My Checkride Changed Everything


My Checkride Changed Everything ~Guest Blogger Beth Stanton


The plan was to keep the date of my checkride a secret. If I bombed, I wouldn’t have to disclose that fact to the world. When I passed, it would be a happy surprise.

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Importance of Aircraft Systems Knowledge - “be a drop of fluid”


Importance of Aircraft Systems Knowledge - “be a drop of fluid” ~Guest Blogger Kylie McKinzie


Currently enrolled in an Aircraft Systems course focusing on the ERJ 145, I've come to realize the continuous learning required for a deep understanding of aircraft systems. Despite mastering the hydraulic system months ago, preparation for finals unveiled a disheartening truth—I had forgotten half of the information. It's easy to succumb to a "short-term memory" approach in college due to heavy course loads and exam pressure, but in professions like aviation, where safety is paramount, it's crucial to break free from this culture. As professionals, particularly flight instructors, maintaining a thorough understanding of aircraft systems is essential for ensuring safety and instilling confidence in students.

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3 Steps to Servant Leadership and Building CFI Success


3 Steps to Servant Leadership and Building CFI Success ~Guest Blogger Tom Dorl

I like to keep things simple when I fly. I aim to teach that simplicity to my students. If you are an instructor, you’re familiar with the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook. Chapter 8 is replete with over 10 responsibilities for all instructors, and a healthy dose of insight on professionalism. Keeping things simple, I like to distill these responsibilities and concepts into a simpler approach for instructors. Here are a few thoughts to complement your instructional approach to teaching your students when you connect with them, grow with them and serve them.

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Any Traffic Please Advise? CTAF Pet Peeves


Any Traffic Please Advise? CTAF Pet Peeves ~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

I'm going to, once again, give voice to one of my pet peeves: Radio calls at non-towered airports. The importance of the use of the radio at an airport cannot be overstated. Obviously, it helps everyone sort out how best to use the airspace and the airport itself. The proper use of the radio is also reassuring when it confirms where everyone is, although that doesn't relieve us or our students of being vigilant. Finally, it's one more way to avoid traffic conflicts or worse at a non-towered airport.

What brought this to mind is that I recently conducted a flight review at a non-towered airport. In general, I was happy with my student's use of the radio. He made the appropriate calls when taxiing across runways, departing, arriving, and so on. No, it wasn't letter perfect to the AIM, but, then I don't think anyone is, including myself.

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Teaching Judgement Through the ACS


Teaching Judgement Through the ACS~Guest Blogger Sarah Rovner, CFII/MEI/DPE

“Calculate your pivotal altitude” you say to your fresh new commercial student. It’s his first time doing eights on pylons. While you continue to explain and demonstrate the maneuver, you can’t help but think to yourself “why?” After all, in my short 9 years as an airline pilot, I’ve never done eights on pylons in a 737. I can’t see a situation where I would ever do eights on pylons in a 737. Even as a ferry pilot, I never did the maneuver outside of training. As I would teach and glance through the ACS or PTS, I have often thought to myself “why?” Just like going to college, you’re having to learn a bunch of seemingly useless tasks and perform them to a standard, only to never do them again after taking the test.

While the ACS does talk about performing maneuvers with specific measurable standards, a lot of people only focus on the ability to perfect airspeed, pitch and bank to pass a maneuver. However, there’s two large sections of each maneuver that evaluate something equally as valuable: knowledge and risk management. All too often the instructor focuses on perfecting holding altitude during the steep turn as compared to understanding the risk management factors that are meant to be demonstrated during the maneuver.

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From Aspirations to Achievements: Fueling Dreams as a Pilot Instructor


From Aspirations to Achievements: Fueling Dreams as a Pilot Instructor~Guest Blogger Seunghee Kang, CFII/MEI

Pilots, do you remember the happiness and sense of achievement that you got after getting that Private pilot license to start off your careers? You'll also get the same feeling as you get closer to your dream as an airline pilot with an Instrument Rating and a CPL, and as you attain CFI, CFII and MEI certifications to teach budding pilot candidates. Then, is there anything us pilots can do in our daily lives to make ourselves proud outside of making money?

As a flight instructor, I commute in a pilot's uniform. One day, I ran into some kids from my neighborhood beaming at me and my uniform in awe. And then, they began to shower me with questions. “Is scary to be in a plane in the air? What if the plane gets broken in the air? Can you touch clouds in the sky? Can we see our houses from above? That's cool, I want to be a pilot too. Fly me too”, etc. I couldn't ignore their sparkling curious eyes, so I promised them I would volunteer to rent a light airplane and take them on discovery flights.

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Watching the Gates


Watching The Gates ~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney

The following post is a combination blog and video blog post. The text post written by Aaron is the catalyst and inspiration to a video discussion NAFI Board Members Aaron Dabney and Brian Schiff had on the subject. Comment below, your thoughts. Do you agree with them?

Some people don’t need to be pilots.

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Why do you even have an instrument rating?


Why do you even have an instrument rating? ~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney

The new CFI, a client of mine, had just explained to the newly-minted instrument pilot that the proposed flight was below his personal minimums.  That's the question he got in response.  After a moment's silent gratitude that I'd had nothing to do with the instrument pilot's training, I told the CFI over the phone he was doing exactly the right thing.

The regulations, it turns out, are pretty permissive.  Hand-fly an approach to 200 AGL?  Legal.  Fly with a CFI for exactly 1.0 every 24 months?  Legal.  Plan on coasting into town with 30 minutes' fuel?  Legal. 

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I need to declare an emergency.


I need to declare an emergency ~Guest Blogger Ernst Gebhardt

I wish Private Pilot training would include (in the first five hours) specifically saying the words “I need to declare an emergency.” Simply say it to the instructor. Maybe use the push to talk button when the radios are off.

There are so many crash investigations that come with a comment that the pilot should have asked for all the help available by “declaring an emergency.” The pilot’s reluctance to declare an emergency caused delays that made the situation worse.

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Embracing the Tapestry of Learner Diversity in Flight Training


Embracing the Tapestry of Learner Diversity in Flight Training ~Guest Blogger Jason Schappert,

As flight instructors, we play a pivotal role in shaping the future of aviation by training a diverse group of aspiring pilots. Our training environment is enriched by learners from varied cultural backgrounds, language proficiencies, learning styles, and previous experiences. To ensure their success, we must embrace this tapestry of diversity and tailor our teaching approach accordingly. Let’s explore the top issues flight instructors must consider surrounding learner diversity and how we can foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

One of the fundamental aspects of addressing learner diversity is recognizing and respecting the cultural backgrounds of our learners. Understanding the nuances of different cultures helps us create an inclusive atmosphere that celebrates diversity rather than merely tolerating it. By doing so, we build mutual respect and understanding among learners, enhancing their learning experience.

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Train train train


Train train train ~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

Mentally we train emergencies so that we’re ready when they happen.

As an active multiengine instructor, I had signed off more than three dozen multiengine applicants by the time I had my first engine failure in a twin engine airplane.

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Ground School Avoidance Syndrome


Ground School Avoidance Syndrome~Guest Blogger Ean Sugarman, CFII

How many times have you had a student be excited to get in the aircraft and fly but when it comes to hitting the books, it's like trying to get a young child to tidy their room! For some students, it can be a slow going and tedious process complete with excuses ranging from, "I've been busy at work" or "It's hard to study at home", to "I'm not a good test taker, so it's hard for me to study"

As instructors we are taught that people learn differently, and when it comes to the written and theory side of what we teach, there can be challenges to overcome regarding a student's approach to ground school. It seems more often than not I've found it necessary to get creative with how I encourage my students to hit the books. My techniques usually start out as promises of insights and swift advancement (ex: once you understand this, your flying will improve) but typically can descend to pretend threats and silly bribes (ex: "If you don't take your written exam by X date, you have to buy lunch!") Of course various methods work better then others but genuine honest discussion about how important the ground school/written test is and how self study can drive down the cost of training as a whole tend to be great catalysts for action.

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Saving Lives, One Flight Hour At a Time


Saving Lives, One Flight Hour At a Time ~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

Last week I flew a training flight with an experienced student. He had more than 100 hours of flying time, and seemed very comfortable at his home airport in the plane that he usually flies.

We were on short final in the 180 hp Cessna 172, with flaps at 30°, engine power back for landing, and still about 500 feet above the threshold when tower called us to say “continue, expect late landing clearance.”

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More Right Rudder, But Quietly Please


More Right Rudder, But Quietly Please ~Guest Blogger Randall Williams, CFII/MEI

In an airplane training situation, more right rudder usually fixes things. But on my first lesson, I learned that HOW I tell a student to do that matters a whole lot.

I’m embarrassed about it, I have to admit. It was my fault. I’d been working with my first student for a dozen hours, and his landings still needed help. They were uncoordinated with excess speed, and as he bled the speed off and pulled the nose up, the airplane would yaw to the left invariably causing me to command “more right rudder” pretty frequently.

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Ask Why?


Ask Why? ~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

One of the things I like to do when working with new CFI candidates is ask the question: "Why?" It's a technique I learned from someone at the St. Louis FSDO when I was starting out as a flight instructor. His technique was the same - always ask a variant of "why" or "show me where it says that." It's a great way of getting students to think through the problem and find the answer for themselves. Ultimately, it helps that person take ownership of material.

I bring this up, not because I have some thoughts about the specifics of flight instruction this week, but more about our role in aviation. Looking back on my life, I've been fortunate enough to have been on this planet for most of humanity's achievements in space, having been born a couple of years before Sputnik was launched. Because this past week encompassed the anniversaries of both the tragic Apollo 1 fire and Challenger accidents, I wound up watching a crowd-funded movie called "Fight for Space." Fight for Space makes the point that we made it to the moon with the Apollo program and have retrenched ever since. Although I don't fully agree with one of the film's commentators, Neil DeGrass Tyson as to the reasons for this, it is something that has dismayed me.

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Coming Out of the Helicopter Closet, Again


Coming Out of the Helicopter Closet, Again~Guest Blogger NAFI Director of Publications and Editor Beth Stanton

“It would be cool to be a helicopter pilot.”

13 years ago, this astonishing thought popped in my mind as I blinked open my eyes one fine September morning. I glanced around, mystified. Not only had I never been in a helicopter (or small airplane for that matter), I also never had the remotest inkling whatsoever to pilot any type of aircraft.

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True Colors


True Colors~Guest Blogger Capt. Brian Schiff

Years ago, I was performing a preflight inspection of the outside of an MD-80 on a cold, clear, windy winter morning. I took note of the shiny, silvery airliner reflecting, no, glistening in the sun. I had not yet become accustomed to the paintless aluminum livery of American Airline’s jets. I come from a legacy of looking at white airliners with red trim. As I looked up at the American Airlines logo I wondered if I ever would have the same pride that I felt when I saw the TWA logo. Not likely, I thought. My father was a TWA captain. I grew up around TWA airplanes. Plus I was still bitter about being furloughed as a result of the TWA-American Airlines merger.

airliner tailAs I approached the tail section I noticed that the brisk winter wind was blowing the rudder to one side. This revealed a section above the rudder that wouldn’t normally be exposed. What I observed gave me pause. It was a tiny section of red paint on the leading edge of the rudder—again not normally exposed but for mother nature kindly displacing the rudder to reveal a little bit of this airplane’s inner beauty and former self. The red paint is left over from when the airplane used to wear TWA’s colors. Immediately Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” song came to mind. And I heard that song in my mind for the rest of the pre-flight. This stirred up a hornet’s nest of emotions for me, but most prominent was pride. I’ve never been a big fan of the MD-80 because I flew Boeing and Lockheed for most of my flying career. Now—after sighting the red paint—I was more proud of this airplane than ever. It made the transition with me, and somehow took on a majestic stance. This little peek at the airplane’s true colors changed my outlook that day. I started out cold and bitter, and then I became proud with song in my step. I don’t know what was more prominent—the upturn in my mouth or the tear in my eye.

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Don’t panic, be professional!


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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We Need To Talk About The Skills Gap In Pilots


We Need To Talk About The Skills Gap In Pilots~Guest Blogger JBaynton

aircraft cockpit Among the major industries disrupted by the pandemic was aviation. CNBC notes that the pilot shortage currently stands at around 8,000 pilots, accounting for 11% of the total workforce. This gap has only been aggravated by the pandemic, and has in fact been growing over the past few years.

This shortage of skilled and qualified pilots can be traced back to the decline of aviation interest among the younger generation and an aging workforce facing mandatory retirement. As demands for air travel are not going to slow down anytime soon, now is the time to put the skills gap in pilots at the forefront of the conversation.

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Imposter No More, Dealing With Impostor Syndrome


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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