Sunday, May 29, 2011

Qref Syllabi, Checkride Checklists Now Free

News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact:   Doug Stewart, SAFE Chair
                 , (cell) 413-281-6788

Qref Syllabi, Checkride Checklists Now Free
Training Reform Symposium Continues to Yield Positive Results

Santa Paula, CA—As founding members and an early provider of member benefits of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE), Qref recently announced its support for the goals of pilot training reform. Consequently, Qref is now offering PDF versions of its syllabi and acclaimed checkride checklists at no charge.

Acting on a recommendation from the training reform symposium, Qref joins ASA, Sporty’s, and SAFE in providing free syllabi. According to a Qref representative, “We praise ASA’s and Sporty’s lead on this and challenge other courseware providers to similarly offer online versions of their syllabi at no charge. With a wide selection of syllabi freely available, instructors and students should be able to find syllabi that work best for them. All of aviation will benefit from this.”

Qref syllabi address all FAA requirements as well as the reality of learning to fly in today’s complex and highly regulated environment. With a combined thirty years of flight instructing experience, the syllabi have been excerpted from Flight Instructor Notebooks created by Bridgette Doremire and Gene Hudson. Additionally, Qref’s Instrument Rating Syllabus was designed for use with flight simulators, allowing students to practice in a simulator before proving their knowledge and skills in flight, thereby reducing costly flight hours. The free Qref syllabi and checklists for Private, Instrument, and Commercial are available at



Direct link to Syllabi & Checkride Checklists:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rudder Skills

The Question:

My student seems to have a hard time working the rudder properly. Is there anything I can do to help this on the next lesson?

My Thoughts:

For the next flight, it's time for a rudder coordination exercise. During the preflight briefing and in the air, advise the student that you are "putting on your instructor's hat at times during this lesson." Ensure during the briefing that the student understands rudder theory, adverse yaw, and practical rudder use.

Inflight, conduct the clearing turns, have the student line up on a handy landmark, and start working the rudders. Make sure she is sitting upright in her seat, remind her to feel the aircraft weight down her spine and through to her tush. Step on a rudder pedal hard. Ask her which butt cheek has the weight on it. Re-center. Ask again. Step on the other pedal, hard. Ask again. Now direct the focus outside. What is the nose doing as you step, center, step?

Have her try it.

Clearing turns.

Now, lined up on a good landmark, go from cruise to slow flight, then back to clean, keeping the nose lined up. Then change configurations, each time, "don't let that nose move! It's moving! Stop that nose!" Back to cruise, start a descent, 500 fpm down. "I saw that nose moving!" Recover, climb, recover, down again, rinse & repeat until the nose is wired to where it belongs.

Then add configuration changes to the climbs and descents. Next work airspeed changes with configuration changes with climbs and descents.

If you think she's getting good, have her roll in and out of turns. The first time, you'll have to look carefully yourself, but if she's turning left, you'll probably see the nose walk off to the right. "What's causing that?" The answer is not "not enough rudder," the answer is "adverse yaw" and the action is "more of the proper rudder."

If the nose does not initially walk off in the opposite direction, you may need to demonstrate, even exaggerate with the other rudder to get the nose to walk.

Practice that skill for a while. You know it is time to move on when the light bulb is shining brightly overhead and your student is smiling confidently.

Now, if you've been an especially devious instructor and still working on your student’s independence, you have managed to fly out of the practice area and are over a somewhat unfamiliar area, away from complicated airspace. At the appropriate time, announce "Great job. I'm taking off my instructor's hat now. Let's go home." Fold your arms, lean back, close your eyes, and shut up. A yawn is optional. After counting to sixty, you can open your eyes and pretend to be a passenger, albeit not a too distracting one. Observe what develops, although you can offer a lifeline or two, and an occasional, “is that your final answer?” Remember, this flight training stuff is supposed to be fun.

Follow-up practice would include a brief series of rudder coordination exercises in the practice area, to be repeated when rudder skills start to diminish. Another is a trip to an airport with strong crosswinds, to work approaches to the runway with the strongest crosswinds. Landing may or may not be advisable, and if you do land, if the winds are near the max demonstrated crosswind, come to a full stop before attempting to turn. You will feel the wind attempting to weathervane the aircraft.

Towards Flight Student Independence or Checkriditis

The Question:

As we get closer to the checkride, my student is reverting. He’s forgetting procedures, PTS standards, even clearing turns. What should I do?

My Thoughts:

This sounds like a case of checkrideitis, but also that the student hasn’t overlearned the procedures. The student needs to overlearn procedures enough so that he or she can perform even with the stress of the checkride.

To alleviate this, I tell the students that the more they know and the closer they get to the checkride, the less I will know. It is a game, but a functional one. On the next session with the student, I explain how that as the student gets closer to the checkride (ooohhh "checkride" that'll fire the nerves up), it will seem like I am becoming dumber and dumber. I let the student know that I will start acting like an examiner and be very quiet in the right seat, only jotting down the occasional note.

Then, on the flight, I guide us towards safe terrain and airspace, and shut up. If the student asks, I will list what maneuvers he's to perform. But, unless imminent pain is about to occur, I don't interfere. On my notepad, I will list everything the student does right, including looking for traffic. Once, when the student does perform something right, or makes a proper decision, I will challenge him, "Do you think that is correct?" If the student inquires back, I will shrug my shoulders, do the stupid look, and say "I dunno," and scribble something on the notepad.

On the postflight brief, I will tell him he knows what he did wrong, and list what he did right. I will also suggest that if the student doesn't know the PTS, then how can he know what he did wrong? I will remind him to reread (read) the introduction, because if he thinks one exceedance of a maneuver fails the ride, then he should fail, but for not knowing the PTS.

Other tricks I've used have included multiple flight lessons in a day, so the student didn't have their family and work life interfere with the learning and remembering; chair flying through a lesson, the student talking his way through it; refusing to fly unless the ground information was learned; and clipping the solo wings - very slowly and deliberately, with good-humored joking about my being a mother hen. Sending the student up with another instructor and even with the DPE has also worked.

We’re instructors. We find the roadblock(s), and find the way(s) around it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crew Tracker

The Question:

What is a Crew Tracker?

My Thoughts:

Airline pilots and flight attendants, reserve and line-holders alike, fear the crew tracker. Assigned by crew schedulers, the crew tracker mercilessly stalks down their prey, a pilot or flight attendant. Their only goal is to stock airplanes with crew members. They are not normal human beings, with a personality that makes the most hardened criminal shake, an intimate knowledge of all the possible hiding places, an encyclopedic knowledge of the contract, and beady little eyes, able to see through the phone line to know that the claimed beer is really a soda, or the desired crew member is hiding in the ceiling. Former airline pilots now working as FAA Inspectors and NTSB Investigators tip-toe lightly around the crew tracker, twenty years post-airline. They've heard stories and wonder, no one daring to look, is their name on that clipboard? Even chief pilots are not immune from the effects of a crew tracker, for when the tracker has problems, so does the chief.

The crew tracker is generally unlikable for the news they bear is never good. They never seem to be caught up by TSA, food, or even a need to use a restroom. They have patience beyond that of Marine Snipers and similar abilities to blend with their environment. They'll wait for hours for their prey, an unsuspecting crew member, going merrily about, thinking of the trip home. Suddenly, a crew tracker materializes in front of the hapless crew. From what seems to be the same brown clipboard comes an assignment, maybe it's one trip, or maybe it's another three days of trips. In the jetway, no one can hear you scream.

Sometimes the tracker's arrival is forecast by ACARS. Officially and properly nailed, the crew solemnly performs what they had hoped was their last landing, the jovial atmosphere long evaporated. Some surrender to the inevitable, others go kicking and screaming, but to fight is futile, if one is legal, one goes. Only the new-hires hope for a tracker, for them it means more flying, even if there is a ten hour sit, it's still flying. The new-hires soon learn. And the trackers resume their disguise.

In times of bad weather, crew must report in to the trackers, the trackers seemingly able to reproduce on whim and be in several spots at once. One must know their contract and be able to out-spout the trackers, as when the weather lets loose its fury, so do the trackers. That easy out-and-back you had to SAN, hah, you're on the next flight to BOS. That well-scheduled four-day with lots of flying and an early release, forget it, you're on your way to RDU for a 5 hour sit.

There are no friends, and no favors are remembered. Seniority doesn't matter, if you're the only one with a pulse that won't time out. Even being at the schoolhouse won't save you, when times are desperate, 10 guys in class just became 5 flight crews with no worries of timing out.

If you ever step into the airline world, beware the crew tracker! Beware!!!!

It's been a long trip when...

You know it's been a long trip when..

You awake with a start when the pillow on the bed moves, then your dog growls at you.

You have to wait until the FMS initializes before you know where you are, as if you really cared.

Even then, you still need a progressive at the single runway, single taxiway airport, "Uh, is that a right turn or a left turn?"

You open the door to your apartment and the smell knocks you on your butt. Everything in the freezer has spoiled and/or it's a gas leak.

You no longer give the "welcome aboard" announcement without referring to the flight release, having stopped trying to remember the destination, even for a single flight.

While doing your taxes, you realize it would be cheaper to use a hotel room for those nights you are home. It cost $12,000 to store your stuff last year.

The specials on the lone pizza place ad hanging on your doorknob expired months ago.

An hour after falling asleep at your place, the cops arrive, suspecting a break-in.

You arrive home to find someone else living in your place, the landlord having thought you abandoned it, despite still accepting your rent checks.

Given the choice to sleep in the plane or head to a hotel 45 mins away, you sleep in the plane. More room, less noisy, cleaner bathroom, and no housekeeping.

You get home and realize you don't care if you ever see an airplane again. When you wake up, you realize you feel the same way.

The fire alarm goes off at 2 AM, and....
you hope you die in the fire.
you aren't getting up for anything.
you just got in to the room.
you were already in the shower.
you sleep through it until waking up in an ambulance, the firemen unable to rouse you. You request another set of earplugs and go back to sleep.
you waken the next morning and are some sort of local hero for having rescued 3 or more people, put out the fire, performed CPR on somebody saving their life, and don't remember anything 'cept one heck of a dream.

The FO looks like a white-haired gnome.

You look like a white-haired gnome.

If the company doesn't replace the FO, you're quitting right then and there.

You write a four page crewmember report for the FO breathing too loud.

You welcome the Fed doing a line check, just to have someone else to talk to.

You bump two revenue pax for weight-and-balance purposes, and accommodate a jumpseater, requiring he sit in the jumpseat for "weight and balance purposes," just to have someone else to talk to.

You conduct three days of the trip without speaking a word to the FO, relying entirely on hand signals.

You deliberately tweak TSA enough to get the extra-long screening, just long enough to miss the flight, even with a reserve having to be called in.

You wake up with a start as the last thing you remember was intercepting the localizer, and you're ankle deep in water, having fallen asleep in the shower.

Your opposite gender crashpad roommate opens the bathroom door out of concern, as your loud snoring had stopped.

You pull up outside of your place, and wonder why the gate key doesn't work. After trying all the other gates, you finally realized you moved out before the trip.

You call your significant other by your co-pilot's name.

You jumpseat home and upon liftoff, realize you're jumpseating to the former home.

You don't realize you're on the wrong side of the country until you've wandered around employee parking for an hour.

You do some clothes shopping halfway through the trip and still manage to fit everything into your 22" roller.

Having shown at the airport at 4:30 AM only to have a series of flight cancellations for the airline trip home, you then begin a game of invol os roulette. Winner takes home two or more round-trip tickets.

You know where the sleeping mats and employee hotel are located at MSP.

You show for the front desk associate's kid's soccer game, having nothing else to do on a Saturday and no call.

You see the crew tracker waiting in the jetway, yet when the FA opens the crew door, you and the FO are gone, having used the FO's escape rope.

The next time you pull into the gate at the end of a trip, you see the crew tracker in the jetway and one on the ground. Thinking quickly, you change blazers and hats with the jumpseaters and bribe the FO $20 to tell the trackers you're in the lav. The jumpseater wearing your jacket tells the crew tracker that he's just a jumpseater as you breeze past them.

The next time you pull into the gate at the end of the trip with vacation starting the next day, there's a crew tracker on the ground and one in the jetway plus the CP in the jetway. Fortunately, the cater opens the door first, so for $100, you and the FO hide in the catering truck.

The next time you pull into the gate at the end of a trip, to see the crew tracker in the jetway, the CP's in your jumpseat. For an undisclosed sum to the cater, you, the FO, and the CP hide in the catering truck.