As you know, not all great shots originate from the ground, especially when you’re at an aviation event like Sun ‘n’ Fun. Photographer Mike Collins took to the skies to shoot this view of the vintage aircraft parking area, which you see in the center of the frame. Part of the Light Sport Aircraft area is visible in the foreground.—Jill W. Tallman
Longtime AOPA members know this, but sometimes our Flight Training readers are shocked to learn that, yes, AOPA does give away airplanes from time to time. The airplane in this photo (shot by Mike Collins) is our 1963 Beechcraft Debonair B33. Sometimes called a “Baby Bonanza,” the Debonair is a great airplane all by itself, but once we’re finished the top-to-bottom refurbishment, the winner of this airplane will have a spectacular ride.
Editor at Large Tom Horne is in charge of the AOPA Debonair Sweeps project, and he has posted numerous updates on the work done so far on the Sweepstakes Blog, which you can read here. He also writes updates in AOPA Pilot; even if you don’t receive that magazine as part of your membership, you can still read those updates by selecting back issues on in the members-only section of AOPA Online.
Go to the Sweepstakes Home page for complete rules. If you’re a full AOPA member, you’re automatically entered to win.—Jill W. Tallman
For any training that you complete as a pilot, you will be evaluated on a checkride. The ride represents the culmination of a lot of hard work on the part of both you and your instructor. People are often their own worst critics, and it must be part of a pilot’s DNA to get that characteristic in double doses. Whenever pilots get ready to take a checkride, it seems that they begin to develop a lot of doubt and concern about how prepared they are.
It is imperative that you trust your instructor here. If your instructor is telling you that you’re ready, you can be sure that you are (it’s very, very rare that an instructor will send a student for any kind of evaluation if that student is not ready). Likewise, if the instructor is telling that you are not ready, then rest assured that you really do need more practice. Just because you have done a maneuver to the Practical Test Standards once or twice may not matter. It needs to be consistent.
Once you begin a checkride, your nerves should calm down. If they don’t, then just slow down a bit and take your time. Relax. The examiner wants you to pass. More than one has been known to help a bit more than they should, so long as they have overall confidence in the applicant.
But what if you totally blow something? What if you are doing an emergency landing and come up short of the runway? What if you totally screw up an ILS?
The beauty of the system is that you can finish the rest of the tasks that require evaluation, and that’s what you should do. If you know you failed something, or even if you just think you did, then put it behind you and press on. Get as many items done as you can, so that when you are re-examined you can just concentrate on the one or two areas that need to be revisited.
It’s very rare that an examiner will not allow an applicant the opportunity to finish the balance of the ride. If the rest of the ride is stellar, you may get a free pass on something that was otherwise questionable. If you totally blew something, you will have to retrain on it, and go back up. But if you’re lucky, you may be able to finish that day.
I’ve always made it a point to enjoy checkrides. Not everyone can do that, but if you can, you should. It’s a chance to show off your hard-earned skills, and the best examiners will also try to genuinely teach you something.
And there is nothing like having a new certificate in your wallet!—Chip Wright
In the March issue, we asked digital subscribers whether they have ever tried to train with two instructors at the same time. The question was sparked by a situation in Rod’s column that involved a student pilot who was getting frustrated with the pace of his training. His instructor didn’t want to work weekends, which meant between his own work schedule and weather, he wound up flying only a few times a month. While he enjoyed working with the CFI, he wanted to keep moving forward. The CFI had promised him that he would more time to devote to the student’s training in a month.
It’s generally not a good idea to work with more than one CFI at a time, but I get the sentiment behind the student’s question. Rod said:
“It’s simply too easy for you to become confused when another instructor—one who has different training priorities and methods than your primary instructor—contradicts your previous learning (and yes, there’s a very good chance that this will happen).”
Our poll respondents generally had not flown with more than one CFI at a time, although not quite in the overwhelming numbers I’d predicted. Here are the results:
- 56 percent had not.
- 39 percent had.
- 5 percent had not, but were considering doing just that.
What do you think? And if you’ve flown with more than one instructor (at the same time), I’d love to hear how that turned out for you.—Jill W. Tallman
We often repurpose the photos our photographers take for Flight Training and AOPA Pilot stories so as to get the most bang for the buck. So the guys you see here might have appeared in an article about older students and younger flight instructors; or flying fathers and sons; or just flying for the pure fun of flying.
I used the photo last week to ask the Flight Training Facebook crew to say something nice about their flight instructors, and I didn’t have to ask twice. More than 50 of you responded. Here are some of my favorites:
- Dan Simonds: William Bowen at Airwolf in Greenville SC figured out how to push me hard and get out of the way. He didn’t teach me to fly. He made a pilot of me. Many thanks!
- Ken Gardner: I have had several instructors throughout my flying time, two stand out the most and for the same reason, both love to fly for the sake of flying, neither was using being a CFI as a means to an end. Ed Martinez out of KSBD and Flabob in Southern CA.and Drew Kemp of Oakland both pass this love onto their students in the most thoughtful and joyful way. Thank you both!
- LeeAnn Lloyd Bailey: Patrick J-y Nuytten with San Angelo Flying Enterprise helped not only me, but my husband, brother & nephew earn our tickets! Our motto became Instructor for 40 hours, Friends for Life!
KSJT – Mathis Field Airport, San Angelo, Texas
So there you go, flight instructors; if your earns were burning on Friday, now you know why. Kudos to all the great flight instructors who are changing lives by helping others to realize the dream of flying.—Jill W. Tallman
Earlier this week, news broke of a pilot who had fallen out of his airplane last Friday in Tennessee while on a training flight. Unfortunately, the pilot was a few thousand feet in the air at the time, and the fall resulted in his death.
The facts go like this. The pilot was being checked out in his Zenith Zodiac 601, when the instructor on board said the student had trouble controlling the airplane, the canopy opened, and out he went. They found his body the next day. Critically, it appears he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt.
The idea of falling from such a great height is downright scary. There’s a reason our stomachs sink when we peer over a tall bridge or stand on the edge of a big drop. Falling happens in nightmares, and it’s not something that we signed up for when we began learning to fly.
I remember vividly the uneasiness I felt when I was learning to fly in a Cessna 152, my thigh pressed against the door. I was sure that if the door opened, there would be nothing holding me back from certain death other than a thin strip of nylon. Over time that feeling has faded—thankfully. I’ve since flown open-cockpit biplanes, Trikes, and even an AirCam, all without feeling like I was about to make international headlines.
Actually, the fact this particular story made international headlines is significant. It speaks to the rarity of it. That’s not to say it never happens. On a surprisingly regular basis, someone will willfully throw themselves out of an airplane to commit suicide. And no, I’m not talking about skydiving. But the accident variety, which this seems to have been, is so rare it could be probably be considered an anomaly. It happens, at most, once every few years.
The lesson to take away from this tragic accident is that seatbelts should be worn at all times. I’ve never flown with someone who didn’t wear a seatbelt, nor have I had to remind a student to do so, as this instructor should have done. Knowing that a seatbelt would have likely produced a different outcome in this flight–and the fact that this is rare to begin with–should help quiet any nightmares of the same randomly happening to you.—Ian J. Twombly