Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: EAA (Page 2 of 3)

The Flight Training System – Part 1

On March 1st AIN (Aviation International News) released three articles clearly attempting to bolster the waning general aviation market. One article discussed the benefits realized from a strong aviation General Aviation Aircraft. infrastructure and touched on a possible world-wide pilot shortage. Another discussed the author’s opinion of what is necessary to turn the decline around and the third actually questioned whether the decline can even be reversed. The articles can be found at the AIN website by clicking on the ‘see all news’ link. I assume that they will eventually migrate to the General Aviation section.

All three of the articles lauded the efforts of EAA to increase the awareness about aviation among young people. The Young Eagles program has been a great success over the years and continues to bring aviation to kids who otherwise would remain locked outside our federally mandated airport security fences.

Hightower [Rod Hightower, President of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)] attended an EAA Young Eagles meeting, where pilots took children for free airplane rides to encourage future aviation interest, and was pleasantly surprised when a 45-year-old man stood up at the meeting and explained how the Young Eagles program had stimulated his interest. He was able to take a ride, too, and 18 months later was a pilot and six months after that bought his first airplane. Hightower said that this person wasn’t concerned about cost, but was able to learn to fly because his kids were through college. “He had the time and money to pursue his passion,” he said. “I’m sure there are many more of them out there.”

While cost is an issue, Hightower isn’t sure that it is an overwhelming problem. “In terms of real dollars, it’s no more expensive today than when we were flying in the 1970s,” he said. “It’s about tradeoffs. It’s my belief that if you want to find a way, you can afford it.”


I mentioned the cost issue in one of my previous posts where I compared the costs to fly my plane when I first bought it to those I incur today. This backs up Hightower’s comment about costs, but there are other factors at work here.

They have other options.


Russell Munson, a professional pleasure flier whose name will be familiar to anyone who has read Flying magazine in the last 40 years or so, has some theories in this vein. “The attention span of many people today who have the money to fly means they want immediate gratification. If the choice is between buying a Porsche and spending six months learning to fly so they can use an airplane, they’ll buy the Porsche,” suggests Munson.

Today there are hundreds (being conservative) of other ways to spend our discretionary funds. Those are the funds that we have left over after our everyday financial obligations are met.

What do we look at when we get to that point in our lives where we have the funds to do one of those things on our bucket list? Do we pursue an idea that will take 9-12 months to bring to fruition or something that we can go out and do right now? Maybe we decide to go look into flying as an option and see if it will fit into our plans. What do we find?

What Does Aviation Offer?

First, we find that it’s quite often hard to locate a flight school, especially one that looks like it deserves our hard-earned income. When we walk in the door we’re often ignored rather than greeted. If we decide to take a chance on flight instruction, what do we get for our money? Often we find an instructor who barely has little real flight experience and who has even less training in being an educator. Teaching someone to fly is not a simple process.

“Safety problems are a significant factor in the decline of GA, according to Bob Miller, publisher of the monthly “Over the Airwaves” newsletter and owner of Bob Miller Flight Training in Buffalo, N.Y. “To put it in perspective,” he said, “learning to fly isn’t like learning to play golf. We still suffer about 300 fatal accidents a year, 80 percent of which are attributable to pilot error, because the teacher failed to teach. Well over 75 percent [of those pilot error accidents] can be traced back to faulty instruction.”

If an intelligent individual cannot find a way to spend his/her money in a way that will provide an identifiable return on the investment, they’ll go someplace else.

All you flight instructors out there are going to have to face the fact that you are not going to get that airline job any time soon. Whether there is a pilot shortage or not you’re going to have to have an ATP certificate in hand to land a job in one of those seats. So right now is the time to start viewing that instructing job as something more than a way to build time for a few months.

Flight Instruction Needs to Change

You’re going to start treating it as the profession that it is – who knows, you might really start to like it, generate a professional reputation and be able to make a living as a career instructor.

Yes, I know, that’s the other guy and the other school, but all of us can do a better job of both promoting aviation and treating it more professionally. I’m not saying we all have to were pilot shirts and ties when we instruct – but make sure that you look professional enough to be getting paid for what you do. Prepare for each lesson. Provide a good ground review of the previous instruction and a preview of the current lesson before the flight. Then conduct a comprehensive post-flight briefing and critique. Make sure the student knows how they did and what to expect in the next lesson. If your flight school won’t give you enough time to accomplish what is needed, then find one that will… or start your own. Paying students will flock to a professional operation that provides a quality product.

In the next article we’ll talk about what the rest of us can do to promote aviation.

Read part 2 of The Flight Training System.

Your Flying Stories for 28 Jan 2011

Here are some of the interesting stories in aviation that I found this week.

A sanity check concerning general aviation security
We’ll start out this week with a series of articles from The Atlantic. The main link is to a piece written by aviation writer (one of my favorites) Lane Wallace. The article is a rebuttal to another Atlantic article concerning general aviation security. Lane’s article refers to yet a third article in the same tone as hers. Well worth your time to read these. It’s nice to see that there are journalists who not only understand the world of aviation but also take part in it.

A look at the Flying Heritage Museum at Paine Field north of Seattle, WA.
This is an article from Airline Reporter that looks at the Flying Heritage Museum’s excellent collection of aircraft. The article provides links to over 30 photos of the aircraft in the collection.

The Bessie Coleman Story
This was first published in 2001, a Kid’s Reading Room article from the LA Times. It’s a good overview of Bessie Coleman’s life – a woman you got her pilot’s license 2 years before Amelia Earhart.  Short paragraphs, easy sentences – perfect for airline pilot reading.

Another airline livery to be gone forever.
Alaska Air Group has owned Horizon Airlines for quite some time, but had chose to let Horizon’s aircraft remain in that airline’s livery. The decision was made public on Jan 15th that the horizon aircraft would all be painted in the Alaska Airlines livery, and Horizon’s colors would join Northwest’s on the recently departed list. Sad to see.

An airline branding expert takes note of flight attendant performance and offers some solutions
Shashank Nigam is an airline branding expert. You have heard him a few times on the Airplane Geeks podcast. In this article from his blog Simpliflying he relates his experiences on a recent trip and provides some solutions for the conditions he encountered. Flight attendants, especially those without union representation, should take note.

A Snowbird pilot’s story and Snowbird Lead’s story.
Capt Denis Bandet flies as Snowbird #6. This is the story of how he arrived in that position – pretty much the same way that you get to Carnegie Hall. The second link is to a companion article about Lt. Col. Maryse Carmichael, the Snowbird’s first female pilot and now the commander of the unit flying the lead aircraft.

My apologies – this is next one is a direct cut and paste from one of EAA’s email newsletters. I just wanted to make sure you all saw it in case you don’t subscribe.

EAA Young Eagles
The Young Eagles introductory flight is now Step 1 in a five-step journey we call the Young Eagles Flight Plan. The plan includes programs that encourage young people to keep flying after their initial ride and pursue aviation careers. Step 2 is a free EAA Student Membership providing the tools for a successful aviation journey. Step 3 is the Sporty’s Complete Flight Training Course, a free two-part ground school that preps students for flight training. Once students complete part 1 of the ground school, they can take their First Flight Lesson, step 4 of the program. More than just a ride, this free introductory lesson puts the student at the controls. If students decide a career in flying is for them, Step 5 offers flight training scholarships to support their professional dreams. Click here to find out more about EAA Student Membership and the Young Eagles Flight Plan

EAA Webinar – TIG Welding

I participated in on my first EAA Webinar tonight – TIG Welding. The speaker was Scott Skrjanc of Lincoln Electric. The webinar was conducted using the software associated with GoToMeeting, a product of Citrix.

Clicking on the link to the webinar provided in the reminder emails took me directly to the webinar site and signing into the webinar started the download process for the GoToMeeting software. I was not required to sign up for GoToMeeting even though I was using their software to participate. The download and install process was quick and seamless. No interaction was needed. Within 30 seconds I was listening to the seminar moderator, EAA’s Charlie Becker,  give us a tour of the webinar screen. He explained the very simple process of submitting a question to the speaker. Charlie acted as the moderator and, when feasible posed the submitted questions when they would not be a detriment to the flow of the presentation material. No unusual equipment was needed to participate in the webinar – just a computer with a working speaker.

Scott’s presentation lasted about 45 minutes. He then spent almost another half hour answering the submitted questions that had not been covered during his talk. Scott’s presentation was an excellent overview of the TIG welding process. He started by posing a question to the webinar listeners (about 280 were signed in at that time). He asked what kind of welding experience everyone had. A multi-choice question appeared on the screen and we could answer by selecting one or more choices – experience in TIG, Oxy/Acetylene or MIG welding or no welding experience at all. Over 90% of the listeners submitted answers with about 45% having had Oxy/Acetylene experience while  27% of the listeners had no welding experience at all.

I have a little experience welding both with Oxy/Acetylene and TIG and have taken a community college welding course. I still felt that I gained a lot by participating in the webinar. I reviewed some material that I already knew and learned some things of which I was not aware. It was also good to hear the recommendations for amperage settings, electrode types and filler rod materials to use when welding various metals. Scott was about to leave for the Sun-N-Fun fly-in at Lakeland, FL where he will be manning the Lincoln Electric booth and helping out at the welding workshop. Stop by and say hello to him and pass along that the Webinar was great!

This was my first foray into the EAA Webinar experience, but I highly recommend the experience. You can learn of Webinars planned for the future by visiting the EAA Webinar site.

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