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

NAFI NOTAMs #54

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

NAFI NOTAMs #53

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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Teaching Judgement Through the ACS

NAFI NOTAMs #51

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

NAFI NOTAMs #50

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

NAFI NOTAMs #49

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?

NAFI NOTAMs #48

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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Train train train

NAFI NOTAMs #45

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

NAFI NOTAMs #44

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

NAFI NOTAMs #43

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

NAFI NOTAMs #42

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?


NAFI NOTAMs #41

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

NAFI NOTAMs #40

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

NAFI NOTAMs #39

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!


NAFI NOTAMs #38

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


NAFI NOTAMs #37

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


NAFI NOTAMs #36

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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Improbability and the Beginning of Instructional Wisdom


NAFI NOTAMs #35

Improbability and the Beginning of Instructional Wisdom~Guest Blogger Thomas P. Turner

Like a lot of pilots of my generation, my flying career started in the right seat of a Cessna 152 at a quiet, rural airport. I was the instructor in a one-person flying service in central Missouri. One early summer evening, as the wind calmed down, the shadows grew and the skies turned golden with the setting sun, I was in my happy place with a pre-solo student in the Cessna’s left seat. Of the flying school’s two 152s we had drawn the red-striped N46123 – “flying is easy as 1-2-3,” I quipped in the sales pitch on demo flights. The registration N46123 is now painted on a Boeing 737-800, but back then the designation belonged to the beginning of pilots’ dreams, not their career destination.

The learner (to use the modern term) was doing a great job and I was pretty certain he’d solo in the next hour or so. So after a little air work we were now on left downwind for Runway 18. No one else was in the pattern and Unicom was quiet. Somewhere about midfield my student pulled back a little on the yoke, then began easing the nose down—probably involuntary movements in response to an unusual situation, first a tensing up and then an attempt to correct for what he saw. For the airspeed indicator was reading low, and although we continued more or less level on downwind the needle spun slowly past the bottom of the green arc, then the bottom of the white arc, and then almost vertically as if the airplane was sitting on the ramp. My student said something in the neighborhood of, “Well, darn,” and looked directly at me, calling on all the judgment and experience I’d amassed in my lofty 300 hours’ total time. “What do we do?” his wide eyes exclaimed.



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Celebrate Your Freedoms


NAFI NOTAMs #33

Celebrate Your Freedoms~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

A co-worker of mine has always been interested to see what it was like to fly an airplane. A few days ago, I took him up for about an hour so he could have that experience. As with any introductory flight, I ensured that the ride would be on a nice day with little or no turbulence. We, of course, had a briefing beforehand covering the basics, including sterile cockpit, seat belt usage, what to do in an emergency, and so on.

What my friend hadn't expected was the part about exchanging controls. When he expressed his surprise, I told him that it'd be a lot more fun for him if he got to actually fly the airplane - besides, I already know how to fly.



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The Strength of Asking For Help


NAFI NOTAMs #32

The Strength of Asking For Help~Guest Blogger Aaron Dabney, MSEd, MCFI

When I was a brand-new CFI, I was a chief pilot of one.  Literally.  I’d been given the keys to an office, a nice airplane, and a mandate to figure out how to make a flight school work at an airport where there had been no home-based school in nearly a decade.

ask for helpIt was awkward enough that I was pretty new to the aviation community in my area, but the audacity of standing up a flight school with the ink still wet on my certificate had me convinced that asking for help was the last thing I should do if I was to be taken seriously.  If that wasn’t enough, I had (and still have, if I’m honest) this independent streak that thrived on the idea of “me versus the world.”  If I couldn’t figure it out for myself, maybe I wasn’t good enough.



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Are You A Leader?


NAFI NOTAMs #31

Are You A Leader? ~Guest Blogger Bob Meder NAFI Chairman Emeritus

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.

  • "Do you love your people enough to want to help them and help them grow?"

  • "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."

  • "A great leader is someone who will crawl through the mud to give someone a clean dish towel if they need it."

Editors Note: Watch this short video by Simon Sinek about being a leader. He sums up perfectly how being a leader is difficult to quantify, but is a sum of your actions shown over time.





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