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. 

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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.

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Creating an Advantage, Help Your Students PLAN their Success (and yours in the process!)


Creating an Advantage, Help Your Students PLAN their Success (and yours in the process!)~Guest Blogger Bryan O'Neill

Getting into and achieving success in aviation can be complex and difficult to navigate, especially if you have no friends or family in the industry. There are a variety of paths you can take to reach your dream job, and each option will vary drastically in time and cost.

Flying an aircraft of any kind is no joke and as you are aware, requires extensive training that is highly regulated. Just remember your first steps as a student; you had to obtain the appropriate medical certificate(s), find a flight school that met your needs, plan out the necessary training required, figure out how to finance your training, and pass multiple written and practical exams. How much time was wasted in just trying to figure out the HOW for each of those things?

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The Talent Code


The Talent Code~Guest Blogger Adam Magee, LTA DPE/NAFI Boardmember

We’ve all heard the phase – “They were born to fly!” and perhaps that’s true of many, well likely, most pilots. But there is a difference, some pilots indeed have an instinct, or natural talent, for flight..

For many of us we work to instill this natural ability into our flying. However, the book "The Talent Code" reveals that everyone can develop a talent with the right mix of practice, motivation, and coaching. After reading this book, I highly recommend every flight instructor read The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I promise, I receive no commission!

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Mitigating Risks in Aviation with Help from Risk Assessment Tools


Mitigating Risks in Aviation with Help from Risk Assessment Tools~Guest Blogger Jon Little CFII/MEI

All transportation methods involve managing some level of risk.  Many people do not consciously realize that during normal activities they are continuously making many risk assessments and mitigations, whether it is while riding a bicycle, taking a jog, or driving a car.  Your brain is analyzing the situations and then you are taking the appropriate action, ranging from:

  • Putting on your helmet before you get on your bicycle (lowers your risk for head injury).
  • Putting on your reflective vest before you jog (makes you more visible to cars).
  • Looking both ways before you pull through an intersection (avoiding a collision with another car).
Risks in aviation are much greater and pilots must realize that there are risks involved with every flight. The FAA focuses on Risk Management as one of its top safety issues. The FAA wants the aviation community to always work towards a culture of safety in the aviation industry from student pilots to airline captains.  

The FAA has a basic three-step process for Risk Management:

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Story Corner: Mickey Mouse's Questionable Flight Training


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


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


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!


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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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.

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An Underwriter's Wishlist for Every CFI


An Underwriter's Wishlist for Every CFI~Guest Blogger Marci Veronie, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Avemco Insurance Company

When John Niehaus invited me to write for the new NAFI NOTAM, my initial thought was, “Well, I am not a CFI, so not sure what I could offer.”  However, on my drive home that night, I knew that as a 30+ year veteran aviation underwriter, I had a whole lot that I wanted to impart, so I titled this piece “My Wishlist for Every CFI” and I hope you learn something you can pass on.

Aviation underwriters develop a unique perspective on things that go wrong in and around an aircraft. We see most of the accidents that are reported to the FAA and many of the incidents that are not, and I can tell you that we pay numerous claims where there is a CFI in the right seat.  Many of these events have one thing in common:  The accident chain started in the habits and attitudes that were formed early on, often during primary flight instruction.

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Training Utilizing Distraction


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



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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.

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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.

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Aviation Safety Starts with Us


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



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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.

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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.

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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.

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Introducing NAFI's 10 Question Challenge


Introducing NAFI's 10 Question Challenge



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The Tolerance of Mediocrity & Demanding Perfection from Students


The Tolerance of Mediocrity & Demanding Perfection from Students ~Guest Blogger Capt. Brian Schiff

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
–William Arthur Ward

Bart’s (not his real name) flight instructor had moved on in her professional flying career. The greener pastures offered by the airlines (not like recently) compelled his CFI to abandon her students so that she could fly jets in the “big show”. So, I took over Bart’s training.

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