Saturday, April 9, 2016

Apps Updated!

Pilot Math
PPSEL Study Guide (Private Pilot Study Guide)
IFR Study (Instrument Rating Study Guide)
CA DMV Driver's License Prep (California Driver's License Written Exam Study Guide)
have ALL been updated with NEW questions for 2016 exams and regulation changes.

iOS version updates in progress.

Medically grounded, now what?

What do I do if I can no longer fly due to a medical issue?


For pay:

NTSB, FAA, DOT, Aviation Insurance Companies, and other like organizations need Accident Investigators. Medicals are not always required for these positions and they can pay very well. They can also require long hours. Not all investigators are field investigators kicking tin. One can be in the human factors or engineering side and work on the various materials analysis or corporate factors side.

One can flight instruct as long as the pilot trainee is PIC, thus no student pilots or IFR students under the hood. IFR student in Actual seems to be fine. Considering your condition, please be capable of getting out of the plane in an emergency for your own sake and that of your client’s.

There are many airlines and other places that need sim and ground instructors. Airline pay seems to be about second year FO pay at regionals, majors and others will vary.

If the pilot has their A&P certificate, it might be time to dust that off and use it. Multiple places need A&Ps, tool control room guys, line maintenance, and others. A&P schools need

The shuttle bus drivers in some places make more than the pilots they drive.

Sometimes a pilot would like to have an experienced pilot “baby-sitter”. You are not the designated PIC, but you can certainly provide advice and feedback.

Outside of aviation, your cockpit experience proves you can be mission-orientated, multi-tasking achiever, with consistent on-time performance. You regularly dealt with high stress, high pressure situations. You don’t give up easily. Businesses in every field can make use of your experience.

There’s always the freelance services, such as Upwork, Freelancer, and others. Do anything for a price. Some folks make their living with these.

For pay/fun:
One can write their stories, writing training manuals, writing political books, or whatever topic makes you happy.

For fun:
If not denied by the FAA nor have a condition that would make you ineligible to fly, and you can still hold a driver’s license, there’s plenty of sport flying for fun and sport instructor work available.

CAP, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Sheriff’s Posse SAR, Aviation Explorers, Flying Doctors, Angel Flight, and other organizations would be happy to have your experience. You can ride right seat providing guidance, be a Mission Scanner, Mission Observer, Ground support, and plenty of other opportunities to remain in aviation plus be and feel useful.

With the above said, there are many paraplegics, amputees, diabetics, and pilots with a variety of conditions in remission that can continue to fly commercially. An AME willing to handle the paperwork, a medical service like AMS, AOPA, or ALPA Aeromedical who can send you to the right consultants and make sure your paperwork is in order, and a personal physician willing to complete paperwork to meet the FAA’s requirement will go a long ways to returning to flight. Waiting periods might be involved, formal denials then reinstatements may have to happen, keep it professional and add lots of patience for dealing with the red tape. You may be able to return to flight sooner than you thought (or far longer than you ever thought possible, it is the FAA we’re dealing with. Your country’s aeromedical certification will vary.)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Mayo Clinic Rochester Survival Guide

Here is what I've learned, and what I hope that by posting I'll remember:
  1. Walmart has a FREE hotel shuttle. The Mayo's transportation center has the schedule, and I'm sure Wal-Mart does as well.
  2. The Kahler, Country Inn and Suites South, Best Western Soldier's Field, and several other hotels DO NOT have free hotel shuttles, no matter what the online booking services state. Call the hotel to verify.
  3. Airport Inn @ the KRST airport has an Airport AND a Mayo Shuttle. 
  4. Other hotels have shuttles that go to more than Mayo, they might go to the Mall or other Stores. When you book your reservation, ask the front desk. 
  5. Most hotels in the RST area have reduced rates for Mayo Clinic Patients. If your condition allows, you might want to stay further away from the Clinic, or you might want to stay in a hotel that is directly connected to the Clinic.
  6. MSP to RST transportation providers DO NOT GO to the Airport unless you SPECIFICALLY ask and PAY the additional charge.
  7. Shuttle Service is BEST when the roads are icy or snowy.
  8. Handicap Accessible Shuttle Service is available with certain Shuttles and Taxis, you MUST call first.
  9. Inside the Downtown Rochester Walking Subway/overhead connectors, there are many stores, boutiques, and restaurants. Check hours, they tend to be open when Mayo is open. Maps are available.
  10. Multiple airlines fly to RST, at this time they are American and Delta. MSP to RST is about a 90 minute drive. About a 15 minute flight plus taxi and waiting time.
  11. The taxi service for arriving flights at RST is dismal at best (1-2 hour waits plus). Pre-Arrange a taxi BEFORE arrival to keep wait times down. Do NOT accept the taxi service claiming the airport will arrange transportation, especially if handicapped. Use another provider if they refuse to have a waiting taxi. 
  12. Volunteers are available to push wheelchairs around your appointments. Let any staff member know you need assistance, especially when you first enter the facility. If you find the need for one during your day, simply ask. One will become available shortly. 
  13. Electric wheelchairs and scooters are available for rent from the Mayo Clinic Store. Rental rates are not covered by most insurance coverage and benefits. 
  14. If you derive great benefit from the scooter, ones are available for sale through Craigslist and other providers. Batteries are around $50-$100 each and available at Radio Shack and Batteries Plus. Download the breakdown instructions from the internet, laminate it and keep it in the chair's back pocket. Download the airline's scooter form or have them send you a copy, fill it out, laminate it, and keep it in the chair's back pocket. Know the unit's weight, and check in with the gate agent on arrival. They will note the weight and instructions, and your scooter will arrive in the same condition as you gave it to the airline. If not, then the airline must provide for rental and repair service.
  15. Mayo Clinic is a good answer and can resolve many if not most medical issues. However, if they can not find an answer, or it is very unsatisfactory, remember Mayo Clinic is conservative in their treatment options. While they have many cutting-edge research programs, they don't know everything, nor know everything at one location. You may need to go elsewhere to get a second, third, tenth, or even twentieth opinion. If opinions tend to match, then you're probably stuck with living with whatever issue you have.
  16. If Mayo Clinic did get you on the road to recovery, thank you notes are always appreciated. Fill out any surveys when they arrive.
  17. Mayo Clinic does have several financial assistance programs. If you need it, take the time to apply. You might be surprised. Mayo Clinic will also accept payments, even if they send your account to a collection agency. If you are in collections, Mayo might deny treatment for any new problems, but they usually don't deny treatment for current/Mayo known conditions. 
  18. Exercise, diet, sleep, stress, and environment have a significant impact on your health. If the docs recommend you eat proper like low fat/cholesterol/sugar/carbohydrate diet; perform moderate exercise for 150 minutes a week; get about 8 hours of sleep each night; take control of your finances by paying yourself 10% first; brush your teeth, take prescribed medications and supplements, and perform stress reduction methods such as meditation, journaling, yoga, or breathing, it's probably a great idea and seems to work for many folks. 
  19. The last won't fix a broken bone, cure cancer, reduce halitosis, nor improve flatulence in every case, but it will allow the medical fixes to have a better chance of working. Meet the docs halfway, and they'll appreciate your efforts.

Poorly Trained Pilots

In response to:

Research Discovery!

March 2, 2011 by Bruce Landsberg

Poorly trained pilots are usually the ones that show for a 1.0 BFR, with nothing wrong, they fly perfectly, just ask them. Poor training can stem from a poor instructor, which I've seen at all price levels and instructor experience levels, fortunately less frequency as the instructor's experienced increased. Most likely, though, the poor training comes from a poor attitude, and a deeply embedded desire to do the minimum possible. However, even highly trained pilots can have their hand flying skills deteriorate if they don't hand fly. Review the FAA's accident and incident rate for those pilots that have not flown in 30, 60, or 90 or more days, the 90+ rate increases exponentially, which might be an area for the FAA to further focus. Are these 90+ guys a year out of date, six months, or was the Investigating Inspector too busy to inquire further?

While private pilots were at more risk to show in the 90+ column, I have reviewed both commercial and ATP levels in the incident reports. With the attacks against owning corporate aircraft a few years ago, there are tons of professional pilots out of work. As they lose currency from not working, does their risk level increase as rapidly as a private pilots? On the more experienced professional pilot level, I was honored to observe a sixteen year airline captain perform a near-perfect IPC after having he had been furloughed and not flown for over three years. I had to work hard to find anything that needed improvement.

Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Printing Logbook Pro on Letter Size Pages with Portrait Orientation

Finally figured out how to get Logbook Pro and Acrobat to print on Portrait-sized pages.

Chose a "Normal two page output."

Use 11x17 pages.
Left 1.5"
Right 2"
Top 3.5"
Bottom 3.5"

You'll probably have to close and re-open the report several times. Ignore the smaller right side page, the most important part is the inner margin, where the hole punches go.

In Acrobat or your chosen PDF editor, check all of the pages and remove any blank ones.

Crop the odd pages with "Remove White Margins" selected. Do the same for the even pages.

Then crop to restore the inner margins, making sure the check for the "Remove White Margins" is cleared.

Add a blank page as the first page.

If desired, use a saved signature to show on the proper spot of each even page.

Print on the duplexer (send to Kinkos, etc.).

Punch holes, or be really smart and use pre-drilled paper.

Place in your favorite 3-ring binder. Decent leather ones are $2.99 or cheaper at Goodwill.

Enjoy. It only took me a few months of fussing to get this to come out right.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

On Stablized Approaches and Landings- Pre-Solo

The Question:

I'm having difficulties with stabilized approaches and landings. Can you help?

My Thoughts:

While there is a large amount of knowledge needed to safely and confidently fly, at the most basic level, landing an aircraft is a skill that must be learned and practiced.  Only after the skill is mastered can the pilot learn and practice the art of landing. In order for me as the instructor to know what to suggest for areas to improve for landings, I like to start on the ground with a discussion about landings, then progress to an evaluation flight.

For the ground session, I am trying to discover if there are there any missing knowledge or skill pieces in the areas of procedures, aircraft control, cues, and what the pilot should do with information learned from the cues? I’m also evaluating the workload perceived by the pilot, looking for times when the pilot feels overloaded, and if any of the processes are inefficient. Can I suggest any tweaks to reduce or relocate workload to make the pilot’s job easier? I’m not there to insist the pilot re-learn everything, I’m there to help polish the rough spots to allow the client to achieve their goals. I may offer the client our Private Pilot/Flight Review Study Guide if there seems to be concern about upcoming Knowledge Tests or the checkride, or our Pre-Solo Written if the pilot has not soloed confidently. These resources with their answers, a Table of Configurations, Traffic Pattern Diagram, and many more are included in my "Flight Instructor's Notebook: Private and Commercial Pilot."

During our ground session, I will seek the client's answers for many question. Some of these questions are:
  • What is your process for a landing, starting at downwind mid-field?
  • Where are you running your before landing checklists?
  • What actions are you supposed to take when downwind abeam your touchdown point, turning to base, on base, turning to final, on final, on short final?
  • Where do you turn from downwind to base?
  • Where do you start your turn from base to final?
  • What bank angles do you use for upwind to downwind, downwind to base, base to final?
  • What sort of method or methods do you use for crosswind correction on upwind, crosswind, downwind, base, final, short final, roundout, flare, touchdown, and rollout?
  • What are your default power settings on all of the legs of the traffic pattern?  What is your pitch attitudes? Target airspeeds? Aircraft configurations?
  • What rudder pressure is required on all phases of the traffic pattern?
  • What should you do if you turn base and realize that you’ll be high?
  • How do you realize that you are high when on base? Final? Short Final?
  • How do you correct airspeed when on base, final, and short final?
  • When do you reduce power to idle on final? What rudder pressure is required when making this power change?
  • How much altitude should you lose from power reduction on downwind to wings level on base? What should your descent rate be, assuming a 1000’ AGL traffic pattern altitude?
  • What should you do if you realize that you will be low on final? What cues tell you that you will be low?
  • When you say you’re having trouble maintaining a stable approach, what is your definition of a stable approach? What cues tell you that the approach is not stable? What mistakes does your instructor tell you that you are making? How does your instructor advise you to make the corrections?
  • What is the average velocity of an unladen swallow? European?
  • When you are in the roundout to the flare, where should you be looking, and what for? What rudder is required? Yoke movements?
  • On touchdown, what tires should touch down first? What if you had a left crosswind? A right crosswind? A left quartering crosswind?
  • What tire should touch down second? What if you were in a no wind situation? What tire should generally touch down last?
  • What are the requirements for initiating a go-around? What is the initial process you follow once you’ve decided on a go-around? Say the instructor told Tower this next landing attempt would be a full stop, would it be okay to make the landing attempt a go-around instead? What should your initial airspeed be when initiating the go-around?

After the knowledge areas are firmed, it's time for a flight evaluation. This is where the real fun begins, especially for me.  We’ll start with a preflight briefing, where I’ll explain to the client that they might notice me occasionally noting something on my kneeboard. I’ll remind them that I’m not writing negative information, many times I’m making a note for a topic we should discuss during the post-flight brief, or marking off that we’ve completed a task. I’ll list the maneuvers we plan to review during the flight and ask the client if there are any questions before we begin. Once the questions are answered, it’s time to head for the aircraft.

I’ll observe the preflight, although I won’t be playing 20 questions here, I’m really there to observe.  If this will be the first flight together, we’ll typically head out to the practice area. I’m observing everything at this point, so the time from the airport to the practice area is well spent. I’m checking for coordination between rudder, ailerons, power settings, and elevator as well as monitoring the client’s attention division between aircraft control, use of aircraft systems and avionics, communications, and traffic scanning.

In the practice area, we’ll review pre-landing maneuvers, especially power-off stalls and recoveries; slow flight; shallow, medium, and steep bank turns; rudder coordination exercises; changing configurations; changing airspeeds; a power loss scenario or two; trimming exercises; possibly even a rectangular course if time, weather, ground congestion, and traffic allows. Then we’ll head to the traffic pattern where, depending on the airwork, I’ll either observe a complete traffic pattern circuit to a full stop landing with taxiback. After this circuit, or immediately, depending on how much lesson time we have left, we’ll go play a game I call “Scaring the Runway." A detailed explanation of the "Scaring the Runway" game is found in AOPA's "CFI-To-CFI" Newsletter. (Flash needed)

After our final landing of the session, I’ll assist the client with securing the aircraft, and we’ll head inside to a private area for the post-lesson debrief.  I will ask for the client’s perception of their performance, which best make suggestions for the next session. I’ll already have a good idea on what skill and knowledge areas should be reviewed and practiced during the next session, during the debrief I’ll solidify my perception of how the client best learns. I will communicate this information to the client and the client’s regular instructor. No matter at what level the client performed on the evaluation, we’ll do our best to complete the ground session(s), flight lesson (s), and the de-briefs on a positive note. I like to remind our clients that if flying were easy, everyone would be doing it. Especially for someone who’s struggled to achieve their goal, I am in awe of their courage to continue facing the obstacles and delight in their conquering them.

As a side note, I enjoy being the go-to instructor in the area. I live for when the pilot’s lightbulb shines brightly overhead, the pilot having learned something that’ll let them overcome the challenge faced. Working the traffic pattern all day, with four different clients, is not drudgery  or boring. While I am focused on the task at hand, my primary focus is how to get the client over their stuff so that they can achieve their goals. With this perspective, my day is not a series of bumps and circuits, it is a series of unique challenges to overcome. My goal is to make it possible for the client to conquer their obstacles more quickly, more efficiently, and with less frustration than was experienced during my previous instruction session.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fun During Primary Flight Training

The Question:

What do you do to add fun to primary flight training?

My Thoughts:

  • Saturday Tri-Tip at KCMA. It’s great for pre- and post-flight debriefings. Of course, there's always Lunch or Dinner at KWJF, breakfast at KRAL, KRIR, K3O8, dinner on the beach at KSBA, and so on...
  • Flying down the LA River below the airliners to LAX is a trip.
  • When weather rolls in, the primary students practice their turns to headings, climbs, and descents, in the world's safest IFR; a block altitude in a holding pattern off Pt. Mugu. We can climb into and out of the clouds in a few seconds. This also allows for turns around a point and other ground reference maneuvers using the flat cloud layer and any mountain peaks that stick out.
  • As traffic is usually too busy for us to linger, we only do a fly-by of the student's house at some point.
  • Rudder coordination exercises are a game.
  • Trim practice is also a game, can we fly the aircraft with body language alone?
  • Learning to taxi can be done with the airport diagram that’s painted at the Airport Observation Area.
  • Tower and SoCal tours are an eye-opener.
  • Climbing through the clouds at sunset or sunrise is always a life-changing experience for the student and any passengers.
  • If there’s a dull moment, there’s always a freeway to look down upon and reflect that we’re both glad we’re not in that traffic jam.
  • There’s the “breaking the law” fun of tuning a working ADF to a local sports game, or the traffic report on the news station.
  • During landing work, there’s always time for a landing contest. 
  • And a spot landing contest. 
  • And a smoothest landing contest.
  • “Scaring the Runway” keeps the flare, rollout, go-around, and approach practice interesting.
  • When digging through the regulations, we’re the prosecution and defense of Lawn Chair Larry, figuring out how the FAA could violate such a trip today, and what Larry would need to do now to be in compliance. It helps that there are now Sport Pilot rules and Ultralight rules, which encourages the students to think of all the other air traffic out there that is not flying point A to point B.
  • Once in the practice area, there are synchronized maneuvers for play, two or more of us instructors sharing the practice area working on the same maneuvers with our students. “Who’s going to stall last?” while working slow flight, “Aw, you stalled, we win!” which encourages both traffic scanning, division of attention, situational awareness, and fun.
  • There’s the always critically important first passenger flight, with the spouse or significant other who’s usually uncomfortable with small aircraft, and if we can fly well enough and go to a special destination, all while the students appears to be the most competent and safe pilot there is, we’ll have earned the other’s blessing and maybe encouraged them to become a pilot as well.
  • There’s the communications game, which is the hunt for jelly-beans amongst the pro pilot conversations with ATC, and the tone and character changes in communication when weather goes from severe clear to IMC.
  • Mother-in-laws are always great to keep a weight and balance discussion interesting, “so if we tied her to the tail, how would that affect…?”
  • Quoting “Airplane!” and any Monty Python flicks keep us going for hours, especially when reading the regulations in the same intonations of Brother Maynard.
  • Fly-ins, type-specific training courses, weekend flying clubs, AOPA Expo, and other gatherings are wonderful for fly-ins, and bring different perspectives to the safety message.
  • GPS, autopilots, MFDs, and PFDs keeps things amusing for me, the instructor. We play endless rounds of “what’s this button do” during cruise, or “what if” as we discuss cascading systems failures (once the student is competent with basic and advanced operations).

In summary, for me, every flight lesson is a time for play. While there are serious topics to cover, we do those and still have fun. My goal as an instructor is to keep the session fun so my students learn without feeling like idiots.