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Don’t panic, be professional!


NAFI NOTAMs #38

Don’t panic, be professional!~Guest Blogger Tzu-Cheng Kuo, NAFI MCFI

The story goes back to two years ago while I was working for a local flight school in Arizona. Due to the amazing weather year round in Arizona it is a great location for flight training. Therefore, many overseas airlines are sending their cadet pilots over here to complete flight training as quickly as one can.

A particular instrument student was assigned to me just prior to them completing their end of course stage check. I had never met or flown with this individual before, so I devised a plan for how we would become acquainted and both develop a level of comfort for them to be signed off for the final step before their checkride. I planned for two flights with me before the stage, the first was intended to check their instrument flying skills, and review any deficiency areas noted from their previous instructor. The second was to be used for a mock check.



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Imposter No More, Dealing With Impostor Syndrome


NAFI NOTAMs #36

Imposter No More, Dealing With Impostor Syndrome~Guest Blogger Michael Hodge Jr. CFI

The DPE extended his hand with a smile and with a hearty “Congratulations” and a firm handshake, he handed me my temporary certificate which had words that I had waited a long time to see, “Flight Instructor - Airplane Single Engine”. After nearly six months of studying at home, teaching over forty hours of ground instruction to members of our flying club, and spending many hours “teaching” in the air, by many accounts, I was ready. Within a week of passing my checkride I had my first discovery flight scheduled and I was anxious to jump in feet first. There was only one problem. I didn’t “feel” ready, and in fact, I felt woefully unprepared.

I started wondering if I had what it took to be a good flight instructor. Would I be able to see the bad landing coming before it happened? Would I be able to help my learners through their bouts of anxiety, learning plateaus, and even a defense mechanism or two? Most importantly, would I be able to provide value to the learner and keep the process of learning to fly fun and efficient?



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Improbability and the Beginning of Instructional Wisdom


NAFI NOTAMs #35

Improbability and the Beginning of Instructional Wisdom~Guest Blogger Thomas P. Turner

Like a lot of pilots of my generation, my flying career started in the right seat of a Cessna 152 at a quiet, rural airport. I was the instructor in a one-person flying service in central Missouri. One early summer evening, as the wind calmed down, the shadows grew and the skies turned golden with the setting sun, I was in my happy place with a pre-solo student in the Cessna’s left seat. Of the flying school’s two 152s we had drawn the red-striped N46123 – “flying is easy as 1-2-3,” I quipped in the sales pitch on demo flights. The registration N46123 is now painted on a Boeing 737-800, but back then the designation belonged to the beginning of pilots’ dreams, not their career destination.

The learner (to use the modern term) was doing a great job and I was pretty certain he’d solo in the next hour or so. So after a little air work we were now on left downwind for Runway 18. No one else was in the pattern and Unicom was quiet. Somewhere about midfield my student pulled back a little on the yoke, then began easing the nose down—probably involuntary movements in response to an unusual situation, first a tensing up and then an attempt to correct for what he saw. For the airspeed indicator was reading low, and although we continued more or less level on downwind the needle spun slowly past the bottom of the green arc, then the bottom of the white arc, and then almost vertically as if the airplane was sitting on the ramp. My student said something in the neighborhood of, “Well, darn,” and looked directly at me, calling on all the judgment and experience I’d amassed in my lofty 300 hours’ total time. “What do we do?” his wide eyes exclaimed.



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Celebrate Your Freedoms


NAFI NOTAMs #33

Celebrate Your Freedoms~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

A co-worker of mine has always been interested to see what it was like to fly an airplane. A few days ago, I took him up for about an hour so he could have that experience. As with any introductory flight, I ensured that the ride would be on a nice day with little or no turbulence. We, of course, had a briefing beforehand covering the basics, including sterile cockpit, seat belt usage, what to do in an emergency, and so on.

What my friend hadn't expected was the part about exchanging controls. When he expressed his surprise, I told him that it'd be a lot more fun for him if he got to actually fly the airplane - besides, I already know how to fly.



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The Strength of Asking For Help


NAFI NOTAMs #32

The Strength of Asking For Help~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney, MSEd, MCFI

When I was a brand-new CFI, I was a chief pilot of one.  Literally.  I’d been given the keys to an office, a nice airplane, and a mandate to figure out how to make a flight school work at an airport where there had been no home-based school in nearly a decade.

ask for helpIt was awkward enough that I was pretty new to the aviation community in my area, but the audacity of standing up a flight school with the ink still wet on my certificate had me convinced that asking for help was the last thing I should do if I was to be taken seriously.  If that wasn’t enough, I had (and still have, if I’m honest) this independent streak that thrived on the idea of “me versus the world.”  If I couldn’t figure it out for myself, maybe I wasn’t good enough.



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Are You A Leader?


NAFI NOTAMs #31

Are You A Leader? ~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

I recently had a great conversation with a good friend regarding leadership. What impressed me was that it wasn't the usual platitudes attempting to define what a good leader is, but instead contained a few of my friend's more down-to-earth observations.

  • "Do you love your people enough to want to help them and help them grow?"

  • "A good leader gives his followers small tasks at first, making those tasks incrementally more challenging and larger. This will cause your followers to grow and get better at their jobs, making them leaders as well."

  • "A great leader is someone who will crawl through the mud to give someone a clean dish towel if they need it."

Editors Note: Watch this short video by Simon Sinek about being a leader. He sums up perfectly how being a leader is difficult to quantify, but is a sum of your actions shown over time.





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Backstory: Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Induction


NAFI NOTAMs #30

Backstory: Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Induction ~Guest Video Blogger Greg Brown, Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Inductee

 

Every aviator develops mutually rewarding relationships with the flight instructors delivering his or her wings. Here Greg Brown, 2021 Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Inductee, shares the inspiring 22-year backstory behind his nomination, including compelling reasons why every good CFI is a Hall-of-Famer.

(Access Greg’s 1999 NAFI Mentor column referenced in the video, here.)


Learn More about Greg Brown here: https://gregbrownflyingcarpet.com/

Greg BrownGreg Brown
2021 Flight Instructor Hall of Fame Inductee
NAFI #13972










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In Defense of the VFR Flight plan, and Being Prepared

NAFI NOTAMs #28

In Defense of the VFR Flight plan, and Being Prepared ~Guest Blogger Patrick Howell CFII

First off, a confession…I filed one VFR flight plan in the first ten years of my flying career.  Frankly, I just did not see the point.  I did most of my primary flight training, from private all the way through CFI, in and around southern states, mostly Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. As a student pilot, my flight school based was at San Antonio International (KSAT), before moving to Stinson Airfield (KSSF), so we were always talking to ATC.  I was then and remain a habitual user of VFR flight following, and I found more utility in it than filing a flight plan, as well.  Also, it was not an emphasis item with my flight school, so just like the law of primacy states, first learned is best learned….and my first learned habit was not to file a VFR flight plan. So, I flew like that for many years…


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You can H.A.C it!

NAFI NOTAMs #27

You can H.A.C it! ~Guest Blogger Tom Dorl, NAFI Board Member

I always enjoy the month of January, as it provides an opportunity to reflect and learn from the past and begin with a fresh start. This month also provides flight instructors with an opportunity to perform a self-evaluation and to look for ways to improve their skills and abilities. During my USAF career flying the HH-60G, I had the opportunity to attend and graduate from the Weapons Instructor Course (WIC). This nearly 6-month program expands instructor skill sets that come from many different USAF aircraft and mission support backgrounds. As part of their culture, they infuse a few core concepts into their graduates: learning about their aircraft, learning about themselves and making those around them better. They also instill three unique character traits within the graduates: to be humble, approachable and credible. These traits can help every flight instructor to have a fun and prosperous 2022. Here are a few actions to consider as we get ready to take off into 2022.

Humble – As instructors, we should be modest and teach with respectful approach to our students. Try not to take yourself too seriously but approach your craft of flight instruction with dedicated professionalism. Stay grounded with yourself and your abilities, and your students will learn to soar. They will likely teach you something along the way. When you mess up, admit it, own it, and learn and teach from it. Don’t write checks that your skills and abilities cannot cash. This makes teaching fun and remember that ALL flight instructors were students at one time. Try to have fun with yourself and your students—this is why people stay in aviation.


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Flight Review Follow-up

NAFI NOTAMs #26

Flight Review Follow-up ~Guest Blogger Andrew Dow NAFI MCFI/MGI

I recently received a phone call from one of my previous students that started off with… “You know how I always gripe and complain during our flight reviews about how you make me manually hand crank the landing gear down?” I stated, “Of course I remember how you complained that you had to make about 50 turns on the handle just to make the gear go down.” He said, “well, I had to actually to do that in real life last week and I just wanted to say thank you very much for making me do that every flight review!”

My student owns a beautiful 1965 Beechcraft Debonair and had experienced an alternator failure during flight one afternoon and had to manually hand crank the landing gear down and executed a safe landing at an airport along his cross-country route. It made me feel good as a flight instructor to know that some of the things that we train and prepare our students for had actually paid off.


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Pilots Don't Grow Up, Why Should Flight Instructors?

NAFI NOTAMs #25


Pilots Don't Grow Up, Why Should Flight Instructors?~Guest Video Blogger John Niehaus, NAFI Program Director

 

 



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It’s in the Recovery

NAFI NOTAMs #24

It’s in the Recovery ~Guest Blogger Capt. Brian Schiff

When I dine at a restaurant, I expect great service. Things can go wrong, but anyone can have an off day and make a mistake. If humans were perfect, just imagine how boring sports would be. Some customers tip based on how perfect the wait staff was; but it is more reasonable and fair to base the amount of the tip on how well the server makes up for what went wrong. Errors or mishaps provide an opportunity to prove (or improve) oneself.

Mistakes are opportunities to learn. In snow-skiing, every time you fall down, you become a better skier. The same applies in flying. Recoveries from errors such as a bounce, stall, spin, flummoxed steep turn, upset, or an unusual attitude are more important than the error themselves. Few of us can maintain altitude to the nearest foot, but most of us can correct back to our desired altitude accurately and with minimal deviations. It is the lazy pilot, letting the airplane fly them, who experiences large deviations.


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Experiment: Low Oil Pressure

NAFI NOTAMs #23

Experiment: Low Oil Pressure~Guest Blogger Jon Kotwicki CFII/MEI

When most pilots think about losing oil pressure in a piston engine; they envision the engine violently sputtering as the oil heats up, loses viscosity, and ultimately thins to the point where it can no longer provide adequate lubrication, leading to “metal on metal” contact, quickly seizing the engine and perhaps throwing a rod in the process.

However, this was not our experience. At least, not nearly as soon as we expected. After “losing oil pressure” in our (not airworthy) Cherokee, we managed with a bit of manipulation to the throttle and mixture to keep the engine running for nearly eighteen minutes. While the oil completely drained from the engine in under 10 seconds (simulating an oil cooler line failure); we had several minutes where the engine was still able to produce full power and would technically be able to climb, and several more after that where we would have had enough power for cruise.


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The #1 thing you can do to become an amazing instructor right away

NAFI NOTAMs #21

The #1 thing you can do to become an amazing instructor right away~Guest Blogger Kimberly Dawn ATP, Class 1 Flight Instructor, ICAO Certified

The single greatest thing holding you back from being a total rockstar flight instructor is likely something you’ve heard before but not yet ‘heard’. Mentorship. What is it, and why is it so important!?

Instructors who try to become great without a mentor are willingly fighting an uphill battle, much like mechanics who do not complete an apprenticeship. Successfully finishing your schooling only to wander the world alone…makes it very difficult to become good at what you do. There are a lot of mistakes to be made and to learn from, and this is where a mentor can guide you. Mentors help you diagnose common student problems, and better yet, uncommon student problems. They help you avoid pitfalls, they give you a safe space to talk and discuss, and they are an outstanding resource for many things you didn’t think about yet.


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Student Pilots and External Pressures

NAFI NOTAMs #20

Student Pilots and External Pressures~Guest Blogger Jon Kotwicki CFII/MEI

Student pilots, due to lack of experience, are more susceptible to being rushed. They are also often not comfortable saying “unable”, as they believe the air traffic controller to have more experience than they do.

It has happened more than once that an inexperienced student pilot has accepted a runway with a tailwind that ended up being beyond their piloting abilities, or has accepted a LAHSO clearance that they really were not comfortable with. 


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We Are All On The Same Team

NAFI NOTAMs #19

We Are All On The Same Team~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

If I could say anything to new instructors, I would say that (in addition to being super aware and not letting students kill you) our relationships with examiners will determine so many things about what we as instructors are able to accomplish. Finding examiners that we can work with as a team - and nurturing those relationships (i.e. NETWORKING) - is a big piece of doing this job well.

How well do we ACTUALLY know the examiners we’re sending our fledgling flyers to? Can we not just work within their busy schedules, but also understand/anticipate their needs and requirements? How do we meet each other as professional individuals out to accomplish mutual goals albeit through different procedural lenses? Do we know the examiner's priorities? Finally, how do we as flight instructors consciously extend our reach to meet new DPEs and expand our own horizons? It is only through establishing personal relationships that both parties can begin to answer these questions, but this takes time, effort, and primarily starts with the efforts of the instructor themselves.


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Story Corner: Mickey Mouse's Questionable Flight Training

NAFI NOTAMs #15


Story Corner: Mickey Mouse's Questionable Flight Training~Guest Video Blogger John Niehaus, NAFI Program Director

 

 



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It's All About the Brown M&Ms

NAFI NOTAMs #14

It's All About the Brown M&Ms~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

If you grew up in the time of Van Halen, you heard the urban legend about the band breaking out in a fit if they got to the dressing room and found the big bowl of M&Ms they required had any brown ones in it.

Apparently, the deal is that the stage requirements on that tour were really complicated. If the band got to the dressing room and found brown M&Ms, they could assume that a bunch of other potentially show impacting details had been overlooked as well.


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Mindful Flight Instruction

NAFI NOTAMs #13

Mindful Flight Instruction-Guest Blogger Lauretta Godbey, NAFI Director of Marketing Communications

The definition of mindfulness according to Webster’s dictionary is “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.” This is a relatively new concept for me that I learned during my recent graduate studies. The intent of mindfulness is to periodically take stock of what you feel, think, see, or hear that might affect the quality of your current state of being. Sounds quite ethereal but let’s unpack this regarding flight training.


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Go Out There and Make a Thing!

NAFI NOTAMs #12

Go Out There and Make a Thing! Guest Blogger John Niehaus, CFII/NAFI Director of Program Development

As I contemplated the topic for my NOTAMs blog post I was reminded about a video that NAFI Board Member, Brian Schiff, shared with me recently. The author of the video, Dr. Elwood Schapansky, is a Schiff family friend, and suggested the topic about the commonly misunderstood concept of gyroscopic procession might make for an interesting post.

Dr. Schapansky’s video is wonderful and the way he teaches is not only informative, but truly entertaining, thank you sir! It brings back memories of my high school physics teacher that inspired me to become who I am today.


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