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The B-17 Crash

From NAFI's Chair

The B-17 Crash

Aviation is a very tight knit community, with everyone, not just pilots, caring and supporting each other. When a disastrous event occurs, it reverberates throughout the industry, touching all of us. Last week's tragic crash of the Collings Foundation's B-17 in Connecticut, which left seven people dead and seven injured, is no exception. I am sure that every one of our hearts skipped a beat when the news flash came through. I know that we all have the deepest condolences for the family and friends of those that perished in the accident.

It is still far too early, both for emotional and for practical reasons to try to garner any lessons from this accident. The NTSB, FAA, and others will conduct their usual thorough investigation, determine the probable cause, and make recommendations. This will take time, as investigating an accident of this nature should. From those results we, as a community, will learn and apply lessons that, although it's small consolation, will be the best way to honor those that we have lost.

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Not Your Ordinary Flight Review

From NAFI's Chair

Not Your Ordinary Flight Review

Over the past few months, I've had the pleasure of giving a flight review to a friend. As many of you know, I am definitely not a believer in "one-hour ground, one-hour flight" in giving a flight review. Instead, I want to ensure that the pilot who is getting the review has had an opportunity to clarify any questions they may have about regulations, as well as ensuring they meet the Airmen's Certification Standards for the rating they hold. For a proficient pilot this usually equates to about a four-hour session counting the ground and flight portions of the day.

However, you may have noticed a disconnect in the first paragraph, where I said, "over the past few months." That certainly doesn't equate to a four-hour session in anyone's math. As you may have guessed, I'm giving a flight review to someone who can be classified as a "rusty pilot."   In fact, he didn't indicate quite how long it had been when we started the ground portion. Imagine my surprise when I found that my signature in his logbook was for his first flight in 33 years.

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Alternative Techniques Can Be Fun

From NAFI's Chair

Alternative Techniques Can Be Fun

A couple of years ago, NAFI Program Director John Niehaus had a great article in Mentor magazine where he described using a time-based game to help his instrument students manage the pressure of single-pilot IFR. What Niehaus does is use the game "Perfection," where a player has to finish a task before the timer runs out. Instead of the game pieces, though, his students have to brief an instrument approach before the clock runs out. Of course, this is done on the ground, getting the student used to what they will have to know in a rapidly changing environment where accuracy is critical.

I'm reminded of this by a Facebook post by Steve Craffey in the "CFI Group, Certificated Flight Instructor." In it, as a returning CFI, he asks if other instructors take their charges out to the parking lot and, using pylons, have them "fly" private and commercial maneuvers. As he put it, part of the fun is having student pilots walking about with outstretched arms pretending to fly. And, yes, I've both been an airplane and had my students be airplanes, "flying" traffic patterns, S-Turns, Lazy 8s, to name a few. Simulating Lazy 8s, in particular, are a great way to both get some good bending exercises and some attention from other folks in the area - especially when a larger business jet is taxiing by.

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Gone West: Capt. Al Haynes

From NAFI's Chair

Gone West: Capt. Al Haynes

Just over 30 years ago, United Flight 232, a DC-10 flying from Denver's now closed Stapleton Airport to Chicago O'Hare suffered the catastrophic failure of its tail-mounted engine. The debris from the engine failure breached all three of the hydraulic systems, rendering the flight controls inoperative. This was considered to be such an unlikely occurrence that no procedure had had ever been established to deal with such an emergency.

In a remarkable feat of airmanship, the crew was able to fly what should have been an uncontrollable airplane to a crash landing at Sioux City Gateway Airport, where 185 of the 296 crew and passengers survived the impact.

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What's Your Passion?

From NAFI's Chair

What's Your Passion?

I've recently started working with a returning pilot, or what AOPA likes to call "Rusty Pilots." Such pilots are always an intriguing challenge for me because there is such a mix of remembered information, varying skills, and gaps in knowledge. In both ground and flight instruction, I find that there are areas where we sail right through the lesson, while in others we find rough going. A case in point last weekend was that we really had to concentrate on control coordination, yet, when we did several full stop landings, not one was unacceptable, and most were very good.

That's why I enjoy flight instruction so much. Along with the sheer enjoyment of flight, there is an endless variety of people who we encounter, all with different styles of learning, ways of perceiving the world around them, and things they can teach me as I teach them. That is why I consider it a privilege to be chair of NAFI's Board of Directors, because I get to learn from you while you learn from each other.

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Off-Airport Landing Teaches Lessons

From NAFI's Chair

Off-Airport Landing Teaches Lessons

Sometimes it's a challenge to find something interesting to write about for this space. There are a lot of reasons for this. For one thing, I know that I am certainly not the greatest pilot or instructor that ever lived. Another is that I don't want to be repetitious or, perhaps worse, pedantic. What is most important to me is the realization that writing in this space is a privilege and that your time is valuable. Because of these reasons, I often go cruising through social media to find something that I hope is inspirational.

I wasn't disappointed by my search for the topic of this article. As the newscast video linked here shows, a pilot, who is also a flight instructor, made a successful forced landing in the Mojave Desert. The plane is certainly bent, but neither he nor his wife, who was his passenger appear to have been injured. As icing on the cake, the news team reporting the incident didn't sensationalize it, nor did they do a lot of speculating about the cause. Instead, the newscast treated this as a feel-good human-interest story.

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Pilots Suing Boeing Over 737 Max 'Unprecedented Cover-Up'

From NAFI's Chair

Pilots Suing Boeing Over 737 Max 'Unprecedented Cover-Up'

More than 400 Boeing 737 Max pilots are suing the company over what they allege was an "unprecedented cover-up" of "known design flaws" in the plane, and over the financial losses they face as the plane remains grounded after two fatal crashes. A class-action lawsuit was filed against Boeing "for financial and other losses arising from the circumstances and grounding of the MAX fleet," according to the two law firms representing the pilots, based in Chicago and Australia.

The 737 Max has been grounded around the world since March, after a second fatal crash involving the plane killed 157 people in Ethiopia. The first crash in Indonesia in October 2018 killed 189 people.

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Our Responsibilities

From NAFI's Chair


Our Responsibilities

The topic of a flight reviews, also known as "Biennials," is always intriguing. It amazes me the number of times I hear someone cite the basics of paragraph 61.56 of the Federal Aviation Regulations stating it is "all" that is required of a pilot to fly safely for the next 24 calendar months. The basics to which I'm referring, of course, are the famous "one hour of ground/one hour of flight" that we hear about so often. And, sadly, it seems that a lot of people expect that of a flight instructor or, worse, that's all they get.

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FAA Clarifies Medical Requirements

From NAFI's Chair


FAA Clarifies Medical Requirements

The FAA has issued a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) to remove regulatory inconsistencies that have caused misunderstandings over the fact that medical certificates are not required for check pilots and instructors at commercial operations who perform their functions in aircraft, as long as they are not serving as part of a required flight crew. Current regulations are contradictory. For example, FAR 135.338(b)(5) states that flight instructors (aircraft) must hold at least a third-class medical certificate; however, FAR 135.338(e) states that an airman who does not hold a medical certificate may serve as a flight instructor in an aircraft if functioning as a non-required crew-member. According to the FAA, this confusion has unnecessarily limited airmen to conducting check pilot functions in flight simulation training devices. Changes are also proposed for similar contradictions in Part 121.

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Visiting the NTSB

From NAFI's Chair

Visiting the NTSB

I recently had a very sobering experience. I had the opportunity to visit the National Transportation Safety Board training facility in suburban Washington, D.C. In what it refers to as the "boneyard," there are pieces of aircraft wreckage that are assembles in various configurations to simulate accidents for their students, allowing them to practice techniques to determine root cause.

My specific purpose, along with others in my group, was to learn more about how the NTSB is using unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, technology to aid in accident investigation. It was interesting and enlightening, and, although, serious in nature, a fairly dispassionate session.

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Break the Chain

From NAFI's Chair

Break the Chain

I can't speak for where you are located, obviously, but here in the Midwest and through the Central Plains, this has been the longest transition from winter to spring that many of us can recall. Low visibility and ceilings, high winds, rain, snow, even blizzards have all contributed to a lack of flying time for me and for a lot of people I know.

Contributing to my somewhat bleak outlook is the rash of accidents of late. The deadly midair between two aircraft operated by a tour company in Alaska, a variety of General Aviation accidents I've seen reported around the country, and a government finding that last year's 737 accident in Cuba that killed 112 has been traced to a weight and balance issue are just plain depressing. After all, to borrow once again from Ernest Gann, no one wants to feel like they've been betrayed by something they love.

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Drone Aviation Is Here to Stay

From NAFI's Chair

Drone Aviation Is Here to Stay

Last week, I attended AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019. For those of you who don't know, "AUVSI" is shorthand for Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, an industry group that advocates for unmanned and autonomous vehicles of all kinds and XPONENTIAL is the association's annual trade show, held this year in Chicago. Of course, with the explosive growth in the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or "drone," industry, the event has a strong emphasis on that part of the industry. And, of course, that is why I attended.

Of course, when I attend trade shows like this one or AirVenture, NBAA, etc., it's to find out what is new and exciting on the market. That was a large part of the reason that I went, looking for new technology that would benefit my employer. And I wasn't disappointed - there have been a lot of changes and new and/or improved products that have appeared in just the last year. As I tell people, the growth and development of the UAV industry is very reminiscent to me of the PC boom of the early 1980s.

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Don't Take Flying for Granted

From NAFI's Chair

Don't Take Flying for Granted

287 days ... A little over three-quarters of a year. That's how long it had been between my logbook entries since I grounded myself last summer. When I wrote two weeks ago about having regained my medical, I thought that was the major milestone. I was mistaken. The real milestone was pre-flighting an aircraft for the first time in months, realizing that I would be flying it in a few moments, with a CFII who I had trained so I could regain my currency, but more importantly, ensure that any surface rust I had acquired while grounded would be polished off. It is wonderful to have a flight review, instrument proficiency check, and night landings now in my logbook.

This was my first encounter with an involuntary lay off from flying. Frankly, I was worried that July 11, 2018 would be my last time as someone who could be solely responsible for a flight. I'd always felt bad for pilots in that position, but never really felt empathy, because it hadn't happened to me. Now I know. And I've gained new respect and understanding for my late mentor, Rick, when he was grounded by cancer. It is clearer than ever to me how much he missed teaching students at all levels.

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Reborn As A Flier

From NAFI's Chair

Reborn As A Flier

I had to look this up the other day. A normal human pregnancy lasts 280 days, or 40 weeks. In other words, roughly the classic nine months (9.3 to be precise) we talk about when a woman announces to her family and friends that a baby is on the way. Of course, I've always know that it's roughly nine months, but I wasn't sure about the number of days.

So, why my sudden interest in this subject? There's no one close to me that has a child on the way. And, why, you might ask, am I writing about this? I once did solo a young lady who was about six months along, but that's another story.

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Volunteers Needed

From NAFI's Chair

Volunteers Needed!

Flight Instructor Volunteers Sought at AirVenture's Pilot Proficiency Center
Volunteer flight instructors are needed to help staff the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center (PPC) at EAA AirVenture this summer.
 
During AirVenture 2019 in July the PPC will again feature VFR and IFR flight scenarios in Redbird Flight AATDs and "tech talks" presented by Jeppesen, with topics including procedures, use of various aviation tools, weather planning and chart use.  
All guest participation in the tech talks and simulator time are eligible for FAA WINGS pilot proficiency program credit.
 
The EAA Pilot Proficiency Center, located on the Four Corners at Oshkosh, is a skill-building and gathering area for those with a desire to increase their knowledge, hone their abilities, and network with other pilots.
 
A total of 38 flight and ground Instructors are needed to teach in the center each day.
Admission tickets to AirVenture and lunch may be provided for volunteers. Lodging is available. Early application increases your chance of getting the schedule you prefer.
 
Please click here for more information and to apply to teach in the 2019 EAA Pilot Proficiency Center.
 
The EAA Pilot Proficiency Center is made possible with the support of NAFI, Hartzell Propeller Inc., Jeppesen, Redbird Flight, Cloud Ahoy, Community Aviation, Mindstar Aviation, PilotEdge, Plane & Pilot and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.
 
NAFI Seeks Volunteers at AirVenture:

NAFI is also seeking member volunteers in several areas at its Professional Development Center at AirVenture.
 
NAFI's Professional Development Center (PDC) will feature a series of educational seminars specifically designed to enhance knowledge on a variety of topics relevant to flight instruction. Equipped with a presentation stage and a Redbird device, it will be located in the Main Aircraft Display area spaces 419 and 420.
 
NAFI seeks volunteers in the following areas for the PDC:


















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An Instructor's Joy

From NAFI's Chair

An Instructor's Joy


I've heard more than once from different sources that it's hard to teach millennials to fly, because they don't get the fundamentals. And I've seen a lot of conversation in social media from the current generation of pilots that they don't understand why they need to learn how to use things like E6Bs to learn how to fly an airplane.

Here's an example of the that comes to mind: carburetors. Virtually every modern gasoline powered automobile uses computer-controlled fuel injection to adjust the engine's fuel-air mixture. These lead to a lament that the younger generation doesn't know what a carburetor does, let alone what it is. How can they possibly understand an airplane engine? Yet, I was part of the baby-boomer generation, allegedly the ones (at least we males) that were supposed to love all things automotive, and I can assure you that I had no clue as to how one worked, let alone why fuel/air ratios were so important. And I know that many of my friends were in the same boat. In fact, because I helped restore steam locomotives in my college years, I knew more about how they worked than I did modern internal combustion engines.

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Contributing to Safety

From NAFI's Chair


Contributing to Safety

During the General Aviation Awards webinar this week, Greg Feith, former Senior Air Safety Investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, observed, sadly, that this has been a tough month for aviation. Unfortunately, this is true. Losses ranged from a California accident on Super Bowl Sunday that left a pilot and four people on the ground dead, to the Texas crash of an Atlas 767 flying cargo for Amazon a few days ago that left its crew of three dead.   All of these have been tragic and our hearts go out to the families of the lost.

The temptation is always strong to try to figure out what went wrong. That seems to be particularly true with pilots. Perhaps it is because we tend to be analytical or perhaps, to borrow a page from Ernest K. Gann, we try to understand why something about which we are so passionate has caused such grief. Or, most likely, it's a combination of both. I don't know for certain. What is certain, though, is that it is far too early in the investigative process to speculate. The NTSB and FAA will likely find answers and, hopefully, make recommendations that will help prevent future tragedies.


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Teaching the World How to Fly

From NAFI's Chair

Teaching the World How to Fly

In both eMentor and Mentor magazine, I have gone out of my way to avoid telling you what my favorite products might be. I consider this both good manners and good business. Good manners because my opinion is just that - my opinion. I'm sure that in a group as large as NAFI's membership, someone will differ with me and I just don't see a reason to needlessly offend anyone. It's good business because we have many sponsors, some of whom compete for your dollars, and I don't want to be perceived as endorsing, or give the impression that NAFI is endorsing, one fine product over another. These are choices you make as individuals.

Because the exception often proves the rule, and because a headline caught my eye, I'm going to deviate from my policy. EAA recently issued a press release saying it would be honoring the Boeing 747's 50th anniversary at AirVenture 2019. I will say, without apology to anyone, and with all due respect to the fans of the Constellation, DC-3, L1011, Airbus, etc., that the Boeing 747, in all its variants, is the most beautiful transport category aircraft ever built, bar none. The only concession I'll make in this regard is the Dreamlifter - its beauty is on the order of that of the Super Guppy, mainly because their form fills a very special function.

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Procedure vs. Technique

From NAFI's Chair

Procedure vs. Technique

Like many of you, I perform stage checks for other instructors, helping them evaluate and validate their students' progress. I also ask other instructors to do the same for me. Doing this helps ensure that there is objectivity in the process, allows the student to experience flying with another instructor in the airplane, which will be beneficial during the practical test, and provides both the instructor and the student fresh perspective.

I was recently reminded of this when I conducted a simulator session with another instructor's student. Although an advanced aviation training device is not the perfect substitute for the real thing, it did allow me to observe and evaluate the student's procedures, situational awareness, and their ability to handle situations under pressure. This particular student did very well, with a minimum of suggested corrective actions, mostly about more efficient emergency procedures.

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More Than Math

From NAFI's Chair

More Than Math

I recently read a great conversation in the Facebook group "CFI Discussion Group, Certificated Flight Instructor" regarding the use of the venerable E6B. The original poster stated that they had come back to aviation after an over 20-year hiatus and used an electronic E6B during his currency training. His CFI accepted it but admonished him to re-learn the manual "whiz wheel."

A lot of the resulting conversation revolved around the reliability of the manual E6B ("doesn't need batteries!") vs. the accuracy and ease of entering numbers into an electronic device. Being of an age where I can use both a slide rule and a high-end calculator, or, if you prefer, remember how to use a rotary phone while being comfortable with a smart phone, I find these discussions intriguing because I can see both sides. And, to be honest, I use Foreflight for my own charts and flight planning, because it is convenient, easy, and accurate.

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