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Summertime Flying

From NAFI's Chair

Summertime Flying

The summer solstice is net week, which means that, as the great Nat King Cole sang, "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" are upon us. Baseball, hot dogs, the beach, camping, all of the fun stuff we like to do in our spare time. For us as pilots and instructors, that means airshows, fly-ins, EAA AirVenture, $100 hamburgers, or just going up for a ride to look at the countryside. It also means we're likely to be busier now with clients, whether they're new pilots, pilots participating in the Wings program, flight reviews, new ratings, what-have-you.

I was reminded of this as I flew on an airliner from St. Louis to Omaha this week. Normally, this is pretty straightforward - take off from runway 12L at St. Louis Lambert, fly to Omaha, and land on 14R at Omaha Eppley. I've done it often enough that I know how the route is filed and how long it takes (48 minutes from takeoff to touchdown). Not this time, though. On this occasion, there was a vee-shaped line of thunderstorms with an apex near Des Moines that was also filling in. Our flight crew elected, wisely I think, to go all the way past Wichita and then make a turn to the right to come in on the back side of the weather that had already passed to the east of Omaha. Great ride, and everyone on the right side of our aircraft witnessed a light show, at the small price of an extra hour in the air.

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Are You a Leader?

From NAFI's Chair

Are You A Leader?

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. One, for example is: "Do you love your people enough to want to help them and help them grow?" The other was: "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." Finally, "A great leader is someone who will crawl through the mud to give someone a clean dish towel if they need it."

Flight instructors are leaders. By the very nature of the learning and instructor pilot relationship, it has to be that way. Even if it's two peers flying together, the moment one takes on the instructing role, the relationship shifts to one where the instructor is leading the way. That does not mean that there's anything necessarily overt happening or, perhaps worse and very artificially, the instructor saying, "I am your leader - follow." In fact being overt or obtuse like that will likely get a very negative response.

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Learning From Non-Aviation Professionalism

From NAFI's Chair

Learning From Non-Aviation Professionalism

I had to go to the dentist last week. Nothing special, just a routine checkup and cleaning. No problems were found. The reason I'm telling you about this isn't to complain about dentists or even routine medical appointments in general, because, on the face of it, this really doesn't have anything to do with NAFI or even aviation.

The reason I bring it up is because of the trust involved. I was allowing a dental hygienist, someone with sharp implements in her hands, to reach deep into my mouth. She also had a small hose in her hand with which she could easily soak or even drown me, if she so chose. At the same time, she trusted me not to reflexively bite her hands while she was flossing my teeth and doing all the other things necessary for good dental hygiene. Finally, when I did  mention a slight sensitivity in one of my molars, I allowed the doctor to reach in to my mouth with a small hammer to tap it (good news - there's nothing on the X-ray and the tap test only rang in my ear).

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Feeling Proud, You Should Be Too

From NAFI's Chair

Feeling Proud, You Should Be Too

I'm taking a pretty amazing trip. Starting about 10 days ago, I traveled from Omaha to San Francisco to Honk Kong, then back to Omaha via San Francisco. As I write this, I'm in transit to Baltimore for the FAA sUAS symposium and plan to be back in Omaha by tomorrow evening.   The trip will total about 19,280 air miles over 14 days and 19 pilots will fly the jetliners.

 
OK, so what's the big deal, you might ask? Well, considering that roughly 100 years ago this trip would not even have been possible, and that it would have been an incredible undertaking back when I was born, I sit in amazement. Not so much anymore at the engineering or the technology. Those have become routine. We as a civilization have pretty much figured out air travel.
 
What amazes me is the training and the discipline that have gone into mastering the process. None of this happens without the professionals in all aspects of aviation, including the pilots, cabin crews, dispatchers, rampers, meteorologists, staff support, various regulatory bodies around the world, and on and on that go into enabling all of the technology to safely transport people and cargo rapidly and efficiently around the world.
 
Obviously, my bias is towards the flight instruction piece of the equation. As I look back on all of this, 19 individuals on the flight decks in 777ERs and 737s worked diligently to move me, my fellow passengers, and cabin crews all of those miles - without fanfare, without fuss. That takes training, both initial and recurrent.
 
These thoughts were triggered as I gazed upon an Airbus at a gate neighboring my flight's 777ER in Hong Kong. A young man I helped train in St. Louis is now based in Hong Kong and flies those very same Airbuses on intercontinental trips for one of the majors.
 
So it is with no small measure of pride that I say that I have and continue to contribute to this amazing infrastructure in my small way. Consider these musings when you next fly with a student, regardless of whether the lesson is an intro flight or the final prep for an advanced rating. And share the pride I feel.
Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair
 

What Is A Pilot?

From NAFI's Chair

What Is A Pilot?
I n a recent conversation with a good friend who's a flight instructor, NAFI member, and Part 135 pilot, the subject of "drones") came up. He told me that he hated the fact that Part 107 certificate holders were considered pilots.    
 
I pointed out to him that I have a Remote Pilot certificate myself. His response was something to the effect that, "Yes, but you got that on the basis of your commercial certificate and flight review." What my friend was referring to was the ease in which a Part 61 pilot with a current flight review can obtain a Remote Pilot certificate under Part 107. 
 
That conversation and the cover article by Joe Clark and John Robbins in the latestMentor magazine prompted these thoughts. As I've stated in the past, with the ease of use and the popularity of sUASs, entire new industries are springing up around them. In terms of certification alone, the FAA forecasts that there will be 301,200 remote pilots by the year 2022. By that date, the FAA predicts that there will be between 415,000 and 717,000 non-model aircraft in the registry. This is explosive growth by any definition.
 
That begs the question which is at the root of my friend's conversation and the article - are the people who are entering the system "pilots?" That is, regardless of the rating they've received, are they well trained enough to be in National Airspace System, interacting with manned aircraft as well as other unmanned aerial systems? Given the number of aircraft and some of the more ambitious plans of companies like Amazon, as well as local law enforcement and fire/rescue officials, this is a conversation that is being voiced in both the manned and unmanned aviation worlds.
 
Regardless of how you may feel about remote pilots and drones, this is the future - unmanned systems will not go away and we best embrace that fact. At this early stage, this is the opportunity for the flight instruction community to work with the regulators, manned aircraft pilots, and the unmanned flight industry to successfully and safely integrate both the new technology and its operators into the system. There are a lot of very smart people working on these issues, and more. And, universally, I've found that the newcomers to aviation, both the remote pilots and the manufacturers, are eager for our input and guidance. This is true at both an industry and an individual level.
 
So to answer my friend's question: Yes, by FAA regulation, drone operators are pilots. To answer his concern: Let's help them be pilots through our outreach.
Bob Meder,
NAFI Board Chair