Posts Tagged ‘AOPA’

Why we need GIFT

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

GIFT1 Tamara and CatherineThis week my Facebook and Twitter feeds have blown up with many smiling faces of ladies learning to fly, or getting back into flying. That’s because the skies of Vernon, Texas, are filled with the Girls in Flight Training (GIFT) participants.

I went out to GIFT last year and spent a couple days with the GIFT gang, led by designated pilot examiner Mary Latimer; her daughter, Tamara Griffith, a CFI; and granddaughter Amanda Griffith—who, at age 18, had just become a CFI. Here’s the complete article.

Briefly summarized, Mary wants to create more women pilots, and she does that by conducting a free week of flight instruction for women, aimed at helping them get over hurdles, or make them more comfortable with notion of flying. Here’s a video of the 2012 event.

Some people periodically question why we need programs like GIFT that are aimed at getting more women to fly; or Girls With Wings, which strives to introduce girls to flight at a young age; or the global Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, which seeks to celebrate women in aviation while introducing women to the opportunities that aviation offers.

Their arguments generally run along these lines: Women aren’t being held back from flying, so why should a special effort be made to include them?

The best counter-argument to that likely comes in the form of a survey of airline travelers conducted in the United Kingdom, published this week in the U.K. Telegraph. The survey found that 51 percent of respondents said they would be “less likely” to trust a female pilot. The survey polled nearly 2,400 survey respondents, all of whom had taken a flight in the previous year, according to an article in the Telegraph.

It would be easy to say that the British survey respondents are harboring some stereotypes, or that perhaps they just are a little off-base in what they want from an airline crew. (A survey conducted in 2012 among 1,000 British travelers found that a majority of respondents prefer their airline pilots have a Home Counties accent—I’m not sure what that is—and they found Cockney and midlands accents least reassuring. But I digress.)

I’d like to think that a survey of 2,400 U.S. travelers would be a little more progressive in their responses–but I can’t say for certain that they would be. Women make up just 6 percent of the U.S. pilot population and represent 5 percent of airline cockpit crews. So, until such time as the sight of a woman in an airline uniform is as unremarkable as the sight of a woman in a doctor’s white coat or any other professional occupation, I will say that we need female-centric programs like GIFT (and GWW, and WOAW, and the Ninety-Nines, and Women in Aviation International…).—Jill W. Tallman

Are you interested in learning to fly? Sign up for a free student trial membership in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and receive six issues of Flight Training magazine plus lots of training tools and resouces for student pilots. Click here for more information.

 

 

What do you bring to the table?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Every airline pilot can fly—or at least it’s assumed that they can. When you are pursuing a job, the basic assumption is that you can aviate with a certain degree of competency, and that you are trainable. The real question for many interviewers is simple: What else do you bring to the table? What skills do you have? What problems can you help us solve?

Pilots are an amazing bunch of people. The wealth of talent and knowledge in other fields that I have seen in this industry never fails to amaze me. One young lady at Comair was not only going through the stress of new-hire training, but she also took the bar exam during training. I can’t imagine such a divergent set of demands on her time. I’ve known pilots who have been lawyers, pharmacists, insurance agents, and members of all kinds of music bands. Many are mechanics, and a lot own their own businesses outside of flying.

When you are interviewing for any flying job, be it for an airline or a corporation or a sky-diving job, don’t hesitate to mention your other skills and attributes. Often, that kind of flexibility will pay off, and it may be just what the employer is looking for. In fact, the smaller the company, the more important it is for you to be a jack-of-all-trades. A great example is AOPA. Not all of the employees are pilots, but all of the pilots can do more than fly.

If you get hired by a regional but aspire to a major, one of the best things you can do is to get involved in other “stuff.” There are usually all kinds of arenas you can dive into. You might help in the training department with rewriting or doing initial writing of material; safety departments need all kinds of inputs; ASAP and FOQA programs need people to do data analysis, interviews, and interfacing with other airlines. The list goes on. You should fly as much as you can, because if you want to get to a major, you’ll need to average at least 200 to 300 hours a year, but you can still make a meaningful contribution outside of the cockpit.

Another area where you can volunteer is with the pilots’ union. Much of what the union does mirrors the company structure, especially in safety and training, and airlines and the unions often work hand in hand on major initiatives. Depending on the position you volunteer for, the union may pay for advanced training in such areas as accident investigation or aeromedical services. All of these will round you out as an individual and make your resume shine. Further, you will be marketable as more than a pilot. I know of two that were union safety volunteers that went on to work for the NTSB. Another got a prestigious job with Boeing, and yet another went to the MITRE Corporation. And, of course, many realized their dreams and went on to fly at the majors.

Ask yourself what you bring to the table that someone else doesn’t. If the answer is not as fulfilling as you’d like it to be, start working on changing that. You can focus on aviation or non-aviation pursuits and interests, but the big thing is to just get started. To borrow from the old Army ad campaign, you need to be all you can be, and that does not just mean as a pilot.—Chip Wright

Photo of the Day: Get Your Glass Piper Archer

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

AOPA’s 2008 sweepstakes airplane was notable for several reasons. We had previous refurbished Pipers, but this was the first time we had awarded an airplane with a brand-new “glass” panel–an Avidyne multifunction display and Aspen Avionics’ first-ever certified primary display. Another notable first for this aircraft was that its winner is a lady. And, unlike many previous winners of AOPA sweepstakes airplanes, she has kept N208GG. Karoline Gorman is an air traffic controller for New York Center and a passionate advocate for animal rescue, and she enjoys flying N208GG on rescue missions.—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Huskys in formation

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

It’s supposed to be a big secret–or maybe not–but formation flying for photo shoots is one of the coolest things an AOPA editor does. Here, AOPA’s Mike Fizer captures Dwayne Clemens and former AOPA Pilot editor Nate Ferguson in a yellow Husky 200-hp A-1B leading another Husky A-1B with tundra tires flown by Greg Largen and Alex Clemens.—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Cherokee 6

Friday, August 31st, 2012

AOPA’s 2006 sweepstakes aircraft was the Win a Six in ’06–a 1967 Cherokee 6 260. Refurbishments to the avionics included an Avidyne TAS600 traffic alert system, a Sandel SN3500 electronic horizontal situation indicator, and an S-TEC System Fifty-Five X autopilot and flight control system. A new interior gave the Six a club seating configuration. A five-color custom paint job was the icing on this beautiful cake. AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne discusses the project here ( http://www.aopa.org/sweeps/2006/ ).—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Waco

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

This Waco, photographed near Kentmoor Airpark in Stevensville, Marlyand, is not only a beautiful specimen of a biplane—she’s a cover girl as well. She graced one of the covers of AOPA’s paper Airports Directory. The shot actually used for the directory cover shows her on final to the turf runway at Kentmorr. The airspace over the Chesapeake Bay is her playground in this photo.—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Artistic Husky

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

AirVenture 2012 is in the books, but we couldn’t resist the opportunity to post one more photo from this year’s show. Al Marsh shot the AOPA 2012 Tougher than a Tornado Sweepstakes Husky using his iPhone and an app called Pro HDR. Then he played with the image in Adobe Lightroom to create the illustrator effect. What do you think?—Jill W. Tallman

Training showcased at Sun ‘n Fun

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Usually airshows such as Sun ‘n Fun and EAA Airventure in Oshkosh are dominated by news from aircraft manufacturers, GPS makers, and headset companies. Rarely is flight training ever discussed or featured. This year’s Sun ‘n Fun was different. There were a number of exciting announcements, including some from AOPA. Here’s a wrap-up:

Redbird

When a simulator company announces the biggest nonairplane order of any company at Sun ‘n Fun, you take notice. Redbird is growing at a breakneck pace, and the company’s $1 million sale to a Brazilian customer was some of the top news of the show. With the simulated ATC program Parrot now shipping, look for more to come.

King Schools

You probably know King Schools from the company’s video training. Now they are getting into the business of requalifying flight instructors. A new Flight Instructor Refresher Clinic will be aimed not at traditional content, such as FARs and aerodynamics, but rather on soft subjects, such as how to make sure your students pass the checkride, and how to get better at teaching risk management. I couldn’t be more excited about this. Flight instructors treat FIRCs much like students treat the written test. It’s a hurdle with little applicability to the real world. I’m hoping the King Schools course is a good step toward changing that.

AOPA

Of course I had to throw in AOPA’s news. The association is doubling down on its efforts to grow the pilot population. We’re creating a center within the organization dedicated to the flight training initiative, and strengthening the pilot community. It’s a sign of the association’s commitment to fixing the problems we face.

As another part of the press conference, we announced the latest winners to the flight training scholarship program. There are some great stories here, so make sure you take a look and apply again later this year if you didn’t win this time.

Piper

Every pilot in the world, and many people who aren’t pilots, recognize the Piper J-3 Cub. Finally, someone who leads Piper Aircraft recognizes them as well. For far too long the company has ignored its flight training heritage and has not embraced its roots. People have a deep love and affection for the Cub, and while Piper has known enough to sell a few hats and T-shirts around the iconic  brand, it’s done nothing to further capitalize on the good feelings the Cub brings about. For the first time in some years, Piper displayed a Cub at the show. No, don’t get too excited because it will be a cold day in product liability litigation before the company will manufacturer them again, but at least they are telling us they get it. And to top it off, new President Simon Caldecott said, “I want to get Piper heavy back into the training business.”

Sennheiser

Didn’t win a flight training scholarship from AOPA? Try again with Sennheiser. The headset company is launching its Live Your Dream campaign, which provides eight $1,500 scholarships. Applications will open in May.

Did you go to Sun ‘n Fun this year? What did you think about the show? What was your impression for those who went for the first time?—Ian J. Twombly

A classic turns 75

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Once upon a time, the Piper Cub was, quite simply, what you trained in if you were learning to fly. The ubiquitous Cub–so recognizable that people who have not the slightest interest in flying know it when they see it–turns 75 this year. Here’s a wonderful little video from Piper Aircraft that explains some of the history and magic behind the Cub.

It’s no surprise that the Piper Cub is holding its own in AOPA’s Favorite Aircraft challenge, and there are some who think it’ll win the top spot over the P-51 Mustang. If you’ve flown or are flying a Cub, please do us the honor of sharing some of your thoughts on this airplane in the Comments section.–Jill Tallman

Initiating change

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Big problems require big actions. This has been AOPA’s modus operandi behind the Flight Training Initiative, an effort the association thinks is vital to the future of flight training and general aviation. Since the beginning of the project a few years ago, we have focused on how to improve the flight training experience and ensure that more student pilots are able to make it from start to finish. For decades, aviation ignored this problem, instead relying on a steady flow of prospects through the flight training door. But now that the economy has faltered, the prospects don’t come like they used to, and when someone drops out of training it is having a significant effect on the pilot population.

To try and combat the problem we and others in the industry have begun a number of programs and projects, all of which we consider to be just the beginning of the effort. Today AOPA President and CEO Craig Fuller announced the newest, and most exciting related project to date–the AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards. This is not just another awards show. The hope is that far from simply having a nice dinner and a few trophies, the AOPA Flight Training Excellence Awards will be the catalyst for significant sea change within the industry.

The awards are meant to shine a bright spotlight on the flight schools and instructors that embody the ideals laid out in AOPA’s research report into the ideal flight training experience. The research showed that successful flight schools maintain a common set of practices and values that are irrelevant of size and location. Winning schools will be chosen as a direct result of customer feedback as it relates to the criteria.

Nowhere else in the industry is there a way to objectively grade your flight school. Thus the awards not only highlight those schools that are doing well, they will also form the backbone of the industry’s most extensive source of information yet on how customers feel our flight schools are performing. To participate, simply take a survey. It only takes a few minutes, and your results will make your school eligible for an award, and contribute to changing the industry for the better.

AOPA’s hope is that as schools examine what it takes to win an award, the institutional leaders will judge their own business against the criteria, and adjust accordingly. Given that the winning criteria is a set of objective measures that is scientifically proven, in doing so there is a real chance that the school will change for the better. Clearly the student is the biggest winner in this, as flight training becomes a more professional, more predictable endevaour. Through the students, our industry will ultimately benefit as we see schools get better and better at keeping those who dream about flying in the sky.

Please take a few minutes to complete a survey. Any customer, whether student pilot or ATP, can participate.

–Ian J. Twombly