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Failure to Communicate

From NAFI's Chair

Failure to Communicate

I recently saw a conversation on Facebook where a CFI candidate described how they had failed the CFI practical test because of a question that the examiner asked regarding the structure of an aircraft. This was an aircraft the candidate had never seen before and it was a question that never came up during training. As a result, the candidate became flustered and subsequently failed the test.

Many participants in the conversation took the examiner to task. There were comments suggesting that the examiner be reported to the FSDO, accusations that there's a "quota" in place to fail first-time CFI candidates, that it was ridiculous question because that wasn't the make and model of aircraft that the applicant had presented, and so on. In all, many voices were saying that it was just plain unfair, some in language I won't repeat here.

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An Opportunity to Learn

From NAFI's Chair

An Opportunity to Learn

As we self-isolate, the question comes up: what do I do with my time? Let's be honest about this. When we're stuck at home, it can be easy to settle into a state of lassitude. We see the same four walls, the view out the window doesn't change, and the TV remote is easy to reach. The siren songs of Nefllix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, etc. are all calling. And, knowing how pilots in general, and flight instructors in particular are wired, our homes are organized to the point that we're shifting shelf knickknacks at the millimeter level.

The good news is that you're interested in aviation and instructing, enough so that you opened this issue of eMentor.   Also, the various flying groups to which I belong on Facebook are as active as ever, maybe even more so, with the usual hangar talk about regulations, procedures, aviation news, and, of course, talk about how everyone is dealing with COVID-19.

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NAFI Seeks FAA Relief on Certification Expirations

From NAFI's Chair

NAFI Seeks FAA Relief on Certification Expirations

Due to member concerns, NAFI reached out on Monday to the FAA seeking relief for flight instructors whose certificates were to expire yesterday. In letters to the director of FAA Flight Standards office and the manager of the Airmen Training and Certification Branch, NAFI Board Chairman Bob Meder requested the same type of temporary regulatory relief for flight instructor certificates that would expire on March 31 as was recently given for medical certificates and Part 135 qualifications.

“Because of social distancing and quarantine issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, instructors whose certificates expire in March might have had in-person FIRC’s cancelled, been unable to visit a FSDO in person to renew based on activity, or may have had issues with an on-line FIRC provider not being able to process their paperwork in a timely fashion due to reduced staffing,” Meder wrote Monday to Rick Domingo, Executive Director, FAA Flight Standards Service, and copied Shawn Hayes, Manager, Airmen Training and Certification Branch (AFS-810).

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It's Time to Stand Down

From NAFI's Chair

It's Time to Stand Down

We are in the throes of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Because of the nature of the illness, it has strained healthcare systems in many parts of the world to the breaking point. Where this hasn't happened, the tragic potential is there. In the countries hardest hit, such as Italy, there has been a lockdown requiring everyone other than those in the most essential services to stay home. The United Kingdom has ordered a similar lockdown. Here, in the United States, some areas where the pandemic has hit hardest, such as California, New York and Washington states, have shut down virtually all non-essential businesses and services and our fellow citizens have been asked to stay home. Almost universally, we have quarantined ourselves, with large gatherings from Sun 'n Fun to the use of Florida's state parks and beaches cancelled, postponed and/or prohibited. We are practicing enhanced sanitation procedures and engaging in something new - "social distancing." None of this should be news to you.

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A Precautionary Landing for All of Us

From NAFI's Chair

A Precautionary Landing for All of Us

There are number of "standard" questions asked of applicants during various practical tests. One that is asked of private pilot candidates, and that I ask my students at all levels all the time goes something like this: "If the oil pressure gauge falls to zero, but the engine temperature remains normal, what action should you take?" We all know the answer is "land as soon as practicable," because if there are no other indications of engine problems, most likely the gauge is broken and we just need to land at an airport and get things checked. We don't have to make an emergency landing in a field or go through any other heroic efforts. But landing is a good idea, because we really don't know why the gauge isn't working and it could very well be something much more dire. Of course, it's inconvenient, but it's an approach to the problem with the least possible consequences.

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Wash Your Hands!

From NAFI's Chair

Wash Your Hands!

Understandably, concern about the novel Coronavirus, or, more properly, Covid-19 has both spread and become more intense. Those concerns have caused the government in Italy to impose emergency measures to contain the pandemic, virtually quarantining the entire country, which, according to the BBC, has been hit hardest after China. Closer to home there have been deaths and an increase in reported cases in the United States, while Americans are asked to take common sense precautions to stop the spread of the disease, and there have been reported shortages of, all things, toilet paper due to panic buying.

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FAA Issues Congressionally Mandated Rukemaking

From NAFI's Chair

FAA Issues Congressionally Mandated Rukemaking

The FAA has announced the final rulemaking that is in response to the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010. Many of you may recall that this law was Congress' response to the Colgan Air accident in Buffalo, N.Y. in 2009.

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When Not to Fly

From NAFI's Chair

When Not to Fly

What is the most important thing we instructors can teach our clients? There are a lot of lessons: regulations, aerodynamics, weather theory, some physiology, and a host of other subjects.

When we send applicants for their checkride, the appropriate Airmen's Certification Standard (ACS) is used, as we all know. The introduction to the ACS states that "During the ground and flight portion of the practical test, the FAA expects evaluators to assess the applicant's mastery of the topic in accordance with the level of learning most appropriate for the specified task," and "The flight portion of the practical test requires the applicant to demonstrate knowledge, risk management, flight proficiency, and operational skill in accordance with the ACS." In other words, the applicant should be well prepared to fly at the level being tested.

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Changing the World for the Better

From NAFI's Chair

Changing the World for the Better

One of the reasons that I am proud to be a flight instructor is that in my small way I am part of what is changing the world for the better. As I've written before, the two great revolutions of our time, aviation and communications, have fostered a greater understanding among peoples worldwide. It has not been perfect, and we humans have had to learn difficult lessons along the way, but, on the whole, I believe the changes have been positive. My part in the process - and yours - has been to be a part of the training of pilots who have joined the ranks of general aviation, the military, and the airline industry, both domestic and international.

These thoughts came to me as I was attending an aviation event overseas two weeks ago. It was natural to think in these terms due to the international nature of the event. In fact, one of the international airline pilots who I have trained good naturedly took me to task, via Facebook, for not letting him know which city I was in, as he had a number of favorite restaurants that he wanted me to check out. The fact that a young man from Missouri had local hangouts over 7,000 miles from home filled me with a sense of awe and pride.

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You Say Potato

From NAFI's Chair

You Say Potato ...

You say potato, I say Solanum tuberosum.  Not really, and I'm not going to sing you the song, but it illustrates a point I'd like to make. A few weeks ago, NAFI ran a King Schools' ad in eMentor which had the term "pilot license" instead of "pilot certificate," which is the technically correct term. It seems that the updated ad copy from King Schools was missed and we ran the original version. Naturally, when we caught it, we called King Schools to apologize; they told us it was no big deal and that no apology was necessary.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I tend to be a bit pedantic in my writing and speech. It's important to me that I use the correct phraseology when discussing technical and regulatory issues, as the devil is always in the details. When teaching students at any level, I continue this habit. My goal with newcomers is to ingrain the correct habits, so, if they elect to be flight or ground instructors, we're not spending time and effort on what should be a relatively simple thing.

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Kudos to EAA for Proficiency365

From NAFI's Chair

Kudos to EAA for Proficiency365

Nobody argues the old adage "practice makes perfect" in so many of life's endeavors. The same holds true for aviation, perhaps even on a higher level since, in so many flight operations, the safety of others is involved. If you fly for a Part 121 or 135 operation you must undergo substantial recurrent training to continue piloting these aircraft. Yet, in much of General Aviation flying, the only recurrent training requirement is the Flight Review and that is simply not enough. Ongoing proficiency training is vital to healthy and safe GA flying.

That's why on behalf of NAFI's Board of Directors and staff, we want to congratulate the EAA for the introduction of its new initiative, Proficiency365. Proficiency365 will offer year-round proficiency training activities available to pilots and CFIs wherever they are located.

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Our Instructors' Voices

From NAFI's Chair

Our Instructors' Voices

We give and receive so many wonderful gifts during the holiday season. Of course, the greatest gift of all is seeing and spending time with loved ones and friends. But we also receive many other gifts, both tangible and harder to describe. The latter category is often where advertisers talk about the "gift that keeps on giving." Of course, that is the goal of all education, including flight training. In other words, we instructors are fortunate enough to be able to share what we have learned with our students.

I'm thinking about this because NAFI's Director of Publications and Editor David Hipschman, recently lent me Richard Bach's 1963 autobiographical Stranger to the Ground. It is a wonderfully written introspective about Bach's flying career to that point, told in the Cold War context of flying a USAF F-84 into a thunderstorm and surviving, while at the same time extolling the commonality of all aviators.

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Lessons All Around Us

From NAFI's Chair

Lessons All Around Us

I recently experienced a first in my life: I was stuck in an elevator. This occurred after the Thanksgiving dinner my brother and his wife hosted for the family. We enjoyed a marvelous dinner at a restaurant on Chicago's Near North Side. After a relaxed evening with the families, we went back to my brother's apartment building to finish the evening. Several of us got on the elevator to go up to their floor. When we got there, the elevator stopped. The correct floor was showing on the display and the button with the floor number went out, but nothing else happened. Most importantly, the door didn't open.

At first, we were mildly amused at the situation. Then, after about three or four minutes, the reality of the situation started to sink in. Of course, there was the usual random button pushing on the panel to see what would happen and so on. Where things started getting a bit tense was when one of the group said, "You know, it's Thanksgiving. Who's going to come get us?" That's when one of my relatives (I won't say who, but it wasn't my brother), said "Get me out of this thing! Now!" - revealing that they had acute claustrophobia. It was at that point I suggested that we try the emergency call button to talk to the operator. I also pointed out, in my calm CFI voice, that we were in no immediate danger and that, at a minimum, the Chicago Fire Department would be able to assist.

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Giving Thanks

From NAFI's Chair

Giving Thanks

It's hard to believe that another Thanksgiving is upon us. Of course, we look forward to gathering with family and friends to enjoy the long weekend, watch some football, perhaps eat way more than we should, and other activities. Along with that, many anticipate or dread "Black Friday," the traditional start of the holiday gift buying season. Along with that, many of us take the time to donate time to various charities that are taking care of the less fortunate in our society so they may have a happy holiday. And, lest I forget, there are many serving in the military, public safety, and private industry who keep the wheels of a modern society turning safely even though it is a long holiday weekend.

For all of this and much, much more, this is the time we in the United States take the time to take stock and be thankful that we have family, friends, privileges, and the life we live. In other countries, there are similar traditions - NAFI's members in Canada celebrated their Thanksgiving in October, for example. Regardless of the location, the message and the sentiment are the same: we are grateful for the good fortune that we enjoy.

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Training for All

From NAFI's Chair

Training for All

I've always been amazed at the depth of experience among NAFI's members. Ranging from CFIs teaching students in fixed-wing single-engine trainers to Airline Transport Pilots with years of experience mentoring pilots, with every category and class represented, I can't think of a single aspect of flight training in which our members are not involved.

NAFI's Director of Business Development Matt Mathias attended the NBAA convention in Las Vegas last week. Part of the feedback he received was a perception that NAFI is mainly an organization dedicated to newer instructors teaching ab initio students. As NAFI continues to grow and work to serve you better, this is an impression that we, as an organization, need to correct. NAFI addresses all phases of flight instruction, dedicating ourselves to the continuous improvement of flight education at all levels.

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The B-17 Crash

From NAFI's Chair

The B-17 Crash

Aviation is a very tight knit community, with everyone, not just pilots, caring and supporting each other. When a disastrous event occurs, it reverberates throughout the industry, touching all of us. Last week's tragic crash of the Collings Foundation's B-17 in Connecticut, which left seven people dead and seven injured, is no exception. I am sure that every one of our hearts skipped a beat when the news flash came through. I know that we all have the deepest condolences for the family and friends of those that perished in the accident.

It is still far too early, both for emotional and for practical reasons to try to garner any lessons from this accident. The NTSB, FAA, and others will conduct their usual thorough investigation, determine the probable cause, and make recommendations. This will take time, as investigating an accident of this nature should. From those results we, as a community, will learn and apply lessons that, although it's small consolation, will be the best way to honor those that we have lost.

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Not Your Ordinary Flight Review

From NAFI's Chair

Not Your Ordinary Flight Review

Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure of giving a flight review to a friend. As many of you know, I am definitely not a believer in "one-hour ground, one-hour flight" in giving a flight review. Instead, I want to ensure that the pilot who is getting the review has had an opportunity to clarify any questions they may have about regulations, as well as ensuring they meet the Airmen's Certification Standards for the rating they hold. For a proficient pilot this usually equates to about a four-hour session counting the ground and flight portions of the day.

However, you may have noticed a disconnect in the first paragraph, where I said, "over the past few months." That certainly doesn't equate to a four-hour session in anyone's math. As you may have guessed, I'm giving a flight review to someone who can be classified as a "rusty pilot."   In fact, he didn't indicate quite how long it had been when we started the ground portion. Imagine my surprise when I found that my signature in his logbook was for his first flight in 33 years.

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Alternative Techniques Can Be Fun

From NAFI's Chair

Alternative Techniques Can Be Fun

A couple of years ago, NAFI Program Director John Niehaus had a great article in Mentor magazine where he described using a time-based game to help his instrument students manage the pressure of single-pilot IFR. What Niehaus does is use the game "Perfection," where a player has to finish a task before the timer runs out. Instead of the game pieces, though, his students have to brief an instrument approach before the clock runs out. Of course, this is done on the ground, getting the student used to what they will have to know in a rapidly changing environment where accuracy is critical.

I'm reminded of this by a Facebook post by Steve Craffey in the "CFI Group, Certificated Flight Instructor." In it, as a returning CFI, he asks if other instructors take their charges out to the parking lot and, using pylons, have them "fly" private and commercial maneuvers. As he put it, part of the fun is having student pilots walking about with outstretched arms pretending to fly. And, yes, I've both been an airplane and had my students be airplanes, "flying" traffic patterns, S-Turns, Lazy 8s, to name a few. Simulating Lazy 8s, in particular, are a great way to both get some good bending exercises and some attention from other folks in the area - especially when a larger business jet is taxiing by.

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Gone West: Capt. Al Haynes

From NAFI's Chair

Gone West: Capt. Al Haynes

Just over 30 years ago, United Flight 232, a DC-10 flying from Denver's now closed Stapleton Airport to Chicago O'Hare suffered the catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine. The debris from the engine failure breached all three of the hydraulic systems, rendering the flight controls inoperative. This was considered to be such an unlikely occurrence that no procedure had had ever been established to deal with such an emergency.

In a remarkable feat of airmanship, the crew was able to fly what should have been an uncontrollable airplane to a crash landing at Sioux City Gateway Airport, where 185 of the 296 crew and passengers survived the impact.

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What's Your Passion?

From NAFI's Chair

What's Your Passion?

I've recently started working with a returning pilot, or what AOPA likes to call "Rusty Pilots." Such pilots are always an intriguing challenge for me because there is such a mix of remembered information, varying skills, and gaps in knowledge. In both ground and flight instruction, I find that there are areas where we sail right through the lesson, while in others we find rough going. A case in point last weekend was that we really had to concentrate on control coordination, yet, when we did several full stop landings, not one was unacceptable, and most were very good.

That's why I enjoy flight instruction so much. Along with the sheer enjoyment of flight, there is an endless variety of people who we encounter, all with different styles of learning, ways of perceiving the world around them, and things they can teach me as I teach them. That is why I consider it a privilege to be chair of NAFI's Board of Directors, because I get to learn from you while you learn from each other.

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