Become a Flight Instructor (At Any Age!)

Aviation needs more dedicated educators, especially mid-life professionals with a personal passion for teaching. Mid-life professionals with some history in aviation, are a perfect fit for GA flight instruction (and the transition to CFI is quicker and easier than most people think). People in this demographic group are usually financially stable and have already acquired the essential “people/life skills” to become effective educators. Some years of experience and diverse flying experience are great backgrounds to share with future students – don’t let the youngsters have all the fun. Mid-life CFIs most often stay in GA and become Master Instructors and DPEs since they are not building hours toward a corporate or an airline piloting career. Many”FAA CFIs of the Year” are in this group too, since they are also experienced “corporate climbers.”

FAA statistics reveal that 2/3 of flight instructors have taught for less than a year and frequently have very little broad aviation knowledge. Many were trained entirely in the limited “hot-house environment” of a flight academy acquiring the minimum number of hours to move on and acquire ratings. When I ran a flight school, I regularly hired young CFIs from academy programs who did not know how to tie down a plane and had never even fueled one; pretty “green!” Though most of these “hour-builders” do a great job teaching and bring great energy into their daily flying, this continual industry flow-through has a damaging effect on our GA flying community. There is often little senior pilot supervision and mentoring in local clubs and flight training operations. Young CFIs disappear at a regular rate into their professional careers. If you are an experienced pilot, financially stable and committed to the GA aviation community, please consider acquiring your CFI certificate. (MCFI Greg Brown wrote a great article in a similar vein here) If you are a CFI already, mentor your experienced aviator friends along the path to aviation educator.

SAFE members are the “movers and shakers of the aviation education community” – Former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt 

SAFE CFI-PRO™ was created to enable and encourage new and potential CFIs to grow their CFI professionalism. This program provides resources and mentoring, stand-up seminars and on-site training for flight schools and college aviation programs. SAFE has a  long history of mentoring CFIs (Recently reinvigorated with modern online technology). Though getting the CFI certificate is easier than most people think, becoming a really effective aviation educator is a lifetime pursuit (I am a 12X Master Instructor and still learning every day). If you are in this group of hopeful new mid-life CFIs, join our online CFI-PRO community. If you are already well-experienced and want to help mentor, sign up here as a mentor (we need more). SAFE is all about sharing and growing educator professionalism. Fly safely out there (and often)!


Thanks to everyone that was able to attend #OSH21 and visit our SAFE booth – or attend our amazing “SAFE Gathering!” What a wonderful experience after a year of quarantine. Tune-up your flying chops and join SAFE for more resources and savings. Our SAFE Toolkit app is free and brings ideas and tools to your daily flying: “Mastery not Minimums!”

 

Teaching “Thin Air” Operations SAFEly!

Flying is a wonderful adventure, but unfortunately, many of our most important “lessons” come from surprise “experience” after certification  (if we survive the “lesson”). It is critical to remember that all our new pilots are “hot house plants,” raised in a very controlled environment (but their certificate permits them the whole country). Our obligation as educators is to safely expose them to as many potential real-world “surprises” as possible so they have the tools to cope and the awareness to avoid these hidden hazards. “Chalk talk” is great but lacks the power of real demonstrations.  Density altitude operation is a perfect example of an insidious killer that is remarkably easy to demonstrate.

Most educators are failing their students here. The ground school discussion does not reveal the true surprises and hazards of high density altitude operations. This environment is easy to demonstrate, even for flatlanders, but must be conducted very with careful preparation to stay safe.

Combine a tailwind take-off with slightly reduced power (carb heat on?) on a long, unobstructed runway to provide the exact same surprise as “Telluride on a hot day.”  At the usual lift-off groundspeed (60K?) in this condition, your plane refuses to fly. This is “the surprise that kills” when a pilot encounters it solo for the first time (cognitive dissonance). In this condition – simulating thin air – a  plane needs another 10-15 knots groundspeed to achieve the indicated airspeed for flight. The combined surprises of the longer take-off roll, faster GS for lift-off, and a pathetic climb angle is what creates accidents.

Just like in Telluride on a hot day, you will be going remarkably fast over the ground before your plane gathers enough air molecules under the wings to go flying. The disparity between groundspeed and airspeed (TAS/IAS in real thin air conditions) is remarkably unsettling the first time you see it. This simulation is even more surprising for experienced pilots with a deeply embedded TLAR (That Looks About Right) sense of performance. If a pilot forces a plane into the air too early, this slow-flight (behind the power curve) demonstration can get “very exciting.” Only by carefully lowering the nose, to reduce induced drag, will your wing get enough air lift to fly (think “soft-field T/O technique).

When demonstrating this maneuver as a CFI, practice carefully solo first, and select a very long runway with no obstacles for an adequate safety margin. Watching a learner mishandle this experience reveals why there are so many craters at the end of high-altitude runways. Be especially vigilant dual because your learner *will* mishandle this simulation. Thoroughly brief the expected operation (and surprise) and proceed with great caution. Brief and practice a positive exchange of controls too. The “reduced power take-off” (POH says “full power?”) might be controversial, but how many pilots comply with preflight regulations (91.103) and calculate their performance on *every* take-off.

Reduced power is important for two reasons  (just pulling carb heat works to drop 200rpm). One is to demonstrate the insidious loss of performance every plane experiences during high/hot operations (expect to use LOTS of runway). The other reason is that this extra power margin will be available when your learner mishandles this simulation (almost guaranteed). It is essential to fly the IAS not just what you see out the window; the angle of climb with a tailwind can be shocking (I own a 7AC Champ though…) Landing with a 10K tailwind is also tricky and can be visually confusing. Every pilot will initially drop in the landing – getting slow from the (TLAR) view out the window. This simulates the high density altitude trap.

This demonstration shows the disparity between take-off and landing “appearance” (TLAR). How fast the plane is actually moving over the ground in both cases is the shocker. You can talk about this all you want, but you have to see it to appreciate it. Reduced climb rate and angle of climb are the second takeaways here. As in all training, acquired humility and respect are important take-aways here. This demonstration also debunks the myth that a high-power machine will fix the density altitude problem (plenty of wrecked Big Cubs litter the high country too). Thin air operations are not (entirely) a power problem. At their root density altitude accidents are a misperception problem (surprise!) followed by a lack of operating experience. A full mountain flying course is recommended for every pilot if you plan real mountain operations. Fly carefully out there (and often)!


Thanks to everyone that was able to attend #OSH21 and visit our SAFE booth – or attend our amazing “SAFE Gathering!” What a wonderful experience after a year of quarantine. Tune-up your flying chops and join SAFE for more resources and savings. Our SAFE Toolkit app is free and brings ideas and tools to your daily flying.

“SkyDisplay” @SAFE Dinner #OSH21

With every change and technological advance, “you expect results but get consequences!” The promise of each new development is hard to predict as we move onward. But I am increasingly optimistic about the newly-approved “SkyDisplay” from MyGoFlight. This amazing device will be available for you to demo at our annual SAFE dinner on Thursday, July 29th. Readers of this blog are invited to attend; grab a ticket and stop by if you are at Airventure. But the big question – “Is this new step forward in aviation technology or the newest “tech toy? – is really in the hands of the CFI that teaches this new device. Charlie and his team from MyGoFlight will be at the dinner to answer your questions. If you are *not* attending in person, watch our SAFE Facebook Live from the show at 7PM.

When I met Charlie with the prototype of this device at OSH several years ago I was skeptical for two reasons. One was the huge challenge of bringing something this innovative to market (and achieving FAA certification) in a very competitive field. The second challenge I saw was that a GA HUD could just become another “geek gadget” or “tech toy” if not properly presented. This second question is a challenge for every CFI. We all know how pilots like the “newest shiny thing.” Is this a tool or a toy? Can a GA HUD be effectively integrated into flight training and create serious safety improvement?

After watching the promo video of this device in action, (and the AvWeb test flight) I am more optimistic about the safety potential of a usable HUD for GA pilots.  And I appreciate the “safety first” presentation in their marketing. You do not have to teach too long to see how much time early students (and even veteran pilots) focus “inside,” grasping for numbers instead of looking up for the bigger picture outside the windows. This becomes an unfortunate habit for pilots at every level that has to be broken for safety (and smoothness). This problem grew much worse when we added glass panel displays and tablets into aviation (consequences not results). Maybe if a GA HUD was integrated early in training and taught correctly (the aviation educator is at the heart of this question) this device could become a safety game-changer.

The one huge negative “consequence” I think we all can anticipate is the “gamification” of aircraft control. “Just put the jelly in the donut and even a chimp can fly a plane” would be the wrong approach. A thorough understanding of energy management is critical to achieving truly safe aircraft control. (Like many of you I suffered through the pitch/power war and the answer is “both”) I would like to see a prominent AOA depiction in view (like we have in jets and in more GA A/C) to integrate the energy state into every pitch attitude. Again, the way this is taught and integrated into the market will be critical to its effectiveness as a “tool not toy!” Kudos to the team at MyGoFlight for bringing this device to market. Fly safely out there (and often!)


If you are a subscriber to this blog (friend of SAFE) and want to attend our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh, you are invited to join us at the Oshkosh Terminal on Thursday, July 29th from 6-8PM for our SAFE dinner. This is a networking opportunity (after a year of quarantine) and we would love to Meet/Greet/and Eat with you. Tickets are $25 and include; food, drinks, and dessert (also FUN!) The presentation segment will be on SAFE Facebook Live at 7PM.

 

Training In Experimental Aircraft!

The FAA Warbird Adventures legal decision set off a firestorm of panic and confusion in the aviation community. All this grief originated from a single P-40 operation in Florida. Instead of accurately litigating against a single operator, the FAA legal wizards completely reinterpreted “flight training” contradicting their own published policy and making a whole area of flight operations illegal.  CFIs were also caught in the crossfire. The significant immediate result is that >30,000 experimental aircraft (and <100 “primary A/C” and <500 “limited A/C”) become illegal for any dual instruction as of July 12th unless each aircraft has a deviation letter! Downstream consequences for CFIs are still to be determined.

This all resulted from the FAA suddenly redefining flight instruction as “flight for compensation and hire” after years of legal precedent classifying CFIs as “educators only.” When this new legal interpretation is published in the Federal Register on July 12th  it becomes law. It will immediately be illegal to teach in experimental, limited, and primary aircraft until you get a LODA. And legal questions are on the table regarding the medical requirements and additional liability of CFIs “flying for compensation and hire.”

SAFE objected to this legal error and the FAA responded on July 8th. Though they tacitly agreed on the historic CFI role, FAA legal continued to define flight instruction as involving flight “for compensation and hire.” All the “alphabets” met on Zoom but it is clear that this error is about to become law July 12th when it is published in the Federal Register  – get your flight review this weekend. Pilots of experimental aircraft will be illegal taking flight instruction in an experimental, limited or primary aircraft without a “Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA).” (CFIs conducting flight training in these A/C will also be illegal). Thanks to some dedicate FAA people, a LODA can now be more easily be acquired with a new e-mail system. Each LODA is linked to an aircraft N# A pilot owner or a CFI can apply for a LODA but this exemption is linked to a specific N# like an MEL.

To be clear, the only restriction affects only paid flight training in experimental, primary and limited aircraft categories. Any pilot can still legally fly their plane provided both pilot and plane are legally compliant.

 

To continue to get training in your experimental the new FAA workaround is a very simple e-mail:

Write to this address: 9-AVS-AFG-LODA[a]faa.gov

Include: name, address, e-mail, pilot certificate number or flight instructor certificate number (if applying as CFI), aircraft registration number (if applying as an owner), aircraft make/model in which you will receive or provide instruction, aircraft home base airport (if applying as an owner). The FAA promises expedited service through the new system.

The bigger issue (long-term effect) on flight training “for compensation and hire” has been obscured by the immediate chaos caused by experimental aircraft dual. SAFE is also focused on the bigger picture of downstream consequences affecting all flight instructors; legal liability and medical . Fly SAFE out there (and often)!


If you are a subscriber to this blog (friend of SAFE) and want to attend our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh, you are invited  to join us at the Oshkosh Terminal on Thursday, July 29th from 6-8PM for our SAFE dinner. This is a networking opportunity (after a year of quarantine) and we would love to Meet/Greet/and Eat with you. Tickets are $25 and include; food, drinks, and dessert (also FUN!) We need a few drone pilots too.

Essential Rules for IFR Safety!

Successfully meeting the challenge of flying safely in the clouds requires all kinds of technical knowledge, skills, and proficiency. But what often gets lost in this forest of details are the overriding principles that ultimately keep us safe. Missing these larger “big picture rules” leads to failures on flight tests, or worse, accidents. And IFR accidents are not fender benders but tombstones all the way down final (game over, no replay). Let’s zoom out and look at the bigger concerns to be safe.

First, when flying IFR, you are always on some mutually agreed-upon guidance, either a heading or a surveyed route; there is precious little free-form wandering like we enjoy in VFR flight. If you ever do not know exactly where you are and exactly what comes next, figure it out immediately (and don’t be afraid to ask). If you are ever in doubt about a clearance, resolve this with ATC ASAP. Command authority is critical to safety; an IFR pilot must be totally aware and in charge of every flight, not along for the ride. (Maybe “the meek shall inherit the earth” but they make terrible instrument pilots…)

Second, in IFR flying, precision is essential for safety. All the surveyed routes are based on exact courses and clearances, so if you are not exactly on altitude or needle centered, you should be working to remedy this immediately; flying the plane precisely is always job #1. (and as you get better at this, smoothness is valuable too)

Third, maintain the larger picture of where you are at every moment in that larger game plan. Situational Awareness is critical to safety. This means not only where you are in the original plan, but also what the weather is doing, what has ATC assigned and is expecting as well as how our resources are holding out; fuel, data, pilot energy. Monitoring these trends and noting changes is critical to safety. This awareness allows flexibility and resourcefulness rather than slavish conformity to an original plan which might be outdated. Also, “energy management” in IFR is often your own personal endurance and resilience.

Fourth, always enforce a margin of excess capacity/capability when you are in flight. If you are just barely managing the workload or depending entirely on automation where you could not personally hand fly the profile, you are over your head. This means you either need more training to bring up your skills, or you need a less challenging mission (you bit off too much). When you are functioning at full capacity, with no reserve for metacognition (where I am in the big picture and what is next?), you are a “mouse in a maze,” and bad things are probably next- yellow light (master caution) on! It is time to modify the plan and slow down, divert, or land.  Some time on the ground brings a fresh perspective and needed resources: refresh and reboot.

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Fifth, the real rule of alternates is the “essential Rs;” radar, restrooms, restaurants and rental cars. Pick several large and attractive alternates along your route that have big services and good equipment to make your diversion a sure bet and attractive option. Pushing too long and far or continuing into unsafe weather defeats the #1 rule of all flying; stay alive and have fun! It is essential to always maintain this bigger picture of why we fly (we are not at war after all). At every sad accident site I have visited, we were picking up the pieces on a sunny day wondering, “what were they thinking?” Fly safely (and often!)


Join us at our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh (we have a great big room this year!) Admission is only $20 for food, drinks, dessert (and fun)! Come network at the at the Oshkosh terminal, Thursday 6-8 during Airventure. Maybe enough room for some drones in the “Atrium?”


Read the SAFE eNews (and subscribe!) This issue covers the DPE-ARAC and CFI resources from the FAA CFI/DPE Forum in Washington, DC.

Teaching “Accomplished Professionals”

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is often misunderstood to apply exclusively to low intelligence; “too dumb to know you are dumb.” But Dunning-Kruger applies across the spectrum of human intelligence and actually describes a lack of self-awareness or metacognition that blinds individuals at every level to their real abilities. Very simply, we are unaware of our incompetence – you don’t know what you don’t know!

In essence, we argue that the skills that engender competence in a particular domain are often the very same skills necessary to evaluate competence in that domain—one’s own or anyone else’s. Because of this, incompetent individuals lack what cognitive psychologists variously term metacognition. Continue reading “Teaching “Accomplished Professionals””

Passionate Pilots; Become a CFI!

The flight training industry needs more professional instructors who stay and grow in the industry,teaching beyond the minimum standards. If you are already a CFI, access this link for motivating articles and growth opportunitites. If you know a long-time pilot who would be a great CFI, inspire and mentor them; forward this article. Let's build CFI professionals.

There is a lopsided and damaging demographic trend in “new CFI certificates.” Most newly-certificated CFIs are young people – brand new to aviation – and adult life. Statistics reveal that most new CFIs teach for less than a year, building hours and moving on. Though they become the backbone of the professional pilot cadre, this “hour building” does not help the flight training business much. In our aviation industry, there is a continuous cycle of “beginners teaching pilots.” This is a continuous cycle – 2/3rds of active flight instructors have taught for less than a yearI certainly do not mean to disparage young CFIs – my best CFIs were in this group –  but our industry desperately needs educators teaching/growing for more than a year.

Experienced aviators, with financial security and a passion for aviation, are the perfect candidates to step up and become CFIs. Largely driven by passion and not dollars, these people can offset their “flying habit” with some tax advantages while enjoying the satisfaction of building new, safer pilots – paying aviation back. “People skills” and commitment are the primary “secret sauce” to successful education and customer satisfaction. Some of the best educators in our industry are “accidental CFIs” who finally became aviation educators later in life after being long-time pilots. If you are worried about liability, SAFE developed the best CFI insurance in the business just for this reason; go get some – both Master CFI and FAA WINGS get you a discount!

I have personally only put 30 or so people through their initial CFI. But the “lifetime aviators” are usually easier to develop into CFIs than brand new pilots. This is largely because all the aviation knowledge and experience acquired in life – especially “people skills” – really pay you back here. Being successful as a CFI is really about teaching people aviation *NOT* advanced aerodynamics and molecules of air.  You do not have to be a super pilot, just a compassionate coach.

 

Have you heard scary stories about the terrible initial CFI pass rate? FAA statistics reveal initial CFI pass rate is statistically almost the same as private pilot; ~75%! And, pilots with experience in aviation start with a disproportionate advantage: all the skill and knowledge from years of flying. I have hired academy CFIs that have never fueled a plane, never flown in an actual cloud and do not know how to tie down a plane. Yet they have a fresh FAA CFI certificate (usually a “double I” too) and are certificated by the government to teach people to fly; you can do better! (BTW; none of these skills are required in the testing process)

The first step on this path is to take a simple knowledge test and acquire your ground instructor certificate (remarkably, you do not even need to be a pilot to become a ground instructor!) Then you can start officially helping at your local school or club and actively build your teaching chops while preparing for the flight portion. Years in aviation really count here. Work on the commercial if you do not yet have that and simultaneously practice your maneuvers from the right seat (double benefit). If you are a passionate aviator, you are flying anyway and you will find this exciting and motivating. As you proceed you will no doubt discover the secret motivation of teaching flying; you learn something every day. Great CFIs are lifetime pilots and “lifetime learners” – passionate pilots make the best CFIs. SAFE also has an affiliation with CFIbootcamp. Mike and his crew are passionate and professional at rapidly assembling the skill and knowledge to pass your initial CFI.

So if you are a passionate aviator, start working on your CFI today. Join this mailing list.  Motivating articles and educational assistance will help you on your journey. SAFE CFI-PRO™ is designed specifically for this process of building professional CFIs. A new course is finally in the works for this fall; we need more committed, passionate, lifetime CFIs. Fly safely out there (and often).


  Join SAFE to support our safety mission of generating aviation excellence in teaching and flying. Our amazing member benefits pay back your contribution (1/3 off your ForeFlight subscription)! Our FREE SAFE Toolkit App puts required pilot endorsements and experience requirements right on your smartphone and facilitates CFI+DPE teamwork. Our CFI insurance was developed by SAFE specifically for CFIs (and is the best value in the business).

SAFE Dinner is ON; Celebrate Aviation’s Return!

Wonderful news; our SAFE dinner at Oshkosh (AirVenture) is a “GO!!” and we have a HUGE room (so let’s fill it up!) With a late start (and the COVID “who knows? factor” all organizations are struggling with) we were all ready to cancel. With 1500 more members than two years ago (a great “problem”) we needed more space in a hurry! Fortunately, “The Atrium” is available and the SAFE dinner is ON. Please join us for a fun dinner and share your “COVID Karoke” stories of surviving and thriving despite lock down. Also, share your plans for future growth- we encourage your business cards and your fliers (and will have tables for these). Let’s network! Tickets only $20 until July 4th (early bird) then $25.

This event is at the same address on 20th Ave but up front this year in “the Atrium.” Designed this year to “meet and mingle” with food and drinks to facilitate “strategic partnerships” (and fun!) We will have some flying excitement too (we could not resist with this large enclosed space). Ticketing is electronic and your $25 gets you sliced New York Sandwiches on assorted buns. Also; bacon-wrapped chestnuts, shrimp cocktail, chicken teriyaki kababs, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and fruit kabobs. Admission includes two (beer/wine) drinks. We will need proof of age.

Details will be updated continuously on the SAFE App and SAFE Website as we adjust and optimize this event (“enable notifications” on the App for important news). As always, thanks to our wonderful sponsors and  the aviation “movers and shakers” that always make this an amazing event not to be missed! If you are at AIrventure “selling” we will have tables for your brochures (and let us know if you are willing to sponsor for high visibility appreciation!) Fly SAFE out there (and often)!


Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).

FAA Policy Reversal on CFI!

SAFE has historically worked closely with the FAA on promoting safety and improving flight training (e.g. developing the new ACS). With all this close collaboration as CFIs, DPEs and FAAST team Lead Reps you start to think you know what is going on, how the program runs. The historic FAA policy on flight instruction very clearly defines it as “educator” stated by David P Byrne (September 18, 1995), then Assistant Chief Counsel Regulations Division:

“The FAA has determined that the compensation a certificated flight instructor receives for flight instruction is not compensation for piloting the aircraft but is rather compensation for the instruction.”

Now without changing any regulations (which would require extensive public notification and public comment of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), the FAA has launched a whole new interpretation that defines flight instruction to include “carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.” This dramatically affects all CFIs (and is contrary to their current written policy). A June 4th letter from the FAA, signed by Ali Bahrami Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety says:

Although a person may hold the appropriate privileges “to act as a required crewmember” or “conduct flight training” under part 61, the regulations in part 91 may restrict the exercise of those privileges in a particular category of aircraft under certain conditions, such as operations conducted for compensation or hire.

The decisiveness of this FAA reversal is clear in the recent FAA Letter which also states the new policy is in conflict with their published 8900.1 – the FAA day-to-day guidance on how to conduct business in aviation:

The guidance for inspectors on flight training in an experimental aircraft in FAA Order 8900.1 is not consistent with the plain language of § 91.319. FAA Order 8900.1, Vol. 3, Chpt 11, sec. 1, para. 3-292. Where a regulation and guidance conflict, the regulation controls.

So even the 8900.1 will need to be rewritten to support this new interpretation. Don’t panic yet, and remember these are restrictions specifically target 61.315 and 61.319, and 61.325 (Limited, Experimental, and Primary).  The FAA bases its new interpretation on the Warbird Adventures Case and also the Gregory Morris Legal Interpretation from 2014.

These current changes mostly affect pilots of experimental aircraft (for now). Going forward (if this stands) pilots in experimental, limited and primary aircraft will need a Letter of Deviation Authority (LODA) if they want flight instruction in their plane (currently only required for a CFI teaching in their own experimental and not an easy process).

Unfortunately, this also starts the legal ball rolling for all kinds of negative downstream effects concerning liability and medical requirements for CFIs. SAFE joined a consortium of united aviation “alphabets” that objected strongly to this recent policy change in a recent letter to the FAA. This new FAA interpretation is contrary to safety and certainly not what we need to encourage senior CFIs to continue in the industry already starved for experienced CFIs. SAFE has written directly to the FAA in protest and we encourage every concerned aviation citizen to copy our letter and send it here immediately (quick cut and paste). Stand by for FAA official policy (and watch our new section on the webpage). Fly safely (and often)!

Please see last week’s blog if you missed it: CFIs as “Media Influencers!” It is vital to direct your student’s media intake toward positive online programs.


Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).

YouTube Heroes? CFIs are “Influencers!”

We all have seen the amazing variety of “aviation exemplars” available on YouTube. This started for me before Google even owned YouTube when a student pilot asked me if he could “fly formation in the C-152” with other student pilots “for practice?” (I am grateful he at least asked first…) This was my first exposure to the compelling influence of online media – and this pilot is now a successful Hawker 800 captain.

Much like parenting, if we control and reinforce the proper environment and “YouTube Heroes,” to the extent we can, we determine (to a large degree) the final pilot outcome. As educators, this is increasingly our responsibility. CFIs are the primary “influencers” for student pilots. It is essential to take an active role in directing students and clients toward professional online examples. The “heroes” they follow will be the pilots they will become.

In other blogs I have pointed out the capricious nature of “online education.” There are many imaginary “super pilots” with all errors edited out. Never a mistake with YouTube “super pilots!” There are also hours of deadly dull webinars with no viewers and little value. It is essential that educators profile and recommend exciting and positive exemplars for students who wish to become professional pilots.

When we look to hire in my organization, almost more important than advanced skills are the attitude, demeanor and integrity of the pilot. If a new hire secretly hates rules and SOPs (a flying cowboy) we really have no use for them in professional aviation. We can improve skills, but attitude is amazingly difficult to mold once past a certain formative stage. Cowboys end up “getting famous” with some dramatic accident at some point in the future.

I would like to compliment our SAFE board member Wayman Alfredo on the positive role model he is presenting to the public in his new position at Daher flying the TBM 940. Presenting consistent checklist discipline and cockpit coordination as an integrated part of flying is essential to safety (and need I mention, passing your FAA evaluations). Good educators promote positive examples like this to all their students. Take a look and add a comment with your impressions; please promote safe aviation on YouTube! Here is a fun flight *AND* a more professional approach to conducting a flight in a high-performance plane. (This recent accident provides a clear example of the hazards of shortcuts.) Pilots modeling professional organization and discipline will become safe and successful pilots.

Another SAFE Board member, Andy Chan operates Right Rudder Aviation, a customer-oriented FBO in Inverness, FL. His team is responsible for bringing the Pipistrel Panthera to the USA. Pipistrel also makes the all-electric Alpha Trainer featured in this recent YouTube. Remember when electric cars were a novelty? Aviation is embracing this technology;

SAFE members, please remember to VOTE today. SAFE elects the Board of Directors from our membership! The election of the new board is open this morning and candidates are here. All full members received an e-mail this morning (logged in) and last year 26% of members voted. We have 1000 more supporters than we did last year! Let’s all fly SAFE out there (and often).


Please “follow” our SAFE blog to receive notification of new articles and also write us a comment if you see a problem (or to contribute an article). Download our (FREE) SAFE app for resources and news (OSH!!)

Please Join SAFE and support our mission of building aviation excellence through superior education. Our amazing member benefits alone make this commitment worthwhile (the 1/3 off ForeFlight more than pays your member dues).