Certified Flight Instructor Training Pays Off for ULA Graduate

Jeff Vogel, Certified Flight Instructor with Upper Limit Aviation is “Living the Dream”. Jeff instructs student pilots at ULA’s Cedar City campus. If your dream is to fly helicopters for a living, contact Jeff.  He is more than happy to talk you through the process of going through certified flight instructor training and becoming a commercial pilot ([email protected]).

Against All Odds – Chasing The Dream Until it is Achieved
Some people have a knack for spending every waking moment working to reach a goal they have set. Jeff Vogel is that type of person; he knows what he wants to do in life and won’t let anything deter him from his dream. The world of aviation can be intimidating, but for Jeff it has been an adventure. At thirteen, Jeff had already completed his first intro flight in an airplane.
“I grew up in an aviation-loving family; I have photos of when I was a baby sitting on the hood of the car watching planes come in while eating french fries. When I was thirteen I flew my first intro flight lesson in a Cessna 172. I remember that I could not stop smiling for weeks,” said Jeff Vogel, CFI with Upper Limit Aviation.
“As a kid I usually had a GI Joe in one hand and a model plane or helicopter in the other, and when I was in kindergarten I remember telling my teacher I wanted to be a pilot.”
Jeff’s father passed away when he was only eight years old. However, Jeff’s father did influence him in regard to “following his passion” for aviation.
“My father told me when I was young ‘Don’t fuss about things in life that you don’t really love or care for… if aviation is your passion and you know that’s what you want to do, give it your all, give everything you have to strive and make it work, and that really stuck with me,” said Jeff.
With his determination to become involved in aviation, Jeff flew an airplane before he drove a car, and while most kids participated in the regular extra-curricular activities after school, Jeff flew over them in an attempt to continue building his solo flight time.
“I remember my Junior year in high school, the football coach came to me and told me that he wanted me to play on the varsity football team. The coach told me that I needed to stop flying so much. I remember looking at him and saying ‘I don’t think so’,” recalled Jeff. “Football was all this guy lived for and flying was all I lived for. I remember flying over the football team while they ran scrimmages saying to myself and smiling, ‘I think I made the right choice here’.” 
Jeff_Vogel_HelicopterAfter Jeff had finished high school, he joined the United States Marine Corp while attending Ohio University and received a degree in Aviation Management.
“I went into the Marine Corp because I thought I would like to be a pilot in the military and it was good. But I realized didn’t want to pursue being a military pilot, but that’s where my love for helicopters grew,” said Jeff.
“I flew around in helicopters in Afghanistan, but that wasn’t nearly as fun as being up front and in control.  I looked at twelve or more flight schools before I choose ULA.  I really wanted to make sure I picked a great flight school. One that would take care of my needs – having an impeccable job placement rate to set me up for success.  So, I chose Upper Limit Aviation and I haven’t looked back.”
Never Looking Back – Setting Goals Until They Become Reality
After leaving the military, Jeff joined Upper Limit Aviation’s Helicopter Pilot program. Like most first-time helicopter pilots, Jeff’s first flight was one he would never forget.
“I distinctly remember my first flight in a helicopter and walking out to the flight line, seeing all the Upper Limit pilots in their flight suits and it was slightly intimidating. But everyone one was just really nice and had a fun attitude.  When we first picked up into a hover, I knew this was something special, and absolutely exciting,” said Jeff.
“I knew this was where I wanted my office to be, in the front seat of a helicopter – in the pilot’s seat.” 
Jeff_Vogel_MarinesFlight school has its challenges, but for Jeff these challenges have been learning tools he’s leveraged for success.
“My biggest challenge was being as proactive as possible. People are there if you need help, especially in Upper Limit, but its up to you to be your own leader and make sure you study” said Jeff.
“You have to be a self driven and motivated individual. I have wanted to fly since I was born. I would pick flying over everything, but sometimes it can be a lot of work. You have to be dedicated and disciplined to become a professional pilot.”
Jeff makes it clear that anyone coming into the ULA Flight program should know a few key things. “You have got to be focused and driven – you have to know where you are headed and the pathway that gets you there,” said Jeff.
“You have to be driven, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint. People can get burnt out and just go too fast without realizing the work behind it.  I like to set a good pace and focus on the finish line.”
Jeff_Vogel_as_a_young_pilotJeff does take some time to focus on other things besides flying, and has found a way to stay focused and proactive to reach his goal of becoming a skilled professional helicopter pilot. Jeff is a newlywed and he loves to ride motorcycles and enjoys the great outdoors.
“For student pilots it’s non-stop studying, and our students group up to study together, and have fun doing it… It’s a family atmosphere at ULA. In the summer students are out by the pool and they study by the pool in-between swimming and playing golf,” said Jeff.
Jeff highly recommends Upper Limit Aviation to any prospective student who has the dream to fly, especially if they are interested in certified flight instructor training.
 
“With big work comes big payoff, and flying helicopters is not for everyone. You have to be willing to sacrifice and stay focused. Everyone at ULA has had to get in a U-haul and move across the country to attend flight school. It’s scary, but understand that most of the ULA students and instructors have had to sacrifice, and those that took the leap and worked their tail off are happy they did.  For me, I am entering into a booming industry with fantastic job opportunities. I am living the dream.”  
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Caleb Mason: ULA Graduate and Ag Pilot

Caleb Mason, Upper Limit Aviation graduate and current Agriculture Pilot (or Ag Pilot), recently shared an update regarding his commercial pilot journey – bringing us up to speed about what has transpired since he finished the ULA flight training program less than a year ago.

Ag Pilots fly specially-designed helicopters to apply herbicides, insecticides, seeds and fertilizers on crops, orchards, forests, fields, and swamps. Other applications include counting cattle and inspecting crops.

Caleb Mason is 33 years old, and has accumulated 550 of flight hours by flying for Ag Air, Inc., in Central California. Ag Air, Inc., is a fairly small Agriculture aerial applicator company, flying between 400hrs to 600hrs annually. Caleb shared his impression of his new job with Ag Air, “I love what i do, I love working with the growers and getting to know them and being able to help them continue to farm in the area.”

Caleb started our conversation by saying, “agricultural piloting is an interesting field, and I don’t have a wide spread grasp of the entire industry, but in my particular area, which is the San Joaquin and Stanislaus County, we work predominately with row crops, tomatoes, corn, beans, alfalfa, pumpkins and watermelons. We are also branching out to include walnuts and almonds orchards.”

Caleb’s Agriculture Career Journey Stated Well Before Flight School

Caleb stated that he got into Agriculture spraying because he knew the owner of Ag Air, Inc., prior to attending flight school. Caleb had actually started working in the agricultural industry prior to enlisting in the Marine Corps. In addition, during his flight school training in Salt Lake City, Caleb studied for the for the California’s aerial applicator license. Caleb used his network contact and previous work experience to plan out his career path before he earned a single pilot certificate.

While Mason was not flying or studying during flight training he found the time to pick up some work with Ag Air, Inc. as a “loader” (loading chemicals on to the helicopter tanks). It was during that time that Caleb received the training about chemicals, how they interact, their applications. More importantly, Mason learned how to work safely around helicopters.

When Mason left Upper Limit in December of 2014, he earned his commercial and instrument ratings, along with gaining experience with external load flying (300 flight hours). Caleb started full time employment with Ag Air right after he left Salt Lake City.

Due to the fact that Caleb had low flight hours, his boss came up with a training program in order to get the company’s insurance provider to cover him. Caleb stated that “An Ag Pilot from his area earns any where between $30,000 to $80,000 annually, depending upon experience and commission rates”.

Caleb’s Early Employment as an Ag Pilot

“At first, I could only ferry the helicopter to and from the job site. I couldn’t actually work as a crop duster. Next, I was to rinsing loads at the end of each job. At the end of every job we would run clean water through the spray system to rinse out any chemical residue that may damage the crops in the next job. While it seemed frustrating at the time, it helped me get used to taking off with a load, how to effectively perform Ag turns, and how to survey the fields for hazards such as wires, irrigation stand pipes, people in adjacent fields and other crop dusters in the area.”

Eventually, Caleb was ready to fly, “My boss and I would fly together – he would fly a load, and I would fly a load. That way he could double check how far off line I was and if I was able to get good coverage.”

“Before and after jobs we did a lot of training on how to lay a job out, what is the requirement from the farmer? I learned how many gallons per acre are we trying to achieve and the proper material required for each job. I learned all about the difference between coarse droplets and fine droplets and their proper use. I also learned about where to best set up the nurse truck and be efficient through the field.”

“By May I was flying jobs solo with oversight of our senior pilot, who would watch from the ground and then critique the job after we got back. There is a lot that goes into flying Ag applicators.”

How Caleb Stood Out Over Other Pilots

During flight school Caleb constructed a smart career plan. Caleb shared his method with us to pass along to current students, as Mason stated, “One of the things that I did to make myself more appealing to my boss was that I also got my A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) while i was going to flight school. So not only do I work as an Ag Pilot but I also do almost all of the maintenance.” Now that was smart!

Because of where Ag Air is located they are able to fly about 9 to 10 months of the year. They spray herbicide to kill weeds and pesticide to kill insects. In addition, Ag Air performs aerial fertilizing, seeding, cherry drying and frost control. Caleb went on to say, “An area we are getting more work from is the organic sector. There are 268 registered chemicals you can spray on organic produce and it is still considered organic. It is big business in California.”

Caleb’s Time in Salt Lake City, Utah at Upper Limit Aviation

“There are a lot of nice things about Utah. I got big into rock climbing when I was there and was spoiled with being so close to all the fantastic spots that were only minutes away. I also really enjoyed all of the instructors I worked with at ULA. From Matt Tanzer, who was my private pilot instructor, to Chelsea Tugaw, Chad Stevens, Kevin Horn and many more. These people brought fort. In addition, ULA was very helpful when I was looking to move to Salt Lake City when I first got out of the Marine Corps.”

Caleb has a job that he loves, working with people he likes, and has a clear vision of his future. We congratulate Caleb on a job well done, and wish him continued success as he advances his pilot career.

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Solar Impulse 2 – Exploration to Change the World of Aviation

Latest Update on the Solar Impulse 2 Journey (see video below)

On June 29th, 2015, 18:03 GMT Sunday, the Solar Impulse 2 took off from Nagoya, Japan. It’s traveling to the Islands of Hawaii of the United States. This feat, if accomplished, will be the first ever flight fueled by solar power only. This achievement has never before occurred. If successful, clean technologies like solar power will once again be in the forefront of aircraft manufacturers drawing boards and design floors.

Piloting the Solar Impulse are Captain Andre Borschlberg, who is the co-founder, CEO and founder of the Solar Impulse Airplane with Bertrand Piccard, co-pilot, initiator, and president of the Humanitarian Foundation, “Winds of Hope”. Together they are taking on the challenge of flying around the world in an airplane propelled especially and solely by solar energy. Completely without fossil fuels of any kind or creating even the smallest amount of pollution, the Solar Impulse Aircraft promotes the potential of renewable energy sources and new technologies.

Latest Updated Video of the Solar Impulse Journey (posted September 2nd, 2015)

Original Video of the Solar Impulse Journey

Solar Impulse Si2 by Solar Impulse on Sketchfab

Will the Solar Impulse make it to Hawaii, U.S. from Nagoya, Japan?

The Solar Impulse is flying in the dark about the Pacific Ocean right now on its track to Hawaii. There is a optimal day and flight cycle that is scheduled but can be greatly affected by weather and also by air traffic. When the Solar Impulse’s route is altered it can trigger a flight simulation to check whether the stage is still feasible due to the changes and or external constraints.

The flight is expected to take 120 hours and with solar power only reach the Hawaiian Islands.  This flight, if successful, will help promote and encourage the use of clean technologies for future aircraft design.

The SI2 will be monitored from the Mission Control Center which keeps the pilot and Solar Impulse 2 on its plan. The Sat. Com System transmits data to the mission room, everything from temperature of the motors, to the position of the aircraft and even the tension in the accumulators. One of the projects main accomplishments was the energy system that optimizes the system architecture. It is similar to the challenges faced in dealing with satellites, so a satellite specialist was involved in the system design from day one.

The team believes that all possibilities have been simulated by a very disciplined team that found the right combination of weather patterns and paved the way for the solar airplane to go into controlled airspace and be prepared for landings at international airports.

Interesting facts about the Solar Impulse 2:

  • By simulating flight routes, the eventual plan for Solar Impulse 2 was optimized.
  • At sunset the Solar Impulse 2 must be at maximum altitude to make it through the night.
  • Solar Impulse 2 glides down during the night, with the propellers just ticking over to reduce air resistance.
  • The pilot must still wait at sunrise before climbing, until the sun is strong enough.
  • The outputs from simulation models are checked again and again by each team for feasibility.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford, American Industrialist and Founder of the Ford Motor Co.

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ULA Students with Flight School Training Support Rescue Missions

Upper Limit Aviation is known for launching student pilots into careers flying commercially – taking students from flight school to flying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft for a living. ULA students get real-world flight school training experience during their time with us.

What makes Upper Limit different from other flight schools is their commitment to real-world flight experience training. ULA students train under a scenario-based philosophy for the purpose of being uniquely prepared for real world “industry experience”. ULA students get actual industry experience as a part of their flight school training, distinctively preparing them for their first job as a commercial pilot.

Upper Limit Aviation (ULA) flight students participate in real-life rescue missions in the Utah area. ULA has flown ten life-saving missions since the program began in August 2013. ULA student Chris Powell states, “When we jump from a scenario-based training to an actual real-world situation, that’s what we’re all hoping for as students. It’s always fun.”

What does “real world experience” mean to prospective flight school students researching a variety of flight schools? Essentially, it means that ULA is one of the top-flight schools in the US. The aviation industry, particularly employers, are aware that ULA trained pilots are more experienced, and better prepared to start flying commercial missions.

ULA – The Pathway to a Commercial Pilot Career

When looking at flight schools, most prospective students want the best pathway to a commercial career. Danielle Vogel, ULA’s Director of Admissions, states, “we talk to hundreds of prospective students each month. Almost all of them are locked on a dream to fly commercially. This is their dream job, their passion. But they want to know if ULA is the school that will take them from being a student to landing a top job.”

Michael Mower, ULA’s Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Schools, explains that ULA students are the only students in the industry to take part in rescue missions. ULA students have supported rescue missions as “coordinators and spotters”. Mower explains, “If we are able to get the students in the plane, seeing what is going on and seeing what they would be doing on these missions once they receive their license, that’s a huge advantage,” he said. “Anything to get the students more involved on these missions is great experience for them.”

Rich Cannon, the Assistant School Director, and ULA graduate stated that ULA students are frequently part of the search and rescue missions and that the experiences students receive through ULA’s unique training approach is invaluable.

ULA is committed to teaching students through real-world flying situations, opening them to incredible opportunities whenever possible. ULA flies, on average, 103 flight hours per day, 11,000 flight hours per semester. Prospective students want the real world experience because they know it will give them an advantage in the job market.

Mower shared that a few of the rescue missions have been in coordination with local law enforcement – searching for homicide suspects and juvenile runaways, including one a girl who ran away and was stuck in the nearby mountains. Mower’s team of professional pilots, along with support of ULA aviation students, spotted the girl just before sunset – they might have saved her life.  Through ULA’s efforts, they were able to get her to safety within 30 minutes of learning about the missing girl.

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Drone Racing League Receives 1 Million In Funding

Safe, low flying Drone (UAV) racing, with the Drone Racing League, is one of the fastest growing recreational sports worldwide, and professional pilots are right in the mix of things. Drone racing is performed on a specially designed course, which is often indoors. Professional and recreational pilots, RC aircraft enthusiasts, and normal everyday Joe’s are jumping into “Drone Racing” because it’s an absolute blast. And, Drone racers fly close to the ground and do not interfere with commercial aircraft (helicopters and airplanes). Drone racing is a fun, safe, and responsible application of drone-powered UAV’s.

Watch this video below and check out the extreme talent and skills of this drone pilot.

Recently, Drone Racing League fans have a lot to be happy about with the current trend in drones going up and up. Now, the billionaire developer from Florida and the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, has invested one million dollars into the New York Drone Racing League reported the Wall Street Journal on August 12th, 2015.

Drone League Racing Receives Big Investment

Known for his real estate ventures around the United States, Stephen Ross, is looking to make a name for himself in a totally new arena: Drone Racing. The Drone League races drones that can get up to speeds of 70 mph.  The pilots use goggles that send a live video feed from the aircraft to the FPV (first person view racing), otherwise known as the pilot.

The league’s CEO, Nick Horbaczewski, says “I felt drone racing could be a sport that resonated with people because it touches on the heritage of racing, but also brings in the benefits of new technology,”

More Good News for the Drone Industry

Another major event, the US National Drone Racing Championships, took place earlier in 2015 and attracted over 100 pilots and there was $25,000.00 in cash prizes awarded. Races of a similar size and stature have been held in Australia, England, and France.

One aspect of drone racing that the promoters of Drone Racing must come to terms with is the fact that millions of people will watch Drone Videos on Youtube but coordinating and arranging to have spectators actually come out and physically attend a Drone Racing Event has been less successful. There were approximately 60 non-racing spectators attended the Championship Race. Mainly this is due to the extreme heat but watching drones race in person is complicated because of the small size of the aircraft.

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More Female Helicopter Pilots in the Industry

There is a very recent upward trend of female helicopter pilots entering into the “male dominated” helicopter industry. We believe this is good news, and this movement seems to be world wide. At Upper Limit Aviation we are finding that more women are donning flight suits with the aspiration of becoming commercial helicopter pilots.

This article focuses on this upward trend, and attempts to bring more awareness to women regarding the career opportunities in aviation – specifically the helicopter pilot segment of aviation.

Currently, there are many women working in the aviation industry – from airline gate agents and flight attendants, to every nook and cranny of the corporate airline arena. However, until recently, not many women have been found in the cockpit as pilots, especially in the rotorcraft world. But things are changing.

And on that positive note, the Whirly-Girls Scholarship fund has announced five additional scholarships to be awarded to women in the helicopter aviation industry. The application for procuring these scholarships closes on October 1, 2015.

One example among many is Starlite Helicopter and Fixed Wing Training Academy, out of Western Cape, South Africa. Starlite has seen a tremendous increase in the enrollment of women into their helicopter flight school. (see recent news video below). Starlite’s story is only one of many stories being played out all over the globe.

For many years now most everyone in the aviation industry has been trying to attract more women into the pilot’s seat. However, for women there seems to be insurmountable walls, hurdles, and obstacles preventing them from joining the commercial pilot ranks. We believe that we can be a part of changing that.

There has been a noticeable stagnation in the number of women pilots up until 20 years ago. The reason for the lack of growth is complicated. Some of the more obvious reasons are related to our culture, lack of funding, misconceptions regarding skill development, and lack of awareness of career opportunities. And, there has been some unexplainable “mysterious” reasons that no one can put their finger on.

Growth Trends of Female Helicopter Pilots in the Industry

Although women have been involved in the aviation industry since its beginning, the growth of women pilots over the last 100 years has been less than impressive. Nonetheless, we believe that there is a bright future for women in aviation, especially in the area of helicopters. There are strong indicators in the industry that the number of female pilots is going up, and will continue to do so into the next decade.

Currently, 5% of airline pilots are women, and only 450 sit in the captain’s seat. However, the 5% represents a big increase when compared to twenty years ago. We believe this growth trend will continue for fixed wing pilots. In the helicopter world women pilots make up less than 3% of the total number of pilots. Even though 3% seems small, its a huge increase when compared to even 10 years ago.

At Upper Limit Aviation we have seen a steady flow of women enrolling in our flight schools. However, we are not satisfied, and we are committed to work even harder to recruit female students until we see explosive growth and see more female helicopter pilots.

The Misconception of Skill Development in Women

It takes a great deal of physical coordination to fly helicopters. In addition, pilot’s have to have good eyesight, good hearing, and be able to handle mulit-tasking well (both mental and physical activities). It should also be obvious, that good pilots need fast and smooth reflexes, and stable minds (they cannot panic or crack under pressure).

Some industry experts say that women are better equipped than men in their ability to make the delicate and graceful controlled movements that are required of helicopter pilots. They even say that women can react more quickly, handle navigation with more finesse, and have a better sense of direction (intuition).

Some believe that women, in regard to their fine motor movements are more subtle, giving them an distinct advantage over men when movement involves piloting skills. Women pilots are also thought to have great leadership abilities. They are more patient, more humble, and more cautious. Whether any of these statements are true is debatable, and more importantly, irrelevent. Female pilots we have known have shown that women can be great pilots, just like men, period!

Generally, most women are physically and mentally equipped to be pilot helicopters. It is our experience that women make incredible pilots, and we would like to see more women enroll into flight school. If this is true, the issue must be that too many women do not think they can become good pilots.

To become a commercial pilot it takes a total 100% commitment. To become an employable (safe and competent) pilot it takes piloting skills, competency, and professionalism. We believe that women are just as capable as men, in regard to fulfilling the important elements of piloting. Women are just as committed, dedicated, and willing to make the sacrifices of becoming a professional pilot as the men. The only issue is that there are less women venturing into flight school. We would like to change this dynamic.

If you know any women that have dreamed of becoming a pilot, please go and encourage them to pursue their dream. Perhaps share this article with them and be a part of the movement of more women becoming commercial pilots.

For more information about Helicopter Pilot Careers, see the links below.

Tier 1 Piloting Jobs

Tier 2 Piloting Jobs

Tier 3 Piloting Jobs

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Enstrom TH180: Will it Compete with the Robinson R22?

Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has a new training aircraft called the TH180 but the company had been keeping the details of this new helicopter confidential until Heli Expo last March 2015. Could this helicopter, the Enstrom TH180, answer the call for a low-cost training alternative to the Robinson 22, which is by far the most widely used helicopter in flight training?

It is uncertain whether the new TH180 will impact the well-defined niche and sales of the Robinson R22, but we know for sure that Enstrom is passionate about safety and their helicopters offer superior performance for flight training, aviation law enforcement training and commercial operations.

Enstrom TH180 Helicopter is a low-cost, 2-seat, piston-powered aircraft is slated for certification before the end of 2015. The TH180 aircraft is a cut-back version of the Enstrom’s popular FX-280 three-seat model.

Enstrom officials said the TH180 should have direct operating costs of approximately $175 per hour and an hourly fuel burn of less than 12 gallons per hour. The price of the TH180 at launch is expected to be around $365K.

This aircraft is powered by the 210-hp Lycoming HIO-390 engine and it features an electric clutch switch and a engine harness. All Enstrom Helicopters are made in the United States with domestic parts and labor.

Will Enstrom’s plan to release a flight training aircraft competitor to the Robinson R22 create downward pressure on the price of flight training? This prospect is one that many in the industry are watching closely, since the it may influence flight training costs and availability in a significant way. We will most definitely be watching these developments with great interest, and keeping you posted on this topic.

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Landing Helicopter Tour Jobs

“Almost every day during flight training or flying tours you’ll have an incredible Ah-Ha moment.  You are in the air when it  hits you; you can’t believe you get to fly helicopters for a living,” said Troy Barnum, former helicopter Flight Instructor for Upper Limit Aviation.

An aptitude test taken in high school is what ignited the spark of curiosity for Troy to look into the aviation industry.  The test recommended he seek a career in fixing airplanes, but he saw himself flying them instead. “The test said my interest would put me as being an airplane mechanic. I said ‘I don’t know about turning wrenches, but I’ll go fly the darn things’ and from there that’s where it all started.”

Troy attended Boise State University in Boise Idaho and earned bachelors degree in Business Administration.  After he was done with his degree, he decided to go to flight school where Tina Barnum, Troy’s wife helped to keep him motivated throughout his training.

“My wife was supportive of me following my dream and without her I don’t think I could have made it trough it.  She helped quiz me when I was learning everything I needed to learn, but the biggest help was when she helped boost my confidence after a bad flight.”

After Troy had completed helicopter flight school, he began instructing new students that enrolled in the school.

“It was the biggest weight lifted off my chest, this was the career I wanted and to be offered a chance to be an Instructor after flight school was a huge relief.”

While Troy was the teacher, he was still able to learn a few things himself. “Your first student, when you start instructing, is always the scariest, it is because of the small amount of instructing time you have gone into it.  Every little thing seems like a big deal and after you get more time as an instructor you realize it actually isn’t that big a deal.”

“The thing I love the most is teaching new students how to hover.  I remember sitting in the seat and watching them struggle thinking ‘I was that guy just a few months ago’ and now I’m the guy that stabilizes the helicopter for them.”

For Troy, it was important to know he gave his students everything they needed to succeed. “I loved to see my students get it and succeed, for me it is more about teaching them how to fly rather than just building my own flight time.  The first student I sent for his check ride actually failed it, and it just felt like I had failed the check ride.  After a remediation flight, he went back and passed and was actually flying at commercial standards.”

Helicopter Tour Jobs After Flight Training

Troy took his first job after Upper Limit Aviation, landing one of the available helicopter tour jobs in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  While Troy’s main job was doing tours over the beach, he was able to do a few unique flights that opened his eyes to just how diverse helicopters could be. “You get groups of people who get weird ideas and they throw a helicopter into it because they know people love helicopters.  I was able to do an Easter egg drop for a bunch of school kids. I had never done it before so when I dropped them they all landed in one big pile; afterward I realized I should have scattered them.  As I flew away, I looked back to see a bunch of kids running toward this big pile of eggs… it was great. The other flight that was different was a golf ball drop for a fundraiser, where I dropped about one or two hundred pounds of golf balls on the putting green. uUnfortunately I missed the hole by about 10 feet.”

After flying tours in Myrtle Beach, Troy made the move to come back to ULA as an instructor, but this time he had more than just the normal point-to-point flights under his belt.  Troy had real helicopter industry experience to share with his students, which gave them a first-hand account of the industry, and opportunities such as helicopter tour jobs, outside of flight school.

“Helicopters are different from airplanes; you get to do random things like drop Easter eggs and golf balls, which makes flying helicopters a lot of fun.” While it was important to keep his students excited about their future in flying, he also tried to keep them focused on the hard work ahead.

“The biggest misconception about flying is that it is only filled with fun – that is only 50 percent of things. There is a lot of work to do as a pilot and when you go through flight school.  You have to know how to react in emergencies and such, there is a lot of serious natured things when flying a helicopter that people need to be prepared to handle when they get into it.”

Troy has built enough flight time after instructing at Upper Limit Aviation to move on to helicopter tour jobs in the Grand Canyon.  He is now flying for Papillon Airways, which is the world’s largest aerial sightseeing company. “I look forward to continuing my progression in learning new things.  The Grand Canyon is one of the seven wonders of the world, and I get to fly in it every day.  You never get tired of seeing all of these beautiful scenic locations.  The variety of things you get to see when you fly is what makes flying so great.”

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Mosquito Helicopter: How Low Can a Helicopter’s Cost Go?

For over twenty years, the Canadian geniuses John Uptigrove and Dwight Junkin researched and then developed the Mosquito Helicopter. The helicopter’s innovative and simple design allows the aircraft to fly wherever it is needed for a fraction of the cost normally spent for corporate helicopters. The Mosquito is an affordable helicopter for pilot’s who have their FAA licenses but do not want to keep dishing out money to rent to fly.

What do you think about the Mosquito Helicopter?

For approximately $20K the entire Mosquito Helicopter Kit can be purchased, prices may vary according to which dealer you contact. You can actually start building the Mosquito for a lot less because the kit is sold in small affordable chunks and the first kit, the frame, sells for only $3K.

The Mosquito line of helicopters is one of the world’s most lightweight, manned helicopters.  Each aircraft has been developed to deliver excellent performance, reliability and most importantly ease of flight. Kit Planes Magazine says “The Mosquito is convincing, it is as close as you can come to real flying almost no means of support.  And the view is at least as good as a bird.” Ken Armstrong, with Kit Planes, went on to say “Flying the new Mosquito Ultralight was the most fun I’ve ever had with a Helicopter!“.

The frame of the Mosquito is aluminium and uses a simple triangulated structure with tubing all the through to maximize strength. The tail boom and support struts are made of Carbon Fibre to improve the power to weight ratio. The engine in the Mosquito is a two cycle and two cylinder with the highest power to weigh ratio on the helicopter market today.

The Mosquito Helicopter is made in Australia and currently the XE, XE285, AIR and XET models are available at their headquarters in Koo Wee Rup, which is 65 kilometers from Melbourne (CBD Central Business District).  The team at Mosquito is available for sales, spare parts and support for all Mosquito aircraft. In addition, you can receive assistance in assembling your aircraft, just contact a Mosquito representative for more information.

Pro’s and Con’s of Ultralight Helicopters

Ultralight helicopters are actual helicopters, despite what critics say. However they much more simply designed, and are a great deal lighter (in comparison to an R22 for example). Ultralights can have one or two seats, gas engine or turbine. And, the rotors diameters are much smaller.

Since the ultralight helicopters began to come out pilots have been intrigued. In the pilot world the opinions of light aircraft vary greatly. Some really like them, others claim they are dangerous and difficult to fly. One thing both sides agree upon, is that they are cheap.

The positives are that a pilot holding a private pilots license can own a ultralight helicopter $20,000!  Critics of the ultralights bring up the point that it’s possible to buy a used Robinson R22 for $45,000, and is much safer and performs much better.

To get the price down ultralight manufacturers sell the aircraft as kits. Meaning, the owner must build the helicopter. Buying a kit to build the helicopter yourself is will save you tens of thousands of dollars. The build out takes 200 to 300 hours.

When purchasing the ultralight kit, typical materials will include fiberglass, machined parts, instruments, rotor blades and engine are provided. A complete assembly manual also comes with the kits, along with customer service.

Video: Mosquito XE Ultralight Helicopter (Autorotation)

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Upper Limit Aviation Search and Rescue Pilots Sworn In

They will serve as Special Deputies for Iron County

This past weekend thirteen Upper Limit Aviation search and rescue pilots were sworn in as official “special deputies” with the Iron County Sheriff’s Department. As special deputies, the ULA pilots can now land and pick up accident victims in support of search and rescue missions for the county.

The formal title for the 13 pilots is “Iron County Special Deputy”. The newly deputized pilots who will fly missions for the sheriff’s office are commercial pilots. ULA students will not be used in Iron County search and rescue operations.

ULA Chief Flight Instructor and Director of Schools, Mike Mower, said that deputizing its pilots means ULA can now fully assist the Sheriff’s Department. Mower said they are now just waiting for that phone call asking for our assistance, “we are standing by ready to help.” ULA has assisted in 9 search and rescue missions on behalf of Iron County Sheriff Search and Rescue.

Iron County Sheriff’s Department, Lt Del Schlosser, says, “this addition is a big move for the county and a relief to the Sheriff’s Department to have more personnel. “We currently have 37 deputies on staff and with the addition of the ULA pilots it brings that number to 50.” Schlosser said, “It’s a huge relief to have them (ULA pilots) today. They’re working as volunteers, so it’s not a burden to the taxpayers. They are doing this of their own free will.”

ULA pilots have helped coordinate past rescue missions for Iron County and local law enforcement.

Several of the ULA pilots expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve in a special deputy capacity.

“In our continued efforts to be a support to this wonderful county, and the cities of Parowan and Cedar, we can’t tell you how appreciative we are,” said pilot Michael Mower. “This is going to be something that is going to increase our role and increase our level of support for the county.”

The new Iron County Special Deputies; Sean Reid, Mike Mower, Rich Cannon, Scott Banning, Greg Stine, Shae Mackie, Dan Laguna, Chris Laguna, Chelsea Tugaw, Mike Ballard, James Kofford, Ryan Dejong, and Kent Daniels.

To read the original KTUV article, click here, or click on Iron County Today – Upper Limit pilots deputized by Iron County Commission

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Edgley Optica: Will No One Save This One-Eyed Aircraft?

Designed and first flown in 1979 by British designer Edgley, the Edgley Optica is a beautiful but nearly extinct aircraft.  The Optica was produced in limited quantities in the 1980’s and targeted the gap in the aviation market for low cost, fixed-wing observation aircraft.  The idea was to replace helicopters in activities such as: aerial photography, pipeline patrol, search and rescue missions and policing areas where there is no need for hover and land capabilities.

As you can see the look of the Edgley Optica takes some getting used to, it has the appearance of an huge eyeball fixed to the end of a airplane.  There appears to be a giant fan behind the cockpit, which joins the helicopter-type cockpit to the rest of the aircraft and acts as a fuselage and main spar. This ducted fan design allows the engine thrust to be closer to the aerodynamic thrust line which gives better stability during power changes. In addition, it protects the propeller from ground strikes, it provides better performance at low speeds and it is quieter than conventional propeller planes.

Will the Aviation Market Allow this Aircraft to Get off the Ground

Despite its lofty ambitions and futuristic look and characteristics, the Edgley Optica aircraft has been sidelined and searching for backing for decades by John Edgley, its creator. The main reason the initial production and release failed is due to the fatal crash of the very first aircraft released to the Hamstead Police Department. Immediately, financial backing was withdrawn and due to more troubling events (e.g. a fire attributed to arson destroyed 8 completed aircraft) temporarily sidelined.

Although the design is unorthodox, the flight qualities are ordinary and the aircraft’s instrumentation is all standard. The flight controls are the normal stick and rudder. Handling is no different than any other aircraft.  The difficult adjustment to make is getting used to the panoramic view. Another aspect of the Optica is its slow cruise speed can fool some pilots inot thinking that they are flying too slowly.

Now once again in 2015 the Optica is in play at the Paris Air Show and its creator John Edgley is trying to position his aircraft back into production. He needs to find a large sponsor or a buyer with veryt deep pockets. Could this aircraft eventually replace the helicopter? Without a miracle or financial backing for the Optica, we may never know.

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Spatial Disorientation: How and When Does it Affect Pilots

Do you remember the fatal airplane wreck of John F Kennedy Jr.? In July of 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr, and two other passengers on board crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Massachusetts. The official NTSB report concluded that Kennedy experienced spatial disorientation while descending at night over water. He lost control of the aircraft and crashed. How often do pilots experience spatial disorientation?

Interesting is the fact that Kennedy did not hold an Instrument Rating and was only certified to fly under VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Although Kennedy’s ill-fated flight was legal (barely), it was not safe. This tragic event happens all to often to recreational pilots, but it is something that we call can learn from.

178 Seconds to Live – a Dramatic Video on Sensory Disorientation:

Obviously, spatial disorientation, something very important that all student pilots should know about before starting flight school. This article offers a lot more than just interesting tidbits, however by no means does it cover all the information related to spacial disorientation. It is only a brief introduction meant to compel student pilots to dig deeper.

This article will briefly discuss one of many spacial disorientation effects, specfically the “leans”. Our recommendation is that you do your homework and find out everything there is about spatial disorientation and the “leans”.

What are Spatial Disorientation, Spatial Illusion and the “Leans” Effect?

”Spatial Disorientation”, including what is known as the “leans”, is the cause of many airplane accidents. Good training, and pilot awareness is the key to preventing certain disaster associated with the “leans”. This article is only meant to bring awareness to the important concept of spatial disorientation created by the “leans” effect.

Do the best pilots fly by the seat of their pants? Do great pilots rely on “feel” and their “senses”? We think not.

Humans were not built to fly, and certainly not constructed to navigate flying through the air by our sensory organs alone. Our bodies, brains, and sensory systems are built to help us navigate on the ground while standing upright. To fly using our senses alone, is very dangerous and could cost us our lives.

The video below describes the contributing factors which can lead to this condition and its many associated illusions.

Don’t Trust Your Sensory Organs

While flying, our sensory organs do not accurately reflect the movements of the aircraft in space. In effect, our sensory mechanisms do not properly read the 3-D environment around us, and can cause us to experience what is known as “sensory illusions”.

One very dangerous sensory illusion is the “leans”. The “leans” can be caused by level flight after a rapid roll of the aircraft. It’s where the process of the aircraft’s roll causes our body to lean in a direction that is contrary to the actual direction of the turn, and this effect can continue even after the aircraft roll is complete. In essence, our sensory readings coming from our sensory mechanisms send us faulty info.

When experiencing a “leans”, if our sensory mechanisms send us false readings, we may feel something that is not actually happening, and therefore react or respond inappropriately. While experiencing the “leans” effect, if we trust our faulty sensory readings, our physical reactions and responses will lead to our demise.

Spatial Orientation is our ability to maintain our bodies orientation to the ground. Again, humans are built to use our sensory mechanisms to maintain spatial orientation to the ground (our surroundings on the ground). When we get up in the air, we experience a three-dimensional world, which is totally unfamiliar to our sensory organs. This can cause sensory conflicts, and what we see and feel is not real. In this situation, we cannot rely on what we see, feel, or sense (gut).

How important is this? Well, statistics show that 5 to 10% of all general aviation accidents are caused by spatial disorientation affect, 90% of which are fatal.

When experiencing spatial disorientation, it can be difficult to correct. We can actually panic as the information on our instruments do not jive with how we feel (sensory input). Moreover, if we respond to our feelings, we can make things worse fast, causing more panic. If we do not correct quickly, in a very short period of time we can lose control of the aircraft and plummet into the ground.

Unless you have an instrument rating, and you are not legally able to fly unless you can see the horizon. You are only able to fly by Visual Flight Rules. A licensed instrument pilot can fly both VFR and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

If you are not licensed to fly by instrument, you should never fly into a cloud (bad weather that diminishes your vision), nor should you fly after dark. Flying into a cloud can certainly cause spatial illusions and disorientation. Unless you can see the horizon, and see all around you, as a non-instrument rated pilot you are susceptible to spatial disorientation, including the “lean”.

When flying, our bodies sensory systems are actually doing what they were designed to do. It’s just that our sensory systems are not designed to navigate airspace while flying aircraft. When we experience sensory illusions our sensory systems are functioning just they way they were designed.

Our spatial orientation systems, which create the lean illusion, were designed to protect us. During the course of our lives we have come to trust our spatial orientation systems – making it very difficult for some pilots to accept that their orientation (feedback from their sensory mechanisms) is incorrect during flight. If this happens to you, as a pilot, you can make a bad situation worse while you think you are correcting the problem.

Supporting Sources for this article:

John F. Kennedy Jr. Plane Crash

The Leans

Sensory Illusions in Aviation

Visual Illusions

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