 feet and they never hit a radio tower. So these guys I listen to because they were thoughtful and smart and I learned. When I was at Cessna, the test pilots were huge influence on me. Bruce Barrett who was the head of flight test for the pony division single engine airplanes and they have done thousands of spins in the 150 and 152 and had written a pamphlet at Cessna Post about that. Tremendously thoughtful guy.
In defending lawsuits, we would occasionally hire professional pilots and I got to know Al White who had been the chief test pilot on the XP-7, the only person that got out after that midair, and I flew with him one time in the Cessna 402 and I watched him make a 45-degree bank, 720 to the left, and then rolling 212 to the right, and after three complete circles, the altometer in side hadn’t moved. I thought it was stuck, I tapped it. I wasn’t stuck. He was that smooth and that accurate, and that was a huge influence on me on a way that I flew the airplane. When I was technically checking him out for insurance purposes so he could fly the airplane and do some demonstration flights. So during the preflight, it took an hour. He wanted to know everything he could about that airplane. How are the ailerons retained? What control surfaces have counterweights? How are those weights retained? How do I tell if they’re there? And for everyone, he had the name of a test pilot that had died because an aileron came off the airplane, or a counterweight wasn’t installed right. He wanted to know what to look for on the preflight and he wanted to know what could go wrong in flight that he could fix and how to fix it. I wound up getting some the project engineer for the 402 involved in that preflight because Al was asking a lot more about the airplane than I knew and I called [inaudible-00:36:16]. So I learned from that preflight than Al did because I learned a lot about how to do a preflight.
Chris: Yeah definitely. And admittedly for people that have their own airplane and just go out and pull it out of their hangar and kind of go, preflight is one of those things that’s just forgotten or rather just, it seems like it’s routine right so they just kind of let it go.
Rick: I agree. And probably rightfully so because we know the airplane, we put it away. We open up the hangar and the wind hadn’t fallen off, so we have reason to believe that it’s going to be in the same shape as we’d left it. Especially if we’re to [inaudible-00:37:04] does maintenance check just before letdown after cruise to check to see if something has gone wrong, chances are the airplane is going to be in pretty good show. But by the same token, one of the things that Al White taught me was that you get rid of distractions on that preflight. Okay now, it’s time to focus on the airplane. I learned that from a guy named Randy Sollen who was the retired Northwest 747 captain but he’s the guy that flew a B29 out of the boneyard for the CAF and was their chief check airman for years and flew everything in their inventory. I worked with him on some matters and one of the things he would was once he got into the airplane, he insisted on absolute quiet, no interruptions for five minutes, and that was one of his ways of making sure that he was focused. I watched Al White do that at preflight. When he walks up to the airplane, he looked at it from a distance to see, this started out with “Okay, now here’s an airplane I’m going to fly it.” It’s almost eastern meditation type thing. I’m putting myself into that zone and I’m going to go fly and now I’m looking at the overall view of this airplane. Is it sitting level? Is anything obviously wrong? Is the antenna broken? I mean, how many times have we flown an airplane with the antenna gone? We hadn’t known it for a couple of flights. It’s something I’ve tried to do even though I’ve fallen to the trap that we all do of “Gee, it’s ready to go. C’mon hurry up, we got to get going.”
Chris: And recognizing that those things are there is the first step to doing the counter to that which is taking a few minutes at least to go through and do things correctly.
Rick: And accepting that something can go wrong. I’ve worked with pilots who, most of them are freight pilots. They operate under the mindset that I know something is wrong, I better just find it. And when you’re flying some of the junk that they were, they were right.
Chris: Definitely, yeah. That’s a pretty good mindset actually. Okay, so we’ve talked a bit about your mentors. Is there anyone else that you want to mention about the mentors there before we move on?
Rick: Those are the ones that came to mind. I’ve been quite lucky in meeting them and becoming acquainted with a lot of very, very good pilots, and I have shamelessly stolen everything from them I possibly could because they had good ideas.
Chris: Right. And that’s kind of an unwritten rule in aviation anyway is that anything that can help us and help us be better pilots, we take that and we pass it on sort of thing.
Rick: Agree, yeah.
Chris: Especially that tribal knowledge that’s so important.
Chris: Okay. So you and I were talking before the show here. I have a question here listed. If you could any type of full time job in aviation, what would it be, but we’ve all agreed that you’ve done so many great and wonderful things that potentially that isn’t a very great question, so I kind of had one that is related to it as far as kind of the core I guess I’m trying to get to there is maybe what’s one of the your favorite memories that you’ve had, one of those magical moments as a pilot where everything just kind of made sense and it was almost a spiritual experience, does that make sense? What’s an experience like that you’ve had?
Rick: There are two that just popped into my mind as you mentioned that. One was I was flying an Aeronca Sedan, it’s a four-place Aeronca built after World War II from Syracuse New York to Des Moinse Iowa. Made my first top for fuel at Palmyra New York which is in the old Erie Canal. I didn’t know this airplane at all. I was flying an airplane at 145-horsepower, but that was it, I was teaching myself the airplane as best I could. And landing on this grassy runway, it’s still covered with dew, and I working on trying to three point the airplane and not roll into a ball, and it was one of the those landings where I couldn’t tell exactly when the wheel started rolling in the grass. It’s one of those rare moments, like Richard Bach would write about where he sort of touched perfection. And taxiing back out and working at the time remarks and seeing that it sort of just got lighter and lighter until they were gone so it wasn’t some touchdown. And then a few years later, I was with a friend of mine where we’re flying a Piper Apache on a kidney for a transplant. We’re heading for Ann Arbor. The sun is coming up and we’re flying between layers of clouds. So it’s a world that is black, turning gray progressively lighter, and then all of a sudden the sun came up between the layers and turned the world into technicolor. And I looked out, I looked over at my friend and said “Tell me Dan, why do you fly?” And he look out and he says “You know, imagine trying to explain this to somebody at a cocktail party who says, why do you fly with slow airplanes?” So there are magical moments that I was going to look up. Flying a seaplane and just that moment as the water starts to kiss off the bottom of the floats on touchdown is wonderful.
Chris: Yeah. Great, great. I liked that a lot. Okay. So kind of another question I had is it comes from, say that I was your student and you were my instructor and we were starting off new today. Where would we start, what will we do, how would you train me as a pilot, and I guess what I’m getting at here is I believe there’s a separation, this is just one of my own personal beliefs. I believe there is this separation between how we used to be trained as aviators really, the Charles Lindberg mentality and it very much stayed alive I believe through even the 60s and 70s so I kind of feel like you’re in that bracket, but now it feels like, let’s just go get our rating, let’s try to get it at the minimum hours. We don’t necessarily need to be competent in IFR, let’s just get our rating and kind of move one sort of thing, so I feel like that’s the mentality now rather than the core aviating skills and the decision-making and everything. So that’s what I’m getting out with that question. How would you approach me, with all your years of experience, and what would our training be like?
Rick: Well first I’m going to do I just give a plaque from Dante’s Inferno, “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here,” and we’ll go from that. But my approach is that we’re going to start out with a syllabus that is well thought out and there are very good ones. But we’re going to flesh it out so that you will learn them and judgment as we go along. A number of the schools that are trying to have initial students put them into community airlines, they never landed in a crosswind more than 7 knots, and your touchdown point is always 1500 feet from the end of the runway. Well that stuff of course we’re going to learn how to fly the airplane precisely and if you are interested in becoming a professional pilot, we’re going the learn the things you need to know, but we’re also going to spend some time over the local grass airport shooting touch and go’s and then shutting the airplane off sitting aside and watching other people land. Talking about how to land the airplane best at a crosswind and keep the aileron on deflection and during rollout. From time to time we’re going to look at accident reports and say okay, what are our risks? So going forward as a pilot, what are my risks? How do I assess them correctly? Because often times humans worry about the wrong things. We spend thousands and thousands of dollars on traffic information and alerting systems in our airplanes, yet only 1% to 2% of the accidents are midair collisions and over a half of those are not fatal, so every time there’s a midair, people survive. Yet, the most common accident is loss of control on landing and running off the runway.
I think we get a lot more bang for the buck spending a hundred bucks with an instructor every six months for a recurrent training. So going in, what do we need, let’s take the private pilot syllabus and yes it costs a lot money and yes going through to meet the minimum standards is acceptable but in my mind, ethically for me, I can’t train to the minimum standards, and by law the FAA regulations are minimum standards and that’s all. So what else do we need to know and my [inaudible-00:47:11] is we’re going to go into a short runways, we’re going to go into narrow runways. We’re going to make a cross country where you’re going to have [inaudible-00:47:20] in the map without a GPS, without radio receivers. We’re also going to do one where we’re going to get lost and then you’re going to use every bit of information you have in that airplane to find yourself. And if that information is GPS, that’s wonderful. We’ll make use of the technology. And then one of the things that I’ve done, it’s been a while since I’ve had a primary student, is after the checkride, we go out and do a lesson that may involve something that aren’t covered in the normal syllabus, flying the airplane in a fashion that the weather’s coming down. How can I divert and get into an airport. How do I look over a field, why would I want to try to go to an airport if suddenly the weather’s gone lousy on me, and trying to go the next few 10 miles and then kill me, how do I land in a field? When I touchdown, how do we look it over and set up for landing up with minimal damage? Alright, we’re at this airport and now we have a single runway and the wind’s blowing [inaudible-00:48:38] crosswind, what are our options? It’s legal to land on a taxi way. There’s nothing illegal about that. We may be at risk of wrecking the airplane landing on that runway, the safest thing to do maybe land it on a taxiway [inaudible-00:48:55] What are the standards? What’s our judgment here? The better might be to do to go that airport 10 miles away. So looking at that sort thing I think is how we would be doing it. I also, after you take your checkride, you and I are going to make a point where you have to fly again in six months. Because right now you’re using to taking dual, and the minimum standards after you get your rating is one bit of dual instruction from the instructor every two years. That isn’t good enough. Professional pilots take recurrent training every six months and their actual rate is tiny, maybe they know something. So let’s get you in a habit of every six months, do a little dual with me. Something that’s fun and you’re going to feel like you learned something and you scrape some rust off.
Chris: Right. You pointed it out, a lot of different things that came from your book, those practical things that happen after you get your license and the six-month recurring, scraping the rust off, and having a plan of action for that particular dual ride with your instructor, knowing that you have particular weak points as a pilot yourself, being honest about those weak points and then going and working on those and working on some of the I guess less popular things right, in an biannual flight review, you got up and it’s generally kind of an aircraft checkout and a small checkride if you will. But it may not be things that you have challenges with and there is one chapter in your book where you talked about crosswind landings and you were basically demonstrating that a particular gentleman was doing it way too fast and that’s why he essentially almost lost control on the runway and went off the runway. In fact, maybe he did in that particular story. All these different things, that pilot’s intention was to fly safer. He wanted to keep the airspeed higher and get away from some of these base to final accidents or whatever it was but he was actually making the whole process so much more dangerous because the real loss of control was on the runway, so I practicing those I guess those unpopular things.
Rick: Practice sometimes that make you uncomfortable. Let’s go outside of your comfort zone while you got somebody in the other seat that will catch you if you fall off the tightrope, and let’s talk about what those are, and let’s also practice the stuff you don’t do everyday, because as pilots, it’s the stuff we don’t practice where we get into trouble. So in our normal operations, we don’t do very much slow flight except immediately before landing. Let’s find ourselves at the airplanes fully controlled. It feels a little mushy, but those controls respond very well to modern airplane. Let’s go practice some crosswind landings because just sure as there’s Murphy Law, that you intend to get out, take your family on a trip and get everybody noon, you get delayed leaving and by the time you get there it’s midafternoon and the wind’s come up and you’re going to have a crosswind that’s maybe a little higher than you’re comfortable with, so maybe it will be a good idea to have practice at least.
Chris: Right. Definitely. We’re kind of winding down here in these topics. What is your take on aviation safety today, what are the big challenges? Where do you see that going? It seem like you have a lot of experience to kind of speak to a question like that.
Rick: Absolutely, I’ll say about the same for the last 10 years. So we’re making the same mistakes over and over. I think the most common accidents are runway loss of control in all types of airplanes. The challenge I think there is to work on making sure we fly the airplane and [inaudible-00:52:58]. The cliché has been there for years, it’s true. Try single gear airplanes. We have [inaudible-00:53:08] You have gust or you have aileron correction and you’re off to the side of the runway. We still are going out in god awful weather and fly in a VFR out and I don’t know, you look at those accidents and sometimes there are some psychological reconstructions of the pilots who absolutely refuse to listen to anybody and I’m going to go no matter what. I’m not sure how we approach that. The people, I noticed that the folks who are in tight clubs, the Cessna-150 club or the Beech that are on these and they are thinking about and talking about aviation in between the times where they fly, tend not to be the ones who crash. You looked at the folks who’ve been accidents, often times they don’t subscribe to aviation magazines. They’re not on tight forums. Their thought process don’t include aviation and are not around airplanes. I’ve watched that with [inaduble-00:54:23], those who taught about flying in between lessons, they do a lot better than those who compartmentalize everything and didn’t think about their next lessons and walk in and or go to the FBO.
Chris: Yeah. And that’s a big point I drew from your book and was comforted by knowing that I was already kind of doing that is that I was getting a lot of information in between and staying involved, and I do think that that’s very, very essential to any pilot to just continue to grow because there’s so much more out there to learn and really the learning process never really stops. Your hour range, how many aircraft you’ve flown, all the experience you have. Do you feel like you’ve stopped learning?
Rick: No. Constantly trying to pick up something new because you never know what it is that you need to know that may save you the next time. Plus it’s fun. One of the things I’ve enjoyed is adding a radio on, learning to play sequence. It doesn’t take long. It’s a ball and you pick so much that transfers over to the flying into the day to day, not the least of which is just a better ability to read the wind. So there’s so much to learn and so many fascinating people to learn form. That’s one of the things I like this and one of the reasons I actively socialize with other pilots and throw gatherings to get interesting pilots together and do something.
Rick: Twice I year I invite folks to Cadillac Michigan where we fly cubs in the summer on floats and the winter on skis.
Chris: Sounds like a blast.
Rick: It is. And everytime I do it, I learn something because there are some really sharp people around doing that sort of thing.
Chris: Yeah. Actually, through that same vein, you actually inspired me to go out and do the ski-flying stuff which is actually pretty prevalent in my area in Alaska so that’s something I’m going to do too, because you made it just sound I guess challenging but also just very rewarding right. It just sounds like it’s a really good idea.
Rick: It’s just a ball. So many things you can do. It’s something new and it’s by yourself you learn something, and it winds up carrying over to other areas when you least expect it.
Chris: Great. So, I think we’ve covered a lot here. We’re kind of up to hour hour mark. I really appreciate you coming on the show. Is there any last advice for pilots just starting out, pilots that are building hours, even experienced pilots that you have, any advice for them?
Rick: Give up now, it’s not worth it. No, I wish I were smart enough to give advice like that. Mine is just look for what’s new and have fun doing it.
Chris: Great. Great advice. Well Rick, I really appreciate you coming on the show. I know that you have a whole lot going on for yourself, but I know that the knowledge that you’ve shared here with us today and the thoughts and ideas will definitely help someone become a better pilot and that’s what we’re all about here, so I appreciate it and we’ll keep in touch.
Rick: Okay Chris. Thank you very much. I’ve been honored.
Chris: Thank you Rick, see ya.
As I step back and think about what Rick and I talked about on this particular episode of hangar talk, I can’t help but notice that there is something to be gained from these aviators that have been around the block a few times. Rick certainly has an amazing amount of experience and knowledge under his belt. Just by being a lawyer with Cessna, with having all of that flight experience that he has with all different those types of airplanes, and with his writing, Rick really offers a very unique perspective. And in that same idea, I want to give you a bit of caution. Now, let me do that with sort of an analogy here which will make perfect sense to you. So in today’s world, we are seeing that World War II vets for example are becoming few and far between just because of the age gap there and really just how long it’s been since that time frame. So without having personal experience with a World War II vet, we’ll never truly know what World War II was like or how that era was or how that era was and what it was like to be alive during that time, and what it meant, this World War that pretty much everyone was involved in, what it meant to be living in that time. So those people are going away.
Now, I think Rick in a certain sense is one of those people but in the aviation sense. There is this time frame in aviation where aviation was born and it really became what it was, and Rick was very much part of that era and we can learn so much from people like Rick and we shouldn’t discount that kind of knowledge. Now, today you can go out and you can get any number of training courses out there. You can have many people teach you how to be a private pilot, teach you how to get your instrument training, and you can do all that through online videos, online courses, DVD courses. You can sit down with an actual instructor. You’re many times going to have a pretty new CFI that’s doing that training for you. There are a lot of different places you can get this information. I guess my word of caution and also what we can learn from someone like Rick is that we should not let go of those core things that make us aviators. We should not forget that we are inevitably in control of our airplane and that there are so many things that go into this experience, not just those little bits of knowledge, and they are in matters of importance, little bits of knowledge that you learn while you’re going through the little bitty details in the private pilot course.
Really what we learn from people like Rick is the decision making and the airmanship and the safety and going above and beyond what we’re already doing and also questioning where we are currently and questioning different things that we’ve been taught over the years, and actually putting ourselves in those situations where we gain experience and learn things but we do so in a safe way. Much of that comes from simply learning from these mentors and from these people that have done it before. And so I guess my encouragement to you is take Rick’s words to heart not only from this particular podcast. I wouldn’t suggest that you forget about Rick after this podcast. Go out, get his book. Go read his columns on AVweb. This guy is a wealth of knowledge. I want to say too that Rick isn’t the only guy like this. There are so many people out there that have so much to share, and we’ve seen that through other episodes of AviatorCast as well, speaking to Paul Craig and Bruce Williams. Those are two other great guys that have done a lot in the industry. So there’s just so much to learn. I digress, Rick, thank you so much for being on the show, it is very much appreciated. I do how that all of the people listening will come away with a more engaged mind and a more greater commitment to become better aviators and to be safer aviators as a result of some of the things you shared with us and also from the things that they will learn from your writing. So again I encourage all of you to go out there and pick up some of Rick’s stuff. Really amazing stuff. Really, really enjoyed his book and I can’t wait for version two to come out. So again Rick, thank you so much for being on this show.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about AviatorCast. You can truly shape this show and the topics we provide. Please take a two-minute quick survey at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you want to be a part of the AviatorCast community or leave a comment? Go to AviatorCast.com to join in or write me directly at email@example.com. Say that you don’t want to miss an AviatorCast episode. No worries there. You can subscribe through email at AviatorCast.com or on iTunes which is the primary way that people subscribe, but you can also get it through services like Stitcher, YouTube or SoundCloud. We’d love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This is the number one source here people find out about AviatorCast, and it just allows them to know that we even exist and that things like this particular episode with Rick Durden actually get out there and that his message gets out there. Rick takes time out of his busy schedule and obviously he has so many great things that he could be doing and he comes on this show, and he does so free of charge because he feels I believe this is how he feels, he feels that his message can impact the safety of aviation in a greater way and from our conversation I gathered that that ‘s why he does what he does with writing and that he gains great satisfaction from knowing that that it does make an impact. So people don’t hear it if they don’t learn about it, so iTunes is the place that people learn about it.
Alright, last here is if you’d like to check out any training products from Angle of Attack, simply head over to FlyAOAmedia.com. Start with the basics for free with Aviator 90, learn instrument flying and more with Aviator Pro or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD-11, again at FlyAOAmedia.com. Lastly here, many things also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all their hard work both in front of the scenes and behind the scenes to keep AviatorCast running and also to keep Angle of Attack running. These guys do a fantastic job so you and I can spend an enjoyable time together each week going over some fantastic flight simulation and flight training topics and having the wonderful and humbling opportunity to speak to people like Rick and like many other great guests that we’ve had on the show. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things. Until next time, throttle on!
May 17 2014
The Checkride — that beautiful and nerve-racking event which every pilot, if he/she is to become a pilot, must at one time face. As aviators, are we missing the mark on how to approach a checkride? According to Ken Whittekiend, an FAA DPE, it doesn’t have to be all that bad.
Ken is a top notch instructor in Texas who specializes in off-airport training with tailwheel and floatplane ratings offered at his outfit, Promark Aviation. On top of that, Ken has also give more than 400 checkrides. You could say he knows a thing or two about the whole process.
Through this podcast with Ken we will find out how to approach a checkride with calm nerves, options to a pilot if things aren’t going well, and of course a DPEs perspective on what they are really looking for. All-in-all, this is an in-depth look at what the checkride process is like so that you can pass with flying colors.
A huge thanks to Ken for joining us on the show. We’d absolutely honored to have your insight!
The post AviatorCast Episode 96: Ken Wittekiend: DPE | Checkrides | Promark Aviation | SAFE appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Dec 31 2016
Today we are joined by Rob Burgon, an F-22 Raptor pilot in the United States Air Force. Rob didn’t start out like many fighter pilots do. He found out later on in life that he really wanted to do this aviation thing, and serve his country while doing it.
This decision process started on his first business trip for an investment firm. The date was 9-11-2001. Sitting in an airport after having been forced to land, he felt the need to do something for his country.
Eventually Rob would qualify for Flight School, and eventually be flying the F-22 Raptor.
Today he is active duty on the East Coast of the US. He has a young family, a love for his country, and a passion for aviation.
Huge thanks to Rob for joining us on this show. Thanks so much for serving our country. In addition, thank you for inspiring us all with your aviation story. Godspeed!
This is Aviator Cast episode 48. Bandit locked, FOX-3!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer.
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast.My name is Chris Palmer. High, low, fast or slow, big, small, jet or prop, what’s not to love about airplanes? Like you, I happen to be crazy about aviation. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility and a commitment to excellence. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So welcome to this, the 48th episode. I am absolutely excited for this episode. It’s a great. It is fantastic to have you here. So thank you for showing up every week for this podcast. I hope to continue to bring you great and interesting guests and topics and I have a very good one for you guys today so hang tight there. First off, we always start with a review. This review comes from iTunes. It comes from Mike20SM. He says “A quality podcast for aviation enthusiasts of all types. Five stars.” He says “I’m so glad I stumbled upon this podcast recently. I finally become of the mindset that I’m going to get my pilot’s license no matter what and this podcast is highly informative as well as being motivational too. Keep up the good work Chris and company.”
Thanks Mike, much appreciated. Good luck with your pilot’s license. I encourage you to continue to go toward that direction. It is one of those things in life that I don’t think many people regret. You will achieve so much in your private pilot license or anything that you do. So first and foremost, you’re going to just be a more confident guy and if nothing else, you have this thing in your back pocket, this thing called the pilot’s license that lets you go experience life and this world in a completely different way, suspended above the earth. I love being a pilot and I encourage many people, even you Mike to be a pilot and become a pilot.
Speaking of that, we have a very interesting guess today, an awesome story from Rob Burgon. Rob Burgon is a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force, and he joins us today to talk about his journey to the cockpit of a very high-powered and very technologically advanced fighter jet that all of you will recognize the name of, I’m not going to give away the name quite yet, but this is an exciting interview with Rob. Rob is a top notch guy and you can just tell that he absolutely loves aviation. And his story is a bit unique as well. He’s not the type that just always knew that he was going to become a pilot, he decided later on in life that he was going to become a pilot and decided to go the military route and the little nugget that I will give to you and have already given to you is that he ends up becoming a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force. So we have a very interesting discussion with Rob. I know that on this podcast we don’t really talk about military aviation too much but I just found this to be a fantastic interview. So let’s not delay any further, let’s get right into it with Rob Burgon.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, we are honored to have a very special guest with us today, Rob Burgon. How are you doing Rob?
Rob: Yeah, I’m doing pretty good Chris. Great to be on the show.
Chris: Yeah, it’s great to have you. Now, you have a podcast called Slipstream Radio in which you and Brent Owens talk about some different topics, aviation topics, really great podcast. Tell us a little bit about yourself as far as your aviation career quickly so we can just get an idea of where you’ve been.
Rob: Maybe I’ll work backwards here. So right now, I’m flying the F-20 Raptor. I have been doing that for several years now. Prior to that, I was a T-38 instructor, UPT, so undergraduate pilot training for the air force. And then before that, I actually was a civilian working a finance job. So it’s kind of been the long way around getting to where I am and flying professionally but that’s it in a nutshell.
Chris: So and you I were talking before the show. I am in Utah right now visiting family, this is where I grew up, and you mentioned right before the show that you have family here too. It just so happens that I did my flight training at the college you went to so that’s pretty interesting.
Rob: Yeah, small world. I did not expect that. That was cool to make that connection.
Chris: Now, tell the audience what you told me about your degree and 9/11 and kind of how this all played into this aviation thing.
Rob: You bet. So I got my degree in finance and I had these delusions of grandeur if you will about going back east, becoming a big investment banker and making my millions out there and so I started down that course. I got a job with a venture capital type company out in Boston. And the job required a lot of travel and I remembered my very first business trip was actually on 9/11 and I actually didn’t fly out of the Boston Logan Airport that morning, I flew out of Providence Road Island. I was airborne and I remember because I had flown several times before on commercial aircraft and I remember we descended after we’d been airborne for only a short amount of time and we were low for quite a while which I thought was kind of weird. I thought maybe we had some kind of malfunction or something.
Then we eventually landed at our destination and there was like absolutely no movement on the ground and it was really just weird, and getting into the terminal, all the people huddled around TV screens and I’m asking just some bystanders what had happened and they told me. It kind of was that surreal moment that was just very difficult for our country as a whole and it was just really a weird feeling that day. But something else that day, I really felt that surge of patriotism and I wanted to do something to serve my country and to be a part of the fight. Over the next couple of years as I worked this finance job and I was sitting behind the desk I just felt like I couldn’t sit behind the desk anymore, I had to get out and go do something. My whole life I’d wanted to fly right up until just after high school when I thought making money was probably more important but I tell you what, it was pretty easy to make a decision to switch over to aviation and especially at that time in our country’s history, it just seem like the right thing to do.
Chris: Was there any sort of a-ha moment that you had where you knew it was time?
Rob: You know, there was. I had been kind of doing some research on the internet and I had found a blog. It was kind of a student journal from an air force pilot training student and his name was Jason Barton. He is an amazing person. Unfortunately he is not with us anymore. But he actually had a lot to do with me kind of accepting the risk of leaving this good-paying job and going into the air force not knowing if I was actually going to get those wings because once you join up with the air force, there is no certainty whatsoever. These are the air force. He did a lot to kind of help me have that a-ha moment that “Hey yeah, I can do this and I’m going to go for it.” I really do credit him with a lot of going through that initial gate.
Chris: Great. Cool. I don’t know. The way you explained it before the show is you said you went from being basically a spreadsheet guy to an F-22 pilot so I guess we’re going to be talking about that gap today but that’s really cool. I mean, thank you so much for serving our country and that call to action is really amazing to see. It kind of reminds of the greatest generation of World War II where people answered the call to action for this country and went and fought the great war there, so thank you for your service. I really appreciate that.
Rob: Well thanks. That’s always nice to hear. I agree with you wholeheartedly, like the greatest generation. I feel like there was a different type of patriotism in their generation. We certainly have patriotism in ours, don’t get me wrong. We are I think a very strong country but there’s truly something magical about that era.
Chris: Right. I mean, back then, if guys didn’t qualify to actually join the army, they would kill themselves. That’s how connected they were. I remember actually my grandfather. He didn’t serve in the war or anything, they actually wouldn’t let him, but he was just so depressed that they wouldn’t let them go to war but they needed him back home to basically be a farmer. That was kind of his job which was interesting but anyway. So let’s rewind a little bit. How did you fall in love with aviation? So obviously this started pretty early because even after high school or during high school, you kind of knew you had this aviation thing. It was kind of in your back pocket when you realized you want to serve your country, so how did you fall in love with aviation in the first place?`
Rob: Well actually, that kind of goes back to the greatest generation. Not that I was there but my grandpa was a B-25 pilot towards the end of World War II. So as I grew up, I had a lot of aviation influence from him. My other grandfather had done some work for the airlines and has a private pilot license. So he also helped contribute to this love of aviation that was growing within me as a child. I’d be going to air shows and watching movies and reading books and they just kind of fed the beast if you will. Just over time, just kind of grew and grew. I can’t really explain why I didn’t pursue a career in professional aviation right out of high school or through college. Honestly I have no explanation for that. Maybe it was the money thing. Somehow I just lost track of it. But it never went away. As I’m sitting out there in Boston behind that desk, and don’t get me wrong, the company I worked for was awesome and it was a great job and I really enjoyed it but there’s just kind of that missing piece. Once I did make that decision, I had that moment that we talked about earlier that it seemed to fill that void and I just never really look back.
Chris: Definitely. That’s awesome. So that was kind of my next job actually, is who were your aviation mentors and I’m sure that your grandfathers were and also the guy that had the blog. Is there anyone else that comes to mind or do you want to expound on them at all?
Rob: Yeah, absolutely. My grandfathers, both of them have been very supportive. As I was growing up they were present in my life and they definitely had a lot to do with kind of fueling the fire there for aviation. And Jason, it’s been a while since I’ve been able to talk to him but he was a very good influence. Like I said, I contacted him through his blog and he actually gave me his phone number. I was like “Hey man, give me a call sometime and I can kind of talk you through the process of application and stuff and so we talked several times and he really helped me get through the bureaucracy and the paperwork of getting into the air force. And then kind of during my year of pilot training, we just kind of lost contact. We’re both very busy. He was active duty flying and I was going through pilot training which is in and of itself a pretty big undertaking.
Eventually we reconnected and I found out that he was actually somehow had picked up a job with a reserve unit and was actually make a switch over from active duty to the reserves. On the side, he was a Pilatus PC-12 instructor. So he was out actually one day with a student doing emergency patterns, landings and unfortunately something went wrong and they ended up crashing just short of the runway. Actually, neither of them made it out of the crash. So pretty sad day. But looking back to everything that Jason contributed to not just helping me but helping a lot of other guys via his blog get into the air force and make their love of aviation their profession. That to me a huge contribution and definitely a legacy that he leaves behind.
Chris: And I think that’s torch that all of us take that it’s up to us to pass on that passion to other people. I definitely think you’re doing that through your blog and your podcast and so that honors his name. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a friend in aviation. I haven’t had that happen yet. Hope it doesn’t happen it seems like it’s something that pretty much happens to every pilot eventually.
Rob: Yeah, yeah. Unfortunately it is kind of a part of life as a pilot. There are definitely risks that we take every time we go fly and really all we can do is try to mitigate them to the maximal extent possible and kind of go from there.
Chris: Great. So let’s shift gears a little bit. Let’s talk about the different types of airplanes you’ve flown. Your hangar-full of airplanes if you will. It’s going to be a lot different from a civilian guy so it’d be pretty interesting to see what you’ve flown.
Rob: Yeah. Surprisingly, it’s probably not as full as some of the civilian guys. Back when I was going through pilot training right before I started, the air force basically put me through private pilot’s program. Up that point, I already had about 40 hours that I had been working on towards my PPL mostly in Cherokee Warrior but the little flight school that they sent me to to finish up just had like Cessna-172s. So I finished up in that. I’ve flown just kind of the little single props, Piper Archer, a Diamond Katana. I think that’s about it on the civilian side. And then once I got into the air force doing the air force flying, I started out flying the T-37, if you’ve ever heard of the Tweet. It’s a little twin engine jet. It’s actually built by Cessna back in the 1950s. That thing was awesome. It was like extremely loud and very high pitched. It’s everything you’d expect a jet that was built in 1950 to be.
Chris: Kind of the man’s jet probably.
Rob: Yeah. The instructor sat like right next to you. You still wore like the helmet oxygen mask and the parachute but you didn’t like a G-suit. And the thing that sucked about that jet was that the instructor, like if you had like an salty old crusty guy that was your instructor, he’d reach over and like grab your oxygen mask and like pinch it so you couldn’t breathe, kind of give you a shake there if you were messing something up.
Rob: Yeah. It was pretty interesting. And then we moved on from that to the T-38 which also a pretty old jet. Most of those were built in the 60s. If you’ve ever seen the Chase aircraft or the shuttle, those white T-38s that NASA flies, that’s the same thing. But what they’ve done is they’ve given it a glass cockpit and given it some engine upgrades to kind of bring it a little bit more into the present technology of flying. But still the jet is amazing. It takes a beating and just keeps going.
Chris: Well it ought to be good if it stayed around that long.
Rob: Oh yeah. And it’s not going away in the foreseeable future. In fact, we use T-38s right now as Red Air, as a training platform for the fighters and it actually can put up a pretty good fight believe it or not so it’s a good little jet to have around. I flew that one for quite a while. I got my wings in that jet and then actually my first assignment was to go through pilot instructor training and then go back to the schoolhouse as an instructor. I did that for about three years and then towards the end of that assignment, I got my assignment to come fly the Raptor.
But the unique thing about the Raptor, there’s no two-seat models so up to this point, I’d never been to a tanker and done air refueling. I’ve never flown with MPGs. You don’t do any of that stuff in pilot training. And so you don’t want to be doing that for your first time by yourself. So what they did is they sent me in with some of the other guys who were first time going straight from T-38s to the Raptor. They sent us out to Luke Air Force Base where we got to essentially fly a transition course in the F-16. I got like 12 Reds in the front seat. That jet was actually pretty fun to fly. It’s just a little sports car and it’s got amazing visibility from the cockpit.
Chris: I bet. That wraparound view.
Rob: Oh yeah. It’s great. The cockpit is so small. It’s just like putting on a glove. The Raptor feels like a spacious office building compared to this tight little cockpit. So that was a lot of fun. And then after that, obviously the next step was a Raptor.
Chris: Great. Man, what a leap. Pretty wild. Tell us about the first time you soloed a jet. What was that like?
Rob: Yeah. So that was the Tweet. That was the mighty T-37. I’ll tell you what, I did not sleep at all the night before. Because you don’t go very many rides before you solo that day. I think if I remember right, it was only like 7 or 8 flights that I had with an instructor before taking the Tweet solo. The pilot training air space for somebody who’s never flown IFRs, has never flown a depature or anything, when you get to pilot training, it seems very complex. So here you are, you’ve done seven flights, a few simulators, and here you are flying an instrument departure, you’re going out to this controlled air space and checking out in with the airspace control, doing your thing and trying to stand in your little piece of the sky because it’s all sectioned off. There’s a whole bunch of other aircraft out there, and then finding your back to the field and getting into a pattern that’s just saturated with other students so nobody really knows what they’re doing and it’s just this chaos.
So it was a lot of fun that I remember. The T-37 actually at that time had the quickest G onset rate of any aircraft in the inventory, at least that was what all the instructors told us. It’s true. You’d pull back on a stick and you were just instantly under G. Not very many. It’d only pull like 4 Gs or something before you’d over G it but it’s enough that if you weren’t ready for it, you actually could like G-lock yourself, black yourself out. I remember just doing a split S and essentially just honking on the stick there and not really prepping my body that much and I just remembered getting a little bit of gray, a little tunnel vision and thinking like “Holy crap. I’m all by myself in this jet. This stuff is real. I could G-lock myself and by a smoking hole in the ground.” So that was kind of a wakeup call for me.
Chris: Yeah, no kidding. What safety mechanisms are there for that or is it mostly just your own physical preparation to make sure you don’t over-G and black out?
Rob: Yeah. So in the T-37, there’s nothing. It’s all up to you. It’s really not difficult with only 4 Gs. That’s not bad. You just need to get used to it. You need to watch your diet, watch your exercise and make sure that you’re tensing up your leg muscles to keep the blood from pulling in your feet. Like the Raptor, I mean the Raptor is a G monster, like no kidding, you can sustain 9 Gs. You can accelerate while your pulling 9 Gs which is something that other aircraft really can’t do. We have a pretty good G-suit. It’s basically just a set of pants if you think of it like that that you put on that’s got air bladders that are located on and around your arteries that as you put G on the jet, it will automatically inflate and constrict the blood flow in your legs and lower abdomen. That helps a lot but really the best thing that you can do, the absolute best thing you can do regardless of whether or not you have that help is just tensing up the muscles in your lower body and using a breathing technique they teach you.
Chris: Right. You always see the videos on YouTube where guys are taking rides in the Thunderbirds or the Blue Angels and they’re just passing out like all the time. I mean sorry if I’m ignorant there. I just don’t know like the systems that kind of help you out with that but I would imagine that the best system is just to remain healthy and yeah, know the breathing techniques and things like that.
Rob: Yeah absolutely. And everybody is different too. Some guys have a very high resting G tolerance where they don’t even really have to strain and other guys like start having to strain right at four Gs or something. Everybody is a little bit different. There’s a lot of physiology that goes into it, science.
Chris: Right, yeah, science. It’s all science. That’s the motto of the show. So out of all those airplanes, what’s your favorite one to fly?
Rob: Well, I’ve got the say the Raptor. It’s just such an amazing jet. There’s really no other aircraft in the world like it. That thing was built to be just a beast. It’s actually a very easy jet to fly. The difficulty really comes in processing all the information that it gives you and employing it tactically.
Chris: Yeah. That makes sense. Seeing those at air shows and what they’re capable of doing, it just blows my mind. It doesn’t even seem possible for an airplane to do that kind of stuff.
Rob: Yeah. I mean you throw how overpowered this thing is, you throw that into the mix with the fact that it’s got thrust vectoring and so now you’ve got like essentially an extra flight control that most other aircraft don’t have. There are a couple of jets out there that have thrust factoring. I can fly, we call it post stall so the wing will be fully stalled out but you will be still pointing your nose up and you could actually still be maintaining altitude so yeah it’s pretty amazing.
Chris: Yeah it’s wild. I just never see anything like it. Alright so shifting gears a little bit and you don’t have to answer this question if you don’t want to but what is or what was your scariest moment as a
Rob: We’ve been talking a lot about pulling Gs and actually my scariest moment is I actually did come very close to blacking out once. And it was in the Raptor. It was a four-ship offensive counter air escort mission and as we go out to the air space, we all test our Gs. At that time, I think I was just like an element lead so I was number three in the formation. We test our G-suits by doing an exercise, a couple exercise where you do like a four to five G-turn and 180-degree turn that you followed up by a 67 G 180-degree turn just to make sure that your body is feeling good, that your systems are working. And during that turn, I noticed that my G-suit wasn’t inflating. We got done with the exercise and I was like, I told the flight lead, I was like “Hey, my G-suit’s not working.” Usually the default game plan there is like “Okay, G-suit doesn’t work. Don’t pull more than 5 Gs.” “Got it.” Well, you can’t really tell a fighter pilot like “Dude, go and do this giant flight and don’t more pull more than 5 Gs.”
Chris: Exactly. Because it’s all instinct right? Once you get in the fighter or whatever.
Rob: Oh yeah. The adrenaline kind of kicks in and things start going and things start getting busy and you’re thinking about employing, you’re thinking about running your tactics and next thing I knew, I’m doing a strength conversion on one of the bandits and I’m pulling like 8-1/2 Gs in the strength conversion and I’m like “Man, this hurts a lot worse than it normally does.” I’m like really having to strain just to stay awake and as I’m doing that, I’m noticing like I’m getting that tunnel vision, kind of like I got that day that I told you my first solo in the Tweet just when I really quickly pull the Gs. But this was, it was like really closed in. I was having a lot of we call it light loss, you actually lose your color vision while you’re doing that.
I recognized that and immediately I pulled the throttles back and unload the jet to get to unload the G and just kind of roll towards. At this point, I’d lost almost all vision at this point and I just remember the horizon thing and just kind of keeping some back sick pressure to get the nose up and when my vision came back, I was like about 20 degrees nose high and there was a moment in time there where I just felt a little confused and I was like “Man, I’m sure I experienced some low level of loss of consciousness.” It was scary. My heart was going. At that point, I’d lose track of the bandit that I was running my intercept on and I ended up having to call knock it off and basically just knocking off the fight. Once somebody calls knock it off, everybody gets in these little sanctuary altitudes and everybody starts worrying about deconfliction so I knew at that point, as long as I was in my little sanctuary altitude, I should be okay and ended up just going straight back to the field and landed.
But it really shook me up and it was good lesson that like hey, if you have a system malfunction which I did, you’ve got to honor that. You can’t just pay it lip service. We have training rules. We have procedures for a reason. And it’s not that I was going against any procedures at that time but it was more that I think I just made a less than conservative decision that could have had really dramatic consequences. I’m just happy that I stayed awake with absolutely no support from my anti-G system under 8-1/2 Gs. I’ve actually felt kind of awesome after that a little bit but at the same time kind of scared.
Chris: Yeah. I can’t imagine that. So if I understand right, like you pulled behind the bogey and you were doing your Gs there and that’s kind of when it all happened when you’re right on his tail? Do I understand it right?
Rob: Yeah. Usually like on an intercept like on a strength conversion. In this particular intercept, it was a high aspect so we were kind of nose to nose. I was about 10,000 feet or so above him. When you use the term bogey, that implies like a lack of ID. I know that Top Gun movie, everyone talks bogey, but bogey is this you don’t know the allegiance. You don’t know if it’s a friend. You don’t know if it’s a foe, neutral. So for a guy that’s been a bandit, he’s been identified as “Alright, this is a foe. If he’s just a bandit, maybe I can shoot him, maybe I can’t.” It all depends on the rules on engagement. It’s what you can do with a bandit versus a bogey.
Chris: Great lesson. I like that.
Rob: But yeah. Executing this intercept from 10,000 feet above the guy. He had no idea was there. In fact, throughout the entire intercept he never saw me. He had no clue that I was doing the intercept and my whole goal was to arrive at a point behind him where I could shoot it. Just to get where I needed to be required about that 8-1/2 G pool in order not to overshoot his altitude in a vertical.
Chris: Crazy. I keep forgetting, I don’t know why but I keep forgetting that the F-22 is stealth right? So they’re not going to see you on radar or anything. It’s wild.
Rob: Yeah, which is awesome for us but it also makes for some interesting training scenarios because a lot of time even though you’re fighting against a training platform, you’re all working together to make sure that the flight is safely executed. So if they have say awareness on you, then they can deconflict and they can make sure that they’re not going to run their aircraft into you but if they have no idea where you are, then the it’s completely on you as a Raptor pilot in order to maintain that deconfliction.
Chris: Yeah. I’m sure the systems and everything of the Raptor are top secret but if I could learn about that, it would just be fascinating because I’m sure there’s so much technology in that thing that just helps with scenarios like that.
Rob: Oh yeah. It’s wild. I mean, these guys, these engineers that come up with this stuff, my hat goes off for them. They are some pretty smart individuals.
Chris: Alright, so switching gears here. Have you ever been deployed overseas?
Rob: I have.
Chris: Okay, tell us about that.
Rob: So I can’t really talk a whole lot about deployments but what I can tell you is the air force, our air force is the greatest expeditionary air force in the world and what that means when we say expeditionary is that you can pick up a unit, pick up a squadron and take them anywhere in the world in a relatively short amount of time and as soon as you get on the ground, you are ready to go to war. It is amazing and the fact that our air force has that capability to just pick up and move, I mean it’s a very large operation when you think about it. Even if you’re only to take like a couple of fighters and you’re going to go take them somewhere, anywhere in the world, you’re going to have to take a cat of hundreds. You’ve got your maintainers obviously and within the maintenance section, you need to make sure you got the jet engine mechanics. You need to make sure you got the structures guys, the metals guys, the crew chiefs and all those guys who are going to require supervision. So you got all those guys. In addition to that, you have all the life support folks that do the air crew flight equipment like the G-suit, the parachute, harness, the helmets. It is a huge undertaking to take a group that large and with that much equipment and just park them somewhere around the world. The fact that we’ve got this down almost to a science is really very impressive and pretty amazing when you think about it.
Chris: Yea. The military is a very organized that if there’s anything you can say about them, it’s that. Cool. I know you can’t talk about the specifics or sometimes even the wares but that was interesting.
Rob: Yeah. I tell you what. I sure wish I could.
Chris: Someday, you can tell your grandchildren or something like that.
Rob: Yeah, there you go.
Chris: Alright, so I want to get into military training a little bit and kind of pick your brain on what it was like and also for those who are younger or deciding to go into flying and they have kind of this decision point what direction they should go and some considerations to take into account in making that decision. So we talk a lot about civilian training on this show. We really haven’t talked a lot about military training just because we haven’t had anyone on this show that is of your caliber, a fighter pilot. So I’d like to get into that a little bit. Now, we got into your backstory. So you kind of decided that you were just going to go into the military and it kind of made sense with the background with your grandfathers and stuff like that and kind of your connection to patriotism. For others, how do you compare between the civilian and the military side? What would you say the decision process is there for someone that’s looking to get into, rather comparing the two and deciding which one they want to get into?
Chris: Well, I think it’s all lifestyle. Because you think about really what’s important to you. Is it important that you’re home every night or are you the kind of person that likes to travel, go around the world? The military actually has both options available to you. If you like to travel and spend time on the road, you could be a tanker pilot, a transport pilot. I mean those guys are gone all the time. But as a fighter guy, you’re pretty much flying around the flagpole. You go out to the airspace, you do your flight and you come home. You’re not logging as many hours as the tanker transport guys but that 1.1 or 1.2 that you’re logging a few times a week is extremely action-packed and it is a very busy time. In addition to flying, it’s different because they are such short flights and they are very intense. It requires a very, very significant amount of preparation. A lot of the tanker transport guys, they’ll show up and they’ll be handed “Hey, here’s the flight plan that’s been done.” They need to have it that way because they can’t spend hours in the day prior planning for their mission. They’ve got to just be able to show up, take their mission materials and go whereas we’ll spend like an entire day, 12 hours or more planning up a mission.
And so you really got to decide if you’re thinking civilian and military, like “What do I want lifestyle-wise” and being the military, it’s not just flying. If you’re a delta pilot or you’re flying for the airlines or flying professionally in the civilian side. At least, most of my friends that do that that fly for the airlines tell me “That is your job. Your job is to fly and that is awesome.” In the air force, you are an officer first. Yes, your job title is pilot but there is so much other stuff that needs to be done. We each have additional ground duties. You take those ground duties and kind of add them to your flying duties and it makes for a very busy life. And then you’ll sprinkle in some deployments, sprinkle in TDYs or temporary duty or you’re on the road for like an exercise or something like a red flag for example. The days really add up that you’re away from home and not just being gone separated by distance but just separated by time. Several times, I’ll leave for work early, like well before the family wakes up and I’ll get home after the kids are down.
Chris: Yeah. Long days.
Rob: Yeah, but at the same time very fulfilling. So that’s kind of the tradeoff that you need to weigh as you’re trying to decide whether or not you want to go the civilian route or the military route, is what kind of fulfillment do I want for my flying or what is fulfillment for me as a pilot. Because being an airline pilot can be extremely fulfilling for some people and for other people, they have to fly fighters. So you just got to figure it out.
Chris: Yeah. I think you get that kind of expect in both civilian and military. So obviously in the military like your example, you could choose to do transport or fighters or whatever, you kind of choose what works better for you. And in civil aviation it’s much the same where you can choose to be a flight instructor or you can choose to be an airline pilot or a corporate pilot or any myriad of other jobs that are out there and really what it boils down to at the end of the day is lifestyle. When I first fell in love with aviation, I wanted to be an airline pilot. That’s what I worked for, that was my goal. And then I realized “You know what? I’m kind of a family-first type of guy and so that’s not really going to work super well for me.” So I kind of took things a different direction. So yeah, a really good advice there that you need to think about what your lifestyle is like.
Rob: Yeah. You got to love what you do. That was the thing for me when I was working that finance job, is I liked it a lot but I can tell that it wasn’t really my love. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do in life. It made a big difference just in my day to day happiness once I decided to make the switch. You just got to figure out what makes you happy and just go after it.
Chris: Great. Love that. So tell us a little bit about preparation. Now, for someone that is looking to go straight into the military right out of high school or something like that, it’s going to be a little bit different than your path but the paths are similar in the level of quality person I guess or quality character you need to have. Tell us a little bit about who you need to be to qualify to be a fighter pilot or even someone in the military.
Rob: Yeah. So it definitely is going to depend on which route you take to get into the air force. Right now, there’s kind of three ways to get in. So the first way and it’s probably the recommended route is to go through the air force academy. The air force academy is a great opportunity for folks to get a very deep, a very profound indoctrination and to learn a lot about the air force from a young age and kind of come up in a way if that makes sense. You don’t really have to make a transition where you get to the point that you are going to commission and go to pilot training.
Rob: The second way is ROTC. It’s not quite as structured as life at the air force academy but still you’re getting a very good solid foundation and very pointed direction with your studies. So that’s a good route. You get your college paid for as well if you’re on this ROTC scholarship. Both are very good options. Or you can go to the route that I went which is through officer training school. The nice thing about going through officer training school is I knew before I had to sign on the line that I was going to go to pilot training. I got picked up specifically for a pilot slot. If you got to the academy or you go to ROTC, that’s all up in the air. That doesn’t get decided until you get close to graduation. It was nice to know that if I didn’t get picked up for pilot, if I got picked up for something else because you have to apply for like a primary, like a backup or two career field, it was nice to know that if I didn’t get what I wanted then I wouldn’t have to leave my job.
Chris: Yeah, that’s really nice to have that backup plan.
Rob: Yeah. To be honest with you, all three ways, like you need to have good grades, you need to study hard. There was a time there especially for OTS, that they were really only accepting for pilot spots people that had engineering degrees. It’s a very short time where they came up with that but I think they’ve since gone back away from that. An engineering degree definitely helps. But I would say yeah, just grades, staying in shape physically is huge. You got to be able to pass the air force PT test. Not only that. If you want to fly fighters, you have to pass what they call the fighter air crew test and it’s more of a strength-focused test where you’re doing all the classic lifts, you’re doing bench press, you’re doing squat, curls. There’s a couple of other exercises in there, and you had to do a certain amount of weight and a certain number of repetitions and that’s just to determine if you’re physically capable of withstanding the G-forces. So there’s that. That’s probably really the best advice I could give, is if that is your goal, then map your route out, figure out air force academy, ROTC or OTS and then find out everything you can about that particular route and do your very best that you can in order to gain entrance to that route and then to stay there. Because the air force is not scared to kick people out. If you’re not making the cut then they’ll tell you to go find something else to do.
Chris: I’d imagine especially for a fighter pilot position which obviously every pilot wants to do, it’s very competitive to get in there and so yeah, it’s got to be pretty cut throat as far as the options they have. They have the best of the best that are in physical shape. To hear that they would require an engineering degree is amazing but at the same time it’s not surprising just because that’s the level of competition you’re at.
Rob: Yeah, and the bros in the fire squadron will probably kill me to hear me say this but to be honest with you, not all the best pilots want to go the fighter route. There a couple of really sharp dudes that I went through pilot training with. They just didn’t want the lifestyle. The heavy lifestyle really appealed to them so they want that route. Yes, you’re absolutely right. There’s a ton of competition for the fighters. It’s ridiculous. It’s very stressful going through pilot training wondering “Hey, am I going to be on that list? Am I going to be in that shortlist?” For my class, I’d say about 20% of us got to go to the fighter bomber track and then of that, I think we had, I can’t remember how many people we had in my class but we ended up with it’s like five guys if I remember right that went the fighter bomber track and of those guys, three of us went fighters.
Chris: So they had their choice basically of the two and they chose transport basically or cargo or whatever rather than the fighter route. Is that right?
Rob: Yeah. So when you got through pilot training, there’s kind of different layers of cuts. The first cut comes about halfway through pilot training but it’s fighter route or transport. And then if you’re the fighter, it’s actually the fighter bomber track. From there, at the end, when you get to your assignment night, you could actually go to a bomber. It wasn’t an option for me just because this was like before UAVs were around but you could go to fly like a predator. There are students by the time I got done being an instructor, students were getting assigned to Mk1s and Mk9s. I’m not sure exactly how it is right now but I know over the last couple of years, they have been taking guys from the fighter bomber track and sending them to like C-17s or KC-135s. These jets that were historically allocated to the heavy track. There’s no sure bet in the air force is really what it boils down to. As long as you’re doing the very best that you can and you have a good attitude. I’d say that it is huge, having a good attitude. I’ve seen a lot of sharp guys that have bad attitudes get the cut.
Chris: And what would you find a good attitude?
Rob: Somebody who’s open to instruction is really a big one. If you’re not open and willing, if you scoff at the instruction and think that “Alright. Copy. I got it, you’re telling me what I’m doing wrong but I think what I’m doing wrong is actually right.” As an instructor, I’ve seen that attitude before. Some people are just not teachable because they’re just too prideful.
Chris: Which is very dangerous in aviation.
Rob: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s why that attitude is rooted out very quickly because we just can’t have that. So yeah, somebody who’s willing learn, who’s willing to listen and somebody who’s willing to embrace the traditions.
Chris: Interesting. What do you mean by that?
Rob: You know, fighter pilot world has a lot of traditions. Going back to when guys first started flying one of the tradition is roll calls. Way back in the day when they first started using aircraft in combat, at the end of the day, because they didn’t have the radios that we have today or they didn’t have the capability to take accountability while airborne. They would set up a time and they’d say “Hey, we’re going to have roll call at 6 p.m.” And so at 6 p.m., everybody that have survived the day would get together to take roll and find out who is missing. That’s kind of how they kept their accountability. And that tradition is carried on through the day even though we have the accountability real time, but we still get together and at roll call we’ll tell stories and just kind of foster the brotherhood that a fighting unit really needs to have.
Chris: Great. That’s cool. So on the flipside of that, you’re saying that if someone was resistant to those sort of traditions, they wouldn’t show up to the roll call sort of thing, they’d just be off doing their own thing.
Rob: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
Chris: Cool. That’s really interesting actually that that little piece of history has remained and actually really cool. I mean, how neat is that that this tradition from the beginning years of aviation warfare has remained. Probably things that your grandfathers actually did too. In a real sense, in their day, they would have to do it in a real sense.
Rob: Yeah, for sure. There’s just a lot of little traditions and stuff. Those are the things that kind of add variety and flavor to this lifestyle. Especially today, we’re doing more with less budget cuts, and these guys are just burning the candle at both ends, just working really hard. It’s nice to have these like little traditions that you can feel kind of set you apart from some of the other career fields.
Chris: Yeah definitely. Great. Here’s another question for you. How has simulation play a role in your training? I don’t know what kind of simulators they have their. Do they have any F-22 simulators?
Rob: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s been interesting. Since I very first got in, simulators have been a huge part of my flying. Everything that you could possibly think of that has to do with flying, flying instruments, flying executing tactics, just basic aircraft handling, all that stuff is practiced at some point in the simulator. It’s actually even now like I mentioned the budget cuts before. It’s becoming more of a cost effective way to train and so now we’re actually doing these large force exercises in the simulator where you’re linking up guys and simulators around the world, literally around the world and doing these exercises we call them virtual flags. And yeah, it’s pretty amazing what we can as a technology. It’s a great experience for guys, especially young guys who aren’t able to see these giants exercises. It’s good for them to see them in a non-threatening, like non-life threatening environment if that makes sense.
Chris: Yeah. Definitely. Tell us about, you mentioned flag. I know this is getting away from the simulation question but tell us about red flag a little bit and what that is.
Rob: Yeah, so Red Flag was, I can’t remember the exact year it was started but the whole crux of Red Flag was to prepare the brand new wingmen for combat. To really understand what that means, you got to understand that especially back in the day when air combat was happening frequently and there were dogfights and air to air engagements were a regular part of war, there’s a lot of fog and friction associated with that. It gets very confusing especially when you’re trying to like identify somebody to shoot and you’re running your rules of engagement. There’s a lot of radio comm that goes on because you have to have coordination and you can’t all be on separate frequencies and so now you have like your Red Flag hundreds of aircraft that are on the same frequency and everybody’s talking and everybody has something important to say and that can be very confusing to a new guy. And so Red Flag is an opportunity. It’s almost like stress inoculation when you think about that. That was the whole crux of that particular exercise, was just to expose these young guys to that so that when they get to combat, it’s not their first time seeing it and they don’t have the jitters from that first employment.
It’s since kind of evolved into something even bigger. Now, it’s an exercise on command and control as well as the air to air combat and the air to ground combat pieces. It’s much bigger than fighter pilots. It’s bigger than bomber pilots, bigger than C2 command and control. It really is almost like an entire force exercise.
Chris: And you guys go out to Vegas to do that or where do you do it?
Rob: Yep. They got one in Vegas. That’s the one that they did, the Fighter Pilot IMAX movie. I don’t know if you ever saw that.
Chris: I did yeah but it seemed not too authentic. It wasn’t as authentic as I wanted it to be.
Rob: Yeah, there was definitely some stuff that was staged. The funny stuff I actually know one of the guys that was in that movie. One of the guys that was in that movie flying the F-16 was one of my instructors going through the F-22B course. It was pretty funny to see him. It was like “Hey man, you’re the guy in the movie.” I’m sure they gave him a part and I was like “Hey man, can you do this when you’re airborne?” I’m sure it was like not easy for him to do because it’s kind of cheesy but yeah, some of the air footage definitely not really authentic. However I think they did a pretty good job of kind of just showing the whole process with the big mass brief in the beginning, that big room that big auditorium, and just showing just the sheer numbers of aircraft and pilots involved. They did okay. I can’t scoff them entirely.
Chris: It was cool in IMAX too. I think I saw it in IMAX.
Rob: Yeah, for sure.
Chris: Did you, I know this is a separate branch but did you see Speed and Angels, that movie?
Chris: Man. I might have to send you a copy of that show. It’s really, really great. It’s about the final, and just for our listeners too, it’s about the final or some of the last pilots to go through training for the F-14. It just kind of shows their experience and there’s one male and one female pilot that go through that. And they have vastly different experiences. One of them ends up getting deployed and gets in command. They must have declassified some of the information because he is actually able to talk about all that. And then she struggles quite a bit with landing on a carrier at night. It’s just really interesting, really well done. It’s on Blu-Ray. Really nicely done.
Rob: Yeah. I definitely have to check that out.
Chris: Alright. Let’s kind of wrap up here because we’re getting to our time. I could go on and on, maybe we’ll have to have you on this show again some other time.
Rob: Yeah, absolutely.
Chris: But I’d like to get your final inspirational words for those that are out there that have captured the aviation bug. Maybe they’re trying to get into military, maybe they aren’t, but you’re the perfect example of this story because you have this bug and it kind of showed up a little later in life than a lot of people start to pursue aviation, so what would your final words of advice or inspirational words be for someone in that position?
Rob: You know, I would say that probably the biggest thing that keeps people from following their aviation dream is fear like “Am I going to be able to do it? Am I going to be able to succeed? If I fail then what do I have to fall back on to?” There’s kind of a barrier there. And so what I would say is if you really love aviation and you want to make it a career, just go for it. As simple as that is, I think there’s actually a lot of consequences behind that and you got to weight those and decide “Alright, is it really worth it? Do I love it enough to face the consequences if for some reason it doesn’t work out?” Once you make that decision and you take the leap, just give it all you’ve got. Just give it everything you have. Don’t stop working until you get what you want and it’s definitely possible. But I definitely understand that there’s a lot of stuff that’s based on timing and a little bit of luck but it’s amazing what you can overcome and compensate for if you have the right attitude and the right determination to just sit down and power through the difficult parts.
Chris: Maybe you can attest to this too but I feel like if you follow your heart and you know this is a passion of yours, you know it’s something you’ve always wanted to do and you go for it, there is this time as a pilot. It kind of happens at different stages for everybody but there’s this time and pilot training where at some point, you really know that you are where you’re supposed to be. I think that happens for everyone. Did that happen for you?
Rob: Yeah. You know, it’s funny because I kind of felt that. Like really from day one when I showed up at pilot training, I’m wearing the flight suite, I’m sitting in a class all day just talking about flying and I’m like “Yeah, this is what I should’ve been doing this whole time.” It almost sounds like Napoleon Dynamite when he’s like “Just follow your heart, that’s what I always do.” It’s totally true. If you know you love something and it is interesting to you and you go out and do it, then yeah, I think it will just be confirmation when as you’re doing it you’re like “Alright, this is awesome. Time is flying and I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do this.”
Chris: Right, exactly. And maybe that advice goes outside aviation. Maybe someone listening to this, they’re kind of dabbling in aviation sort of thing but maybe their passion is really over elsewhere. So really, I think that goes to anything. We spend so much of our lives working, we may as well enjoy it.
Rob: Oh for sure.
Chris: Well I really appreciate you being on the show. Really cool to hear your perspective and to hear your story. Again, thank you for your service and we’ll keep up with you so thanks for joining us Rob.
Rob: Awesome Chris. Yeah, thanks for having me man. It’s been a lot of fun.
Chris: No problem. We’ll catch up soon.
Chris: Alright, so I’ve always had this utmost respect for what is called the greatest generation, and the greatest generation is that of those during World War II that were of the age to go to war to fight for the good side if you will, the force or whatever. Obviously, that’s the Allied Forces I’m talking about. But these are people that answered a call to action. In this interview with Rob, I think that’s the biggest thing that touched me, was that Rob answered that call to action in our modern day. He was, obviously got his degree in finance, went to Boston, had a job there at an investment firm, enjoyed his job but then this thing called 9/11 happened and it sparked this journey that he’s been on and he hasn’t looked back since. And now, he is fighting in the military or he’s in the military and has the ability to fight if needs be for our country and has because he has been deployed.
I just think that’s so awesome that Rob answered that call to action and went out and kind of followed the road that his grandfathers had been on in being pilots in World War II. So I thought that was so interesting and just so amazing. And not only that, you can tell that Rob is just a top notch guy. He absolutely loves his job. He loves aviation, loves his family and it was absolutely fantastic to have him on the show, so Rob, thank you for coming on the show. It was a great pleasure and I know that for all of us, you inspired us to see this passion for aviation, kind of a different light from the military side and it just goes to show that no matter what part of aviation you are in, you have a piece in the pie or a piece in this industry and you have something to share. It was really great to have Rob on the show and I hope you guys enjoyed it too. Make sure to go on the AviatorCast website and see some of the links and things I’ve put on there. Rob has a great website called tallyone.com in which he writes on and he has some other source material there too. He actually has some really nice t-shirts and I plan on getting one of these t-shirts. He has cool stuff on there. I’m also going to post some pictures on the post on the website and a video that he told me about that they made in pilot training. Kind of a Napoleon Dynamite spoof if that gets you excited.
Anyway, so again, Rob thanks for joining us on this show, and for you listeners, go to AviatorCast.com and find the episode there and the information there and check out some other stuff that Rob has going. They have a lot of great stuff. Not only tallyone.com but they also have this Slipstream radio podcast that is pretty great as well.
Alright, so that’s it for the show. We are going to wrap up here with our aftershow AviatorCast actions. You can take a quick two-minute survey at survey.aviatorcast.com. Here you can give us ideas for upcoming shows. Second, you can continue the conversation by joining us on this episode on AviatorCast.com. You can comment there or you can write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you in either location. I do get emails and I do answer every single one of them and I make an effort to answer everyI’d love to hear from you in either location. I do get emails and I do answer every single one of them and I make an effort to answer every single comment as well.
You can also subscribe. Don’t miss another AviatorCast episode. You can subscribe through iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud and more. Really simple there and that means you won’t miss another episode. Fourth, we’d love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This helps others learn about AviatorCast so that they can enjoy it as well. That review from Mike20SM at the beginning of the show came from iTunes. We really love to hear from a lot of you in different parts of the world and even here in the United States and Canada and kind of North America but we’d love to hear from you so if you do enjoy this podcast, please leave us an honest review on iTunes and we will read it on the show.
If you’d like to check out any of our training products here at Angle of Attack, head to FlyAOAmedia.com. Start with the basics for free with Aviator90, learn instrument flying and more with AviatorPro, or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD-11 again at FlyAOAmedia.com. Angle of Attack also offers professional video services and creative services at AngleofAttackPro.com. Just reach out to us there and we will talk about your project.
Alright, so closing now, many thanks go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all of their hard work to make this episode possible and all they do outside AviatorCast. These guys are absolutely awesome, and they work their tail off when it’s time to really get after things and even when it’s not time to get after things, these guys are in the trenches doing great things for us. And last but certainly not least, thank you for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things.
Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]
The post AviatorCast Episode 48: Rob Burgon- Fighter Pilot | F-22 Raptor | U.S. Air Force appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Dec 13 2014
Have you ever dreamed of buying an airplane? Have you seen a ‘for sale’ sign on an airplane at your local airport and thought, “what if?”
Today we talk to Don Sebastian, who we’re calling the ‘Airplane Detective’. You’ve found yourself a potential aircraft, but now what? Don will chat with us about what kind of paperwork, records, tests, and so on are required to get a full picture of what you’re getting into- even down to the details of what to look at when you walk up to the airplane for the first time.
So if you have a dream of owning airplane, or even if you want to know more about how to check if an old airplane is airworthy, this podcast is for you.
Huge thanks to Don for joining us. Always fun to think about buying an airplane! Even more fun to ACTUALLY buy one. Here’s to hoping it happens.
His Phone Number: 910.528.7769
His Email: email@example.com
Chris: Shaking rudders and borescope-ing engines. This is AviatorCast Episode 82.
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome, aviators. You’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. From the time I logged my first flight hour and now flying here and there and owning an aviation training business, flight seems to be in my everyday life, just part of what I do. There’s also something new to learn, a new destination to reach or a new aviation friend to meet. Truly, aviation is just a wonderful, wonderful thing to be a part of. That is why I do this podcast week after week.
My very warm welcome to you. If this is the first time you come to AviatorCast, I welcome you here. This podcast is brought to you by Angle of Attack, a flight training media production studio which I founded and which I run. If you haven’t been in AviatorCast before, AviatorCast is where we simply share our aviation passion. We bring on inspiring guests to teach us about new topics or we talk about their careers.
This is also a place to get insight into history or into perhaps a career in aviation. We talk a lot about flight simulation on the show. We talk about reigniting the flame, say that you’ve been out of aviation for a while. Once you’re in aviation, once you’ve tasted flight, it’s hard not to want to get back. Maybe you’re in that process of spooling up the engines again, if you will or maybe you’re trying to find the resources or getting courage to fly, getting that license; there are so many people that want their license and never do.
Of course, many other topics come out of the show. More than anything, we just get on here and we try to come up with an interesting topic each and every week, share a little bit of news with you and knowledge. It keeps you in the game, keeps you ahead in the game, keeps you thinking about flying and that’s really what we really do here at AviatorCast. It’s a little bit free flowing; just stuff that’s cool. Welcome. If this is your first time, welcome, welcome.
We have reviews that come to us each and every week from iTunes, Stitcher. I look at other places as well. When I read a review on the show, I always send you a very cool and very comfortable, by the way AviatorCast limited edition t-shirt that says, “Fly or Die” on the front of it and has an F4U Corsair which is a very cool World War II Navy airplane from the United States Navy. Anyway, it’s a cool t-shirt. I send those for free to you no matter where you are in the world if I read your review on the show.
This week we have a five-star review that has come to us from Jimmy Tidmore in the US. He says, “Outstanding podcast. Have been away from flying for ten years until this past June. There had been many developments in aviation since I had last flown in 2005. The iPhone for example, had not even been invented much less the iPad. Needless to say, I had a lot to catch up on.”
“Well, one of the ways I have been able to cover a lot of ground since June is through Chris’ excellent podcast. It is both informative and entertaining. Chris does a great job of both selecting and then interviewing his top-notch guests. AviatorCast has helped me learn and re-learn so much in a very short period of that and for that I am very grateful. Thanks to everyone at AviatorCast for an awesome product. Keep up the good work.”
Thank you, Jimmy. This is a perfect example right here of being able to get your head back in the game. All that time being away from flying and now you’re getting back in the game and getting back in the cockpit. Many people, if you’re not flying for an actual career go through a period of time like this where family stuff happens and work stuff happens, this and that and you’re just out of the cockpit for a while.
There are so many tools, so many resources to keep your head in the game, keep the knowledge flowing, keep learning. I’m really happy to know that we’ve been able to help with that in even just a small way. Of course, I’m sure you’re doing a lot of the work just totally on your own and that’s coming from your own source of passion and excitement for flight. I really appreciate you being here.
E-mail me. I’ll send you an AviatorCast t-shirt, firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, if the other listeners want to get an AviatorCast t-shirt, I really want to send you guys one. Make sure to review the podcast on iTunes.
No obligation there. If you don’t want to, that’s totally fine, but if I read your review on the show then I will send you a t-shirt no matter where you are in the world. Last week, I sent one to Switzerland. I sent one to Canada maybe and then I sent four to the US. I will send it anywhere. I’ve sent them all over the world. Yes, anywhere, no matter where you are. Most of our listeners are in the US. Again, no matter where you are, I will send it to you.
A very, very quick brief on what this episode of AviatorCast is about today; we talked to a fine young, really older, gentleman named Don Sebastian. Don is a funny guy who has been in aviation for years and years. He is what I call a private investigator, a detective for those that are looking to buy an airplane.
He will help you find an airplane. He will help you find the documentation that’s out there. He will be helping you with kind of the big alert or red flag items that could really hurt you if you were to buy kind of the lemon airplane. Most of all he’s there to verify that you can get a nice airplane. It may not be the nicest airplane but an airplane that isn’t going to give you a lot of headaches. During this interview, we’re going to talk about a lot of those things.
It just so happens, I have this crazy idea in my head and I’m still not sure how realistic it is but I have this crazy idea in my head that I want to get in an airplane, an Angle of Attack airplane for my business and I want to start instructing in my own airplane in my own local home airport just because I think that’s an awesome thing to do. I have this idea in my head that I want to get a small airplane.
It’s kind of funny that Don wrote me out of the blue as I was going through my own thought process here and we started to talk about some airplanes that I could fly. I knew that I wanted to get him on the show. That is what we talked about today. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m excited to get into those things. If you guys ever see yourself wanting to buy an airplane in the future, I know this will be for you.
Even if that’s not the case, it gives you some interesting insight into what you even want to do in a pre-flight walk around. For example, if you were going to be flying an airplane that you’ve never flown before especially one that’s maybe older and you kind of look at it and say, “Eh, I don’t know about that thing,” he has some tips and tricks that would even be good for a pre-flight walk around.
This is a valuable episode. I’m excited to talk to Don. He is a talker himself. I’m not going to do a lot of the talking myself but I’m excited to get into this.
Before I get to that, I have a couple of news items from both the flight training world that I want you guys to be aware of and the flight simulation world. These are two pretty big news pieces I think you’ll be excited about. I’m just going to spend a quick couple of minutes on that and then we would get in to the interview with Don Sebastian.
Here we go. Let’s get in to the flight training news first.
Now, flight training news.
Chris: Recently here in the United States, there is some legislation that is on slate to essentially go through approval with the United States Government and that legislation is called The Aviation Innovation Reform and Reauthorization bill. Basically, what this thing is intended to do is it’s intended to wrap in a bunch of things that the FAA kind of needs to move forward right now and get approval and funding from Congress to move forward with the FAA in its future form.
First off, let me say that there are some very cool, very important parts of this bill even for me personally. There is a third-class medical reform in this bill that will essentially allow a lot of pilots to get in to aviation again who were maybe disqualified in the past for a medical reason.
For me personally, even though I qualify for a medical. It’s very difficult to get a medical for me personally because of some personal medical things that are going on with me. This would allow me to get an authorization once for that medical and not have to do that again. Let me say this is a big personal deal for me. I spent three grand this last year trying to get my own medical. That’s just a very steep cost for me to incur every year.
There are some very cool, very important parts to this bill. There’s also one very bad part to this bill. That would be the privatization of air traffic control in the United States. While I’m not 100% opposed to approaching this issue with privatizing air traffic control, I’m not really against that specifically, I am against who is essentially going to be on the board for this company, for this corporation, whatever it’s going to be.
The real danger here for general aviation and for business aviation is that there will be ten board members. Four of those board members will be from the airlines. They will be from specific major airlines in the United States. A fifth will from the Airline Pilots Association. There you have a majority vote already from just the airlines.
There will be an 11th, I believe person on the board but that board member will essentially be the CEO. Essentially, the airlines could vote in the CEO they want and he could be the 11th guy that kind of throws everything off.
Why is that bad? That’s bad because general aviation then doesn’t have a say in air traffic regulation, which I think is incredibly dangerous. I probably said some very inaccurate things in this statement here but that is basically what I know. What I know is that they want to do the privatization of the air traffic control system, that GA, general aviation does not have good representation.
I don’t believe in that especially after Oshkosh just last year. We had the EAA oppose basically the ALPA, which is the Air Line Pilots Association, union for airline pilots. Basically, ALPA came out against third-class medical reform. It kind of came out left field, out of nowhere, no warning that they were going to oppose this. This is just a very important, makes sense sort of thing for general aviation and there’s really no rhyme or reason why ALPA would be against this.
Anyway, I don’t think the airlines are playing friends here. I’m very happy that Delta Airlines is not supporting this. They’re saying they do not want this to happen. I thought that was a huge plus. I’m not essentially sure who the other airlines are that are supporting this. If you are in the United States, you have the opportunity to reach out to your local representatives and make sure they know that you are opposed to this bill.
I did this through an automated system that is on NBAA, the National Business Aviation Association. They have just a tool you go through where they have a template. You can customize the template a little bit for your Senators. It will detect where you are and then you can send an e-mail to them basically or a letter to them with your personalized information. You can also tweet about it and you can put it on your Facebook.
I’ve done this myself. I’m against this. I really like the third-class medical reform. There are obviously some other great things in the bill, too but don’t believe in wrapping this in to it. If this is the way it’s going to be, we’re just going to have to oppose it. If you do feel the same way, please go out. Oppose this in whatever way you can.
I’m not asking you to quit your day job and do it. I’m just saying spend ten minutes, go and oppose this thing because this really shouldn’t be happening. It will hurt general aviation. From the sources that I have and from the information that I have, that is my current belief.
Generally on this podcast, I don’t bring up heavy subjects like this because I think it’s a waste of time. I’m not huge about politics but this is very important to me because I do not want any sort of infringement on my freedom to fly because I protect that vigorously. I hope you would, too. For those of you who aren’t in the United States, this may have been interesting but probably boring.
Anyway, that’s it. Just so you guys are aware, oppose it if you want to. Let’s keep aviation free and let’s keep it unregulated and fair as much as we possibly can.
That’s it. Let’s move on to flight simulation news.
Now, flight simulation industry news.
Chris: There are some very cool information, news that came out a few days ago. Gosh, I say “very cool” a lot. This is cool. This is from Dovetail Games. Dovetail Games bought the iconic name brand of Microsoft Flight Simulators. They bought Microsoft Flight Simulator two years ago. They’ve been actively developing it not only to gamers, but they’re also very open to doing so for would-be pilots.
This United Kingdom company is releasing a simulator, a new simulator built on the backbone of what is Microsoft Flight Simulator. This is called Flight School. I’m very excited about this because I believe flight simulation is best used for real flight purposes. It’s set again to release in April 2016. I’m just going to read a couple of lines here from their press release because I think it’s really interesting.
This is what it says. It says, “Flight School is a carefully-crafted and rewarding experience designed to teach would-be pilots the basics of flying a light aircraft as well as the essential premises of flight simulation. It will offer newcomers to flight sim-ing and engaging and accessible introduction to aviation while also being highly realistic and authentic.”
“Players will learn to fly in iconic training aircraft undertaking a series of tutorials and training missions, which will provide the perfect introduction to the genre. There will also be a free flight mode for those players who want to head off and explore the entire world.”
Here’s a quote, “Flying an aircraft is a rewarding, awe-inspiring experience unlike any other and we want to give more people the opportunity to enjoy that by breaking down the barriers that make flight simulation feel inaccessible.” That’s from the Stephen Hood, the Creative Director of Dovetail Games.
“By empowering players to handle the controls of the aircraft, we will help them to immerse themselves in the very best and most thrilling aspects of flying in an up-to-date and technically cutting edge environment.”
The CEO of Dovetail Games also said, and his name is Paul Jackson, “People have always dreamt of being able to fly and through Flight School,” being the name of the simulator, “We aim to satisfy that dream and give people the opportunity not only to learn to fly but to really soar as they explore the world.”
“Flight simulation has always been important in the world of gaming but it hasn’t kept up — the core experience hasn’t progressed since the launch of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator X back in 2006. That means we’ve missed at least one or maybe even two generations of players who have adored flight sim-ing, but for whom it wasn’t appropriate.”
That’s actually very true and very accurate, if I may interrupt here on that quote. So many people approach flight simulation with curiosity on how they can use it to get in to their own flying career. There are so many gamers out there that are attached to gaming. Millennials are huge on gaming. It’s really unfortunate that flight simulation hasn’t been a serious part of that conversation the last decade here.
It’s unfortunate because those kids that wanted to learn that are instead playing Call of Duty and things like that. They’re not going to be doing that for a career after these teenagers. They’re going to be trying to find a career. Many games I guess could eventually be a career but flight simulation is one of those areas where you can actually take the knowledge you’ve learned from a flight simulator and you can take that in to a career. It’s kind of interesting that way.
I’ll continue with his quote. He says, “Our aim is to get back to that place to restore the former glory of flight simulation as an enjoyable and engaging pastime. Consumers today expect a much slicker experience across all genres. They want simulations that are realistic but also accessible. They want to be led to a place where the focus can be on reaching great levels of accomplishment rather than struggling to get to grips with the operational aspects and that’s what Flight School will deliver.”
With that statement, what I’m hearing there is that this will be less of a free play flight simulator where you can go to your local airport anywhere in the world, do any procedure sort of thing and it’s more of a guided experience, guided training, if you will for brand-new aviators. That’s really interesting.
Obviously, for you real pilots out there, it’s really great just to have a solid simulator where you can fly anywhere in the world, any approach, that sort of thing. I talked about that a couple of episodes back. Actually, last episode I think it was. That’s really important for real aviators.
For starter or beginning aviators ab-initio aviators, gosh, why don’t we get right in here and introduce them to some of the correct flying principles before they just fly all over the place on their own kind of aimless? I’m excited about this. I’m really excited about this to see what ends up happening with this.
I am going to try to reach to Dovetail Games and see if we can’t get someone on the line here and talk to them about this. Yes, I’m excited. I think this is a great thing for flight simulation, for bringing those flight sim-ers in to real aviation. I’m excited. That is good news on top of maybe the important news that I had on the last segment. That’s it, guys. That’s going to be exciting, coming out in April.
We’re going to get into our interview with Don Sebastian now. Here is Hangar Talk with Don Sebastian.
Now, a special Hangar Talk segment.
Chris: All right everybody. We are honored to have a very special guest with us today. We have Don Sebastian. How are you doing, Don? Thanks for joining us tonight.
Don: It’s a pleasure. How are you doing, Chris?
Chris: I’m doing fine and dandy. It’s good to finally get you on AviatorCast. I know that you and I have been looking forward to this. First off, we start out every podcast this way, every interview. We ask our guest how did you fall in love with aviation. Tell us about that.
Don: It was 61 years ago. I was 12 years old. Basically, I guess it started with model airplanes. Back then we had U-control, two wires going out [Inaudible][22:21] stand 60 feet away from the model airplane and goes around in a circle. I had a pretty good support staff. My dad gave me money to buy the balsa wood. I started entering air shows and I did quite well. I won quite a few air shows.
Actually, there was one in New York City. It was hundreds of thousands of people there. I won the contest in what they call U-Control Combat where you try to chop the ribbon off the other airplane that you’re flying with. I was 12 years old. It was a 40-year old guy. I was up against him but I was a little more nimble and I got him.
That did get me in to aviation. Unbelievable. I got a trophy and I was in the newspaper but it didn’t matter. About 6 months later I had a model sailboat in Central Park, New York. It was a contest to dedicate the new boathouse to keep, to store the boats in right where the penthouses are, right off of 5th Avenue and 72nd Street in Central Park, New York City. My sailboat won, got across the pond first and I won there. The mayor shook my hand and they put me on TV.
Chris: Wow. Wow. Claim to fame and now here you are in AviatorCast. You’ve come full circle.
Don: Yes. I knew a little bit about sailboats but not a lot. I knew a lot more about airplanes. The Superintendent of New York City Schools has seen me on television and he came to Brooklyn, New York, a suburb in New York City where I lived. He wanted to see my sailboat. I brought it over to the school.
He said, “You want to be a sailor, don’t you?” I said, “No, I want to be an aviator.” He looked at me kind of puzzled. I said, “I’m not allowed to go to Manhattan School of Aviation Trades in New York City,” because back then you had to walk to school and this was in New York City and I was in Brooklyn. It was three subway trains and a mile walk away. He put me in that school.
Don: Yes. 13 years old, I started my aviation training.
Chris: Wow. Imagine that.
Don: 17 years old, I had all the requirements to be an airframe and power plant mechanic.
Don: I was only 17 years old. I had to wait until I was 18.
Chris: Go ahead and fast-forward now. Let’s tell people a little bit about what you do professionally so they kind of know full circle here and then we’ll get back in to your original story.
Don: Okay. At the present time, I’m still flight instructor and [Inaudible][25:17] mechanic. What I do now after thousands of flying hours is I inspect airplanes for buyers and I do flight tests on airplanes. I used to go all over the world to do this. I haven’t been over in Europe lately because of the problems over there. People aren’t buying jet airplanes. I enjoy doing little airplanes, too. I do everything from J3 Piper Cubs. I even did a Boeing 727 for the Palace Casino.
I enjoy little airplanes more because I get to meet nice people like buyers. Sometimes I don’t even get to meet them. Sometimes I perform my services just as a support for them. You’re in Alaska. If you want an airplane in Alaska, it was very expensive. Maybe it was only $20,000, $30,000.
I would support you on the telephone. With today’s video conferencing, we can see the airplane live either on FaceTime if you have an iPhone or Periscope or Blob, all these services they have. I could get all the information and data. I’ll take pictures of logbooks and go over that and do all your ADB search and give you advice and try to help you out there to figure out, making sure you’re getting the right airplane. You picked it out but I could tell you facts about it that you’re not aware of.
Chris: That’s actually how you and I in a way struck up a conversation. You wrote me because you had been listening to AviatorCast a little bit. I said, “Hey, I actually had an experience this weekend where I asked my wife, ‘Why don’t we have an airplane? Why don’t we get an airplane?'”
It was kind of serendipitous timing for you to write me and for us to start talking because I was actually perusing the Web looking for something that I could afford, looking for something that was reasonable. Of course, it’s going to be smaller. I’d love for it to be kind of maybe off-airport capable, bush-flying sort of stuff. We have a big conversation there to have, right?
I think we’re going to talk about that a little bit throughout this podcast together about what it’s like to buy an airplane, the sort of things you go through, the sort of things you look for, the pitfalls, where people go wrong, that sort of stuff, where people go right. Before we get in to that, can you share a little bit more about your career and where you went from being the 18-year old young man in New York to now Mr. Expert Airplane Buyer? Can you bridge that gap for us a little bit?
Don: Yes. It’s a bumpy road. I was 18 years old. Here we are. It’s 1959 okay? And there wasn’t any need for aircraft mechanics, believe it or not. There was a need for airline pilots but you have to have a four-year college degree to even apply back then. Actually, I found out I could get a job in a factory stamping out airplane parts. Rather than do that, my father was a Teamster and a truck driver in New York City.
I couldn’t drive a truck right away. I couldn’t even drive a car. He taught me how to drive a tractor-trailer before I learned how to drive a car. I lost my driver’s license in his car. He did that because he didn’t want me grinding the gears in his car because back then there weren’t many automatic cars. They were all manual shift. When I lost my driver’s license, the only comment the inspector had to me is, “You said I’d take turns, too,” because I was used to driving a tractor-trailer.
I did that for many years. I always had in the back of my mind to be an aviator. I think the reason why is way back in 1954 when I was a little kid, I went to a movie and saw “The High and the Mighty” with John Wayne and Robert Stack. It was about a four-engine, like a DC6 type airplane crossing the Pacific and engine failure and all that. I said, “Man, I’d like to save people’s lives. How could I be an aircraft mechanic and pilot and do something like that?”
All of a sudden, my chance came along. The reason it came along is because I was drafted in to the Army. I had no intentions of being in the military. I never even thought about it but the country called so I went to serve. I passed the physical. Basically, I found out that Fort Bragg, North Carolina had a flying club. They rented out Piper J-3 Cubs for a dollar an hour. You had to buy your own fuel. That was another $1.50 back then. The instructor back then got a hefty $4 an hour.
I wasn’t in Fort Bragg and that was a problem. I said to the sergeant in charge of me, I said, “Sarge, I want to get to Fort Bragg. How about if I join the Paratroopers, the 82nd Airborne Division?” He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “You’re not in the Army.” I said, “What? I’m wearing a uniform.” He says, “I mean the regular Army.” He said, “You’re United States Army. US your serial number is, not RA. You got to be regular army to be a parachuter.
I said, “Well, what does that entail?” He says, “Sign up here for another year.” I said, “Oh, now way. I’m making $55 a month now. I used to make $55 a day before you guys drafted me into your army.” He said, “Okay. You can’t become Airborne.”
Anyway, one of the troopers heard me, one of the other soldiers there. He said, “Go over to headquarters company. Go to the second floor and see so and so and bring some money with you. He’ll put you on a plane if you want to go.” I tried it over there. Yes, I tried it over here. I knocked on the door and I opened it up. I see the nametag. He’s the right guy.
I said, “I want a duty assignment.” He smiled and said, “Oh, okay. I have Hawaii for $500.” I said, “I don’t want to go to Hawaii.” He says, “Well, what do you want to do?” I said, “I want to go Airborne in the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg.” He looked at me like I was crazy. He said, “Let me see your dog tag.” He writes down my serial number. He says, “Okay. We’ll call you.” I say, “How much do I owe you?” He said, “I did that for my country.” I go back to the barracks.
A couple of weeks later, sure enough I got called up to take the physical and go Airborne. I had to run around the track for a couple of miles. I was training for it. I was in good shape. They sent me to jump school. It was kind of the start of the Vietnam War. It was just getting hot. They’ve decided they wanted a helicopter unit. I think it was called the 2nd Cavalry. I’m not sure.
They wanted the 2nd Cavalry to become Airborne with 1,200 guys. They kept me in Fort Dane peeling potatoes for a whole month till those guys showed up. Here we are 1,400 guys. Out of all those guys, one guy died in training. The training was really tough I’d say. It was the middle of winter. Only 400 of us got our parachute badges and had to become paratroopers.
Actually, one guy…you have to make five static line jumps to become a paratrooper. Back then I jumped out of three different airplanes. We were changing over from the Flying Boxcar to the C120 and also the C130. One guy got hurt on the fourth jump and he was so gung-ho. He says, “Carry me out to the airplane and throw me out. I’m going to make my fifth jump.” He was bleeding from the mouth.
We were helping him on to the C130 and the sergeant saw the blood coming out. He said to him, “Hey trooper, are you okay?” He nodded yes. The sergeant smiled with me and said, “We’ll have an ambulance waiting at the drop zone for him.” He got his wings. I got to Fort Bragg. That was a good deal and where I need to be.
Chris: When did you get to take control of the airplane in that whole process?
Don: Actually, it happened pretty quick. I went down to flying club. I knocked on the door. I think it was $10 to join. I can’t remember and in $5 a week or so. It was a dirt strip. It was on main post at Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg’s right in the middle of North Carolina. It’s a rural area. The trajectory cab didn’t have a radio in it. I didn’t have to worry about that. It was very quick.
The thing that really helped, they tried to make me a clerk typist when I got out of Infantry training. They sent me to clerk typist school. I’m not a clerical guy back then. I never really learned how to type but they made a mistake on my military occupational status. They called it MOS. They put down I was a 711 which means better than 60 words a minute typing.
What did they do when I get to Fort Bragg? They assigned to Division Headquarters of 82nd Airborne Division. I walk in and the general says, “Sebastian, I’m glad to see you. We need a fast typist.” I said, “Uh-oh. This doesn’t sound good.” They gave me a memo to type. After an hour, I struggled through a couple of paragraphs; they realized I wasn’t a clerk typist.
They sent me handing out General Education, the GED as they called it to the troops. It was like a desk job from 9:00 till 5:00. At 5:00, I go out and fly airplanes. I had plenty of money because I made big money driving a tractor-trailer in New York City. Inside of about, I guess it was about eight weeks, I got my private pilot’s license. Yes, it was quick.
Then, I thought of renting airplanes with radios in them. The civilian airport had a Cessna 172. In the middle of North Carolina, there’s a civilian airport there. I used to rent that every weekend and fly three GI’s with me up to New York City, build up my time. I went back and forth in the dark up to New York City. I used to land at a little airport called Flushing Airport, which is right on the end of La Guardia Airport. It’s not there anymore. They just closed it a few years ago.
I had 200 hours in almost no time flat but in between that, they sent me to war. That kind of broke up the training a little bit. They had a little rebellion in the Dominican Republic and I was there for two months. We cleaned up that place pretty good and everything was fine. I got back.
They told me in Division Headquarters, “Of all the things you’ve done, Sebastian, we knew you were leaving, going to New York every weekend, you do things you aren’t supposed to do. We gave you a lot of money to hand out in the Dominican Republic and you helped us out.” We went, handed out all this money. “We don’t want to tell anybody. You’re out of here.”
I said, “Wait a minute. What do you mean ‘You’re out of here’? I served my country.” He says, “Oh no. You’re going to get an honorable discharge and we’re going to expedite the GI bill. We’re going to give you that $13,000 right away. You could spend it tomorrow.” I said, “Great.”
I tried to find a real jet, to learn how to fly a real jet but back then there were a lot of guys with GI bills. There were no real jets available in training schools because not many of them are around. I jumped in to a helicopter. I got a helicopter rating, instrument rating, helicopter. I even was qualified to pick the flying instructor rating a helicopter. Back then the FAA guys had to fly with you.
As a matter of fact, I have a good story about the helicopter. To get my instrument rating, it was like a basic VOR approach with a timed approach after you leave the VOR. After so many minutes depending on your ground speed, which I figured out in advance, you would declare a decision point to make a missed approach. I wasn’t wearing a watch. The clock in the helicopter wasn’t working.
Anyway, there weren’t any designee type people to give you advanced ratings like that. I go over the VOR. He realizes that I don’t know what time it is. How am I going to tell him when all that decision point? I said, “How am I going to do this? Oh, man. There’s a McDonald’s hamburger stand right next to the airport. If I smell McDonald’s, I’ll say, ‘I’ll make the decision point.'” That’s what I did.
Chris: Oh my God!
Don: Yes, I got my helicopter rating because of my sense of smell.
Chris: Oh my gosh! That’s good.
Don: Anyway, I got my flight instructor rating. I got instrument instructor rating and multi-engine instrument rating and all those ratings plus I had an A and P. I decided…I still lived in New York back then. I went back to New York after the Army. I worked for Flight Safety on the weekends in Republic Airport in Long Island.
They liked me as a flight instructor so they offered me a full-time job. I said, “Wow! Okay. I’m all for that.” He says, “It’s not teaching people how to fly. It’s teaching systems on a Lear jet.” I said, “What?” He said, “We need a ground instructor on a Lear jet. You could study up and teach it.” I said, “How much are you paying?” He said, “$80 a week.” I said, “Whoa. Wait a minute. I’m making almost $400 a week.” This is back in 1967. I was making $400 a week driving a truck. I said, “No, thanks.”
I kind of freelanced as an instructor up in New York. Then, I decided to move to North Carolina. That’s when I started building up my time when I got down here. As a matter of fact, I even started a commuter airline down here called Mid-South Airlines. That was a good experience because I had to write the op specs and do all the things I have to do to start an airline. I did a good job. The FAA gave me a commendation for it. That was kind of the start of my career when I moved to North Carolina and built up my flight hours.
Chris: Maybe we should just ask you what you haven’t done and that would be a shorter conversation because it sounds like you’ve done quite a few things.
Don: Yes. Actually, I’m a skydiver or I used to be a skydiver. I used to do jumps. I got a…Society of France, they gave me a jumpmaster rating. I got that one when I was in the Army. I’m an expert witness. I testify for my clients whether they be pilots or the aircraft owners or aircraft companies and I’ve been quite successful at doing that. That’s nice, clean work.
What I enjoy doing is checking out airplanes and take them up for flight tests. It’s a little different than most people think. I’ll explain that as we go along.
Chris: Yes, yes. I think that’s a good jump-off point. Like I said a few minutes ago, I’m looking to get an airplane because I’m more or less at that stage where I want to start instructing. I want my own airplane to do that in. I’d like to be able to travel a little bit here in Alaska. I’d like to be able to go maybe some places and land on beaches or land on glaciers, things like that.
That’s a lot of dreaming, right? A lot of dreaming. I’ve got to bring that in to perspective. Let’s do a used case scenario here of a little bit about my situation but I’d like to put in the listener into that seat that says, “Okay, you’re about to buy an airplane. You’re thinking about buying an airplane. What are the things you need to be thinking about in doing that?”
That’s kind of the process I want to go through with you almost like a Q and A sort of thing, find out what my mindset should be going in. What’s going to happen when I find an airplane I want to look at? What are we going to look at when that happens? Then, when I’m ready to take the plunge, how do I actually buy the airplane? That sort of thing. Let’s start from the very, very beginning. What would you suggest when someone is just about to get in to it?
Don: Well, almost exactly what you said. I kind of get to know you. We have a nice, long conversation on the telephone. Buying an airplane is like buying a set of clothes. If it doesn’t fit, you’re not going to wear it.
We’re going to kind of start off talking about your mission profile. What’s a mission profile? That’s the trips you’re going to take. I want to know what type of trips, like you said in your case, you’re going to be landing on unapproved fields. Right away, the little light bulb goes on in my head saying, “Taildragger.”
I wonder how many people you’re going to be carrying and what your stage land is. What I’m staying stage land, it means how far is your normal trip because you don’t want to stop to fuel on the way. Then, I’m going to ask you one of the most important things. How much money do you want to spend?
Chris: That’s a pretty big question because not only the airplane upfront, that’s a purchase in an of itself. You can get really buried with costs as well just maintaining an airplane and sometimes there are bad apples out there. You want to avoid buying lemons sort of thing. You want to buy an airplane that’s serviceable that has parts out there in the market, that sort of thing. That all comes in to the equation, right?
Don: That’s right. Most people when they call me, most of them actually owned an airplane before and they got stung. That’s why they called me because they want thorough pre-flight inspection and they want to make sure to get a good airplane this time and not have more money in the plane than it’s worth in to it.
The average person only keeps an airplane five or six years, but when they sell it, they want to get most of their investment, if not all than their investment back again. The only way they can do that is if you don’t have any big expenses, maintenance expenses on the airplane. Everything else could be calculated with fuel flow, the tie-down cost, the insurance cost. Depreciation isn’t really such a big factor on little airplanes. They’re holding the value pretty well.
Now, if you’re buying a jet airplane, that’s different. You’re going to lose a lot of money after a couple of years on it or a turbo prop. Well, even turbo props somehow are holding the value good.
You’re going to tell me you probably had already made up your mind. You want a certain type of airplane. Then, I’m going to kind of dig in to you and see if this is the right airplane for you after talking back and forth. Like in your case, if you tell me you only have X amount of dollars, I’m going to start to bring up some airplanes.
Did you want to use your case or should I just take an alias?
Chris: Yes, yes. We can use my case because I just shared with you some things. I want to be able to instruct in it. I want to be able to maybe land off-airport. That would be fun to do. Is it what I really need to do? I don’t really know that yet, but I’d like to land off-airport. I’d like it to go a little bit of distance, maybe a couple of hours with reserve, that sort of thing. That’s kind of my mission profile.
To the inexperienced eye, I start to think first of all, 172, 152, the real basics especially from a flight training perspective. There really are a lot more options out there, aren’t there? There are kind of some diamonds in the rough and even as you and I started talking, there was a C140 up the street. That probably won’t work out because it’s a little rundown but even that has come up as an option.
Don: Let’s say you didn’t mention the price to me and I’m just trying to feel you through how much you got to spend because some people are bashful about telling. I’ll kind of start off with the bottom-line. I guess the bottom-line is the American Aviation Yankee.
It’s a long time ago they made this little two-place airplane. You can get one of them, pretty good shape for $15,000. It’s probably the best two-place airplane you can buy. The only problem is it’s not a good flight-training airplane. It has funny handling characteristics. It’s an old airplane and it’s not going to have much in instrumentation, just the bare minimums.
That’s not a big factor today. You can go out and buy yourself an iPad and get familiar with that. Of course, you can enroll in one of your courses and flight simulators and all. Training is much easier today than it used to be with all the services you have, all the good stuff you have. There’s a $15,000 airplane. Now, I wouldn’t recommend that to a zero-time student because it’s not a docile airplane.
Then, we’re going to move up the ladder a little bit. In your case, it sounds like you want a taildragger. That kind of limits you. Most of these taildraggers cost a little more for some reason.
Like you were saying, the one down the road, the Cessna 140, it’s a very old airplane. It’s 65, 70 years old. Most of them only have a few thousand hours flying time on them. If they’ve been in a hangar, they’ve been in a climate that’s fairly dry and…every airplane is different. If it doesn’t have corrosion, it probably has a really good airframe still. They made them real good.
I would rather you be maybe in the Cessna 150 because that’s a really good training airplane. The only trouble is, the Cessna 150, most of them have lots of flying hours on them and they’ve been pretty well beat up. You can get one of them for about the same price, about $25,000, $30,000. It’s going to have more abuse to it because it has been a training airplane. Well, the 140 is kind of a collector’s item. The Cessna 140 is a taildragger. It’s collector’s item.
The next thing I got to ask you is: how tall are you?
Chris: Not that tall. I see where you’re going with this.
Don: If you’re six foot six, you’re not going to fit in the airplane. If your wife and kids are going to go with you, it’s not good for you. As a matter of fact on that particular airplane is different variance. They originally came with fabric-covered wings and then they put aluminum wings on them. The fabric-covered wings were 50 pounds lighter.
If you get one with aluminum wings, chances are you’re going to have a payload after you put fuel in it, a little over 25 gallons, after you put fuel in it, you’re probably going to have around 300 pounds of payload left for you and whoever you’re taking with you.
Chris: Someone needs some weight then.
Don: All right. That’s another question because if you’re 300 pounds, you’re not going to fit in with two people.
Chris: Yes. You can take yourself and a sandwich and that’s it.
Don: The width of the airplane, it’s very tight. With two people, you’re elbow to elbow. You’re in Alaska so it’s going to be a cold ride; people complain even in the Mid-Atlantic States. The other thing, it’s an old airplane. Cessna originally made seven thousand Cessna 140’s. Chances are, you’re going to be able to still find parts but first, we got to make sure there’s one out there you can buy.
Here’s how we go about the buying process no matter what airplane it is. This is what I suggest. Most people don’t realize it but you got to do your homework or you sail. What I mean by sailing is you went out to an airplane and you love the paint job. It’s got nice seats in it. The owner puts you in the seat and let’s you fly the airplane. You go around and oh, man; you already bought it. You don’t anything about the airplane.
The process not to sail is this. First, we got to find out the history of the airplane. The problem is that the FAA keeps files on airplanes. They keep a good registration file. The registration file will be tracked back from the day the airplane came out of the factory.
That’s good because if that airplane has been owned by somebody within about 30, 40 miles of the East Coast, about 15, 20 miles of the West Coast or the whole state of Florida, it probably has a lot of corrosion because those are the corrosive areas of the country. It was based on Phoenix, Arizona for its whole life. I’m feeling pretty good right now about this airplane. That’s the registration file. We go over that.
More importantly is the alteration file. The FAA keeps a file of all the alterations put on the airplane. An alteration is normally a good thing because it will tell you improvements — that updated radio. It’s got wheel fairings. It’s got speed tips on it. It’s got an oil filter on it. Those are all good things.
On that alteration form, there’s a box. One side of the box says, “Check here for alterations.” The other side of the box says, “Check here for repairs.” Oops. That’s dead — repairs because that means it had a major repair done on the airplane. You got to be careful on the repair box because some people will just not buy a plane that has major damage history, which is a repair.
Chris: Tell us a little bit why. Why wouldn’t you buy an airplane with damage history? I know that with you in cars, that reduces the resale value if it’s been a salvage title or something like that. Even from a safety standpoint, why would people avoid buying an airplane that’s been repaired?
Don: There’s no reason to avoid it. If the repair was just made in the last year or two, it’s definitely going to reduce the price of the airplane because it hasn’t been proven yet. If an airplane has a 337 repair form, it was fixed outside the factory and it was fixed by a guy like a mechanic. Of course, [Inaudible][55:12] fail to experience with tag SP, inspector authorized but it’s still just by a mechanic as opposed to at least a “strong” if not “exceeds the factory expectations” but time will tell.
Most of these older airplanes do have repairs with pair forms on because if the airplane nosed in and bent the propeller and they just changed the propeller and fixed something on the airframe, never went into the engine, you got to stay away from that airplane because the crank shift is stressed and there could be a lot of damage inside that engine that we can’t find out about till the propeller comes flying off one day.
That’s a real serious repair if it had a gear up planning, if it’s a retractable gear or it nosed over. Whenever I see that a propeller has been replaced before it reached time before overhaul…and in most cases there isn’t a time to overhaul most regular, constant-speed propellers and fixed pitch propellers. If the propeller has been replaced prematurely, I’m always curious why. We got to find out about it.
Then, we get in to there’s a free and I’ll give you a link to it. There’s a free site called My Report and you can put just the N number. It’s a free site on the internet.
Chris: It’s called My Report?
Don: Yes. I’ll find you the link to it. You can put it on your show notes. We’re going to do a little checking off the boxes just to the right. We want the registration, all the auxiliary reports, and the NTB and FAA incident reports. You check off all that stuff. You hit the “Send” button. It pops right back up.
On the bottom of it, if it has incident reports that were reported to the FAA, it’s there. By the way, it’s for free. We’re finding out more about the airplane and we’re going to verify who owns it because you never know. Maybe the guy selling it doesn’t own it. That’s good because if he’s on file with the FAA, he owns it.
We haven’t left you off just yet. We already found out if it has…we sent away for the FAA file, which in my case, it only cost $20. I did so many of them and I get them usually the same day. They come in a PDF file. I read through them and make sure everything is okay. Or, you can get it from the AOPA. There are a lot of places that get them for you. In some cases, it costs $100 but I get it a lot cheaper.
Anyway, we go through that. Now, the next thing is you’re in Alaska. I’m in North Carolina. You don’t want me running to Alaska and kick the tires and say, “Oh my goodness. You can’t buy this airplane. There are so many things wrong with it.” The next thing we do is get a copy of the logbooks. The owner says, “Oh, I don’t have a copy of the logbooks.” Tell him, “If you want to sell the airplane, just take a picture of every page of the logbooks and e-mail them to me.” It’s not that hard to do.
Or, if you have time, we can do it on the phone. Most people have smart phones. We could do it through a video conferencing thing on the phone. I could read the pages of the logbook and have some questions. I’m making notes. I’m making a score quiz. As soon as I get the FAA file, I start my score quiz. My computer can…I’ve done every make and model. I’ve done a couple thousand airplanes. I have lots of data. I’m pulling up the data from the other airplanes I did the same.
Now, I’m searching the service difficulty reports and the service bulletins. I usually get up with the owner’s club. Those owner’s clubs are great because they have lots of inside information about what’s going on currently with these airplanes and parts availability and everything.
Chris: In a sense, if I may just stop you here for a second, in a sense, you’re almost like a private investigator for an airplane. You’re doing your due diligence to make sure that you know all of the information. I’d imagine that with almost every airplane there are going to be questions and thinks you’d talk to the owner about.
You really want to make sure that some of the major things aren’t pointing out like the damage history and liens on the airplane and maybe had a minor repair or maybe an AD is out of compliance or something like that. Really, that’s what you’re saying, right? Kind of like an airplane private investigator?
Don: Yes. That’s right except for liens on an airplane. I’m not an attorney.
Chris: Right, right, right. Of course.
Don: That kind of comes later on. We’ll take the owner’s reg if there are not liens on it. Once you decide to buy that airplane, you will get it to a reputable company that’s insured in case I make a mistake.
You’ll get a lien release, make sure all the owners in the past…actually, sometimes I read over that paperwork in FAA registration file and I find mistakes in there that the lien companies don’t find. Going back 30 years ago, they didn’t sign this from correctly and I bring it to the buyer. I say, “Well, it’s got by all this time. If you want to make an issue out of it, this is time before you buy the airplane.” It’s up to the buyer what he wants to do.
The other thing is, I’m kind of getting the buyer in to a frame of mind. I’m saying to him, “This isn’t the only airplane in the world. There are 25 others to sell.” If you want to do it or if you want me to do it, we either research these other airplanes and we need to pick two, if not three airplanes. We got to compare them.
I have a comparison chart for him. On that comparison chart, I’d start off with what the blue book says which is always more than the airplane’s worth. I put that number on the top, adjust it for airframe and engine time and all.
Now I go down with the equipment on the airplane, give it credit. The buyer and I get together on the phone and say, “Well, this has a Garmin 430W in it. That’s a full-credit item.” All of a sudden the airplane is worth maybe $4,000 more because of that. If he doesn’t need a Garmin 430W, it’s worth a little more but not worth $4,000 more. We go down the list of all three airplanes.
When we get all done in the end, we call all three airplanes or it’s up to the buyer if he wants to do it this way. At least, call up the airplane he’s focusing on and we want to talk to the owner, the broker, and the mechanic. Hopefully it doesn’t have a broker but if he has a broker, we have to talk to him.
We want to talk to the last guy who did the annual inspection because I’m going to grill him because I know all the things that could go wrong. They’re in the annual inspection. I want to judge this guy. The way I judge him first of all is the way he signed off the annual inspection. I’m a happy guy if he says, “I did an annual inspection according to the manufacturer’s checklist.” Great. He did it, all that stuff. That’s good.
If he says, “I did an annual inspection according to Part 43, Item D,” that means it’s a minimum annual inspection. These guys make their living for people coming in and get planes. If their annual inspection all of a sudden costs $4,000, that cost is not going to come back. The FAA has a minimum checklist of what items you’ve got to do. If he signs it off that way in accordance to Part 43 of FAA regulations, he obviously used a minimum checklist or maybe not.
If he says, “Oh, no. I have a more extensive checklist.” I say, “Good. Take a picture of it and send it to me. I want to go over it.” We’re going to talk to the mechanic and talk to the owner. We’re going to say to the owner, “Look, tell us what’s wrong with this airplane. Maybe we’ll come by. Maybe we won’t. If you don’t tell us what’s wrong with this airplane and I find it, we’re going to deduct the cost of that repair from our agreed-upon price. That’s pretty reasonable, right?”
Most of time I let the buyer talk to the seller and get more of these facts. I’m the guy in the background because I don’t want the seller to think I’m just there to beat him up. I’m not. I’m making sure that my buyer gets an airworthy airplane and an airplane he can afford to operate for five years.
In your case now, you just said something to me, which rang another bell. You said, “I want to do some flight training in it.” That’s the crucial operation. If you’re going to do that, I’ve got a couple more things. If the engine’s going to expire, TBO, time before overhaul, you’re going to have to overhaul.
A lot of these small airplanes will go hundreds, if not a thousand hours over TBO, time before overhaul and they still run good because you have to do a little more maintenance when you get high-time. You have to change your oil more frequently and maybe even take her on analysis.
We got all that figured out on the phone and this plane seems like…the three airplanes, the first one that you had your heart set on because it was color blue. You liked the red stripes on it, whatever but the pink one you didn’t like so much.
Chris: You’re telling me you’re going to make me buy the pink one.
Don: Well, I’ll leave it up to you. I’m going to tell you this. The way you’re going to get your money out of the airplane to be most satisfied with it, if it’s your personal paint job. It pays to invest in the paint job because the pink one might work for you. The one you selected, the blue one with the red stripes, I’m figuring you’re going to spend ten grand on this in the next two years. Still up to the buyer, whatever he wants.
Either I go marching out to the airplane or I could do it on the computer, on the smartphone. I could tell the buyer what to do and I could help him do the pre-buying. Meanwhile, I’ll have a checklist for him that I’ll send him. I have all the AD’s written down. I’ll just have to get him to verify that this is the equipment on the airplane and there’s nothing there that’s a bogus part.
How do you do that? A private pilot isn’t a lot of cool in somebody’s airplane; take it all apart looking at things. Yes, he is but he can’t put it back together. You shout for a mechanic. He could ask the owner, say, “Look, I want your airplane but I’ll take the cowl off. I’ll take the inspection plates off but you got to put them back on because you’re the owner.” He can do that being the pilot. He could just put them back on. That’s really the liability of the buyer.
Before we get to pulling parts off in an airplane, I’m going to tell you what I do and it’s on-the-air. I’ll tell you what you should do. When I get to an airplane, I’m going to go over this as if you’re not having me come. You’re just having me give you advice on the phone. We walk up to the airplane.
What do we do? We do ground reconnaissance. What? What’s ground reconnaissance? Is there anything dripping? Are there any stains under the airplane? If it’s anything but water, we might have a problem here. If there’s a little drip out of the exhaust pipes, uh-oh. That’s a big problem.
If one of the earlier stripes, most airplanes…in this case your Cessna 140, that’s not one of the earlier stripes. Anyway, you want to get to the airport a little bit early because you want go to the FBO and you want to be a nice guy and say, “Hey, I know that guy that owns that Cessna 140. Is he like the airplane?” The FBO guy, maybe the line guy says to you, “Oh my goodness. He’ll be so glad to get rid of that airplane just this long. Everything’s wrong with it. It burns a lot of oil.” It’s good to get to the airport ahead of time.
Now we’re at the airport. We did our ground reconnaissance. We want to walk around the airplane and note any cracks and all the usual stuff. Another thing we want to do is we want to shake hands with the airplane. What? Shake hands with the airplane? Never heard of that. The mechanic will think you’re crazy. After a couple thousand airplanes, I know I’m not crazy.
Here’s what I do. I pull on the wings up and down being careful on the wingtips because a lot of times they’re fiberglass plastic type wingtips. I don’t want to break anything. I pull and down and I see if there’s oil canning of the skin. Oil canning is the skin is loose between the rivets. It goes pung, pung, pung, up and down just like you put a piece of metal in front of you and shake it. You hear that noise. That’s a little canny.
I want to look at the rivets and I want to make sure the rivets…hopefully, the paint job is a few years old. If it’s brand-new I can’t really tell. I want to make sure the rivets aren’t smoking which means there’s a little trail of aluminum dust behind the rivets because they’re loose and stressed. This is a reason not to buy the airplane.
I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to look at the fuselage on an angle and make sure there are no buckles in the skin. I’m going to go around and lift up and down the horizontal stabilizers like I did the wings, make sure they’re not oil canning. I then go back to the elevators and grab one on my right hand and one on my left hand and put a little stress on them in opposite directions and see if they’re oil canned; same with the vertical stabilizer and the rudder. I’m kind of shaking hands with the airplane.
These are things mechanics don’t do on a pre-flight, pre-purchase inspection because they have their little checklist, hundred-hour checklist because that’s what they do. That’s what they all do on annual inspection, a hundred-hour checklist. They’re checking those things and servicing those things. We’re not here to service the airplane. We’re there to find the facts.
Then, I’ll tell the buyer, I’ll say, “Ask the pilot or owner to get in the airplane and start it up.” You stand outside and look at the exhaust pipe, oil pipes, whatever it might be, keeping away from the propeller. When he starts that engine, if there’s light smoke coming out, we might have a problem because white smoke means there was oil in your cylinders. If it’s brown smoke, that’s okay. He might have flooded the engine with the fuel pump or something.
Then, tell him to stop the engine by turning off the magneto switches. Usually, you turn it off by pulling the mixture back but we want to turn off the magneto switches to make sure those magnetos are dead. They’re grounded and they’re dead because you want to hand prop the airplane.
How do we put the ignition key up on the glass shield? Make sure you choke the airplane. Make sure it’s standing on the brakes. Make sure the throttle’s all the way back and the mixture now pulled back to idle and go out there and hand prop the airplane. That’s if you think you’re up to it. I kind of did a little instruction on how to do it.
Everybody today has starter motors and they’ll say, “Huh. You’re not supposed to do that.” The planes I only ever fly, you’re not going to go flying if you don’t hand prop them if they didn’t have starter motors. We know that the magneto’s grounded and the engine won’t start.
Here’s a little technique how to step back when you flip the propeller. Now the engine’s warm. If it’s a four-cylinder, you count one, two, three, four as you’re flipping the prop. Then, do it again, one, two, three, four. If you felt a weak cylinder, that’s something to think about. I wouldn’t ground it. Well, you’ll tell the difference. If it’s a real strong compression, if it’s right up there to 75, 80 pounds, it will be hard to pull it through.
Chris: Oh, okay. It’ll just kind of glide past that cylinder if it’s weak. Okay.
Don: It will glide past it. That’s the reason you do it in cycles, four times and four times again because sometimes the valve hangs up a little bit or there might have been a piece of club on it or something. If you got a weak cylinder, well, we’re going to take it for a flight test and if it’s weak when we come down, you have to fly in it for a half-hour, an hour, then we got a problem.
Or, if light smoke comes out of the exhaust, you probably have good compression if there’s oil in the cylinders because your own skills are up to rings but it might be burning oil. You got to take the dipstick out. Take a picture of the oil level on the dipstick. When you come back, see if it consumed any oil. It’s things like that.
Normally, I get to an airplane and inside of a few hours I know whether or not we could buy it. Unless there’s a big problem, unless there’s corrosion and stuff then I really got to get in to things.
The flight test: you don’t want to be pilot in command because it’s not your airplane and you don’t want to be in a liable position. If you’re going to blind-use the airplane, there might be something wrong with it. You have to make sure that the owner flies the airplane because you’re not there to get instruction on how to fly the airplane. You’re there to test the airplane.
If the owner doesn’t have his medical or something, say, “Okay. You’re going to have to supply a pilot.” Even if you have to pay the pilot for the hour flight, this way if the owner supplies the pilot, if anything happens during the flight test, it’s not your fault. You’re just a passenger.
Chris: Yes. That’s a good point. That’s a really good point.
Don: Yes. Yes. The flight test: most airplanes either in the types of typical data sheets which I haven’t talked about yet. I’ll give you a link to it. It’s a free FAA site. They don’t tell you what the propeller is supposed to…how many RPM’s the propeller is supposed to turn at full power. They call that a static runup. A lot of times it’s in the flight manual. That’s an operating limitation.
We’re going to go out there either on a runway, if you can get a delay on the runway for 20, 30 seconds, either that or the run-up, we’re going to get full power for putting into the wind. If the RPM’s don’t come up to the 2,400, 2,500, whatever the type certificate says or the airplane flight manual, if it doesn’t reach that RPM, that hundred horsepower airplane might only be developing 70 horsepower.
Chris: Right. That’s a big deal, very big deal.
Don: We got a problem. These are all things judging an airplane. Then, to confirm that we’re not making that horsepower and the owner says, “Oh, I’ve never heard of that before,” maybe nobody ever told him. It’s okay. Let’s make it take off. We got 4,000-foot of runway. We only need 1,800 feet. Let’s make it take off.
And we’re going to see how long it takes to climb to 50-foot, how far down the runway. We’re going to see what kind of rate of climb we’re going to get. We’re going to get the cruise altitude and we’re going to see if we get our cruise speed performance. If all those things are negative, we got a weak engine here.
Naturally, we’re going to be testing the lights and testing all the avionics. If it has an autopilot, hey, we’re paying for the autopilot, not the pilot. Have them put the autopilot on right away. Do the whole flight with the autopilot as much as you can.
If I’m in the airplane, I usually do a dive test if the air is calm. I get in to the caution range; make sure there are no flutters. I usually slow down maneuvering speed and pull a couple of G’s and see how the controls feel, things like that.
Try to kind of flip every switch and test everything. Make sure the heat is working all right. Little airplanes, if the doors aren’t sealed right, the exhaust fumes could come in the doors. You wouldn’t even notice it. That’s a problem. You could get carbon monoxide poisoning. All these things are important like those little rubber strips around the doors. This is all in the first few hours of getting in to the airplane. We’re going to find out all this stuff.
If it has an autopilot and if it has an iOS or whatever it has, we’re going to try that avionics to make sure it works right and the marker beacons go on or whatever, if it has that stuff. The landing doesn’t matter that much unless it’s a jet or a turbo prop. There are more procedures on the landing. On a smaller plane, you’d just be making normal landing.
Then, we’re going to go out there and hand prop that engine again. Actually, we’re going to shut the engine down a little be different than we normally do. We’re going to shut the engine down by putting the fuselage in the off position. Why is that important? If it’s leaking, chances are it will pass the annual because most mechanics won’t check that. If you have an accident and it’s leaking, it could mean your life. We’re going to check that.
Then, you’re going to flip the prop again. Lucky us. Now it has four good-feeling cylinders. Do you want to pull the spark plugs and do a borescope inspection? I could do that if I’m there but it’s not worth all the trouble and it’s going to take the rest of the day.
We’re going to get right in to the airframe and look for corrosion. Most smaller airplanes, in the luggage compartment behind the seat, there’s usually a little plastic cover you can pull off and you can see the whole empennage of the airplane, the whole tail. Bring a really bright flashlight with you and look around in there. Put your hand on the head wire, on the sidewall. See if you feel any moisture. Take a close look around the plastic side windows and all.
If the ceiling is bad or anything, you might ask the owner and say, “Look, I’m going to take off this side wall but you got to put it back on,” all these things because you’re not a mechanic. Of course, I could take it off and put it on and I’ll sign the airplane log that I did that. If you’re just a private pilot, you’re not authorized unless you own the airplane. Either the owner has to do that or you have to call in a mechanic to put it back together.
Now we’re in pretty good shape. We’ve been here about four hours. Now the tedious work comes. We’re going to go through the logbooks again and make sure that it wasn’t misrepresented, the pictures we got. We got to make sure the logbooks are complete. There’s no missing time. A lot of guys say, “Oh, 50 hours since overhaul.” That was ten years ago. Maybe it’s okay. Maybe it’s not. If it passed the flight test and everything, I guess it’s okay.
Anyway, you’re going to check the dipstick again and you have that picture. Now you can prove to the owner, “Man, we used the whole quart of oil and we only flew for half an hour.” Now it’s a reason to pull the spark plug off and do a borescope inspection.
Also, you want to make sure the overhaul that was on the airplane…most of these airplanes have been overhauled at least once, if not many times. You want to make sure that it was kind of done right. You need to make sure you have a birth certificate, which is either called a yellow tag or an AD 130 form saying that’s a genuine part.
The serial number of that part and the part number should match up with the birth certificate, with the yellow tag and because there are important things there — the crankshaft. Oh, yes. You need to check the data plate on the airplane. Make sure it’s the right engine. Pick the serial number off of that one; you have a caterwaul.
When you get to more advanced airplanes, it gets a lot more advanced. I can tell you some of those stories but it really does get in to it.
Chris: Yes. I’m sure that’s pretty crazy. Assume that we went through this process together and you and I determined that this is actually a fairly airworthy airplane that everything more or less was checking out. We might have a couple of squawks here and there to talk about. We’ve come pretty far along. It’s a good price. We like the data on it. We like what we see. We’re comfortable with the hours and its overhaul. Now we want to go and take the plunge and get this airplane. What is the process like from there typically?
Don: No. I would say you’re still in the negotiation stage of the price of the airplane. You agreed before you went by how much you’re going to pay for it. If the seller wants you to give him escrow money, the only way you should do that is with a reputable company, an escrow company. They’ll research for you. They make sure there are no liens. You use that company. Never give the owner money. He might want to charge for the test flight. That’s okay. That’s normal.
Now you got a list. Mostly, airplanes are 40 years old. I have a list. I could have 50 items there. I’m going to kind of sit down with you on the side and say, “You’re not going to find a perfect airplane. This is what’s wrong with the airplane. It had this AD from 25 years ago.” It says on the Cessna 150 here, same way. They just overhauled the engine and left AD in the engine. That has to be fixed. That’s a negotiable item.
The crazy in the windows, we can see out of them. It’s up to you if you want to use that as a negotiating point because the buyer and the seller has to renegotiate the price of the airplane.
If you can’t quite get together, you’re going to pull out of your pocket that number two choice and say, “Look, I kind of like your airplane but we can’t get together on price. Take a look at this other airplane. When I think about it, I might go see that one now.” Now, you’re in a good negotiating position. Who knows what will happen with the price when you do that?
I would recommend that if you’re buying the airplane, if you have your favorite maintenance facility but chances are, the guy that did the last annual on the airplane, I usually like to do all this pre-flight and flight test at the mechanic’s shop, on the same field that the mechanic is because the owner isn’t going to maybe believe me. He’s going to want his mechanic to come over and verify it.
Chris: Right. Yes, yes.
Don: Now you have this mechanic and say, “Look, I’m going to buy this airplane. You’ve been maintaining it for the last ten years. I got a list here. You passed the annual two months ago so I don’t have to worry about that. As a matter of fact, you passed it with all these things wrong with it. How much do you charge? How much an hour? Oh, okay. $50 an hour. Okay. Here are the things that I checked off on the list. How much will it cost to fix all that? Just write a price next to each item and I’ll tell you which ones to fix.”
There’s no sense flying around with defects. When you go to sell the airplane, you’re going to have probably a guy like me comes along; you’ll have to fix it for that guy. You might as well enjoy the airplane and get everything fixed right to start with and then you’re in good shape.
There are a couple of things about buying an airplane. I’m going to ask you, “Are you an instrument pilot?” If you’re an instrument pilot, you’d say, “Well, the weather.” Is icing important to you? Should the plane be certified for non-icing and if it’s not, can you comply with all these regulations? It puts the burden on the pilot to make sure he’s in compliance with avoiding icing and all the regulations attached to it.
I’ll be asking questions like that. Basically, I could look for an airplane for a guy if he figures about what make and model after we put our heads together and he says, “Yes, that’s the airplane. I need that 180-horesepower Cherokee, the 140-horsepower 112.” If he does that, if he’s a busy guy and he’s making a lot of money in his business, he could pay me to research the market.
How I research the market is I first send e-mails to all the candidate airplanes. I see how long it takes for that broker or that owner to get back to me. That’s a symbol how desperate he is to sell that airplane. If the guy gets back to me the first day, I’m in a good position for negotiating. This guy is dying to sell his airplane.
Chris: Yes, exactly. Yes, that makes sense. He’s motivated.
Don: Yes. Anyway, we narrow it down to a few airplanes and then I talk it over with the buyer. We decide which one he’s going to zero in on. if that one doesn’t work out, we’re ready to go to the next one. We have it all lined up.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve had several military people call me up from Afghanistan and Iraq over the years. One guy was an F-16 pilot. I put three airplanes for him over the years. He never saw the airplanes. He saw my videotape.
Actually, I put it in the cloud and you could see what’s going on if you’re not with me. I do a video of most of the things I’m doing especially performance of the airplane. I do pictures as a squawk list. I have squawk number 45. There’s something wrong with the hinge on the right elevator. All of a sudden you’ll see two pictures attached to the squawk. They’ll be ten feet away so you can identify what part it is and then moving up closer to the hinge showing the play in it.
I did a helicopter guy in Afghanistan. He calls me up and he wants to buy a 172 in Clearwater, Florida, the little executive airport in Clearwater right in the middle of town. I say, “How much is it?” He said, “$35,000.” I said, “Okay.” I called the guy and I talked to him. I looked at the stuff he sent me. I said, “Oops, we got a problem here. I know that’s your price range but we didn’t get to know the airplane. There are a lot of airplanes in that part of Florida. I don’t think you’d be able to buy this airplane.”
He says, “Well, there’s another one but it’s $45,000. There’s a Grumman Traveler in the same field.” I say, “Well, I’ll tell you what. I get a feel that this airplane is going to have at least $20,000 in to it before you get done with it. Call up the other guy even if it costs more. Have one on standby in case this one doesn’t work out.” It’s actually in the same airport.
I meet with the fellow. He gets back to the States. He and his buddy who was a flying instructor also, we go up. We didn’t even flight test the 172. It was a disaster. Here’s the Grumman Traveler. It was like new, a beautiful airplane. The guy wanted to get rid of it. He came down $10,000. For the same price, he got twice the airplane.
That’s what you got to do. You have to have a few lined up. Hopefully, they’re in the same area because of the expenses of traveling and the time it takes to travel.
Chris: Great. We’re kind of running out of time here. I want at least in the next several minutes kind of wrap this up and wrap people’s heads around everything we just talked about.
Here’s what I’m hearing: when someone is going in to buy an airplane, they need to know what they’re going to be using it for. You’re not going to be able to do everything you want. My requirement list for having an instruction airplane and a traveling airplane and off-airport airplane, I might be putting too much of a burden on finding the exact perfect airplane so maybe I have to make some sacrifices there.
Then, you kind of start looking at the types of airplanes that you might be using. Then, you start to search the market a little bit especially locally. Then at some point, you get in to a lot of debt with it.
Kind of wrap all that together for us. I guess the best question is: what are some of the best attitudes a pilot can have in wanting to buy an airplane, some of the best positive attitudes? At the end of the day, how do they ensure they wind up with the thing that’s really best for them? Mostly, you’re just going to be able to summarize everything we just talked about in answering that but that’s kind of what I’m getting at here. Perfect.
Don: The best resource a pilot could have or a buyer could have is money.
Chris: Yes, yes. There you go.
Don: It’s all about money. The guy describes to me what he wants. He’s taking a look at a $25,000 airplane. I got to tell him. I got to say, “Your mission profile and what you want, you’re going to need a $50,000 airplane unless there’s a real fire sale out there.” Usually, if it’s a fire sale, if a broker didn’t buy it already to resell it, there’s usually something drastically wrong with it. I got to figure out the guy’s financial situation and in some cases insurance requirements. I’ll go answering those questions especially on the larger airplanes; the insurance requirements are so high.
I just did a Piper Saratoga out in Ohio. That wasn’t too bad. I had a flight with the guy for two hours. He was good to go. There was a jet I did and I had to fly with the guy a hundred hours. A lot of turbo props are like that, too and twin-engine airplanes. I think the MU2 is a hundred hours, the turbo prop. I know like the Cessna 400 series, most of them are 50 hours if you don’t have any time in it before.
The bigger, the more elaborate the airplane, the more there is to do. Most people have their hopes too high. Like in your case, we were talking about that 140. It’s an affordable airplane but it’s not going to do everything you want to do but you could put up with it. Put a little less fuel in it so you could put your flight bag in it and not feel the weight.
Chris: Right, right. Yes, yes.
Don: The important thing is to get expert advice. I’m one of the few guys in the country that does all that stuff and travels to airplanes. If you don’t want the expense of me coming to Alaska, I could give you all this information and help you out 90% of the way just on smart phones and e-mails and stuff.
Chris: I really appreciate your time and your insight. You and I aren’t done with each other yet though because we’re going to be offline here looking for airplanes, I’m thinking and maybe looking for something that will work for my business. That’s an exciting thing.
If any of the listeners out there are kind of in that same ballpark where they’re looking for something, what I found in just my small research so far and talking to you and studying online is that this is a step that’s worth taking your time studying about the airplane itself.
These days with the internet, there’s just so much information out there. You can literally, in a matter of minutes, you can probably find and message someone that has a couple thousand hours in the airplane and they can tell you everything that’s right and wrong with flying that type of airplane and what to look for.
Obviously, a guy like you is going to know whole heck of a lot about a wide range of airplanes. He’s going to know to research and that sort of thing. It really just comes down to, at the end of the day, educating yourself, almost building a team, a dream team to find the dream airplane.
Don: That’s right. Basically, the more effort you put in to it before you buy it, the more happy experience you’re going to have owning it.
Chris: Right, right. Exactly.
Don: If anybody calls me and I talk to them for at least a half an hour giving free advice before we get in to all the details of a particular airplane. They can just call me on my cellphone. It’s always with me. I’ll give you that number and you can put it on the show notes, too.
Chris: Great. Yes. I’ll do that. I’ll put your name, your e-mail, and your number in there so people can give you a call if they want.
Don: I go all over the world to do this because if I go over to Europe, it’s usually a jet a $10 million, $12 million airplane. This year I did a…just the last few months I did a Cessna 150. I did two Saratoga PA-32’s, one retractable, one fixed gear. I did a Bombardier Challenger 605, $15 million, any kind of other jet. I do all kinds of airplanes. I enjoy doing little airplanes and I get to meet real nice people.
Chris: Great. Great.
Don: It’s been great talking to you.
Chris: Yes, yes. It’s been a fun time. Thanks for taking the time with us. It’s not the end of the road for you and I.
Don: I’m looking forward to it.
Chris: We’re going to be searching high and low for a dreamy bird. Thanks for helping me. Thanks for educating the AviatorCast listeners, too.
Don: Okay. Sounds good. We didn’t cover everything but I’m sure when I get to talk to the prospective buyer, he’s going to have questions I can answer. I can cover more detail. Okay. Well, thanks for having me on your program. I have enjoyed your program so far and I’m going to try to listen to all your AV programs now. Wow.
Chris: Yes. This is number 82, I believe.
Don: 82. Wow. Well, have a good night. I hope…well, we’ll be talking again when you have it in your program. Bye now.
Chris: Absolutely. Thanks, Don.
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Chris: A huge thanks goes out to Don for joining us on AviatorCast today. This guy has so much knowledge. As I was sitting there going through this conversation with him, I found myself looking on barnstormers.com and just going through all these airplanes that look good — lower total time, not many hours since major overhaul, things like that, and good prices, that sort of thing.
I was just in dreamland. This is a really cool prospect to be looking at an airplane, to be thinking about buying an airplane. Gosh! It is an investment and it’s one that I don’t want to take lightly so I’m really happy, blessed to have someone like Don on my side. It was a lot of fun talking to him. I’m sure we could have talked to him for hours and hours and hours.
Obviously, he has a lot of information to share. If you guys have any questions for Don, I am going to leave his information on the show notes of this episode. Just go to aviatorcast.com, you’ll find this episode there if you go through the list and you can click on the orange link in the podcast player there and that will take you to the page for those show notes.
I’m hoping actually, on just a small tangent, to get an updated dedicated website for AviatorCast coming up here soon. That’s part of my plan here for 2016 so it’s easier to find this. Hopefully, someday I can just say, “Go to aviatorcast.com/82,” and you guys would be able to find it, but I’m not quite there yet.
I appreciate all you guys, too. I really, really enjoy having you here. I enjoy doing this week after week. I get some really fantastic stories when you guys write me and tell me how much AviatorCast has meant to you, how much it’s keeping your mind in the game as meant to you.
While I appreciate those comments and I encourage you to tell me that, I also encourage you to just be part of this community and if you are thinking about flying, jump in there. Take an introductory flight. If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask me. I can send in the right direction no matter what your question is so that you can get started in aviation. You guys are awesome.
Also, thanks to Angle of Attack crew. These guys are fantastic. They do a lot of work week after week. We’ve been really [Inaudible][01:40:36] working on some things. These guys are really killing it. Yes, I’m grateful for you guys. I’m excited you’re here. I hope you continue in this aviation thing. I’m just more excited now than I’ve ever been.
This last week I’ve been going through my logbook and I have had such a wonderful journey in flight. I am just so blesses to have done and seen the things that I’ve seen. I really look forward to you having similar experiences. There is just something about flying that gives you a different perspective and at least for me, that speaks to my soul. I hope you guys can find that as well.
Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]
The post AviatorCast Episode 82: Don Sebastian | Airplane Detective appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Feb 13 2016
We all start with this big dream- we want to become a pilot! But with so many things in the way, being cost, medical issues, and more, how does a teenager do it in today’s world?
I give you my practical advice on how you can use a simulator to start your training early, augment your training while you’re going, and finish sooner and cheaper as a result.
Why not use today’s amazing simulator technology to help become pilots?
From there, it takes a whole lot of P-H-D. PASSION, HARD WORK, and DETERMINATION!
Learn how you can start today, and how to get ahead of the game. We all start somewhere. There’s no reason you can’t start training today!
Split the clouds and kiss the runway. This is AviatorCast episode 40!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. As a young lad, I found myself intrigued by airplanes. Then one day I realized that I could learn to be a pilot myself. It all made sense so I went out and went after it. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an art form, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility and a commitment to excellence. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So welcome to this, the 40th episode of AviatorCast. It is our joy and pleasure to have you here today, part of our crew. We hope that you’re going to get something awesome from this podcast. I think this is a specific subject that a lot of you younger guys have been looking out for but it’s also applicable to you older guys, so be on the lookout for that.
Before we get to the content on today’s show, I want to let you guys know that we kind of broke one of our records here, or we at least surpassed a pretty big number in downloads. AviatorCast has been around for the last 10 months now, just over 10 months, and in that time frame, we have done 100,000 downloads. We have officially gone past the 100,000 mark. Exactly just a few minutes ago I checked, we’re at 101,903. So, huge thanks to all the listenership. All you guys out there that are listening to the episode each and every week. I know that you guys love this. Make sure you share it and we’d love to hear your feedback by leaving a review on iTunes or by writing us at AviatorCast.com. We’d love to hear from you and we’d love for more people to hear about AviatorCast as well. We feel like we bring some very cool and compelling things to the aviation industry and to training specifically.
So, I wanted to get that out of the way. Huge announcement. Pretty cool that we finally surpassed 100,000 downloads. I hope it’s just the beginning of a great journey for us.
So today we’re going to be talk about going from being a teen to becoming a pilot. I will give you guys some tips, tricks and advice to get your pilot’s license in your teens. Now, I want to mention that this is not just for teenagers. All of these things apply that I will be saying some specific things for teenagers like how they need to do in school and when they can actually solo and things like that that are specific to teens but if you are a pilot out there or someone who wants to be a pilot, a lot of these things are going to apply to you too whether you are 15 or 50. So keep that in mind in listening to this podcast. Certainly don’t turn it off because you’re not in your teens anymore. There is certainly something to learn here.
So I am going to break this show up into two different segments. We’re going to have a flight simulation specific segment for this topic and a flight training segment. So first off, we’re going to get into the flight simulation segment, so I’ll see you guys in there.
And now, the flight simulation segment…
Chris: Alright, I’m really excited to talk about this topic because I think there are a lot of teenagers out there that are kind of trying to put the pieces together and wondering how they become a pilot and kind of all these lingering questions they have about where to go from here. You may have this passion and now you’re ready to move forward and start to learn some things about flying and how you can actually attain your pilot’s license. You may have some financial trouble. You may live in part of the world where it’s pretty expensive to learn to fly, that sort of thing, but there are so many ways to do this. I just want to mention some of things to you guys.
And of course, we’re going to start out with flight simulation. I am very passionate about flight simulation and that is because as a teenager, I started with flight simulation, and going through my teen years especially prior to getting my license as an actual private pilot, using a simulator helped me tremendously. I can’t even tell you how much it helped me. I remember feeling like during my training, a lot of the compliments I was getting from my instructors on how well I was controlling the aircraft and how fast I was progressing the program had so much to do with having had that time as a simulator pilot if you will. Now, I don’t think I’m anything special and I think that as pilots, we should all kind of think that we definitely aren’t made of special stuff. We’re all just kind of average. I am average too.
So in that, I wasn’t taking that as a compliment when my instructors were telling out to me that I was a good pilot. I was rather looking in the past saying “Okay, what had I done that prepared me and got me ready for this” and I attribute a lot of that to having gone through a private pilot, not a private pilot course, but actually having a simulator at home that I could use.
So, I’m going to go through some of the common questions that teenagers have about a simulator and we’ll try to answer some of those and maybe that will shed some light on why you should get a simulator in your teen years. You can start really early. You can start very early, 12 or 13 or whatever, very early in your teens to get a simulator and start. You don’t have to wait like you do to actually get a private pilot license. You can start learning a lot of these stuff now.
So again, I’m going to go through some of these common questions and kind of touch on some of the topics there and we’ll just buzz through these. So the first is why is a flight simulator so great? You guys here me talk about flight simulators all the time and maybe you are a flight simmer yourself, maybe you aren’t familiar with a flight simulator yet and I hope that you learn some information from this particular topic that will help you get in the right direction.
A few great things about a flight simulator. A flight simulator gives you infinite flight time. You can fly the simulator as much as you want. You’re not running up a bill or anything. You’re going to pay for the computer ahead of time, but you’re not paying for gas, you’re not paying for an instructor, you’re not paying for maintenance, you’re not paying for the airplane, you’re not paying for anything but initially that flight simulator. And once you have it all set up, you can just fly, fly, fly as much as you want and that’s one of the best things about a flight simulator.
Flight simulators are also very affordable. In the grand scheme of things, a flight simulator per the amount you can fly it is very, very affordable. If you think of a private pilot course where you’re paying anywhere between 150 or even 300, 400 dollars sometimes, maybe even 500, depends on where you live in the world, but paying a huge amount of money per hour to fly a real airplane, flying a simulator in that infinite amount is very affordable to be able to do these things in a simulator. So a simulator is super affordable.
Simulators these days are also very realistic and quite immersive. Technology has gone to the point and software has gone to the point where it’s starting to blur the lines between what is reality and what is actually a simulation. I think we’re always going to say that. I think we’re always going to say that there is more that a simulator can do or that “Man, it just looks better today than it ever has and hopefully that’s the way it continues to progress.” But these simulators are very realistic. They’re very immersive.
For example, I can load up here in my hometown. I can get the actual real-life weather. I can get the real-life traffic. I can get the look and feel of everything. I can get the real scenery to the point where I can fly around like find my house. It’s ridiculous how realistic and immersive a simulator is. And that’s the point of a simulator. You want to be able to forget at least momentarily little moments here and there that you’re not flying for real, and that’s what a great simulation does, and in today’s world, it’s just so realistic and immersive.
Also, a simulator is great because, exactly what we’re talking about here, you can learn ahead of time. You can learn before you actually go and do your private pilot or your flight training. So, you can take the things that maybe you learned from books and you can try them out in a simulator and you can use different courses like for example, our course here in Angle of Attack, Aviator90. You can get that for free at Aviator90.com. That is a 45-part video course on a lot of the basics and then you can go on your simulator and you can just again fly and fly and fly that infinite amount of flying and just learn a bunch of stuff before you every get in a real cockpit. Now, there are going to be some difficulties in that transition when you go to a real cockpit, and simulation isn’t exactly the same as flying the real world, they both kind of feel different, but at least you’re getting the idea and you’re getting in the system and you’re gaining that knowledge, so there’s a lot to learn.
A couple other things. You can repeat procedures quickly. So say that you come in for a landing, you kind of screw it up, you’re swirly on the approach and you don’t line up with the runway correctly and you come down and you pancaked your wheels. Heck, just reload the flight right there on maybe a couple miles out and just go down and do it again. Just do it again, do it again, do it again. Just repeat and repeat and repeat. That’s what I did with my simulator. I would just repeat things over and over again and I would just nail those landings and then when it came time to my private pilot, I have the feel for how things work. I definitely still had a lot to learn, I’m not saying that, but I had a general idea of how things worked.
Another kind of advanced thing with the simulator is that you can practice emergencies. So you can do things in a simulator that have grave consequences that you could not do in a real airplane like simulate an engine fire or simulate some other emergency that you just wouldn’t want to do in a real airplane. You wouldn’t want to just kill your engine in flight, not super smart, but you could practice all those things in a simulator and kind of get the idea.
And that’s what airlines do all the time. Airlines use these simulators, very high quality simulators to the extent that they teach a pilot all about that aircraft type and that pilot literally goes and flies the real airplane for the first time with passengers. He obviously have some guys there with him being the captain and also a check captain and stuff, but simulators are very good, very, very good.
So how much can you expect to pay for a simulator? So a simulator in and of itself is essentially gaming PC. It’s just like any regular PC. You can also run on a Mac but you’re generally going to be paying between 1000 and 1500 dollars to start if you want kind of an average system, and then if you want a really good system, it will go up from there. So anything that will run a game well, you’re wanting to basically get a system like that. And it’s just getting more affordable for the software that’s out today, so to run something like FSX, you can get something between 1000 and 1500 dollars that operates pretty good. But if you want to go above that and get it to be absolutely amazing, you can make it even more than that.
But I want to emphasize that the point of all these is for flight training and you’re not necessarily just building up a huge gaming PC so that when you’re not flying a simulator, you can play Grand Theft Auto or something. That’s not what I’m suggesting. I think that you need to focus on this being a simulator first and so with that said, maybe don’t spend so much money on the PC itself. Maybe focus on spending more money on the controls and stuff like that which we’ll talk about here next. So that’s kind of the PC component to it. That’s a big component. You can search online for kind of the best specifications to get and what will work for the simulator that you choose to use.
So what hardware do you need to run a simulator? What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to simulate real flight, right? So what we need are the real controls for the airplane. That starts with the basics. We’re going to want a yoke or maybe a joystick but in most cases a yoke. You’re also going to want rudder pedals and you’re going to want throttle. All those at a minimum. A lot of people will go out and they’ll get the yoke and throttle combo from say someone like Cytec which is a very affordable package, just over, I think it’s about 150 dollars, somewhere in that range.
So they’d go out and buy this yoke and throttle package which just comes together, it just comes together that way, and they forget about the rudder pedals but I tell you what, if you add rudder pedals, it really increases your realism because you actually have to steer on the ground with the rudder pedals, you have to use the breaks. You’re controlling the aircraft in a realistic manner all the time whether you are in the air or on the ground and you’re having to add that rudder pedal component. So I think that is a minimum, to have your yoke, rudder pedals and throttle.
You can also add other peripherals like some people have a trim wheel that you can use. There are some instrument panels out there that you can build out and you can get pretty crazy especially if you get into the airline stuff or you can start to get some MCPs but we’re focusing on kind of the basic training package that you need to support you in a private pilot type of course. So I would say at minimum you need the yoke, rudder pedals, throttle and that will set you up pretty well to where you can really learn some of these subjects and practice a lot.
The software you need. So there are different simulators out there. People have different reasons for liking different simulators. So in a nutshell, those simulators are FSX, X-Plane and Prepar3d or P3D. Now, X-Plane is your version if you are on a Mac. So that’s by default what you will use if you run a Mac. X-Plane is a great piece of software. It looks good. It looks great. It operates very realistically. I think it operates, out of all the simulators, it operates the most realistically aerodynamically in how an airplane actually flies than any of the others. It flies very realistically which I like and I lean that direction if you’re just using a simulator for say training, then I lean the X-Plane direction.
But you know, a lot of us do like the eye candy that comes with a good gaming machine and we do like things to look very realistic and at the end of the day, if it looks realistic, it feels realistic, right? So that also has a lot to do with the realism of what you’re trying to create with the simulator. And so with that said, something like FSX or Prepar3d which are essentially the same software. So FSX is the older software that Microsoft worked on and Prepar3d is that same software that Microsoft worked on yet it’s purchased by Lockheed Martin and they are able to update it, so they’re kind of updating it to today’s standards.
So FSX and Prepar3d look amazing. They are out of this world beautiful, so they just look fantastic. They don’t control as realistically but you can kind of get away with a lot of that stuff. There are some really, really good quality airplanes that you can download for your simulator that will enhance that realism in FSX and Prepar3d. And then you can also download a lot of good scenery. There is a lot of amazing scenery out there that takes what is in general in all the simulators a very poor and very terrible-looking default scenery and just makes it out of this world, unbelievable to where like I was mentioning before, you can go and find your house and everything looks realistic and you can navigate realistically just by dead reckoning.
So pretty amazing there. And I want to mention, here’s kind of a little story, okay? So I was in my private pilot ground school. I must have been 16 or 17 years old at that time, I think I was 17 years old, and I remember going to class one day and my ground instructor brought a simulator. It was one of the first times he brought the simulator. I had simulators at home. I had war aircraft simulators like European Air War. I had an F-15 one, like Jane’s F-15 I think it was called. I had some Microsoft Flight Simulator, so I was already using simulators. But what was different was he brought this to class and then another kid brought the CD. He brought the CD and he popped it in the computer and then he installed an F-14. And that blew my mind. I realized “Oh my gosh, there’s this huge add-on market out there. There are so many different little airplanes and sceneries and all sorts of stuff that I can actually put inside the simulator. It’s not just the default stuff I had to live with. So that just totally opened up my world and that’s something you can look into too.
A good source for stuff like that is FlightSim.com or avsim.com. They have a big download library of freeware that you can just go and get a lot of that stuff. That’s kind of the software component of it. You got to choose a simulator you want to work with and then I recommend maybe getting some good quality aircraft and good scenery. You can go overboard here. The point of all these is going to be getting to a private pilot, so we’re not looking to make you guys lifelong flight simmers. We want to get you to a private pilot. That’s the specific subject of this podcast. I don’t want you to go overboard. Save some money for your actual training. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.
Alright, so what are some of the things that you can learn from a flight simulator? Other than some limitations which I’ll talk about in a second, some of the amazing things you can learn from a flight simulator just to name a few. You can almost learn everything under the aviation umbrella in a simulator but just some of the major things that kind of came to my mind as I was coming up with some of the topics here were you can learn how to read the aircraft’s instruments really well and understand them and fly them. You can learn all that stuff in many different types of aircraft so you can learn so much about the aircraft, instruments and the systems.
You can also learn a lot about communication. So there are pieces of software where you can actually communicate live with other air traffic controllers or rather with air traffic controllers and they will control you and you can learn all the phraseology ahead of time before you ever get into an actual airplane, so that is very, very helpful. You can learn how to navigate in all different sorts of ways. You can learn how to fly ADFs, VORs, GPS, all different types of approaches. You can learn to fly crosscountry. You can learn to fly instrument. All sorts of different things. Obviously along the way, you’re going to learn flight technique. You’re going to learn how to take off, land, how to climb, descend, climbing terms, descending terms, all sorts of stuff. There are so many different things that you can learn.
And this is stuff that you will learn in both places right? You’d learn this in a real airplane but obviously you’re going to learn it in a simulator too. You can learn a whole lot about the aircraft systems. Again, going back to instrument flying, you can learn a lot there. You can learn a whole lot about the weather because there is great weather simulation too again like I mentioned earlier where you can depict the real world weather that is at your local airport or along the route that you are currently flying. Say, there’s a thunderstorm ahead or there’s weather closing in around you. Those are things and decisions that you have to make in a simulator and that just helps when you actually become an actual pilot. And then flight planning is another one. If you want to take it really seriously, you can get into flight planning. And those are just a few topics. Obviously, I think we could talk about almost all of the topics under the sun with simulation or real aviation rather and almost port everything right over to simulation.
Alright, so the last kind of common question here is “Is a simulator like real flying?” and the answer is at the end of the day, no it’s not. There a lot of differences and most of them boil down to the senses. In a simulator, you don’t get the real motions that come in an airplane. You’re not going to throw up sitting there, sitting in your chair. You’re not going to feel the bumps really and you are not going to feel the turns. You’re not going to feel your butt getting pressed down in the seat by increased G-maneuvers and things like that. Your senses just aren’t there. You don’t hear the loud noises, you don’t feel the rumble, you don’t smell the smells. So many different things that you’re just not sensing in a simulator that you would sense in a real aircraft, and one of the biggest senses and I think the biggest sense is your vision.
So you just don’t have that wraparound peripheral vision that you do with a real airplane. Now, some of that might change a little bit if we get some of the stuff like Oculus Rift in the simulator and you can really immerse yourself in it. Now, kind of the difference there is that I’m still trying to find out how Oculus Rift is going to allow a pilot for example to turn the knobs on the airplane or something like that but anyway, that will actually help a lot to increase the vision of the pilot but it still just not the same.
So that kind of wraps up the flight simulation portion of this. I know that I covered a lot and I probably talked too fast but that covers basically why a simulator would be so good to get ahead of time and we’re going to talk about that more as when get into the flight training segment here, but having a simulator with you at home again gives you that infinite amount of hours that you can use. It prepares you well by teaching you so many different things that you’ll end up learning in the actual aircraft and that just gets you ahead of the game. They are things that you won’t have to learn in the aircraft while the aircraft is burning that expensive fuel and while your instructor has his watch ticking and he’s on the clock charging you.
So those are all things that you don’t have to worry about, and then in the actual airplane, you can really focus on the things you need help with and you can hone in on those skills and really refine yourself. And likely, I’ll be completely honest, and I’m a believer in this. Say that you do spend between 1000 to 2000 dollars on this simulator, right? I truly believe that doing so and spending the time to do this will save you money on your private pilot. This will pay for itself if you get a simulator and you use it realistically and you use it to increase your training and knowledge of the aircraft, of the private pilot curriculum. I absolutely believe it will pay for itself and how it pays for itself is I believe you’ll get your license a lot faster. You will have fewer repeated lessons in the aircraft. That means that you’re spending fewer flights, spending 300 dollars or 200 dollars a flight, so I absolutely believe that it will pay for itself if you get a simulator.
Alright, so that is the flight simulation topic. Now we’re going to get into the flight training topic.
And now, the flight training segment…
Chris: Okay, so as I was thinking about the flight training topic, I was thinking back to yesteryear when I went
through my flight training and what it was like and the challenges I had and some of the things that were trying to get in my way of becoming a pilot. It boils down to, and I’m just going to spoil this for you, I was going to save this for the end, but it boils down to this, okay? Remember, PHD. It’s pretty easy to remember, there are a lot of PhD’s out there. Pretty easy to remember. We pilots, we all work in so many acronyms so here’s another acronym for you, okay? PHD, passion, hard work, and determination. That’s exactly what it takes to become a pilot. Passion, hard work and determination.
And those are things that you’re going to see throughout me talking about this flight training segment. How you
actually take all the experience that you’ve had with the simulator and now you take that and you go and you become an actual private pilot. You get that license, you get that ability to fly. That freedom to fly on your own whenever and wherever you want, taking whoever you want with you. And I say that tongue in cheek because you might break some regulations if you fly wherever you want. You might bust some air space and get in trouble, but you know what I’m saying. It gives you that freedom to fly. You get that private pilot ticket, it’s a day that you’ll never, ever, ever forget. It’s a crowning moment in your life and it just gets better from there. It’s just wonderful freedom that you can gain.
So again, now we’re taking all the work that you’ve done with a simulator. You’ve taken that simulator very seriously. You’ve learned a whole lot. You’ve done lessons there. You’ve read books and then you’ve tested out what you learned from the books in the simulator. Things like that. So you’ve used that simulator, great. It’s not just a game. It isn’t really a game at all and now you’re ready to take that knowledge and go get an actual private pilot.
So the big, big first question “Where do I start? Where do I start if I want to get a private pilot?” The first thing I would suggest doing is start off by getting a medical or a physical to see if you’re actually able to do it. The vast majority of people are going to be able to get a pilot’s license. Even if you have some sort of condition, you’re likely able to get a private pilot license under some sort of stipulation. You just need to talk to a doctor and get all that figured out. Now, if you start early on in your teens, so say that you’re starting around 14 or 15 or if you’re really ambitious and you have very supportive parents, you’re starting earlier than that with your flight training, you’re going to run into some issues with getting certification to do that because from what I understand, you can only get your student pilot certificate when you are 16 and your student pilot certificate kind of acts as your FAA medical too. So your first FAA medical will also be a student pilot certificate but there are certain cases where you can get an exception and you can get that solo early. That is pretty rare and they probably won’t give it to you very early. Maybe days ahead of time, maybe something like that but it’s worth looking into.
But what I’m saying here is that you need to find out early on what your medical challenges are if any or road blocks to preventing you from becoming a pilot. This is kind of just the physical, right? You’re going to go to an actual guy, a doctor that would generally do an FAA medical and you’re going to say to him “Hey, I know I’m 14 years old but I just want to see if I’m cleared for these certain things. I want you to give me a physical as if I was going to take this, do this right now.” And although you may not be able to do that, at least you can find out what’s going on. And this applies very much not only to just teens but some of you older guys too. Go in, get the physical, try it out, see if there are any limitations. If there aren’t, you’re in the green. If there are, then you start to dig in and work with those challenges.
Alright, so that’s that. You got to get the medical thing out of the way. You got to find out if you can do it from that perspective. Let me just share just very briefly and I could share this story for the rest of the show, but I have to say that when I was 17, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and I was told by an FAA doctor, the first one I called, that I could not become a pilot. And I want you to know that I would not take no for an answer. I broke down and I cried for about 5 to 10 minutes but then I realized just kind of this aha moment that I was not going to take no for an answer.
So if you find out that something comes up that is going to prevent you from becoming a pilot, do not take no for an answer. You fight it and you fight it and fight it and fight it until you can figure it out. That is determination, okay? Remember, passion, hard work, determination. You have to be determined to do this.
Alright, so how much does this cost? How much does it cost to become a pilot? Now, this I realized is a huge barrier for a lot of people because it is expensive. It’s something that I’m not even sure I could afford right now to go through a private pilot. It’s very expensive and you’ve got to kind of figure it out. At minimum and we’re talking United States dollars here, it’s going to be different in other parts of the world. You have to do maybe just a quick Google search and kind of find out. But at minimum, we’re talking about 5000 dollars and that’s absolute best case scenario. You were the best flight sim pilot of all time, you did your study and you rocked every single lesson that you did, you didn’t have any setbacks. That’s minimum hours for a private pilot, around 45 hours. But most likely, you’re going to be in the 9000-dollar range and I say that because that is the average. That’s the average hours that someone gets a private pilot, is at about 67000 hours which comes to about 9000 dollars depending on the flight school you go to. There are bargains, there are ways to do it cheaper. It just depends on what you can do and where you are sort of thing. So that’s the price range you’re talking about.
Now, again, remember how I mentioned earlier that I absolutely believe that a flight simulator will pay for itself? I really don’t believe that if you are a dedicated flight sim pilot and have been for years and you’ve learned so much of this stuff ahead of time, I do not believe you’re going to come anywhere close to the 9000 range. I would guess you’re going to be more in the middle of there from 6000 to 7000, having had that experience and worked on that stuff ahead of time. Again, I absolutely believe that your simulator will pay for itself.
Alright, so another common question “Do I need to go to college?” If you want to be an airline pilot, you need to go to college. There are certain cases where you don’t but for the most part, the major airlines especially require a bachelor’s of science for the most part. That’s not always the case. Military pilots kind of get by from that. The military route is a way to go. I didn’t even put that in here but the military route is a way to go but you’ve got to be top of the top to do that and chances are you may not even get into flight school in the military because it’s so competitive but if you do, then they pay for everything and you get some of the best jobs.
But again, do you need to go to college? If you want to be an airline pilot, yes you do. However, you don’t have to get it in professional flight or a professional flight program. That’s not to look down on professional flight programs. I think they are absolutely fantastic. A lot of people just find it wise to get their training kind of outside of knowledge or while they’re going to college but then they get their degree and something they can fall back on just in case something happens medically where they can’t be a pilot anymore, they have a degree and some training to fall back on that they can use as a secondary career. So that’s the college thing. Now, are you required to go to college to be a pilot? No. It’s just that a lot of the major airlines require college degrees to apply. There are ways to get around that. Sometimes it depends on what you know or who you know rather, but for the most part, they require those.
Another question, “Is it hard?” Absolutely, it is hard. It is very hard to become a private pilot. It’s going to be
hard to work through any of the medical issues that you have. It’s going to be hard with the money. It’s going to be hard study, but it is as equally if not more so rewarding. So remember that, it is hard but it is very, very rewarding and you’ll understand that when you go flying for the first time. You’ll get it and you’ll get the bug and you’ll just want to do it.
So, kind of along the lines of the college thing and the hard work thing is how good of grades do I have to get? I don’t want you guys to focus so much on getting good grades as I want you to focus on how hard you need to work for this and how much you need to study. So you really need to learn how to study and how to retain this information from all these private pilot stuff and you need to learn to work hard. Kids that get good grades, it is very rarely because they are extra smart or they work extra. It doesn’t really come down to genius. It really comes down I believe to them being organized and them working hard. I absolutely believe that everyone can get good grades that way.
Now, I’m not of the mindset and this is a purely personal opinion that grades are not everything. If you are looking to become a military pilot, grades are huge. You’re not going to get into those flight programs if you don’t get the best grades but I’m a believer that hard work and learning to study and learning how to do this stuff is so much more important than grades because at the end of the day, grades from the previous year you’re probably not even going to remember, even the previous quarter, but hard work and learning how to learn are going to stick with you for your entire life, so that is very important to focus on as a young person or really any of us can learn from that specific lesson.
“Alright, so what should I study and when?” I would suggest that you’d go out and you purchase one of these private pilot courses. I personally like ASA. You can find them at asa2fly.com or Jeppesen for your textbooks. Again, I like ASA myself. They do good textbooks. I wouldn’t say they’re the best. I would actually put Jeppesen textbooks as far as graphics and all that stuff above what ASA does, but I think that ASA’s supporting material like their oral exam guides and their maneuver guides and their private pilot curriculum and the way they present their material is better for me. They just do a lot better job for me and they summarize things better so I can understand it. So I really like what ASA does. But again, there are some other great sources out there. Jeppesen is one of them. You can go to Sporty’s. There are a lot of different people out there but those are kind of the few that came to my mind. And maybe I’m being biased because I’ve used those before but that’s what I like.
Alright, so here is the big, big, big, big, big, big, big question. “What if I don’t have money to start?” What if your parents aren’t going to support you as far as paying for your private pilot? You know what? That is absolutely normal. It’s nothing against your parents. I’m sure they love you. It’s just that it’s not kind of in the cards for what they planned and for the most of you, your parents aren’t going to be able to pay for it.
So here’s the thing guys. Remember, PHD, right? Remember I talked about determination with medical work. This comes down to hard work. You may have to work after school every single day while you’re a teenager, okay? Once you become eligible to work, you may have to work every single day. But if you do that and if you save your money, you can pay for this yourself. You can do this. If you really, really focus and you really want this, you can get this. I would say you have to be very careful with that money. You have to work hard. You got to be a good employee and you have to retain that job and find jobs that maybe pay well too.
Don’t discount the value of working smarter rather than harder and what I mean by that is don’t just work your butt off to work your butt off. If you find another job that pays more that you know you can excel at, go for that. You got to accelerate this process. Just keep that in mind. But what I am saying is that you can earn this yourself as a teenager. It is doable.
Also another part of that is I know we talked about parents a little bit. Talk to your parents about your plans. Talk to them about your passion for this. Show them through using your simulator and studying these things on your own that you are willing to put in the work and you are willing to make sacrifices to make this happen. And then see if they can help and support you. Just bring them in on the conversation. I think you’re going to find that the vast majority of the time, your parents are going to be very supportive and they’re going to want that’s best for you. Especially if you have a dad or a mom that’s a pilot, they’re going to be so excited that you want to do this, so bring them in on the conversation. Try that out. But again, hard work, determination, you can also do this on your own. If your parents can do it, it’s nothing against them. I’m sure they still love you. Again, just find another way to do it. Determination, okay?
Part of that is I know you may not be able to afford a private pilot course at first or rather a full private pilot
license so forking out all that money, but you need to start with the small stuff. So as soon as you can afford to buy good books, buy the books. As soon as you can afford to maybe get a headset, get a headset. Now a headset is maybe not necessary because you can borrow one from a flight school but just those little things. What I’m saying here is if you buy your books ahead of time, you’re going to have all that time to study those books and when you start your private pilot during that time that you’re earning your money.
So that’s kind of the end of this flight training topic and some of the things to look out for when getting your private pilot specifically you teenagers but a lot of these things again also apply to you older guys and again I want to mention and harp on the fact that this is all about the PHD. It’s all about the passion, it’s all about the hard work and it’s all about the determination. I absolutely know you can do this. If you’re listening to this podcast, I know you have the passion. It’s going to take more passion than you can possibly imagine to get you through all of the hard work that you have to do, and then you have to be absolutely determined that you’re just going to keep, keep, keep going. So PHD, remember that. Passion, hard work, determination.
Alright guys, so that is it for this episode of AviatorCast. A couple aftershow AviatorCast actions. First, take a quick two-minute survey at Survey.aviatorcast.com. Here you can give us ideas for upcoming shows and leave us feedback. Second, continue the conversation by joining us on AviatorCast.com or write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love to hear from you in either location. Third, you can subscribe by not missing another AviatorCast episode. You can just simply subscribe through iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube, SoundCloud. We have things in different locations. iTunes in the number one, easiest place to get it. Go there.
And that brings us to number four which is we’d love to get an honest review from you on iTunes. This is a place where others learn about AviatorCast so that they can come and enjoy the show as well. So we ask that if you do enjoy the show, go and review us on iTunes and we’d really appreciate that.
Also, if you’d like to check out any of our training products, head to flyaoamedia.com. Start with the basics for free with Aviator90, I mentioned that. All of you teenagers should sign up, okay? Aviator90.com, free. You have zero reason not to. You can also learn instrument flying and more with AviatorPro or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD-11 again at flyaoamedia.com. Just as a side note, Angel of Attack also offers professional video services at AngleofAttackPro.com.
Many thanks also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all of their hard work to make this episode possible and all they do outside of AviatorCast. These guys are awesome, they’re dedicated, and I’m really proud of all that they’ve done.
Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things.
Until next time, throttle on![/transcript]
The post AviatorCast Episode 40: Teen to Pilot | Tips & Tricks on How to Get Your Private Pilot appeared first on Angle of Attack.
Oct 18 2014
How do you best prepare for flight training of any kind? What does your instructor expect of you? How can you squeeze the most out of every hour?
Through my time as an instructor, I’ve seen a range of preparedness, from the completely unprepared to the fully prepared.
On this episode of AviatorCast I’ll share the ideal qualities of a prepared student. Regardless if you’re already a pilot, this is going to be helpful for advanced ratings that you’ll do.
We’ll talk about the paradigm shift needed to succeed at training, and what that means for you growing as a person.
We’ll talk about building solid study habits and why study can drastically improve your flight hours.
We’ll talk about asking great questions, taking notes, and having quality preflight briefings and ground sessions with all those things.
We’ll talk about taking care of yourself emotionally and physically to make sure you have stamina for the long haul.
And finally we’ll talk about being relentless in your pursuit of this dream to fly, working hard, being honest with yourself in the process.
It’s a whole lot to cover in a short time, but I hope you’ll find it helpful as you seek your next license or rating.
Jun 30 2018
Ed Bolen, CEO and President of NBAA joins us for a quick chat. The National Business Aviation Association is a huge organization which represents and serves business and corporate pilots, manufactures, regulators, and so much more.
However, Ed himself is a pilot. Right at the beginning of the interview, he shares his favorite part of Oshkosh. It’s simple- a set of old and new military aircraft flying together (you’ll have to listen and find out).
If you’re looking to become a corporate or business aviation aviator, NBAA will be an organization you’ll work closely with for a large portion of your career. Ed shares a lot of the reasons why aviators would want to choose this type of industry for their career.
Big thanks to Ed for taking time to meet with us. I’m sure that many of his interviews can be quite intense and technical, so this one should have been quite easy. Thanks for all you do, Ed!
Chris: Welcome to another special edition of AviatorCast, here celebrating National Aviation Day. We are calling these 8-point roll episodes because we’re releasing eight of them here in one day and if you guys don’t know what the 8-point roll is, just go look at Bob Hoover doing one on YouTube because Bob Hoover is pretty dang good at doing 8-point rolls. I think he can probably even do a 12-point roll or something crazy. That guy can do anything.
So on this particular special edition episode, the last one that we have in these 8-point roll episodes, we have the president and CEA of NBAA Ed Bolan here joining us. Now, it’s really cool to see Ed because he looked like someone kind of just off the street. He had a nice polo shirt on of course, a hat, but he wasn’t in what would you assume to be a normal suit and tie. He was one of the aviators, he was there enjoying Oshkosh and you could tell that he was enjoying it. And so it’s cool to get an interview that is so influential in the industry but is also still greatly connected to aviation. So I hope you guys enjoy this short interview here with Ed. I don’t want to take up too much of his time because I think he was headed out of town right away, but here it is, here is a quick interview with Ed Bolan, president and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, NBAA.
Alright everybody, we are honored to have a special guest with us today. We have Ed Bolan from NBAA. What’s your official title at NBAA Ed?
Ed: President and CEO.
Chris: Great. And how long have you been with NBAA?
Ed: I will be celebrating my 11th anniversary in September, so a little over a decade.
Chris: Great. And we’re at Oshkosh. How many Oshkoshes have you been at?
Ed: This is number 20, so kind of an anniversary for me, but it’s 20 consecutive so I’ve seen a lot of evolution here and it’s really exciting. I think this year’s EAA really falls as one of the very best. The weather has been great but more importantly the crowds have been great. Lots of great technology on display, and it’s really always a place where you can sense real enthusiasm and passion for the industry.
Chris: What’s your favorite thing so far that you’ve seen here just as a pilot that’s really stood out to you?
Ed: Well, I tell you what, last night, it was about 6:30 at night so the sun was beginning to go down a little bit, and looked up, heard a roar overhead, looked up and saw a P-51 Mustang flying with a P-38 and an F-22 and they made a beautiful formation 3. Stunning airplanes that mean a lot in terms of our nation’s power, our freedom, and it’s things like that, there are stuff at Oshkosh where you set your schedule, you make a point of seeing this performer or that booth or this person but then there is always some kind of serendipity where luck steps in and something magnificent happens and for me, last night, that was it, just hearing a roar, looking up and seeing those three beautiful airplanes together. Really special.
Chris: Fantastic. So let’s go back years I’m sure. Take us back to the beginning of your aviation passion. Where did your passion for aviation start, what was it like in the beginning.
Ed: Well, a lot of people in aviation, they talk about being at airports, looking up, seeing an airplane, and that’s all they’ve ever wanted to do. I had an opportunity to be around the Salina Kansas Airport quite a bit. My father was on the board but I didn’t have an opportunity to learn to fly. I was involved in a lot of other pursuits, but what happened to me is I was really fortunate I had an opportunity to go to work on Capitol Hill for a senator from Kansas. Nancy Kassebaum was her name and she was very determined to pass legislation to revitalize the general aviation community. Back then, product liability lawsuits were killing the industry. Cessna had left making piston airplanes. This was in the mid-80s, we started 1986. By the time we ultimately passed the bill, it was 1994. But since then, Cessna went back in to production. Cirrus began building certified airplanes, Piper came out of bankruptcy. So it was a little three-page bill but it worked. And then from there, when I left Capitol Hill, I went to work for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and I’ve been very involved in the industry really ever since.
Chris: And where did your history with NBAA start?
Ed: So, Gama and NBAA are very close associations. All the general aviation associations work pretty well and pretty closely together, but Gama and NBAA had a particular relationship because we had a public advocacy campaign called “No plane, no gain” which I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of both from Gama and now NBAA. So it’s a program where we try to articulate the benefits of business aviation, whether it’s the size of the industry, the economic development it generates, just positive stories about how individuals and companies use airplanes to make the world a better place. And so we’ve been at that for a long time but it was that partnership where I began to know NBAA intimately through that partnership and then the board of directors and so forth. And then in 2004, they were searching for a new president and they came to me, and it seemed like a natural fit.
Chris: Great. So take us back to your work within the government, because it seems like you work with a few presidents, is that correct?
Ed: Well I had an opportunity. I’ve had two presidents who have appointed me to different positions. President Clinton appointed me to the management advisory council of the FAA, kind of a board of directors, and that was kind of the initial set-up. Back then, it were nominated by the presidents and then confirmed by the senate and I had an opportunity to serve on that and actually chair that from 2000 to 2004. In the 2002-2003 timeframe, President George W. Bush created a commission for the future of the aerospace industry that included people like Buzz Aldrin, Neil Tyson who does a lot of Discovery Channel-type stuff. It was really an exciting group, but we kind of looked at some of the barriers to the US continuing to be the world leader in all aspects of aviation and make some recommendations. So I’ve serve on boards, I’ve served on commissions and then I worked for a senator on Capitol Hill. So pretty comprehensive government experience.
Chris: And you mentioned that you were working on the future of aviation, keeping it vital in the United States. How are we doing with that?
Ed: Well in some ways, it continues to be a situation where we are leading but there are challenges. We’ve got to continually find ways to get new technologies and new products into the marketplace. So I think we continue to work on trying to improve our certification process to kind of shorten the amount of time, not shorten the comprehensiveness of the review, but do it in a manner that recognizes the time to market is important and that new technologies give us the opportunity to take quantum steps forward in terms of safety. So continuing to push on that. We’ve looked at NextGen, the next generation air traffic control system, as a potential way for the US to continue to grow its aviation industry.
So there were a number of recommendations that came from that, and we’re beginning to see in a lot of areas that it’s bearing fruit. But nothing worthwhile is just a one-time walk-away from it. It’s kind of a life is a continuous improvement process program and I think that’s what we are seeing here. It’s exciting to be here and see we’re having an opportunity today to talk from the Redbird booth and see how technology is coming into our industry and touching everything we do whether it is recording data from flights or creating simulation opportunities that just did not exist 10 years ago. I’m excited about the future of aviation and aerospace in the United States.
Chris: And simulation like her at Redbird that helps a lot with the bottomline to get more pilots into aviation and lower one of those barriers which his cost. Now NBAA is known for, I think a lot of people associate, at least I do, NBAA with corporate jets and that sort of thing. Do you guys have, obviously you guys are advocates for the small business CEO that owns a Cirrus right and flies for himself. So tell us more kind of about that grassroots business industry.
Ed: Well, NBAA does have a number of large companies that fly big iron, and a lot of those have big sophisticated flight departments. And that’s certainly a key part of our nation’s business aviation segment. But to your point, it goes much further down and it goes to anyone using any general aviation aircraft for a business purpose. That’s really what business aviation is. And we try to make sure people understand what some of the best practices are in terms of safety and just approaching issue. So we do for example a single pilot safety standdown. Every year it’s part of our convention where we’ll bring in speakers and have content about how you know what your minimums are, your personal minimums, things to do to kind of bring some of the best practices that they have within flight department but make that available on a scale that all pilots can use.
I was kind of excited, here at Oshkosh, things kind of opened with a concert by Dierks Bentley who flies a Cirrus and he had an opportunity to talk about how he’s using his Cirrus Aircraft to get to concerts and home from concerts to be much more efficient with his time. Spend more time with family but still do more with his business, so that’s an example. Entertainment is very much a business and here’s an entertainment personality who is using the airplane to go more places in less time, and that’s what makes this so magical. Airplanes are incredible productivity tools that allow you to go more places in less time which is by definition, productivity.
Chris: Right. And time is such a valuable commodity.
Ed: Yeah, that’s the one thing no one can make more of it. Everybody starts the day with the exact same amount of time as everyone else including their competitors and the challenges, how do you use, what this fixed asset is, more efficiently than anyone else.
Chris: So talk about a pilot that is just now getting into the industry. Maybe he or she is a millennial generation X. I think a lot of people look for the airlines. What are the advantages to going to corporate or to business aviation?
Ed: Well I think the airlines are something that are known and they’re understood but they’re very regimented. Most planes fly into and out of about 30 airports. We’ve got a total of maybe 400 airports in the United States that have any commercial activity at all. So generally pilots who fly for the airlines have a pretty regimented routine. Business aviation serves 5000 airports in the United States so over 10 times the number of airports, and that’s just the US. So there’s an opportunity to go more places and see more things. I remember the first time I went to Chicago O’Hare, I thought, “Boy, this is really great, this is really exciting. Flashing lights, food courts,” but at some point, it just becomes another airport. Whereas with business aviation, you can find yourself in different cities, finding some hole in the wall place that has great tacos, barbecue or something like that. So that can make it fun.
You also have, business aviation often times don’t have the latest technology on the planes, so you may really be flying with more advanced technologies, be going to more different and exciting places and it’s just a different way of life. To me, it offers a little bit more kind of new interest in lifetime growth that you may not get when you’re in a commercial airline experience.
Chris: What are some of the most exciting technologies that we’re seeing today?
Ed: Well, I think we’ve had several things that business aviation has kind of brought to the world, whether it’s winglets that have helped us reduce our environmental footprint, has been great. Certainly, we were kind of leaders in adopting GPS technology. We were kind of leaders on enhanced vision systems that allow you to see through. Today, I think some of the more exciting stuff revolves around ADS-B and how it will interface with the NextGen air traffic system, and then a lot of what we’re seeing here at Redbird. Some of the simulation and information technologies that are going to allow us to be more comprehensive in what we do to kind of the take away some of the paperwork aspects but improve the training aspects, and I think that has the potential to drive down the cost and improve the experience.
Chris: What are some of the things that everyday pilots today, those pilots that are potentially looking to go to corporate aviation or business aviation, how can they get connected to what NBAA is doing.
Ed: Well, NBAA has got a pretty robust website and we do conventions, conferences and regional forums all across the United States. Our big convention will be in Las Vegas this year on November 17, 18 and 19. We’ll have 25,000 people will attend that. Some of the real leaders in business aviation will be on hand, a lot of companies will be there so that will be an opportunity for people to talk with people I the industry. We also do regional forums. We’ve got one coming up in St. Louis on September 17th, another opportunity for people to interface with the industry. So there are several things that we do throughout the course of the year that can be convenient, give someone an opportunity to be able to meet some of the people who are helping shape this industry.
Chris: And it does seem like a good idea to get connected in a location like that where you can learn more about the industry before maybe you fully commit to that career path just as you would of anything else, due diligence.
Ed: Yeah, and networking is just so important where whatever you are, whatever you’re in, you have an opportunity to build lifelong friends but you also have an opportunity to find mentors, to hear about opportunities. And so being active and engaged in any community I think is a good idea. Often you give a lot but you get back more and so I encourage people to get engaged in aviation, get engaged at the local airport level, get engaged with businesses in their immediate area. It’s just important, the more people you know, the more you’re likely to find someone who knows somebody who is looking for something. And being present is really important.
Chris: Now speaking of simulation, what the help of the simulation industry?
Ed: Well I think we’re seeing remarkable growth and we’ve had business aviation simulators for a long time. FlightSafety International, CAE are some of the companies that people know about but I think what Redbird is doing is very, very exciting because it brings it out of the corporate and individualizes it in a really important way. And you know, one of the thing that has been a challenge, a barrier to learning how to fly is someone tries to do it on weekends, they wait all week, they have their opportunity to fly, it’s raining, and flight instructor, something happens and they’ve lost a day. Simulator is a given opportunity in all weather and all conditions to kind of keep learning, keep becoming comfortable in the environment, and that can ultimately shorten the amount of time it takes to learn how to fly, it can also keep current pilots more proficient as they approach flying.
Chris: Great. So, let’s go back to your flying. What do you fly right now?
Ed: I fly a Piper Cherokee a little bit, fly a Cirrus from time to time. Just great airplanes that are fun to fly, and pretty