Filtered by tag: Instructor Stories Remove Filter

You can H.A.C it!


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.

Read More

Flight Review Follow-up


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.

Read More

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


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



Read More

It’s in the Recovery


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.

Read More

Experiment: Low Oil Pressure


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.

Read More

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


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.

Read More

Student Pilots and External Pressures


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. 

Read More

We Are All On The Same Team


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.

Read More

Story Corner: Mickey Mouse's Questionable Flight Training


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



Read More

It's All About the Brown M&Ms


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.

Read More

Mindful Flight Instruction


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.

Read More

Go Out There and Make a Thing!


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.

Read More

A Bull-rider's Love of Flying


A Bull-rider's Love of Flying~Guest Blogger Collin W. Hughes, MEI/ATP

With everything that is happening in the world today I felt the need to post something positive. I have seen so many aspiring pilots ask the question about becoming a flight instructor to build their time. The question many of them ask is if others enjoy being instructors.

Here is my perspective on being a flight instructor. I had two dreams growing up. I wanted to be a cowboy and a pilot. I have been fortunate to have accomplished both of my childhood dreams. I rode bulls for eighteen years and was privileged to compete with great legends in the sport of professional rodeo. Aviation came later in life. I am so grateful that I was able to fly several different aircraft, including a few that required type ratings. My point is many people dream of being a pilot.

Read More

Training Utilizing Distraction


Training Utilizing Distraction~Guest Video Blogger John Niehaus, NAFI Program Director



Read More

Clearing up Generational Misconceptions


Clearing up Generational Misconceptions- Paul Duty, (CFI, CFII, MEI, AGI) - Aviation Product Manager at Gleim Aviation

I recently read an article citing several challenges with teaching millennials to become pilots. Clearly the author is from another generation and assumed that growing up in a high-tech world did not jive with “old-school” aviation. Certainly, millennials differ from earlier generations, as do all generations with unique views and individuality. Rather than dismissing an entire generation, I determined to embrace them while taking a deeper look at my own values. What I discovered was a need to change some of my own processes to better reach them.

As flight instructors, it is not enough to just teach our students to fly safely. We need to foster a learning environment that encourages students to expand their horizons and spark a never-ending quest for knowledge. This approach ultimately creates safer, better-informed pilots. I’ve found that millennials are some of the most inquisitive learners—not because they don’t have or can’t find the easy answers, but because they are trying to positively influence an outcome using all available information. To me, this sounds a bit like a recipe for promoting risk management, aeronautical decision making, and judgment.

When inquiring minds want to understand, instead of spouting out facts and figures, challenge your students to do their own research to solve a problem you pose. Use scenario-based training to discuss alternatives that lead to a safe outcome when encountering a hazard. Here is where it really gets important: Try to refrain from restricting research or alternatives to the methods YOU are familiar with. Let your students find resources that speak their language. Let’s face it, we all learn differently and our world is full of information. Millennials in fact did grow up in a connected world where access to information is an assumed right. Not everyone is going to be as passionate as you are about the same things, and if they are, it might not be for the same reasons.

For example, I was recently talking with a freshly minted flight instructor who had never used the “blue lever” (referring to the propeller control). His training through commercial pilot was in a technically advanced aircraft with a FADEC, never needing to manage a constant speed propeller manually. It surprised me initially, but I realized it was a sign of innovation—and there’s nothing wrong with that! He knew his limitations and, more importantly, he wanted to learn more, so I challenged him to research the blue lever from the perspective of teaching others about it. Sometimes there’s no better way to learn than by teaching.

Read More

A Cautionary Tale


A Cautionary Tail~Guest Blogger Nick Garrod, CFII/ATP

The air, like the sea, can be unforgiving. Mistakes can go one of two ways, be a teachable moment or be a tragic life-changing event. As a professional pilot and CFII, I take stock of my own mistakes or errors in judgement as ways to achieve personal growth and development as a CFI. If I can prevent the same lapses in judgement in others and especially my students, then I can potentially save a life. The following story is a great example of how I made many small mistakes that, on a different day, could change the course of my family’s lives. This blog is a cautionary tale. Do not test any of the actions I took on this flight, rather LEARN from my mistakes.

Read More

Aviation Safety Starts with Us


Aviation Safety Starts with Us~Guest Video Blogger Jason Schappert,



Read More

CFI, A Key to Many Doors



CFI- A Key to Many Doors~Guest Blogger Sarah Rovner, CFII/MEI/ATP/MCFI

Most flight instructors would agree with the old adage, “you learn most by teaching others.” Personally, I never considered myself a subject matter expert in any one thing, but priding myself on being the “jack of all trades, master of none.” It wasn’t until I began flight instructing that I truly learned my craft. When your student looks in your eyes and asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, finding the answer becomes not only an opportunity to learn, but also a professional expectation. Before long you learn the answers to numerous questions that you never thought anyone would ask. You soon learn considerably more than just the books you studied to get that flight instructor certificate.

The truth is that today’s golden standard for time building is to become a flight instructor. Yet, I still come across many who are reluctant to enter the trade. Some aviators have no desire to instruct while others balk at the schedule and pay. Personally, I didn’t become a flight instructor with the intention of time-building. While the main reason was to quench my insatiable need for self-improvement and precision; it was also frankly the quickest way I knew to fly some cool airplanes. Often plane owners would come to me for an instrument proficiency check or flight review, and in the process, introduce me to many unique airplanes. Over time instructing helped me developed a niche skillset that made me marketable as a ferry pilot flying many different aircraft types around the world. It also helped me navigate the most important aerodynamic force in aviation: paperwork. Learning about regulations and how to sign correctly gave me an appreciation for the lost art of getting paperwork right the first time, which served me well as I branched out to flying around the world.

Read More

What’s in a Name?


What’s in a Name?~Guest Blogger Paul Preidecker, NAFI Board Member

As a NAFI Board Member, I have the opportunity to work with fellow board members and staff on various projects. Recently, John Niehaus, Director of Program Development, told me about this blog. When he told me the name, NAFI NOTAMs, I expressed my exceptional displeasure for the name. Why? Because NOTAMs represents something broken…a NAVAID out of service, runway closures, and more recently, ATC closures.  My electronic logbook program even sends out a NOTAM file which lists the bugs with the software. So, why would I think this is a good name? John suggested that I look at it as a reminder of things that need to be checked before flight. That still did not help me make peace with the name….but I have been reflecting.

More than 20 years ago, I was doing some Part 135 flying out of Morey Airport (C29) just west of Madison, WI. On this particular day, one of our best customers called to ask if there was anyone who could take he and his family to Chicago – specifically, to the iconic Meigs Field on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The customer explained that he had a special day planned for his family with a ball game, some shopping on Michigan Avenue, and a dinner. A limo would meet them at the FBO. He asked that we keep the plan a secret as his family thought they were just going to Chicago for some business and lunch to follow. I told him that I would be glad to help out. We agreed on departure in an hour.

Read More

Passion has no limitation


Passion has no limitation~Guest Blogger Tom Huitema

Time passes quickly, and I suppose it’s those moments in time, the anchors, whether they be vacations, events, or moving parts of our past, that compete for the prime storage space of our long term memory.

From my first flight in a Cessna 150 to some 22,000+ hours later, there are stitches in time that bring a smile or a grimace when I reach back for them. Because of my love for flying, I decided long ago that I would do all I could to remember as many steps of that path as possible.

Read More