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Best Flight School p. 34
Best Flight Instructor p. 40
Full List of Winners p. 32
VOLUME.26 / NUMBER. 2 02.14

AOPA's Flight Training
Excellence Awards winners.
The good, the best, and the very best.

'Community' is this flight school's
middle name.
San Carlos Flight Center is the
winner of the "Best" flight school
award—here are some reasons why.
EXCELLENCE By Jill W. Tallman
Celebrating the best
in the industry. 40
AOPA asked student pilots to rate their flight DREAM MAKER
training experience in the Flight Training
Excellence Poll. Here are the results. Why Conor Dancy is flight
instructor of the year.
By Ian J. Twombly Can a top flight instructor help a
harried student pilot? He can if
he's Conor Dancy of Aviation
By Julie Summers Walker

See page 29.


Honoring tHe best

in FligHt instruction

special issue

The Flight Training
Excellence Awards. 2013
best scHool • best
Honor roll

Best Flight School p.
Best Flight Instructor
p. 40
Full List of Winners p.


VOLUME.26 / NUMBER.2 02.14

 ember Benefits 44 Weather
Protect yourself as an Seeing beyond fog
aircraft renter By Jack Williams

22 Flight Lesson 53 A
 dvertiser Index
An odd cloud Aviation marketplace
By Terry Akins
56 D
23 Accident Report Col. Adrian Spain
Cold and calculating
By Dan Namowitz


 ight Seat 24 A
 round the Patch
The very best Go large, go long
"IF THE By Ian J. Twombly By Heather Baldwin
AND DEW POINT 8 Letters 26 F
 lying Carpet
ARE WITHIN 5 Let's be honest Easy IFR


SUCH AS IT DOES 47 Career Pilot
OVERNIGHT INTO 10 Fun on the Water
Oops, wrong airport
THE EARLY 12 Success Story By Pete Bedell

44 56
49 I nstructor Report
—JACK WILLIAMS 13 How it Works Training female students

By Rod Machado
14 After the Checkride

15 News 50 C
 FI to CFI
Abeam the Numbers Don't be the Big Bad Wolf
By Natalie Bingham Hoover
16 Training Products
51 Career Advisor
17 News
By Wayne Phillips
Final Exam

18 ASI News 52 Accident Report

The easiest thing
20 News By David Jack Kenny


FLIGHT TRAINING (ISSN 1047-6415), FEBRUARY 2014 (VOL. 26 NO. 2), is a monthly magazine produced and distributed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Flight Training membership dues are $45 per year. Current FAA student pilot cer-
tificate holders can receive a complimentary six-month Introductory Membership by completely filling out a request form or by sending their name, address, student-pilot certificate number, and the name and address of their flight instructor and school
to P.O. Box 471, Frederick, MD 21705-0471. Periodicals postage paid at Frederick, Maryland, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Flight Training, P.O. Box 471, Frederick, MD 21705-0471. No material may be used or reprinted
without written permission. Printed in the USA. For change of address: Call 800-USA-AOPA or e-mail

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any pilots fly a rental or training aircraft with the assumption that insur- CFI INSURANCE. Whether you’re an
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the airplane, these businesses are protecting themselves, not you. provide comprehensive coverage for both
Often an aircraft renter is told he or she doesn’t need liability coverage—only $5,000 professional and personal use (www.
for aircraft damage. But here’s what that FBO doesn’t tell you: They have their own
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Buying renter’s insurance is quick and easy: PILOT INFORMATION CENTER. Experi-
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membership or take the next step and email newsletters offer aviation industry smartphone, iPad, or computer (www.
become an official member of AOPA. You’ll news, information, and tips. Sign up online
continue receiving all of the following ( WEATHER. Online graphical real-time
great benefits, services, and discounts newsletters.aspx). aviation weather information (www.aopa.
while supporting the organization protect- AOPA AIR SAFETY INSTITUTE. A wide org/weather).
ing your right to fly. Plus, student members array of interactive online courses, safety AIRPORT INFORMATION. Online
can join AOPA at a special reduced rate quizzes, webinars, and seminars to help directory with vital preflight information,
of just $25 ( you increase your knowledge and become updated daily (
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FLIGHT TRAINING HELPLINE. Dedicated AOPA LIVE. Weekly webcast show Services Plan/Pilot Protection Services
toll-free number (888-232-7456) for recaps the week’s news and showcases safeguards pilot and medical certificates
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aadvice, and answers to help you reach aopalive). AOPA FOUNDATION. Your tax-deductible
your flight training goals. CAR RENTAL DISCOUNTS. AOPA mem- donation provides funding for important
ADVOCACY. Taking on regulatory and leg- bers save on car rentals with our strategic work that membership dues alone cannot
islative threats to GA at national, state, and partners: Enterprise, National, and Alamo support: safety, education, growing the
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RIGHT SEAT By Ian J. Twombly


THE VERY BEST Publisher | Mark Baker

JUDGED BY THEIR CUSTOMERS—YOU Senior VP, Media/Editor in Chief | Thomas B. Haines

Editor | Ian J. Twombly

Editor at Large | Thomas A. Horne
his special issue of Flight Training is dedicated to the best Managing Editor | Julie Summers Walker
flight schools and flight instructors in the nation. It honors Technical Editors | Mike Collins, Jill W. Tallman
those training professionals who, according to their students, Senior Editors | Dave Hirschman, Alton K. Marsh
are the absolute best at what they do. Media Production Specialist | Sylvia Horne
Administrative Assistant | Miriam E. Stoner
Contributors | Pete Bedell, Greg Brown, LeRoy Cook,
The training providers featured in this big surprise that some basic themes come Budd Davisson, Rod Machado, Dan Namowitz, Wayne
issue are the winners of AOPA’s Flight through: An instructor who is interested Phillips, Bob Schmelzer, Jack Williams
Training Excellence Awards. Those and involved, a school that is upfront
awards were given as a direct result from about costs and time to train; access to
feedback of current and recent students simulation; a perception of value; intro-
Design Director | Michael E. Kline
through an unscientific poll AOPA duction to an aviation community; the use Art Directors | Elizabeth Z. Jones, Jill C. Benton
conducted throughout last year. In it, of a syllabus, and so on. Whether or not Senior Photographer | Mike Fizer
the association asked respondents about your school or instructor was a winner, Photographer | Chris Rose
more than 30 factors regarding their having these traits will greatly enhance
flight training experience. Those results your success. eMedia Managing Editor | Alyssa J. Miller
were added on to a panel-scored verbatim It was no question that winning flight eMedia Editor | Sarah Deener
section to come up with three tiers of win- school San Carlos Flight Center has these eMedia Associate Editors | Jim Moore, Benet Wilson
ners—Best, Outstanding, and Honor Roll. traits. Owner Dan Dyer is relentless in
OK, so what, you may be thinking. I go pursuing the idea of the perfect school.
VP Advertising | Carol L. Dodds
to a different flight school. The purpose of It comes through in everything a student Advertising Director | Brenda D. Ridgley
the awards is twofold. From an industry sees and does during flight training. Tech- Online Advertising Manager | Michael Wilcox
perspective they are meant to raise aware- nical Editor Jill Tallman visited Dyer’s Advertising Marketing Manager | Eryn Willard
ness of the methods and tactics of great California-based school for her story, Advertising Coordinator | Donna Stoner
Advertising Representative |
flight training providers, in the hopes that which begins on page 34.
The Orison B. Curpier Co., Inc.
other schools and instructors will learn To profile Conor Dancy, the best flight East, Central, International | 607-547-2591
what’s successful. But for you, the student, instructor, we took a bit of a different tack South Central, West | 214-789-6094
the awards are equally important. That’s and sent Managing Editor Julie Summers
because schools and instructors that score Walker up for a lesson. Walker has been
Editorial and Advertising Offices
well against the criteria provide a superior around aviation for more than a decade, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD 21701
product. Knowing this should empower but her nervous flying habits would be 301-695-2350 / FAX 301-695-2180
you to bring up at your own school. some sure to put Dancy to the test. You can read
of the tactics used by the winners. It may all about it, beginning on page 40.
Copyright © 2013, Aircraft Owners and Pilots
prompt you to go elsewhere for a better Finally, don’t miss the full list of win- Association. All rights reserved. No part of this monthly
magazine may be reproduced or translated, stored in a
experience. And it provides an avenue to ners, beginning on page 32. These schools database or retrieval system, or transmitted in any form
rate your current experience. and instructors are the best at what they by electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
other means, except as expressly permitted by the pub-
We say it a number of times in this do, as judged by the toughest panel—their lisher; requests should be directed to the editor.
This publication is presented with the understanding
issue, but it bears repeating: Schools that customers. that the information it contains comes from many sources
for which there can be no warranty or responsibility by
are shown to meet the poll criteria pro- the publisher as to accuracy, originality, or completeness.
vide a better flight training product. We Email Editor Ian J. Twombly at ian.twombly@aopa. It is presented with the understanding that the publisher
is not engaged in rendering product endorsements or
know this from independent research into org; Twitter: ijtwombly; and visit Flight Training on providing instruction as a substitute for appropriate
training by qualified sources.
the ideal flight training experience. It’s no Facebook.
Flight Training will consider unsolicited submissions.
All manuscripts and contributions should be sent to Reasonable care will be taken
in handling manuscripts, but the magazine assumes no
Check online ( for the next responsibility for material submitted.

poll to be held later this year. Your responses are critical for the
program—and your school and instructor.

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In the Airline Career Pilot Program, your airline Commercial Multi & CFIs at commercial phase of training,
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of training. Successful applicants will receive a 100 Hours Multi-Engine to 1500 hours in your guaranteed
conditional offer of employment from one or more of Experience CFI job. See website for participating
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LETTERS Talk back
COMMENTS. Please email letters
to Letters
will be edited for style and space.


read Ian Twombly’s “Right Seat: Plan A” in the December issue.
I enjoyed what he had to say. I know AOPA is here to support
aviation, but I feel we owe it to our fellow pilots who are seeking
a career in aviation to be honest to them about the pros and cons
about the first steps into the regionals. A lot of regional pilots are

walking around depressed because of to check his attitude indicator. I was

such a large investment and big respon- pretty sure he was spending at least 90
sibility of being a pilot and not being percent of the time focusing inside, so
compensated for what the job requires of I decided to try something different.
them, and the quality of life issues they I took my sectional chart and covered up
face. I thank you for being an advocate of all the flight instruments, and asked him
aviation but as the saying on the job goes, to do another steep turn. Since he didn’t
“It’s the best job once the door shuts,” have anything to focus on inside the
and it shouldn’t be the only thing we talk cockpit, he spent the entire time looking
about. I would really appreciate an honest outside. The steep turn with sole refer-
report for the future generations on the ence on the actual horizon was perfect.
cons of being an airline pilot. I peeked underneath the sectional a few
First Officer Erik Torrez times; the altimeter and airspeed needles
Topeka, Kansas never moved!
I know many of the new training air-
ARE YOU OUTSIDE IN, OR INSIDE OUT? planes on the market these days have lots
I’ve been fairly inactive as a flight instruc- of nice electronics and gadgets on them,
tor for the past few years, ever since I but it doesn’t change the fact that the best
landed a job flying wide-body Boeings information available to the pilot is right
around the world. This past month, I had outside the window.
some extra time off from work and one of Darren Murphy
my friends who owns a local flight school San Antonio, Texas
asked if I’d come help with some flight
training. I didn’t have much else going on YIKES!
at home, so I decided to go help. Phil Scott’s “Aviation Speak” was very
The first flight I did with a student interesting from the first sentence: “A
was a presolo stage check. One of the stall can occur at any speed [correct] and
maneuvers I asked him to perform was any angle of attack [yikes!]." I am certain
the steep turn. He followed all the proper I am not the only pilot that wrote about
set-up procedures, cleared the area, this. I have been a CFI for a long time and
and then began making the turn to the it is hard to believe that this made your
left. Rolling past 30 degrees of bank, he magazine. I believe it is collectively agreed
proceeded to add a touch of power and that a stall only occurs when you exceed
continued to roll to 45 degrees. Then he the “critical” angle of attack, not any angle
started a slow descent. I kept thinking he of attack. If Scott were correct I could
was going to fix it any second, but by the pitch an airplane straight down, build up
end of the first turn, he had descended an airspeed of 130 knots, and the aircraft
200 feet! I asked what he was looking at can stall? Wow!
during the maneuver and he said he was Mike Foy
splitting his view from outside and inside Westfield, Massachusetts

Sound Pro
and call ATC with confidence.
As seen on Flight Training's Ask anyone. Talking on the radio is one of the
Facebook page hardest parts of flying. Comm1 Radio Simulator
offers interactive CD-ROM training programs
New benefit for student pilots! that get you comfortable with
We now have a dedicated FAA-required phraseology.
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• IFR and Clearances CD-ROMs available. $ 99.95
Several colleges and universities in the
Directory (December 2013 Flight Training)
should have been designated as accred-
ited by the Aviation Accreditation Board • PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL, INSTRUMENT AND CFII
International ( They are: • 95% FIRST TIME PASS RATE
Middle Tennessee State University, North • $429 - VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS,
Shore Community College, Oklahoma • FREQUENT CLASSES HELD IN 100 MAJOR CITIES
State University, Purdue University, Rocky
Mountain College, Saint Louis University- CLINICS - $189
Parks College, Southeastern Oklahoma • ATTEND UP TO 3 MONTHS PRIOR TO YOUR
State University, Southern Illinois Uni- CURRENT CFI EXPIRATION MONTH
versity, St. Cloud University, Westminster Offering Airline Quality Ground Schools for
College, University of Central Missouri, Over 35 Years
University of North Dakota, University of • 800-257-9444 • •
Oklahoma, and Western Michigan Uni-
versity. Additionally, the listing for Kent
State University should have included a
degree in air traffic control. Iowa Central
Community College (www.iowacentral.
edu), which offers an associate's degree
in aviation science/professional pilot, was
inadvertently omitted from the directory.
An updated College Directory is available
online (
lege%20directory2.pdf ).
Flight Training regrets the errors.



FUN ON THE WATER. If low and slow appeals to

you, then surely low and slow over—and on—lakes
and rivers will offer even more excitement. Pilots
agree that floatplane flying is some of the most fun
flying you'll ever do. It can be tough to find fixed-
base operators who offer solo seaplane rentals,
so if you truly become hooked, you may have to
buy a Taylorcraft or Piper J–3 Cub fitted with floats
to get your fix. Or you could build your own. The
Searey LSA Elite shown here is a high-wing, pusher
aircraft—meaning the engine is mounted on top
of the wing—and configured as a taildragger. It is
classified as a Light Sport Aircraft. While the Elite is
a factory-built version, Searey also sells a kit pow-
ered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912s engine.

WHAT: Searey Elite

WHERE: Lake Jackson, Sebring, Florida




NAME: Gail Hammans

AGE: 71
EVENT: Private pilot checkride
WHERE: Tulsa International Airport,
Tulsa, Oklahoma
AIRPLANE: Piper Cherokee 140

and I—having raised three families,

retirement upon us, and still in good
health—decided that it was time to relight
the fires or forget it. I bought, sight
unseen, a beautiful 1976 Piper Cherokee
PA-28-140, and after three CFIs, medical
setbacks, a daughter serving in Iraq and
'I finally made it’ later in Afghanistan, over a span of two
A dream since he was 18 years I finally made it.
My private checkride examiner, Lee
THE EXCITEMENT OF flying and being prevent me from flying for a living, so I Romanek, made that experience interest-
around aircraft started at an early age placed my desires on hold and went on ing, educational, exciting, and downright
when my folks’ best friend returned from with my life. enjoyable. Flying is all that I ever thought
World War II after having served as a Completing military service in 1965, it would be—and much more.
Corsair pilot. His stories and pictures I went to work for Continental Air-
were spellbinding. I took my first lesson lines as a ramp agent, then ramp safety, Share your experience on Flight Train-
at age 18. During the first lesson I was ticket agent, and finally as a director ing’s Facebook page (
told that needing corrective lenses would of passenger services. Finally, my wife AOPAFlightTrainingMag).


King Schools launches helicopter FIRC

Paperwork can be completed remotely

HELICOPTER FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS often have to get by with standard flight instructor MUCH OF
refresher courses that focus on airplanes. Now they have another option with THE COURSE
King Schools’ new helicopter-specific FIRC ( CONTENT WAS
flight-instructor/refresher-course.asp). DEVELOPED
The FIRC is a variation of the company’s main refresher course that launched in IN PARTNERSHIP
2012. Many of the overall themes remain, such as teaching risk management and
conducting flight reviews, but each has been optimized for the rotorcraft environ-
ment. Much of the course content was developed in partnership with Helicopter
Association International, including some new videos that present the topics in a
scenario-based approach.
King Schools’ helicopter FIRC is available for $99, or $129 with paperwork process-
ing. That processing is done entirely online, with no paperwork to send in or notary
visit required.


Airspeed indicator
Aviation’s speedometer

THE AIRSPEED INDICATOR is an indispensable cockpit instru- a closed disc or diaphragm that sits inside the back case.
ment. It’s one of the few required by the regulations to be That case is sealed, except for a small hole that is directly
operational on all types of flights, which demonstrates its connected to the static port. As a result, the pressure
significant role in keeping us safely flying. A quick glance at that enters the pitot tube is compared to the static air
aviation’s speedometer can tell us much about the current state pressure.
of the aircraft. The differential pressure is the key to the instrument’s
The airspeed indicator is the only flight instrument that operation. A gear or series of gears is attached to the dia-
uses the pitot tube. It takes the air pressure that enters phragm, which is then connected to a needle that indicates on
the front of the pitot tube (more speed means more pressure) the face of the instrument. What comes out on the calibrated
and directs it to the back of the instrument. There, it meets face is the speed of the airplane through the air.

Indicated—Read on the face of the airspeed indicator.

Calibrated—Indicated airspeed corrected for inherent

instrument errors. Can be obtained from the pilot’s
operating handbook.

True—Calibrated airspeed corrected for nonstandard

pressure and temperature; in other words, the actual
speed of the aircraft through the air.

Groundspeed—True airspeed corrected for wind.

The airspeed indicator is prone to certain errors, usually as a result of problems with debris or ice on the pitot tube or static
source. A blocked pitot tube will cause the airspeed to go to zero. A blocked drain hole and pitot tube opening generally will
cause the airspeed indicator to read its last setting, but then act like an altimeter on any climbs or descents. A blocked static

port will cause the airspeed indicator to falsely display an increase in a descent and decrease in a climb.




Get your wings wet

An instrument rating will make you a better, safer pilot

THE ENTIRE TIME you were learning to fly, you And you’ll become an expert at instrument
were told to stay clear of clouds. Take your flying approach procedures.
to the next level by learning how to fly safely The instrument rating is a rigorous exercise,
within them. requiring many hours of dual instruction, a knowl-
Instrument flying is intensive and often physi- edge test, and a checkride. But it will offer far more
cally exhausting as you learn to handle an airplane utility than any other rating or certificate you’re
while interpreting what’s going on by scanning likely to pursue. The first time you use the rating to
the instruments. You’ll work within the air traffic safely navigate instrument meteorological condi-
control system in a whole new way. tions, you’ll be glad you put in the effort.

To take an instrument rating checkride, a pilot must: • Pass the required knowledge test;
• Hold at least a private pilot certificate; • Receive and log appropriate flight and ground training from
• Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English; an authorized instructor, and obtain a logbook or training
• Log 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command record endorsement to take the practical test. The specifics are

if training under Part 61; laid out in FAR 61.65.


New bill would expand driver's license medical

AOPA/EAA third class medical petition now with Congress

AFTER NEARLY TWO years of issue and look forward to see- tive and therefore unnecessary 2012 petition filed by AOPA
FAA inaction on the AOPA/ ing this bill move forward." medical certification regula- and EAA. That petition asked
EAA third class medical The General Aviation Pilot tion that drives up costs for the FAA to expand the driver's
petition, Congress has taken Protection Act would allow pilots and prevents the general license medical standard used
matters into its own hands, pilots to use the driver's aviation industry from fulfill- by sport pilots for nearly a
offering up legislation that license medical standard for ing its economic potential." decade. Under the petition,
would vastly expand the noncommercial VFR flights in "For many recreational pilots would be able to operate
number of pilots who could aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pilots, the FAA's third class noncommercial VFR flights
fly without going through pounds with no more than six medical certification pro- in single-engine aircraft with
the expensive and time- seats. That includes virtually cess is nothing more than a 180 horsepower or less, four
consuming third class medical all single-engine airplanes bureaucratic hoop to jump or fewer seats, fixed gear, and
certification process. Reps. with six or fewer seats, includ- through," said Graves. "It a maximum of one passenger.
Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), a ing Beech Bonanzas, as well as discourages new pilots and To participate, pilots would
member of the House General many light twins like the Piper does not truly improve safety. need a valid driver's license
Aviation Caucus, and GA Aztec, Beech Baron 55 and As a pilot, I have gone through and would be required to take
Caucus Co-Chair Sam Graves 58, and Cessna 310. By way of this process several times. recurrent safety training to
(R-Mo.) on December 11 comparison, most large SUVs However, like all pilots, I am help them accurately assess
introduced the General Avia- on the roads today weigh more responsible for determining their fitness to fly.
tion Pilot Protection Act. The than 6,000 pounds and can whether I am medically fit to More than 16,000 over-
legislation would dramatically carry six to seven passengers, fly during the time between whelmingly favorable
expand the parameters for fly- making them larger than the my mandated medical cer- comments were filed during
ing under the driver's license aircraft that would be operated tifications. Expanding the the public comment period
medical standard. Rokita and with proof of a valid driver's current exemption makes on the petition. But despite
Graves are both AOPA mem- license under the new bill. sense and will promote strong support from the
bers and active pilots. Pilots would be allowed to greater recreational aviation aviation community and solid
"We have waited far too carry up to five passengers, activity across the U.S. with- evidence that the exemption
long for the FAA to expand the fly at altitudes below 14,000 out an impact on safety." would maintain or improve
third-class medical exemp- feet msl, and fly no faster than The bill was co-spon- safety, the FAA failed to act, so
tion to more pilots and more 250 knots. The bill also would sored by Reps. Collin AOPA turned to supporters in
aircraft," said AOPA President require the FAA to report on Peterson (D-Minn.), Bill Flores Congress for help.
Mark Baker. "Congressmen the safety consequences of the (R-Texas), Richard Hanna Building support for the
Rokita and Graves stepped new rule after five years. (R-N.Y.), and Mike Pompeo General Aviation Pilot Protec-
forward to take decisive action "As a pilot, I am pleased (R-Kan.). They are members of tion Act will be critical to
in the best interests of general to introduce this important the GA Caucus. its passage, and AOPA will
aviation when the FAA refused legislation with my colleagues The legislative action comes be calling on its members
to act. We appreciate their and fellow pilots," said Rokita. after the FAA has repeatedly to show their support at the
outstanding leadership on this "This bill eliminates a duplica- declined to rule on a March appropriate time.


465 miles 1929 30 knots
New private pilot Greg Kaiser’s Year of the first instrument flight The crosswind component one Alaskan
cross-country distance to attend a (page 44). pilot unsuccessfully tried to land in
reunion (page 24). (page 23).




Time to study
A variety of test prep options

» guides from ASA have long

been a staple
for pilots prepping for their practical tests.
Now the company is offering the library
through a series of applications.
ASA’s Checkride Apps are available for
private, instrument, commercial, multi-
engine, flight instructor, helicopter, and
flight review. Each includes hundreds of
questions that users can quiz themselves
with in preparation for the oral exam
portion of the FAA practical test. Since the
application lives completely on the user’s
device, there’s no need for any sort of
Internet connection while using it.
Price: $9.99 each
» There are almost as many test prepara-
final exams that require a passing score.
Contact:; Apple App
tion courses as there are student pilots, OPT includes a robust library that’s easily
so finding the right one can be difficult. If accessible anywhere in the course with
your preference is comprehensive courses a number of FAA handbooks, advisory
that are web-based and allow self-paced circulars, and other guides. There’s also a
learning, Powerful Learning’s Online handy flashcard mode that works equally
Pilot Training is worth a try. well for quizzing and learning material. A
Unlike crash courses that seek only to concise answer is supplied as a traditional
cram the minimum information neces- flashcard style, but a detailed explana-
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» FAA tests that it’s really niceThere

ASCENT GROUND SCHOOL. are times when you’re studying for the various
to prepare with questions over and over again. Many free
websites exist for this, but Ascent Ground School is an option with nice features.Since
there’s no login, it’s easy to drop in when you have anything from a few minutes to a few
hours. A set of core learning material is broken down into 14 chapters. Each subsection
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series of subject-specific flashcards and quizzes. The website also includes a nice FAA
library that the developer hopes to soon make searchable by title. With its great user
interface, adaptive design that makes it work well on any electronic device, and solid
information, Ascent Ground School is one to bookmark for your FAA knowledge test.
Price: Free

Final Exam
'Flight Training' Think you know your stuff? Quiz yourself
contributor with some of these FAA test questions

publishes new book 1. VNO is defined as the

A. never-exceed speed.
B. normal operating range.
CREATIVE WRITING PROFESSOR and C. maximum structural cruising speed.
Flight Training contributor W. Scott Olsen
2. Which color identifies the normal flap
has answered the fundamental question operating range on the airspeed indicator?
of why we fly in his new book Prairie Sky. A. The lower limit of the white arc to the upper
Ironically, Prairie Sky isn’t really a book limit of the green arc.
about flying. It’s a book about exploration B. The green arc.
C. The white arc.
and the thrills of doing something unique.
With Prairie Sky, his tenth book, Olsen 3. A stable air mass is most likely to have which
has established himself as one of the coun- characteristic?


try’s foremost creative writers on flying
and all things aviation. In it he eloquently
A. Poor surface visibility.
B. Showery precipitation.
C. Turbulent air.
If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the describes the landscape as seen from a few
wall of the ground session of a private thousand feet in a small airplane, in the 4. To best determine general forecast weather
pilot checkride, Flight Training Apps way we all try to do for friends and family conditions covering a flight information region,
makes it happen in Private Pilot—Ground the pilot should refer to
who don’t understand our passions. He A. aviation area forecasts.
Portion. High-quality HD camera work has the ability to take what many would B. weather depiction charts.
employed in the company’s Private consider a normal flight and turn it into C. satellite maps.
Pilot—Flight Portion app (see “Preflight,” something extraordinary. That’s primar-
December 2012 Flight Training) is at work ily because Olsen approaches the airplane
5. If the airspeed is increased from 89 knots to
98 knots during a coordinated level 45-degree
here as a designated pilot examiner sits like Columbus approached a ship—as a banked turn, the load factor will
down with a private pilot applicant to way to get to new worlds. A. decrease, and the radius of turn will decrease.
conduct the question-and-answer session. Prairie Sky should be required reading
B. remain the same, but the radius of turn will
There are no flying sequences, but the increase.
on your next cancelled lesson. It’s avail- C. increase, but the rate of turn will decrease.
app works hard to overcome what could able from the University of Missouri Press
have been a static presentation. As the ( for $19.95 or 6. Which instrument(s) indications will be
examiner questions the student, pertinent other online book retailers.
affected if the static port(s) become clogged?
sections of the FARs appear on screen. A. Airspeed only.
B. Airspeed, altimeter, and vertical speed.
Chart segments illustrate flight planning C. Altimeter only.
and lost procedures. Checklists pop up
during a discussion of emergency proce-
dures. A light gun signal chart appears Aviation, Hodges 7. Frequent inspections should be made of
aircraft exhaust manifold-type heating systems
as the DPE and the pilot walk through a University partner to minimize the possibility of
A. exhaust gases leaking into the cockpit.
scenario in which she has lost her radio. EUROPE-AMERICAN AVIATION (www. B. a power loss caused by back pressure in the
The course is divided into eight, based at Naples Municipal
exhaust system.
C. a cold-running engine because of the heat
sections: eligibility; certificates and Airport in Naples, Florida, will partner withdrawn by the heater.
documents; airworthiness requirements; with Hodges University (www.hodges.
cross-country flight planning; perfor- edu) to offer a flight training component 8. Which is true regarding flight operations in
mance and limitations; national airspace Class A airspace?
with a bachelor’s degree in manage- A) May conduct operations under visual flight
system; lost procedures and diversion; ment. Hodges University has campuses rules.
and aircraft systems, as well as insights in Naples and Fort Myers, and also offers B) Aircraft must be equipped with approved
from the examiner and a flight instructor. online degree programs. Flight training
distance measuring equipment.
Private Pilot Course—Ground Portion is C) Aircraft must be equipped with an ATC tran-
was to be offered to students beginning in sponder and altitude reporting equipment.
available for iOS, Android, instant down- January 2014, according to flight instruc-
loads for PC and Mac, and DVD. tor Jon Wittoesch. Europe-American
Price: $29.99 Answers on page 53
Aviation offers Part 61 and Part 141 train-
Contact:; ing using Diamond DA40s, a DA42, and a PLUS Take the quiz. Piper Lance.




What goes up must come down

View the Air Safety Institute’s new Takeoffs and Landings video series
cient takeoffs and landing are judiciously
taught during flight training, but pilots can
lose some of those early acquired skills over
time. A new video series, made possible by
the Canadian Owners and Pilots Associa-
tion and the Donner Canadian Foundation,
unveils the finer points of practicing and
honing your takeoff and landing technique
beyond currency requirements. The first
installment in the series, Takeoffs and Land-
ings: Determining an Abort Point, helps you
learn how to choose an abort point if your
takeoff roll isn’t going as planned (www. Also
view the next three video segments on
short-field landings, normal takeoffs, and
crosswind landings, to understand simple
rules of thumb.
Think twice about ice
Take ASI’s Ice Flight Safety Quiz

YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT the dangers of structural

airframe icing—and why it can accumulate quickly,
decreasing lift and increasing drag to the point where
continued flight is impossible—and heard of ways to
avoid a confrontation with ice. If you’re looking for
a fun and quick way to test your knowledge, take the
Ice Flight quiz, which involves a flight scenario up
the East Coast in an IFR-equipped Cessna 172RG.
You will quickly find out if you really know how to
anticipate areas of probable icing. It will also help you
explore what to do when faced with icing conditions
( This quiz
is made possible by AOPA Insurance Services.

New ASI Winter/Spring Seminar: Accident Case Study: Live Visit the website
( for dates and locations near you.

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KING_FT.indd 1 8/14/2013 10:57:40 AM


FAA issues final rule

on air carrier pilot
THE FAA, ADDRESSING a mandate from
Congress to update air carrier flight
training standards and regulations, has
Renewing Your published a final rule that stresses basic
pilot skills and better tracking of reme- AOPA opposes sleep
CFI Certificate dial training for crewmembers to avoid
“events that, although rare, are often
apnea policy
Just Got a Whole catastrophic,” such as the February 2009 Rule would require screening
based on body mass index
crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buf-
Lot Easier! falo, New York.
The rule, to take effect March 12, 2014, AOPA IS ASKING the FAA to indefinitely
requires “ground and flight training that suspend implementation of a new policy
Announcing the AOPA Air enables pilots to prevent and recover that would require some pilots to be
Safety Institute’s Revolutionary from aircraft stalls and upsets,” which screened and, if necessary, treated for
Online Flight Instructor the FAA said would also affect future obstructive sleep apnea before receiv-
Refresher Course (eFIRC)! simulator standards since all flight ing a medical certificate. The screening
training will be required in a full flight would initially apply to pilots with a
The FAA-approved eFIRC simulator during all qualification and body mass index (BMI) over 40. Over
offers unmatched benefits! recurrent training. The rule also requires time, the FAA plans to lower the BMI
air carriers to use data to track the reme- requirement, compelling more pilots to
- Tablet-friendly
dial training given pilots found to have be screened by a board-certified sleep
- Spread your training over “performance deficiencies, such as failing specialist. The policy is the result of
two years! a proficiency check or unsatisfactory NTSB recommendations, but AOPA
- Choose elective modules performance during flight training.” argues that there is no evidence to sup-
that interest you Another provision is training for more port the need for such screenings among
effective pilot monitoring. The rule general aviation pilots.
- Receive credit for explains that “the pilot not flying must “This policy seems to be based on one
completed AOPA Air monitor the aircraft operation.” Train- incident involving an airline flight. In
Safety Institute courses ing under the new rule will enhance pilot that case, the crew fell asleep and missed
- Meets TSA security focus on runway safety procedures and their destination, but woke up and landed
training requirement will expand crosswind training, “including safely,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA vice
training for wind gusts.” president of regulatory affairs. “Analy-
- Temporary certificate and The FAA said the rule’s provisions stem, sis of a decade of fatal general aviation
FAA paperwork included in part, from the Colgan accident, and also accidents by the General Aviation Joint
- Flash Drive with FAR/AIM respond to the ensuing congressional man- Steering Committee didn’t identify
and more included date to address flight crew training. The obstructive sleep apnea as a contributing
agency identified 11 aircraft accidents over or causal factor in any of the accidents
a 22-year interval (1988 to 2009) including studied.”
No other course can match Colgan 3407, American Airlines 587 (New AOPA has demanded that the FAA
ASI’s features, convenience, York City, November 12, 2001), USAir 427 withdraw the policy or submit it to the
and quality! Sign up today (Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, September 8, rulemaking process, noting that there
at! 1994), Continental 1404 (Denver, Colo- was no public comment period before the
rado, December 20, 2008), and Comair policy was announced. The new require-
5191 (Lexington, Kentucky, August 27, ments potentially could affect thousands
2006) that might have been prevented or of pilots, adding to the already significant
mitigated by the training requirements in backlog for processing special issuance
the final rule. medicals.

Shell reveals unleaded avgas

New formula 10 years in the making

SHELL AVIATION, a subsidiary of the multinational oil giant Royal Dutch Shell,
announced that its 10-year effort in the laboratory has produced a fuel that may put a
long-sought goal—once thought to be unattainable—within reach: a lead-free “perfor-
mance drop-in” replacement for 100LL that could power any aircraft in the piston fleet.
“That’s our definite goal,” said Michael Sargeant, avgas commercial aviation manager
for Shell Aviation. “We’ve tested it and had some exciting and successful tests.”
The lead-free formulation has a motor octane number (MON) above 100, a criti-
cal factor in formulating a fleetwide fuel that could power high-compression engines.
(Octane prevents premature ignition known as detonation, and is measured by more
than one scale.) Shell’s new lead-free formula has passed preliminary tests in Lycom-
ing engines on the ground, and a Piper Saratoga recently flew for about an hour on the
fuel—the first of many tests that will be required for certification.
The FAA has a goal of deploying a lead-free piston aviation fuel by 2018, although
Sargeant said the company may be able to achieve required approvals and start distribu-
tion sooner. “We believe two to three years might be possible,” Sargeant said. “That’s the
timeframe that we would love to work towards. The details need to be developed.”
Sargeant said another design goal is to keep the retail price similar to avgas, although
it is too early to know exactly what the new fuel would sell for. Shell has only just begun
conversations with the various regulatory agencies involved. The fuel will be submitted
for approval from the FAA, ASTM, and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Shell is now among three companies that have announced unleaded formulations that
could replace avgas in piston aircraft in a matter of just a few years, pending additional
testing and regulatory approval. Shell is by far the largest of the companies known to be
developing unleaded aviation gasoline. Shell’s research team has been focused on find-
ing a single fuel that can work for all, rather than a multi-fuel approach with different
formulations to meet varying engine requirements.
“The industry doesn’t need bifurcation,” Sargeant said, noting that the company envi-
sions making it possible by licensing or other means for other petroleum producers to
manufacture and distribute the formula, which is made from existing components and
will not require major changes to the production and distribution infrastructure.
“We think the secret going forward is really working with as many experts as pos-
sible,” Sargeant said.


FLIGHT LESSON offers the
opportunity for pilots to learn
from the experiences of others.

At the same moment that I realized

what this thing was, the gust front hit me.
The wind sheared from a 15-mph tailwind
to a 25-mph headwind. Airspeed imme-
diately spiked into the yellow arc and my
little Musketeer was in an uncommanded
2,000-fpm climb while still in a level
attitude. I shoved the nose down, and the
tach went from 2450 to 2700. The words
of my CFII came to me from when we
were flying cross-country in instrument
meteorological conditions. “Don’t fight
the updraft with pitch, reduce power and

AN ODD CLOUD watch your attitude.” I reduced power to

keep from overspeeding the engine and I
was still climbing at 1,000 fpm.
LITTLE THINGS OFTEN BITE I fixed my eyes on the artificial horizon

wenty-five hundred feet mean sea level (msl), 1,500 feet in preparation for zero visibility, sure that
above ground level (agl), smooth air, 130 indicated at 65 this thing was going to eat me for lunch,
percent power, and my GPS is showing 146 knots over the when—as I passed under the cloud—the
ground because of a tailwind. I’m heading north into Mis- climb stopped. I skimmed the bottom
souri from a visit with my dad in Fort Smith, Arkansas. I left in clear of the cloud, keeping the airplane level
skies and cool morning air on the day after a summer scorcher. The by releasing forward pressure. Then the
humidity was 98 percent and last night’s thunderstorms were still thought hit me: Oh, no, this thing must
lurking to the north. For the past 30 minutes I had been watching the have a back side.
Nexrad as a blotch of bright red crossed the magenta line between Oh, yes—yes, it did. Just as I shoved
me and home. “No problem,” I said to myself, “these things run out of the throttle forward, the other side of
steam and fall apart this time of day.” It isn't always good to be right. this thing found me. Full throttle, nose in
climb attitude, and headed for the ground
Just 24 hours earlier, I was following Visibilities were greater than 10 miles, at 1,500 fpm. The sensation was just like
the same magenta line heading south. the air was smooth, and ceilings were so doing an autorotation in a rotary-wing,
That previous day I climbed to 8,500 feet far above me that I didn’t even bother to but this was my first autorotation-style
msl to catch the northerly winds up high check what they were. No clouds at my descent in a fixed-wing. The downdraft
and get out of the hot, humid air below. altitude, except—what is that odd cloud relented at roughly 500 feet agl, and I
The air at 8,500 was cool, cloudless, and up ahead? was able to resume normal flight, but the
smooth, but it was rough with thermals Wow, that’s an odd cloud. It’s all by itself, outflow from the storm had reduced my
below. I thought, This is going to kick halfway between the surface and the over- groundspeed from 146 knots to 109.
something up later. cast above, stretched across my path several This cold, dissipating storm outflow
Sure enough, by evening some nasty miles each direction. I wonder what kind of had a rolling wave at its leading edge as it
storms had built up to the northwest and weather anomaly would cause that? cut under the warm air blowing at it from
were headed southeast overnight. I kept I was about to find out. I was admiring the south. It’s similar to the dust cloud
a wary eye on them, but by the time I was what looked like a gray garden hose until you see rolling across the ground when
ready to leave on Sunday morning, red was I got close enough to see that this thing they implode a building with explosives.
mostly giving way to orange, which was was rolling backward as it moved forward. The cell that caused it had already moved
in turn changing to yellow. I decided to I was set to cross under this skinny little many miles off to the east, but it left this
launch at 8 a.m., as it looked like the path cloud (it was only about 600 to 800 feet in nasty little offspring in its wake. If not for
would clear ahead of me. diameter and four to five miles long) with my XM satellite weather, I wouldn’t even
An hour into the flight, the air was adequate VFR clearance. I could see that know what had caused it.

smooth and the last red blotch on the there were no other clouds behind it. Clear In the future, I’ll stay well clear of odd
radar lay 20 miles east of my course from air. No big deal, right? Until I noticed the clouds near dissipating thunderstorms.
where it had crossed 10 miles ahead. backward roll of the cloud. They bite.

THE AVERAGE snowflake falls at a
speed of 3.1 miles per hour.



he sun is dazzling, and a brisk breeze is snapping the wind- accident report. “Unable to circle to land
sock as you head for the airport the day after a winter storm into the wind, the pilot elected to land on
moved through the area. It’s been a few weeks since the holi- Runway 12 with a gusting quartering right
day interval created any opportunities for a cross-country or tailwind. During the landing roll, a wind
even just some simple practice sessions. So now, you’re headed to the gust pushed the nose of the airplane to
airport to fulfill that annual resolution to fly more. the right, and the airplane began to slide
momentarily on an icy patch on the run-
A certain fine edge of your flying skills slight crab during touchdown is too much. way. While sliding sideways, the left main
has been dulled by your sporadic fly- Ah, well, it was only technical impreci- landing gear contacted bare pavement,
ing opportunities. Landings inevitably sion, not a true safety concern…right? which resulted in the collapse of the left
unmask a slippage of skill more blatantly Not this time of year. main landing gear.”
than other elements of piloting. Passen- Snow melts rapidly on pavement under Winds were reported from “339 degrees
gers—who may not have been aware that this bright sun—and the crew does a great at 26 knots, with gusts to 35 knots.” The
your zigzagging track down the localizer job of scraping the surface bare—but NTSB added that “according to the pilot
course, or your one-dot-low positioning here and there an icy patch remains. And operating handbook for the accident
on the glideslope, wasn’t a great per- although daylight is increasing, the sun airplane, the maximum demonstrated
formance—are certain to notice if your need not be beneath the horizon before crosswind component for the airplane is
touchdown seems unduly interesting. temperatures plummet, the midday melt- 20 knots, and a plot of the current wind
You know that a slightly clunky arrival ing ceases, and wet patches harden into conditions at the time of the accident
is acceptable if the wind is high and traps for a sliding wheel. Under such sce- showed that the crosswind component
gusting. But don’t confuse making a firm narios, the adverse effects of drift or crab for the accident landing was 30 knots, 10
landing under lively conditions with a errors are greatly magnified. Throw in knots above the maximum demonstrated
failure to exercise precise control. Lapses some lingering post-frontal snow squalls component.”
you can get by with in warm-weather and variable wind directions and you Perhaps you have heard it pointed out
flying can put you on a very slippery slope have a tricky but common set of winter during hangar-flying sessions that a dem-
in winter. conditions. onstrated crosswind velocity is developed
Suppose you recall that the last time It’s not always the icy patch that gets in flight testing but does not constitute a
you landed in a gusty left crosswind, you you; sometimes it’s the bare spot waiting limiting value. That fine distinction did
had given yourself good marks for aggres- just beyond—especially if other condi- not stop the NTSB from assigning as prob-
sive rudder work to keep the aircraft’s tions have already teamed up to elevate able accident cause “the pilot’s decision to
nose (longitudinal axis) aligned with its the risk factor. A pilot landing a twin- land in wind conditions that exceeded the
direction of motion, but you were disap- engine Piper PA-31-350 in Dutch Harbor, airplane’s demonstrated crosswind capa-
pointed to find that your aircraft had Alaska, on February 16, 2013, “reported bility, which resulted in a loss of airplane
drifted half a wingspan downwind of the that during the flight the weather began control during the landing roll.”
runway centerline during the flare. Were changing and he arrived at the destina- Even if you have landed on slippery
you so fixated on tracking straight ahead tion airport in unforecast deteriorating surfaces many times without mishaps, and
that you failed to control bank angle to weather conditions,” said an online have tackled crosswinds near published
compensate for downwind drift? National Transportation Safety Board (if not limiting) values with ease, think of
Unsatisfied with that outcome, you gave the combined effect of those two win-
it the gun and flew another pattern. This Safety Quiz: Ice Flight ter hazards on an aircraft as if the wind
time during the landing you kept the air- were higher, the aircraft’s responsiveness
craft perfectly positioned over the runway Take a flight up the East Coast in an IFR- diminished, and the time available to
centerline, but a squeak of pique from the equipped Cessna 172RG and consider what make the save almost nil.
landing gear served to remind that even a you would do when faced with the icing Then go out and practice.
conditions on this flight in this Air Safety
Institute online Safety Quiz (www.aopa. Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight
PLUS Hone your aeronautical
decision-making skills in this org/Education/Safety-Quizzes). instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an
Air Safety Institute course. instructor since 1990.


AROUND THE PATCH By Heather Baldwin


any of us are drawn to aviation for its promise of adventure, The return trip was no less uneventful.
but how many of us seek that adventure once the coveted Taking off out of Jefferson City to return
private pilot certificate is in hand? Adventure demands home, Kaiser entered clouds about 700
stretching the bounds of what is comfortable and famil- feet off the ground—more than 1,000 feet
iar, but so often as new pilots we are reluctant to stray too close to the lower than the METARs had reported.
edge of our comfort zones. Instead we fly well-worn paths to familiar He called ATC to request an immediate
airports, content in our mastery of these routes and the skills required return and, with winds calm and the air-
to navigate them. port deserted, accepted the controller’s
offer of a turn to land back on his depar-
And then there are folks like Greg Kai- scud run to Grove and instead sought the ture runway. When the ceiling finally
ser. In August 2013, with a mere 7.5 hours advice of a flight instructor at the FBO. inched up, enabling him to take off again,
of private pilot experience in his logbook, “It was 9 a.m. and he said things were he was forced to cruise at around 1,800
Kaiser loaded his wife and two children supposed to clear up by two or three feet for the first half hour or more until
into a rented Cessna 172P to attend a o’clock, so I had to make the decision,” the skies cleared. “It was lower than I
family reunion five hours and three states says Kaiser. “Do I wait until 2 p.m. or 3 was comfortable with,” he admits, “but
away. The trip—465 nm from Westosha p.m. and try to launch? Or just drive and the charts said I was safe and after about
Airport in Wilmot, Wisconsin, to Grove be there by 1 p.m.?” 20 minutes, it was no longer a big deal.”
Municipal Airport, Grove, Oklahoma, They drove. And that’s when he learned It was his final lesson of the trip—that
where scattered thunderstorms were fore- that sometimes foiled plans are the best redefining the bounds of comfort is one
cast—was one few novices would consider, possible outcome. “It worked out better of aviation’s great rewards.
let alone undertake. “My logic was that than if we had flown,” raves the unflappa- Kaiser says he is now eager to work
I’d passed the tests,” says Kaiser, “and you ble Kaiser. “The reunion ended a day early on his instrument rating and embark on
only learn by doing.” and we thought [that] since we have a car, another trip. That’s the thing about these
kinds of adventures, they make pilots
THIS APPROACH TO FLYING—GO LARGE, hungry for more. At a time when many
GO LONG, LIVE THE ADVENTURE—IS ONE flight schools say one of their tough-
THAT CREATES PILOTS WHO CRAVE MORE est challenges is keeping new private
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE, NOT LESS. pilots returning to the airport, we must
remember that this approach to flying—
He certainly learned. He learned let’s go exploring. We ended up discover- go large, go long, live the adventure—is
how to make a real-world emergency ing Lake of the Ozarks. We loved it and one that creates pilots who crave more
landing. Granted, it was for a bathroom want to fly back for another visit. It was a knowledge and experience, not less.
emergency for a 4-year-old and not a place we had always talked about going. We advocate caution and safety in our
mechanical malfunction, but the process Having the car let us finally get there.” industry and that is crucial, but could we
of quickly finding a nearby airport and perhaps do more to encourage venturing
slipping through 6,000 feet in two miles PLANNING AN ADVENTURE into the unknown and pushing outside
to get there felt, he says, like a very real- comfort zones within those bounds of
istic application of the procedure. Making a successful trip like the Kaisers safety?
He learned about tough decision requires a bit more planning than flying Kaiser thinks so. And he is now more
making under stress. As weather along to the next airport for breakfast. But even ready than ever to continue exploring
the route began to deteriorate, Kaiser the longest cross-country trip is simply a and stretching his limits, because wait-
diverted to Jefferson City, Missouri, bunch of waypoints strung together. There ing for him when he returned from his
about an hour from his final destination. are a bounty of resources available for trip was an envelope from the FAA: his
Low clouds and scattered storms per- flights of any length. Check out AOPA's official pilot certificate. A ticket to many
free flight planning resources, including
sisted and, although anxious to reach his more adventures.
an online planner and mobile application
reunion, he decided they’d stay the night  
online (
in Jefferson City. The next morning, with Heather Baldwin is a Phoenix-based writer and
ceilings still low, he fought the urge to (somewhat rusty) commercial pilot.


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PLUS View the slideshow of the

author's visit to San Antonio.

“EASY IFR” over West Texas (left). Wall mural at

San Antonio’s Mi Tierra restaurant (below).

EASY IFR in the clouds was unsettling, at best. Cow-

ering under a dripping wing, I phoned for
FLYING LOW CEILINGS AND RAIN one last weather update.

e awoke in San Antonio, Texas, to low ceilings and steady “The heavier precip ends just west of
rain. At bedtime last night, a massive stalled cold front San Antonio,” said the briefer to my relief.
curved eastward from El Paso in a great northerly arc to Even so, Jean and I cached rags within
Canada. Today’s forecast called for inches of regional rain, reach, draped a blanket and plastic under
thunderstorms, and flooding. the rear window, and pledged to land at
any sign of leaks. Then we launched into
Following a week touring Texas, Jean to Flagstaff. If not, a long westerly detour clouds and headwinds for El Paso. Sure
and I were eager to return home to Ari- would circumvent them IFR. Either way, enough, within minutes after takeoff we
zona; instead, it appeared we’d be stuck we had an instrument ticket home! exited the rain, and soon found ourselves
here for days. Futilely, we’d hoped the Where I live in sunny Arizona, pilots skimming cloud tops in and out of sun-
front would accelerate past during the spend far more time practicing instru- shine at 6,000 feet. Flying instruments
night, leaving clear skies and tailwinds ments than cloud flying, all to prepare rarely requires endless hours in solid
behind it. Now, resisting the urge to for occasions like this. Instrument sorties clouds; more often you transit to warm sun
roll over and sleep, I fumbled through a earlier this trip had confirmed my skills on top, coast between layers, or glimpse
weather briefing. Considering the gloom and equipment were up to snuff. Providing the ground through stunning cloudscapes.
outside, the news was surprisingly good. the weather remained near forecast, we When rain rematerialized on our data-
Yes, the front remained stationary as should make El Paso without difficulty. link weather display, I compared notes
forecast, but thunderstorms no longer In cold rain at San Antonio’s Stinson with Flight Watch radar and, collaborating
threatened. And while a few stations along Municipal Airport, we fueled the Fly- with air traffic control, detoured south
our route reported ceilings below 500 ing Carpet, stowed our drenched cockpit toward Del Rio to avoid it. That put us
feet, most were “easy IFR” at 800 to 1,500 cover, and loaded our soaked bags. My one back “in the soup” for a while, but with a
feet. Finally, the freezing level was high concern about facing hours of rain was smooth and uneventful ride.
enough to relegate any icing threat above that the Flying Carpet had once sustained “What’s that whining noise?” asked
our planned altitudes. While it meant bat- window leaks. The windshield had long Jean. I laughed. There’s nothing like
tling 500 miles of clouds and rain, it was ago been replaced and the rear window the whistle of wet Cessna wing struts to
entirely feasible to fly to El Paso on instru- resealed, but following years in bone- renew your relationship with clouds. No
ments. Beyond there, New Mexico was dry Arizona, new leaks seemed entirely longer threatened by weather or leaks, I
forecast to clear by afternoon. If so, we’d possible in a continuous downpour. Any found myself tremendously enjoying this
proceed visually through the mountains thought of water dripping on radios while extended instrument journey—I rarely

employ such skills anymore beyond pierc-
ing shallow coastal California marine
layers. Moreover, Jean and I could now
relax and talk. Upon arriving in San Anto-
nio two days ago, we’d enjoyed a pleasant
few hours sightseeing the Alamo and
historic San Fernando Cathedral. Yester-
day during Jean’s meetings, I’d toured
La Villita, San Antonio’s original Spanish
settlement, and the renowned River Walk.
But most memorable for both of us was
dining at 73-year-old Mi Tierra Tex-Mex
restaurant with compadres Joe and Gloria
Llanes. Along with great company and cui-
sine, the decor was unforgettable. Tinsel
and foil piñatas shimmered colorfully from
the ceilings. Toreador costumes decorated
the walls. Mariachis serenaded diners, and
patrons queued for treats in the bakery.
Best of all were fabulous wall murals pop-
ulated by famous Spaniards, Mexicans, and
Mexican-Americans through history. Just
as our previous destination of Fort Worth
reveres cowboys, San Antonio celebrates
its Hispanic heritage. That’s delightfully
apparent at Mi Tierra.
We’d now journeyed halfway to
El Paso at 6,000 feet, but continuing
westward toward the mountains neces- KEEPING PILOTS SAFE.
sitated carefully monitoring our charts
and eventually climbing to clear rising SAFEGUARDING THE
terrain. From here we’d need 10,000 feet FUTURE OF GA.
to proceed direct. To avoid ascending
unnecessarily into increasing headwinds,
I investigated minimum en route alti-
tudes along nearby airways. Sure enough,
a worthy alternative paralleled our route.
I negotiated direct Fort Stockton, then
Victor 222 to El Paso, at 8,000 feet.
Nearly four hours after takeoff, we
descended through clearing skies on an
instrument approach to El Paso Inter-
national Airport. We’d hardly landed
when Jean noted lingering mountaintop
clouds to the west. But by the time we had
topped our fuel tanks and coffee thermos,
they’d dissipated. Three long flight hours
remained, but from here the way was clear DONATE TODAY!
to Flagstaff and home. Call Toll Free 800-955-9115 or Donate

Greg Brown is an aviation author, photographer,

and former National Flight Instructor of the Year.



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» By Ian J. Twombly


on a student pilot’s ability to finish flight training. Honoring those great flight training
providers—and helping connect them with other schools in an effort to increase the
quality of flight training across the country—is the focus of the AOPA Flight Training
Excellence Awards.
In 2013 AOPA asked you, as student pilots, to rate your flight training experience in
the Flight Training Excellence Poll. You answered the call to the tune of more than 3,300
poll completions spread over 508 flight schools and 956 flight instructors. Every ques-
tion focused on a specific aspect of learning to fly that is statistically proven to create a
positive flight training experience. The answers you gave were at times wonderful and
inspiring, and occasionally cringe-worthy and disappointing. In the end, three clear cat-
egories of winners emerged.
Best Flight School and Instructor: The winner of the Best Flight School and Instruc-
tor categories each scored the highest in their respective areas. And as each had dozens of
poll completions, the result was averaged over a large sample size. That made it clear the
winners provide an exemplary product.


Outstanding Flight School and FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE
Instructor: The winners in this upper tier TO STUDENT SATISFACTION
had a minimum of five reviews and scored There are many reasons flight students perceive their training as valuable
in the top 20 percent of all schools and or not. In the poll, AOPA asked students to rate their overall impressions of
instructors. flight training value. Their answers are then compared to a number of specific
Honor Roll: Schools and instructors factors, such as access to flight simulators, how many lessons were cancelled,
listed in the Honor Roll were shown to and so on. A clear correlation between these factors and a positive value
provide a good flight training experience experience came through in the data.
through positive poll reviews that aver-
aged 70 percent or more.
Bad value No opinion Good value


Each question in the Flight Training
Excellence Poll was derived from research
into the ideal flight training experience,
which AOPA commissioned to better DID YOU HAVE ACCESS TO FLIGHT SIMULATOR?
understand why some students finish
flight training and others do not. In that
research it became clear that a number of Yes 3% 96%
key factors have a significant impact on
student success. Factors such as access
16% 63%
to a simulator, perception of value, and No 21%

accessibility of flight instructors play a 63%

large role in how we feel about our overall
flight training experience.
The Flight Training Excellence Poll
was analyzed to determine how current DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN GROUND SCHOOL STUDY SESSIONS?
students feel about their experiences in
relation to those key factors that we now
Yes 4% 92%
know influence success. Value is a good
example. Poll respondents were more
likely to indicate they received a good No 27% 13% 60%
flight training value if they had access
to a simulator at a reasonable rate; were
provided ground school opportunities;


TO HELP WITH MY Very well 3% 95%

—SURVEY RESPONDENT Neutral 19% 28% 53%

Not well 48% 20% 32%


Neutral 21% 53%

AIRPORT—THEY No 64% 26% 10%



had access to flight instructors outside of TO PLAN YOUR TRAINING?
lesson times; were made to feel their time
was well utilized; knew what concepts Yes 4% 94%
to study before a lesson; were provided
with an appropriate lesson scheduling Neutral 28% 17% 55%
mechanism; and had access to reliable
rental aircraft. No 57% 24% 19%
Transparency also came through as
a key factor. Students who knew their
instructor’s background were more likely
to feel safe, for example. And those who
were provided with online weather
resources were more likely to trust their
instructor’s decisions regarding weather
and aircraft readiness. We already know
from the previous research that transpar-
ency about costs and the time involved to
finish flight training also are major factors Often/Sometimes 24% 21% 55%
for success. The charts on these pages
illustrate other important considerations Rarely/Never 3% 94%
that came through on the poll results.
After everything was tallied, the most
poignant finding was just how much
students at the winning schools love their
experience. Going to a great flight school
and working with a superb flight instruc-
tor really do matter, which is why we’re
proud to feature San Carlos Flight Center DID YOU RECEIVE A GOOD VALUE FOR YOUR INVESTMENT?
and Conor Dancy on the following pages
as the winners of the Best Flight School
and Best Flight Instructor, respectively. Male 5% 5% 90%

But if you don’t live in California or

Virginia, make sure to check out the full Female 2% 97%
list of winners on pages 32 and 33. Maybe
your school is there.

Ian J. Twombly is editor of Flight Training magazine.




2013 2013

San Carlos Flight Center Conor Dancy

San Carlos, California (SQL) Leesburg, Virginia (JYO)


2013 2013

Aviation Adventures Dileep Anne

Leesburg, Manassas, and Warrenton, Virginia (JYO, HEF, HWY) Denver, Colorado (FTG)
Ray de Hann
Panorama Flight Services Inc. Leesburg, Virginia (JYO)
White Plains, New York (HPN) Kelby Ferwerda
Rochester, New Hampshire (DAW)
Riverside Flight Academy
Riverside, California (RAL) Eric Florence Warrenton, Virginia (HWY)

Rochester Aviation Christopher Freeze

Rochester, New Hampshire (DAW) Oakland, California (OAK)
Michael Gilbert
Sporty’s Academy Leesburg, Virginia (JYO)
Batavia, Ohio (I69) Bob Hepp
Leesburg and Manassas, Virginia (JYO, HEF)
Summit Aviation Inc.
Bozeman, Montana (BZN) Randall Holliday Bozeman, Montana (BZN)

The Flight School Inc. Robert Keleti

Houston, Texas (EYQ) Farmingdale, New York (FRG)
Buchanan Smith
Valley Aviation Leesburg, Virginia (JYO)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (WBW) Brent Tuchler
Manassas, Virginia (HEF)
Western Air Flight Academy
Denver, Colorado (BJC)

Worcester Regional Flight Academy

Worcester, Massachusetts (ORH)



FLIGHT SCHOOL HONOR ROLL Orlandi Flight Center (1N7) Kenneth Fukayama (PRC)
Peak Aviation Center (COS) Jon Fussle (ASW)
Above All Aviation (SBA) Premier Flight Academy (BKL) Paul Georgelas (JYO)
Advanced Helicopter Concepts Inc. (FDK) Rainier Flight Service (RNT) Andy Geosits (SQL)
Aero Atlanta Flight Center (RYY) Redbird Skyport (HYI) David Hall (CSG)
Aero-Tech Inc. (LEX) Regal Air (PAE) Rich Harowitz (WBW)
AIA Flight center (CNO) Seminole Lakes (6FL0) Hal Harris (PWA)
Air Associates of Missouri (SUS) Sheble Aviation (A20) Dana Holladay (CRG)
Airborne Systems (FXE) Skill Aviation (UGN) Dave Hooper (3CK)
Airwolf (GMU) Skybound Aviation (PDK) Tom Horton (5K6)
All American Aviation Services (FAY) Skyline Columbus (CSG) Mitch Inmann (UTS)
American Flyers Atlanta, GA (PDK) Slipstream Aviation (RBD) Bob Kintner (RYY)
Andover Flight Academy (12N) Southern Maine Aviation (SFM) Darryl Knoop (RVS)
Angel City Flyers (LGB) Spencer Aviation (DLZ) Carson Lee (SFB)
Arizona Aviation Flight Services (FFZ) Sterling Flight Training (CRG) Adam Lockamy (SPA)
Aspen Flying Club (APA) Sunrise Aviation (SNA) Mark Makee (LNN)
Blue Line Aviation LLC (RDU) Sunstate Aviation (ISM) Danny Malcarne (SBA)
Blue Skies Flying Services (3CK) Superior Flying Services (SUW) Gary McBurney (APV)
Brazos Valley Flight Services (CLL) Superior Flight School Inc. (RYY) Barry Morris (SAC)
Brett Aviation (MTN) Tailwheels Etc. (LAL) Aaron Norris (JYO)
Cardinal Air (HBI) Takeflight Professional (FXE) Janine Nunes (BZN)
Century Air (CDW) Texas Taildraggers (AXH) John Nutt (BED)
Chandler Air Service (CHD) The Worcester Regional Flight Academy (ORH) Geoffery Orlandi (N17)
Chesapeake Sport Pilot (W29) TNT Air (N47) Kyle Pack (X04)
CP Aviation (SZP) United Flight Systems (DWH) John Panton (COS)
Dean International Inc. (TMB) University of Dubuque (DBQ) James Payne (AHN)
Destinations Executive Flight Center (RVS) University of North Dakota Aerospace (GFK) Bill Peterson (SBA)
Diamond Flight Center (U77) University of Oklahoma (OUN) Lynn Postel (BKV)
Dream Flight School (DMW) Utah Valley University Aviation (PVU) Taylor Price (HEF)
Eagle Aircraft (VPZ) Ventura Flight Training (FRG) Sophie Repolt (MSL)
Eagle Flyers Inc./Montgomery Aviation (TYQ) Waco Flying Service (ACT) William Rose (7B3)
East Coast Aeroclub (BED) Wayman Flight Training (OPF) Jason Schappert (X35)
East Hill Flying Club (ITH) Wings of Carolina Flying Club (TTA) Mary Schott (HYI)
Executive Flyers (SAC) Bill Schwabenton (HBI)
First Landings Aviation (X04) Michael Schwahn (BZN)
FL Aviation Center (TLH) Mike Schwartz (JYO)
Fleming Aviation (GAI) Ted Scott (RYY)
Flight Training Professionals (ORL) Todd Shellnutt (CSG)
Frederick Flight Center (FDK) FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR HONOR ROLL Robert Shepanek (JYO)
GIFT Academy (F05) Asher Sherburner (RAL)
Glass Cockpit Aviation (BOI) William Allen (ORH) Bryce Siegel (CVO)
Hampton Ground School (7B3) Joel Anderson (HEF) Paul Smythe (LOU)
Heritage Aviation (SEG) Marc Ashton (O69) David St. George (ITH)
Horizon Flight Center (CPK) Sue Ballew (PAO) Kurt Stiefel (DBQ)
Hortman Aviation Services Inc. (PNE) Michal Bangert (W29) Mike Thomas (ITH)
Houston Flight Training (EYQ) Franklin Burbank (X04) Adam Valencic (X04)
Hub City Aviation (LBB) Kevin Carmody (HEF) Jack Vandeventer (TYQ)
Inflight Pilot Training (FCM) Ken Colston (RYY) John VanPasschen (EYQ)
Lanier Flight School (GVL) Kevin Cox (RDU) Steve Walker (F95)
Louisville Aviation (LOU) Damian DelGaizo (12N) Ryan Wangerin (DAW)
Lunken Flight Training Center (LUK) Andrew Dilworth (RHV) Fred Webster (BFL)
Maui Aviators (PHOG) Dan Dyer (SQL) David Werntz (EMT)
Montgomery Aviation (TYQ) John Ekhoff (HYI) Charles Wright (BED)
New Horizons Aviation (RDG) Brian Eliot (SQL)
Ocean Helicopters Inc. (F45) John Fadok (0A7)
Oklahoma Aviation (PWA) Art Fritzson (HEF)



» By Jill W. Tallman

SAN CARLOS FLIGHT CENTER’S slogan is “Safety—Com- “If somebody comes by the office, it should be like stopping
munity—Adventure.” While it strives to place equal emphasis on by your buddy’s house,” says Dan Dyer, owner and chief flight
all three of those standards, SCFC might as well trademark the instructor. He founded SCFC at California’s San Carlos Airport
“community” part. Offering everything from fly-outs to barbe- in 2012, starting with one airplane, one staff flight instructor, and
cues to support groups for student pilots, the flight school puts a half-dozen clients. Twenty months later, SCFC has 14 aircraft;
out the welcome mat in innovative ways. That emphasis on com- three simulators; three staff instructors and another 23 indepen-
munity is one of many reasons why SCFC was named Best Flight dent CFIs on call; four line employees; and a receptionist. The
School in the 2013 Flight Training Excellence Awards. six or so clients mushroomed to about 175.

PLUS Learn more about San Carlos Flight Center in this video.

Yet, even as the Part 61 flight school expanded, SCFC

DAN DYER, owner
never lost sight of its community. For example, even though of San Carlos Flight
the school uses an online scheduling system, Dyer still Center, wants SCFC to
wanted a friendly face at the front desk as a first point of be a pilot's home away
from home (top). SCFC
contact.“The connection is key,” Dyer says. “Somebody has offers shuttle service to
to walk in and say, ‘Hey, Bob, how was your flight to airplanes (right).
Monterey last week?’”
THE CLUB MODEL. SCFC is a for-profit
flight school that utilizes a membership
model widely practiced among flight
schools in the San Francisco Bay area.
Customers pay a monthly fee in addi-
tion to hourly aircraft rental and flight
instructor charges. Depending on the
flight school, they may or may not receive
additional benefits for their membership
fee—and they may belong to multiple
clubs so that they can rent and fly out of
different airports.
SCFC offers two levels of membership.
The base ($20/month) yields access to
members-only events, web streaming
of safety seminars, and unlimited use of
the school’s office areas for Internet use,
weather briefings, or flight planning, plus
discounts on merchandise and certain
training events. The next level ($40/ SIMULATOR room
month) includes those benefits plus dis- features a G1000 simulator
that helps pilots grasp the
counts on aircraft and simulator rentals, avionics before flying the airplane.
access to the school’s online flight sched-
uling system, and ability to act as pilot in MEMBERS can hone crosswind skills
on a special simulator.
command of a SCFC aircraft following a
checkout. Dyer likens the membership GROUND SCHOOL, safety seminars,
levels to Netflix. and many other events take place
in the main classroom.
“We run it as a club,” he says. “I think
that’s what pilots want to be a part of. BULLETIN BOARD reminds club members
Even pilots who own their own airplane about the many events they can attend.
want to be part of a club. Being a pilot is a FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR office. Any of
solitary responsibility, and yet it’s so much SCFS's CFIs can use this office to
fun to be alone in that responsibility with work with students.
a bunch of people. When you can bring
a bunch of lone wolves together, it’s an
exciting energy.”


Dan Dyer came to aviation in a roundabout way. says. “I thought it was silly you had to keep moving or you’d fall
In 2002, employed at a software company, he out of the sky. I started flying them, and they’re so easy and so
realized he no longer liked his job. He cashed out fast, and you can carry people and go great distances, and there’s
his stock options and quit. After mulling various so many more jobs.”
new career paths for a few months, he learned to fly helicopters He worked at other clubs in the San Francisco Bay area before
and eventually became a CFI. “I’d always done teaching or train- founding SCFC. Not surprisingly, Dyer struck out on his own so
ing at various jobs; I really loved teaching,” he says. In aviation, that he could create the kind of club he’d want to belong to. “The
he’d finally found “a subject worth teaching.” only reason the place exists is for members to have a great time,”
Dyer added a fixed-wing rating while waiting to find a helicop- he says. “That seems like the final metric. If people are having a
ter CFI job. “I had no interest in [fixed-wing aircraft] before,” he great time, you’ll be successful, and if not, why do you exist?”

SCFC Facts
Launch date:
March 2012
Number of
members: 175
Aircraft: 14
Instructors: 23
(20 independent;
three staff)
Line personnel: Four

Expect to be greeted immediately.

KITCHEN, where free drinks are

available from a large cooler.

CLASSROOM for pre- and

post-flight debriefs features large
blow-ups of the airspace around
San Carlos.

DAN DYER’S office faces the front

and he greets members as they
come in.

ALL HANDS ON DECK. That energy member who joined SCFC after earning ship and, because he loves teaching, has
extends throughout the organization. his private pilot certificate at another begun to assist Dyer with ground school
SCFC’s schedule is bursting with events— flight school. “He’s got such an attitude classes. He appreciates the camarade-
safety seminars, fly-outs, support groups, of ‘Let’s just do this!’ Every day he would rie, too. “I like walking into a flight club
and more (see “Seminars Like Nobody eat, think, and dream how to be the best where either I feel like I know everyone,
Else,” page 36). And, in true club fashion, flight school, offer the best flight-line or if I don’t know someone, I feel like I
Dyer and his staff invite all to become experience, and the best ground-school can strike up a conversation with them. It

involved in SCFC’s many programs in experience.” seems like it’s encouraged here.”
whatever capacity they choose. Now working on a flight instructor Lisa Dyball joined SCFC’s roster of inde-
“What drew me initially was [Dyer’s] certificate, Patten belongs to a committee pendent flight instructors in 2012. While
enthusiasm,” says Herb Patten, a club that administers a flight training scholar- she has teaching privileges at other flight



“We do safety seminars like nobody else in the

country,” Dan Dyer says. “Last year, in the
San Jose FSDO area, we did 50 safety seminars
in the course of the year, out of a total of 58.
We just dominate in that.”
In November 2013, SCFC’s calendar looked
like this:
• Private pilot ground school
• Transition to tailwheel training
• Introduction to iPads in the cockpit
• Monthly barbecue
• Fly-out group lunch
• Student and new pilot support group
• Sound like a pro on the radio
• Three-day fly-out to Disneyland
• CFI roundtable
• Noise abatement procedures
• Cirrus SR20 aircraft systems workshop
• Cirrus Perspective familiarization
• Full moon fly-out
• Flying with your kids
• Tour of Oakland ARTCC
• Tour of San Francisco International Tower
• Dream trips and how to make them happen

schools, she estimates that she spends There’s never a hard sell of products or want things to be: professional, respectful,
about 95 percent of her time at SCFC. services—in fact, SCFC doesn’t even have but let’s not forget how fun this is,” Fiala
“The big thing is the community of a pilot shop because there’s already one at says.
flying [that] is one of the core values that the main airport terminal. SCFC had a marketing intern in 2013,
Dan has brought into aviation,” Dyball Dyer says he is a fan of Disney and its and Dyers says he’ll look for another one
says. “Other flight schools might just be ability to manage the customer experi- this year. He invests in things like branded
rental centers or have some kind of social ence at its theme parks. He flew his staff merchandise and aerial tour advertise-
events here and there, but Dan tries to to Disneyland for two days of customer ments placed in hotel lobby kiosks.
make aviation an opportunity for other service training. “We spent a lot of time “It took a long time before the first
people to build on their skills and explore talking about what is good customer referral came off those cards,” Dyer says.
the world.” service and what’s not,” he says, and they “We could have pulled the plug on it after
brought back ideas that they could incor- six months, but awareness building is a
THE MEMBER EXPERIENCE. Beyond the porate at SCFC. long-term game and you just have to stick
friendly atmosphere at SCFC is a level it out.” He equates marketing to mining
of customer service that Dyer and his MARKETING FOR THE LONG HAUL. for gold: “It’s nothing, nothing, nothing,
staff refine continuously. As an example, Dyer believes in marketing and brand and then you hit a nugget. If we build the
line service workers coordinate mainte- awareness. He works with Terry Fiala, a brand and the culture, it will be easier for
nance, fuel, and reposition aircraft—as marketing and events manager, to ensure people to find us, since it’s hard for us to
well as keep them spotless for the next that SCFC’s website, advertising materi- find them.”
person on the schedule—and shuttle als, and newsletter perpetuate the school’s
pilots to their airplanes in a golf cart image in a consistent fashion. “We see that Jill W. Tallman is technical editor of Flight Training
named Flighty. as a way of communicating the way we magazine.

San Carlos Flight
Center, the first things
you see are photos
and T-shirts that give a
sense of what it's like
to fly in the Bay Area,
including the lengthy
departure clearance.
Clockwise from top
right: Kyle Smathers
checks the aircraft
schedule. Flight instruc-
tor Lisa Dyball and
Matthew Herbert
debrief a flight.
Herb Patten (left) flies
an approach in the
multiscreen G1000
simulator with Dan
Dyer. The back wall of
the main classroom is
decorated with photos
from solos, checkrides,
flyouts, and other





PLUS Learn more about Conor Dancy in this video.

SO HERE’S THE SET-UP: Take a “challenging” instructors were rated on 31 criteria

student and hook her up with the best flight ranging from professionalism to
instructor of 2013. Have her be at her most chal- personality, safety issues to financial
lenging, and then have her rate this 23-year-old concerns.
phenom on the criteria the Flight Training Four key elements concerned our
Excellence Poll sought from its 3,375 respon- challenging student, however. First
dents. How would the winner do? And was “first impression.” This was
would our heroine even make it through a especially important to our student as
lesson (see “Flying with Conor,” page 42)? she’s 55 years old and obstinate. Dancy
Conor Dancy of Aviation Adventures in is 23 and is younger than her sons.
Leesburg, Virginia, is the recipient of the Second was “why him?” Why choose
first AOPA Flight Training Excellence Award this instructor if she could have anyone
for Best Flight Instructor. His fans scored in the nation? Third, how could he help her
him higher than some 950 other instructors become a part of the aviation community, feel
from across the nation. The individual welcome, and assimilated as one of the gang?—a
desire expressed by many new students in the
Flight Training Experience research AOPA
conducted in 2010 (see “The Flight
Training Experience: Making
It Work,” March 2011 Flight
Training). Finally, what
characteristics of our
phenom should be
emulated by other
instructors? The
research also revealed
that CFIs can have the
most positive impact
on training—and a stu-
dent’s success rate.


FIRST IMPRESSION. “Wow, young kid!” respondent. “He is very personable and to me that he was knowledgeable in the
That was one of the respondents to the professional.” Dancy has been instruct- aviation field and since I had no flying
poll’s first impression of Dancy. And it’s ing since he was 19 and has trained 14 experience, I wanted the top guy in the
the truth. Not only is he just 23, but he’s a students from start to finish, 12 of whom organization to train me. The second rea-
young-looking 23. Like 12 maybe. passed their private pilot checkride on son I chose Conor was that I noticed that
But never judge a book by its cover. the first try, which is why he is a Gold Seal his schedule was more busy compared
There’s a lot of substance under that baby instructor (the FAA bestows this honor to the schedules of his peers, and that
face. And knowledge. And experience. on instructors who have recommended indicated to me that the students were
And confidence. And intelligence. And at least 10 students in a two-year period, satisfied with him as well.”
poise. He knows his stuff. He’s also not eight of which must pass on the first Dancy brings something to his instruc-
bashful about letting it be known that he attempt). He also teaches pilots how to be tion that is palpable—he truly loves to
knows his stuff. Yet there's no sense of CFIs. He’s taught one multiengine student teach. He’s an evangelist for flying in
arrogance here. No sense of entitlement. so far and is currently working with one that he can’t imagine why anyone would
He’s been flying since he was 12 and grew initial CFI student and one CFII appli- not want to take to the skies. And while
up in an aviation world (his father, Chris, cant. He is now the chief flight instructor he acknowledges that his upbringing in
is the director of communications and at Aviation Adventures in Leesburg (the aviation is different from 99.9 percent of
public relations at Helicopter Associa- school operates three locations)—a job he the population, he believes in spreading
tion International and former director of took November 1, 2013. the gospel of his chosen avocation. He’s
communications for AOPA). The younger He exudes confidence, and he has a said that he would be happy being a flight
Dancy holds a bachelor’s degree in geology great sense of humor about his age and instructor for the rest of his life.
from George Mason University in Fairfax, looks. “You mean I look like a baby,” he “He is a great teacher and made the
Virginia, and graduated with a 3.4 GPA. He said. whole experience fun. Conor has a great
has 2,000 flight hours and is a commercial way of instructing that really helped me
pilot ASEL and AMEL, Gold Seal CFI, WHY HIM? A lot of instructors can boast grasp all of the concepts. Also, I obviously
CFII, MEI, AGI, IGI—and he’s working on the same credentials as Dancy—many, didn’t want to die during flight training so
his multiengine ATP. He is newly mar- probably even more impressive. Why I clearly trusted Conor and was very com-
ried and expects his wife, Sam, to get her him? This respondent said it well: “I fortable with his safety skills.” Amen.
private pilot certificate. “Anyone married chose Conor for two reasons: The first
to me better learn how to fly,” he quips. was that I noticed that many of the ONE OF THE GANG. Being part of the
“He walked up to me with a smile and other—and more experienced—instruc- aviation community was cited as one of
put out his hand, introduced himself, tors came to him for guidance and advice the key components to successful flight
and said let’s talk about flying,” said one on aviation matters. That made it obvious training in AOPA’s industry study. The


I’m the “challenging” student. Unlike And I didn’t do very well, at least in my estimation. I grew antsy during the
many of my colleagues at AOPA, it preflight, agitated in the left seat, danced on the rudder pedals and brakes
wasn’t a love of aviation that brought so we jerkily tangoed up the taxiway, and plotzed at the run-up area.
me here; it was a love of magazines. Dancy stayed calm. “I’ve sat in the right seat so much more; you’re
But I soon realized that key to being safer with me here.” “I’m not going to let anything happen; I’m in here
a member of this group was a passion too.” “You’re fine. You know what you’re doing.” “Stay on the centerline,
for flying—a fear of flying wasn’t slowly on the throttle, pull on the yoke…look, we’re airborne! That was
going to cut it. So I gave it the old college try. I sweated out 65 hours of perfect.”
training with various instructors—who sweated out hours of my shriek- But then I lost it. I said “Your airplane!” and for the next 45 minutes
ing, panicking, manipulation, lying, crying, and obstinacy—only to get whined about never being able to do this. Finally Dancy said, “You can do
felled by an illness that put the brakes on my student days. But some- this if you want to. You just have to want to. Do you?”
where along this turbulent path, I fell in love with flying—the sitting in Flying with the nation’s number one flight instructor was pretty great.
the right seat part. The getting there in half the time part. The look at what There was a difference in instruction—I’ve been through my share of flight
you can see from up here part. Kinda like Flying Miss Daisy. instructors—but for me what sets Dancy apart is one thing. It may seem like
What we wondered about Conor Dancy was whether he knows some a small thing, but for me it is not: honesty. We all don’t have to be Top Gun,
magic that could help a freaky flier like me want to try out the left seat or Amelia Earhart, or Buzz Aldrin. We just have to try, and we just have to
again. I’ve flown right seat or “baggage compartment” for so many years know our limitations. Dancy is a dream maker for many people, but he’s not
now that when I took the left seat with Dancy, I felt it should be his seat. a dream killer, and that’s important too. —JSW

a 26-year-old from
Hamilton, Virginia,
(above on left) met
Dancy when he signed
up for CFI lessons.
They've become good
friends, and Pearson
says the friendship is
almost more important
to him than what he's
learning from Dancy.

camaraderie, friendships, and the feel- of the community. He wants me to meet nity, because of his passion for teaching
ing of being part of a group are high on more pilots and network. He has done so and the manner with which he carries
the list of reasons why students seek many positive things for me,” said another himself,” said a respondent.
out aviation—and then choose to stay. survey respondent. Dancy says he has been working with a
“Conor ensured that I was invited to many student who turned out to be very fright-
planned trips, classes, and seminars. He MORE LIKE HIM. When asked what it is ened when he got in the air—a surprise to
has also introduced me to many other about Dancy that makes him stand out, both the student and Dancy (the student
members at the school (senior aviators, one word came to many: passion. It is flies in helicopters regularly because of
FAA instructors) who have included very clear that Dancy is passionate about his job but has no fear there). It’s become
me in various trips, seminars, and other aviation. It makes one wonder how his Dancy’s personal mission to help him. So
events in the aviation community,” said a wife feels about her husband’s avocation. far the student is spending a lot of time
respondent. After all, he flew off to Texas to accept his in the simulator, a place where Dancy
Instructing is more than a paycheck to award just two days before their wedding. says one can experience all those things a
Dancy. The airport is his home. Although “She said she was OK with it as long as I student fears, work them out, and see the
he has no ownership interest in Aviation got back on time,” Dancy smiles. “I did. It consequences and the solutions. “Simula-
Adventures, the flight school he helps was quite a month for me.” tor training has so much promise; it’s a
run, he speaks of it as if it is his own. He “Conor has invested a significant great addition to instruction,” he says.
and the owners, Bob and Ronnie Hepp, amount of time in my success as a flight His student is coming along.
are “we” in his conversation, and any student. He absolutely cares about each As a respondent said of Dancy, “He
plans or changes at the school are equally and every one of his students. Conor is wants me to accomplish my dreams.”
his responsibility. very approachable and personable and
“He has included me in activities that he is the type of individual who provides Julie Summers Walker is managing editor of Flight
he does with other pilots and members unmatched value to the aviation commu- Training magazine.


WEATHER By Jack Williams
POINT REYES, California, has more
than 200 foggy days a year.



s student pilots learn the first time they fly under a hood, retaining
control of an airplane—much less finding your way—is impossible
without being able to see the horizon and the ground. Impossible,
that is, without the equipment and training needed for what we call
instrument flying.

An instructor teaches a student the very Times headline announced: “Blind Plane Flies 15
basics of instrument flying in a simulator and by Miles and Lands; Fog Peril Overcome.”
sitting next to the student in the airplane as the The story described how Army Lt. James
student wears the visibility-restricting hood. An H. Doolittle had taken off, flown 15 miles, and
instrument rating is well worth earning since landed “without seeing the ground or any part of
it will increase your flying opportunities and his plane but the illuminated instrument board.”
safety. Even so, an instrument rating will not During the flight the safety pilot, Lt. Ben Kelsey,
make it safe to fly in all kinds of weather, such showed observers that he never took control by
as the obvious example of thunderstorms. And, keeping both hands on the cowling of the front
PLUS Try this Air no matter how skilled you become at flying on cockpit of the Consolidated NY-2 Husky biplane.
Safety Institute instruments, fog could still ground you or pre- A canvas cover prevented Doolittle from seeing
interactive course to
help minimize risks vent you from safely landing or taking off. anything outside the rear cockpit.
associated with low We can trace instrument flying and training Doolittle used a sensitive altimeter, gyro-
ceilings and restricted
visibility. back to September 15, 1929, when a New York scopic instruments, and radio navigation—the

basics of today’s instrument flying—for in the air. High above the ground these pressure aloft. You sometimes see streaks
what was called “blind” flying in the 1920s. drops create clouds. At ground level, tiny of upslope fog on hills or mountains.
While Doolittle demonstrated that with water drops floating in the air are called Thicker, heavier upslope fog forms when
the proper instruments and training, pilots fog. In other words, fog is a stratus cloud humid Gulf of Mexico air gains eleva-
could fly through clouds, he did not “over- that’s touching the ground. tion and cools as it flows across the Great
come the fog peril.” Thick fog produces The most common kind of fog forms Plains from close to sea level to roughly
zero ceiling and visibility. That is, a pilot try- when humid air cools to the dew point. 5,000 feet elevation on the eastern side of
ing to land in such conditions can see little This occurs in various ways, but one of the Rocky Mountains.
outside the airplane except fog. Ordinary the most common is when heat radiates Water that evaporates from falling rain
flight instruments don’t make this possible. away from the ground overnight, which or drizzle can increase the air’s dew point
Until late in the twentieth century cools the air right above the ground to to match the temperature of the sur-
pilots had no safe way to land with zero the dew point. This forms radiation fog, rounding air to form precipitation fog.
or near-zero ceiling and visibility. Today, which is also called ground fog. Forecasting when and where fog will
to legally and safely land in thick fog you Radiation fog is most likely to form form and how long it will last requires
have to be qualified to make Category when the sky is clear, which allows the detailed information about the atmo-
III C instrument landings, be flying an Earth’s heat to freely radiate away to sphere—especially how much water vapor
airplane that meets stringent equipment space. For fog to form, winds have to be is where. You should be ready for fog
requirements, and land at an airport relatively calm. Brisk winds stir up the when the temperature and dew point are
equipped and approved for such landings. air, mixing cold air next to the ground close together, the air is cooling off—or
with warmer air higher up and prevent- having more water vapor added, such as
THE AMOUNT OF water vapor the air can ing the air from cooling to the dew point. from evaporating drizzle—and the winds
hold before the vapor begins condensing If the sky stays clear and the winds are calm or nearly calm. If the expected
into water depends on the air’s tempera- light, radiation fog continues forming fog doesn’t form, take it as another
ture. The colder the air, the less water it until a little after sunrise when sunlight example of how tricky forecasting can
can hold. Ordinary reports of weather con- begins warming the ground. This is why be. This is the reason for the general rule
ditions include the dew point temperature, the fog is often thickest around sunrise, pilots often hear: “If the temperature and
which is the air temperature at which the before sunlight begins burning it off. dew point are within 5 degrees Fahrenheit
water vapor in the air at the observation’s Advection fog forms when light wind of each other, and it’s getting colder, such
time and place will begin condensing. pushes humid air across cold or snow- as it usually does overnight into the early
When the air chills to the dew point covered ground, which chills the air to morning, watch out for fog.”
temperature, water begins condens- the dew point. Widespread, dense advec- You’re flying at night to land around
ing onto objects near the ground, such tion fog can form when warm air moves dawn. The temperature at your arrival air-
as grass, to create the tiny water drops north following a storm that has covered port is now 59 degrees F and the dew point
called dew—thus the term “dew point.” the ground with snow. (Meteorologists there is 55. You should be ready to find fog,
Meteorologists say that air is “saturated” use “advection” to describe the horizontal possibly reducing the visibility to less than
when it reaches the dew point tempera- movement of air or meteorological prop- a quarter-mile when you arrive.
ture. When air becomes saturated above erties such as temperature or humidity.)
the ground, water vapor begins condens- Upslope fog forms as air that’s mov- Jack Williams is an instrument-rated private pilot.
ing on tiny, invisible aerosols in the air ing uphill cools to the dew point as the His latest book is The AMS Weather Book: The Ultimate
such as dust to form water drops floating air’s pressure decreases to match lower Guide to America’s Weather.


Mist is a visible aggregate of Fog is a visible aggregate of min- Freezing fog consists of super- Dense fog reduces visibility to
minute water particles sus- ute water particles that are based cooled water drops that one-eighth mile or less over a
pended in the atmosphere that at the Earth’s surface, which instantly turn to ice when they widespread area. This term is used
reduces visibility to less than reduces horizontal visibility to hit something, such as an in public forecasts but not in
seven statute miles but greater less than five-eighths of a statute airplane. METAR code: FZFG METARs and TAFs, which charac-
than or equal to five-eighths of a mile. METAR code: FG terize all obstructions to visibility
statute mile. METAR code: BR such as fog in terms of how far
you can see—“visibility.”


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Easier to happen than you think
» By Pete Bedell

IT’S NOT UNUSUAL for the news media and the an 8,000-foot midfield downwind to a smooth
public to hyperventilate over an incident such landing in the touchdown zone is a great exer-
as last November’s Atlas Air Boeing 747 Dream- cise in energy management for us jet pilots. And
lifter landing at the wrong airport in Wichita. for controllers, the visual approach takes the
But some pilots also were incredulous trying burden of vectoring and clearing aircraft for an
WITH GPS AND ALL to understand how a crew of two professional instrument approach off the table. It’s a win-
THE WIZARDRY IN pilots could screw up so royally. win for both groups—most of the time.
THE COCKPIT, Non-airline-pilot friends of mine were At night, it’s easy to get trapped by a beauti-
HOW DID THESE wondering why a giant airplane like this was ful set of approach lights on display in front
GUYS END UP on a visual approach. Many of them didn’t of you, especially in an area such as Wichita,
believe that we airline types ever fly visual where there are many runways running north
approaches. I can’t speak for all professional and south in the vicinity. McConnell Air Force
pilots, but many of us do accept and fly visual Base, Beech Factory Airport, and Col. James
approaches. In fact, I prefer them when flying Jabara Airport all have north-south runways
into a familiar airport. It’s still a thrill to click and are located within eight nautical miles

off all the automation and simply fly using the of each other. Beech lies between Jabara and
seat of your pants and your eyeballs. Going from McConnell and the pilots initially thought they



pretty set of approach lights on

a dark night, not much cross-
checking inside the cockpit by
either pilot—and next thing you
know, you’ve landed at the wrong
If it sounds like I’m defending
these pilots, I’ll admit that I am. It
is easy to confuse airports at night.
Jabara It’s easy to be lured by the siren
song of a well-lit runway after a
Beech long day of flying. Throw in some
fatigue as many cargo pilots expe-
rience, and the temptation is even
(intended stronger. I, too, have fallen for all
the same lures that likely trapped
these pilots. Thankfully, something
triggered my brain or my copilot
realized that something was amiss
well before we dropped in on the
wrong field.
Ironically, during the time that
the Dreamlifter incident occurred,
ONE LOOK at the sectional chart and it's easy to understand how a Dreamlifter pilots were being vilified for
can land at a small airport. spending too much time eyes-
inside rather than flying visually.
“Pilots relying too much on auto-
had landed there. After several airspeeds for flap/gear deployment mation,” the headlines read. This is
exchanges with air traffic control, and target approach speed. There’s a perfect example of what can hap-
the pilots figured out where they no alarm that will signal you are pen when pilots spend too much
were. After all, there were likely no flying an approach to the wrong time eyes outside at night.
charts on board the airplane that airport. All of us, at some point in our
depict smaller airports, except per- Most airlines do have a require- careers, will do something dumb in
haps a low-altitude en route chart. ment for the crew to load an an airplane. Some will be dumber
The nav database likely didn’t approach in the box to have a than others. To err is human. To
depict Jabara. back-up display. But since the say “That’ll never happen to me!”
This brings up another point runways at McConnell and Jabara is just an invitation for karma to
many pilots raise: With GPS and are the same alignment and Jabara show up someday and remind you
all the wizardry in the cockpit, is located on the extended final for to keep your ego in check.
how did these guys end up landing McConnell, it probably appeared
at the wrong airport? Doesn’t the to the crew that the airplane was Pete Bedell is a pilot for a major airline. He
airline have requirements to load right on the magenta line depicted holds type ratings in the BAe Jetstream 41,
the approach into the flight man- on the nav displays. Throw in a Canadair RJ, and Boeing 737.
agement system even when flying a
visual approach? IFR QUIZ: LDA Into Hartford
The answer to the first question
is pretty simple: No matter what’s Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD) in Connecticut is home to one of the
set in the box, if you turn off all the most unique instrument approaches in the world. Try your hand at the
automation and fly visually, you’re LDA (localizer directional aid) approach and see if you have the skills to
simply flying a 900,000-pound find the runway in instrument meteorological conditions in this Air Safety
Piper Cub. All you need is a wind- Institute Safety Quiz online (
shield, the seat of your pants, and ldaintohartford).
occasional glances inside to check


Training female students

Never assume there's a difference—unless one becomes apparent
» By Rod Machado

HE NEVER LETS me preflight the air- engine stops working and a fellow women tend to follow directions
plane. He always assumes that I need lifts the hood to fix it, he’s hoping better than men. They’ll do exactly
more help than I actually do during to see a gigantic circuit breaker what you tell them to do. Men are
my flight lessons. down there that simply needs reset- inclined to improvise and test the
These are just a few of the com- ting. Then there’s this thing called limits of the behavioral envelope.
ments I’ve received over the years chivalry, where men are inclined to That’s why a good instructor might
from female students regarding perform manual duties for others, begin the training of male students
male flight instructors. Clearly, females in particular. It is best, how- by placing special emphasis on the
some male instructors aren’t sure ever, that male instructors not take need to listen carefully and follow
how to behave around or train their their suit of armor onto the flight directions precisely during the early
female students. Having taught line. Don’t do for a female student stages of training, while promising
quite a few women to fly over the what you wouldn’t do for a male them improv opportunities later.
years, here are a few things I’ve student. That means you shouldn’t This is why women become
learned along the way. help her with the difficult parts of proficient at what they practice,
In the mid-1970s I made the preflighting unless she needs help. but generally only at what they
acquaintance of Cindy Rucker—one If she’s not tall enough to check the practice. Men tend to interpret
of the first women airline pilots
Cindy was a competent pilot and BETTER THAN MEN.
flight instructor was a galaxy-sized
understatement. One day I asked fuel, then get her a ladder. If she directions liberally, often resulting
her about the difference between doesn’t have enough upper body in the exploration and acquisition
teaching men and women. She strength to perform certain maneu- of a larger range of behaviors. Your
replied that I should never assume vers, don’t avoid or dumb down male students might mischievously
that there was a difference unless the maneuver. Instead, find a way stumble onto the idea of combining
one became apparent. With a to compensate. I’ve taught several a crab and sideslip for crosswind
single sentence she neutralized women who didn’t have the upper correction; your female students
any preconceptions I had about body strength to hold the elevator will certainly acquire the technique
teaching female students. Over aft in a Cessna 210 during a steep if and when you teach it to them. If
the years, I learned that there are turn. So I let them use trim, whose you need proof of this assertion, just
biological, cultural, personality, and purpose is to reduce pilot workload. take a look at who’s doing the drag
experiential differences between Then there was my female student racing on your local street.
men and women. For instance, 30 who couldn’t continually depress Of course, these differences
years ago you could almost always the rudder pedal with one leg dur- between men and women are
count on male students having ing single-engine flight in a twin generalizations, which is a good
more mechanical experience (think Cessna. She asked if she could use thing. There can be no such thing as
automobile repair, Lincoln Logs, two feet on the rudder pedal for wisdom without them. So become
and fort building) than females. single-engine operations. No regu- wise. Don’t assume a female student
Today, this is a distinction with- lation prevents this, nor was her needs to be taught differently than
out much of a difference. We live behavior unsafe (as decided by me her male counterpart. But do recog-
in a computerized, digital world. and the FAA inspector who signed nize and utilize any difference that
We’re more likely to replace things her multi rating). Of course, if your might exist to train all your students
(or hit them with a shoe) than students—male or female—can’t properly.
repair them because repair often meet your minimum standards for
is not a do-it-yourself task. Think safe flight, they shouldn’t fly. Period. Rod Machado is a flight instructor, author,
about it. How many men do you There is, however, one very dis- educator, and speaker. He has been a pilot
know in their 20s or 30s who have tinct difference between female and since 1970 and a CFI since 1973. Visit his blog
ever worked on a car? Today, if an male students: Generally speaking, (




Don’t be the big bad wolf

Helping your students recognize their weaknesses
» By Natalie Bingham Hoover

In order for a student to be able

to accurately assess his or her own
performance, you must lay out a
clear set of standards before you
ever leave the ground. If a student is
preparing for solo, those standards
should look different than if one is
preparing for a checkride. This is
where a well-organized syllabus
comes in handy, complete with
lesson objectives and end-of-flight
performance standards. Tell your
students that in order to get your
solo signoff, you expect very specific
margins of altitude and airspeed,
as well as safe decision making. By
the time the student approaches the
checkride, he or she should be well
versed with the practical test stan-
HAVE YOU EVER felt like a nagging grow into the safe, skilled pilots dards and understand that the goal
flight instructor during the post- they are meant to be? Well, maybe of every maneuver is to perform
flight briefing? that’s not our job at all. well within those boundaries.
“You need to watch your airspeed The FAA says there is a better Once you actually make it to the
on that short field takeoff…you have way to approach the evaluation air, however, it’s time to scale back
to do a better job of controlling your and critique of our students’ flying the instructor-led communica-
heading during the stall recovery….” capabilities. The Aviation Instruc- tion so you can function more as
After the third critical comment tor’s Handbook presents a technique observer and safety pilot, allow-
or so, your student starts to look like called “collaborative assessment” ing your students to focus as they
a chastised puppy, head down and in which the instructor facilitates a work through the lesson. After each
tail tucked. But these things have to student’s assessment of his or her maneuver, ask your students how
be said in order to help our students own performance in light of a set of they thought it went. Then—only
improve, right? Isn’t that our duty preestablished standards. Student- if they don’t come to the conclu-
as flight instructors to point out our based critiques are good for several sions on their own—you can offer
students’ deficiencies so they can reasons. some guidance to help improve the
First, lessons will become a lot second attempt.
more enjoyable for both of you Although it may be tough to
when it feels as if you are on the do for us talkative instructors,
same team, working together sometimes the biggest lessons occur
toward a common goal. Second, when we allow students to see the
and more important, helping your natural outcome of their decisions
student develop sound habits of in the airplane (provided those
self-assessment is a critical skill natural outcomes still have you
THE SIGN OF ANY of a safety-minded pilot. It will arriving home safe for dinner). For
GREAT TEACHER IS A help you feel less like the big bad example, we all know it’s tempt-
SELF-SUFFICIENT wolf and more like a helpful men- ing on a cross-country flight to
STUDENT. tor on your student’s self-led path help students locate waypoints and
to becoming a successful, compe- airports before they pass them by.
tent pilot. But how much more of a learning


For love of flying

Why consider an airline flying career?
» By Wayne Phillips

experience would it be if you let » Q: Why should I consider becom- So, why do they do it? Ask them.
them pass that airport, and maybe ing an airline pilot? Please tell me Here’s what they will say, guaran-
even get a little lost, before you some real facts. —Russ teed: “I just want to fly.” It’s that
guide them through the process internalized emotion that causes
of finding their way again? That » A: I recall a feature I wrote titled, airmen to subdue rational financial
way, you don’t have to harp on the “Three Wise Men” (Career Pilot, thinking and press on with a plan
importance of a well-prepared July 2007 Flight Training). Three to satisfy the flying urge, while
flight plan; they can come to that retired airline veterans, who each hoping that—in about seven to 10
conclusion from seeing it firsthand. spent more than two decades at a years—a $125,000 or higher annual
When the flight is over, the real major airline, provided their own paycheck and a goodly amount of
learning can begin. Start by asking sentiments about their careers. One days off will materialize.
your students open-ended ques- common thread bound them all Frankly, it is the unattractive
tions to facilitate the discussion: together: the love of flight. financial realities of aviation that
How do you think the flight went? Not one single aviator stated have contributed to the present
What things did you do well? What that their primary career goal had state of affairs in the industry: the
areas need improvement? been to put food on the table for pilot shortage. Fewer people will
Listen to your student, and pay their families, acquire an upper- think through and embrace the
special attention to the areas where class lifestyle, or secure a six-figure thought of even learning to fly on
his or her perceptions differ from paycheck. They simply had a the private pilot level. To a financial
your own. If your student thinks passion for flying, and an airline realist, it is absurd to blow two
he’s ready to solo, but you still have career allowed them to satisfy that. weeks’ worth of grocery money
concerns about his safety, you may Getting a paycheck was important, or a car payment to blast around
have to ask more specific ques- but secondary. the traffic pattern for a couple of
tions relating to the performance As any student of commercial hours or truck on down to the $300
standards in order to guide your aviation knows, there is a tremen- hamburger, yet alone fork over
student to the appropriate conclu- dous entry fee to join the exclusive $375,000 for a new single-engine
sions. Remember that the sign of club of paid flyers. A quality airplane when that will buy you a
any great teacher is a self-sufficient aviation college or academy will beachfront condo.
student, who no longer has to rely siphon anywhere from $50,000 to So, again, it boils down to an
on the instructor in order to com- $150,000 from one’s bank account. affair with flying. Thankfully, there
plete the task. Once graduating with a wallet are more than 70,000 airline pilots
Helping your students to full of FAA certificates and rat- and probably twice that in other
become more self-aware by rec- ings, look for a first-year salary of forms of commercial flying who
ognizing their own weaknesses about $22,000. By year five, that have managed to quench their
and deficiencies may be the most might increase to $50,000 annu- flying thirst first and still make a
important skill you can teach them, ally, whether flying a regional jet living. Otherwise, we’d all be tak-
far more important than nailing or corporate aircraft. All the while, ing the bus.
that short-field landing or perfectly imagine trying to retire the debt
maintaining altitude during a steep at a monthly payment of $700 to Send your career questions to careers@
turn. And what’s more, you’ll never $1,000. and we’ll publish the best ones here.
have to hear your student say,
“Why flight instructor, what big CAREER RESOURCES: Get Your Answer Here
teeth you have!”
A compilation of previously published and recently submitted career
Natalie Bingham Hoover, ATP/CFII/ questions for Wayne Phillips, Flight Training's careers columnist and a
MEI, has given more than 3,000 hours of Boeing 737 instructor, is available online (
dual instruction. She lives in Germantown, careerpilot).




The easiest thing? that initially seemed so simple: keeping it

Even a ‘simple’ maneuver can go wrong on the runway, then lifting off.
» By David Jack Kenny Two-thirds of those 164 accidents were
losses of control while the airplane was
THINK BACK TO your own student days, than a third—the instructor was on board. still on the runway, or should have been;
and you’ll probably remember feeling that So what went wrong? Not what you they included three-quarters of all takeoff
takeoffs—at least normal takeoffs—were might expect. Some of the usual suspects accidents on student solos and almost half
the easiest part of each lesson (short- and can be ruled out almost entirely: Only of those during dual instruction. Another
soft-field work, maybe not so much). Once three accidents were blamed on density 30—almost 20 percent of the total—were
you got onto the runway and pushed the altitude, four on contaminated runways, departure stalls, and two-thirds of those
throttle forward, it was just a matter of and five on delayed decisions to abort were on dual flights. That might not be so
nudging the rudder enough to keep from when aircraft performance seemed ques- surprising—most students don’t try many
running off the sides until the wings tionable. (These, by the way, were equally of those short-and-softs on their own.
caught enough air to start lifting. divided between solo and dual flights.) The conscientious CFI might see a
Less-than-perfect takeoff technique is A slightly larger number (13) were familiar pattern here: Nothing in aviation
the second leading cause of accidents dur- attributed to errors configuring the air- can safely be taken for granted. That might
ing primary instruction. To be sure, that’s plane, chiefly flap settings and carb heat. be the most durable—and important—les-
a distant second after pranged landings; Just more than half of those were on dual son you’ll ever teach your students.
still, 164 airplanes got cracked up that way lessons, too—though surprisingly enough,
during the past 10 years. That’s about one only four were specifically reported to David Jack Kenny vividly remembers the day his
out of every eight accidents in all phases of have happened during touch and goes. The instructor’s quick feet were all that prevented a runway
primary training. Worse yet, in 63—more big problems were the same two things excursion during soft-field takeoff practice.

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DEBRIEF A pilot's perspective
SPAIN had 1.7 hours in
a Cessna 172 prior to Air
Force training.


ested in the military as a way to
pay for college. I thought I would
TOP AIR FORCE INSTRUCTOR go in, be an engineer, and then get
a real job. This was during Desert
To go through the Air Force’s Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, you Storm and a couple of guys came
have to be one of the best pilots in the entire branch, which makes you one of the back and were passing photos of
best pilots in the world. The school is a graduate-level course on tactical fighting their B-52 crew. I noticed there
taught to instructors, with the intent they will go back to their home units and better were no black pilots. I thought I
the group’s proficiency. As commandant, Col. Adrian Spain is in charge of ensuring have a shot at this and I have the
those 250 or so pilots a year are not opportunity to be the guy on that
only the best at flying, but also the picture that some kid sees and
best at teaching. With experi- thinks 'I can do that too.'
ence as a former commander of
a fighter wing, in Operation Iraqi LOVE OF FLIGHT… Once I got over
Freedom, and in both the F-15 and the initial steps, it really became
F-22, Spain is well suited to lead this thing that clicked with me.
this critical mission. The joy of being up there and
executing, and having it be an
extension of yourself. When you’re
in control. When you have the
aircraft and you are making it do
what you want it to do. There’s
this bonding that occurs that you
can never get out of your system.

inspire instructors to reach their
potential. We say they have to be
humble, approachable, credible.
Being humble and approachable
means they can reach the broadest
audience possible.


impossible question. I’ve always
been partial to the F-15C. Always
a special place in my heart. I love
the F–22 though. It’s amazing
how capable it is and how much it
allows the pilot to focus on other
important things.


NAME: Col. Adrian to be a sponge. You have to be will-
ing to learn anything you can from
OCCUPATION: Com- anyone who knows more than you.
mandant, Air Force Number two for me is to chair fly.
Weapons School
In pilot training I would spend the
EXTRA: Spain led his entire sortie on the ground before-
squadron into Iraq on hand on every single step. That’s
the first night of

Operation Iraqi when it started to click.


JULY 22,



72 Lives Saved To Date.


The jury is in. The case is closed. CAPS works

and it saves lives. In fact, there are 72 people alive
today because a Cirrus pilot deployed the parachute
in time to avert a tragedy.

Hear their stories at

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