Category: Entertainment

Pilot Career: What Will You Carry in Your Backpack?

When packing a backpack for a camp-out, Boy Scouts keep in mind the motto “Be Prepared.” It’s a good motto for a pilot career too.

Vern Weiss

Do you want to know who makes good pilots? Mechanics. They know aircraft systems inside and out and, as pilots, often pull a rabbit out of a hat in an emergency. They know the nuances and intricacies of systems beyond the level of many pilots. Pilots responsibly grind through emergency checklists until the last item is completed. When the checklist is done, that’s it. The End. But a mechanic knows all those little weird-isms of valves, solenoids, doohickeys, thingamabobs and thingamajigs. When a checklist hasn’t fixed a problem they tap into their knowledge from back in their troubleshooting days “working the floor” and, as pilots faced with inflight emergencies they sometimes devise impromptu procedures that can make them heroes.

Pilots make extraordinarily good instructors. Don’t waste my time with a teacher who’s never “been there, done that.” They’re good because they are calm and confident about their abilities. They’re knowledgeable because they’ve flown, over and over, the scenarios they’re teaching. Weak instructors get rattled (“Ohmygosh!Ohmygosh!Ohmygosh!”) and can make a big deal big deals out of nothing. Experienced pilots can separate the wheat from the chaff and impart to students the important stuff patiently, in real-world terms and in an orderly fashion.

Many dispatchers (also called flight controllers) are pilots, either private or possess some degree of commercial training. This provides them with perceptions, common sense and judgment that is worth a lot in the planning and decision-making they do. Dispatchers are unsung heroes. It’s dispatchers who respond to unplanned crises and quickly respond with safe and legal alternatives for a flight crew. When pilots radio them with some problem, the pilots look to the dispatchers for solutions often requiring a bucket-load of calculation and research. You can’t do that if you don’t know your stuff and know it well.

Maybe you can see where I am going here. The more talents you have, the better you will be at your job and the more your window of opportunities will expand, too. Pilots who have non-aviation schooling in professions dealing with numbers are outstanding with performance charts. Flight attendants who have a background in elementary education handle the broad spectrum of passenger personalities and problems on an airplane well.

The Unpredictable “What If?” of a Pilot Career

There’s another very important reason to be dualistic, the unknown. What if you train as a pilot, immerse yourself in your pilot career and then, wham-o…you lose your medical and can no longer fly. Or what if you train to be a mechanic and your airline is gobbled up by a bigger airline and closes your maintenance base? You’ve got 9 kids in school, a house you love that you paid-off last week and your wife bursts into tears at any suggestion of leaving the community. What’s more, you’re only 3 years from being fully vested in the airline’s retirement plan and you really want to stay with the company rather than lose those benefits.

Or maybe you became an engineer and after a few years have grown to be bored by it and would like to try something else. Defining yourself by one job classification is the same as backing yourself into a corner. Pilots are taught to always have a back-up plan which is sound thinking whether you’re a pilot or in any other career. One of the best aviation ground schools I have ever been in was taught by a pilot who had lost his medical but had a degree in law. Not having a medical did not preclude him from teaching in the simulator but, holy cow his presentations in ground school interpreting the regulations were academy award winning.

Spirit of St. Louis aviator Charles Lindbergh was once asked by his son what career field he should choose. Lindbergh’s answer was to do something no one else was doing. This tangential strategy can be applied to one’s own career by preparing for your chosen pilot career but also working on something else perhaps unrelated to it. It’s not uncommon to find mechanics who are also real estate agents or pilots who are accountants. If you are training in any field of aviation and your school is affiliated with a college it is worth looking into a degree in something else while finishing your aviation training. You’ll have the added benefit of accumulating college credit toward your degree for your aviation training. For pilots it’s worth mentioning here that most airlines don’t care what your college major is, they just want a degree.

There are things that can happen short of a catastrophe that having experience in or knowledge about other areas might prove to be a lifesaver to get you over a rough patch. I know an airline pilot who broke his arm and couldn’t fly. It wasn’t permanent but he’d be out for several months so he took a temporary assignment in crew scheduling. Another pilot was furloughed and worked on the ramp. When he was recalled to flying status he told me he’d have to renew his gym membership because he’d never been in that good of shape. One pilot with whom I have worked had a degree in education and worked as a substitute teacher on days off. If things went sour in his pilot career he could always return to the classroom full time. Cockpits are full of real estate agents, lawyers, building contractors, writers, radio announcers, you name it. Captain Jim Tilmon spent 29 years with American Airlines. On his days off for over 25 years he “moonlighted” on Chicago television as an on-camera meteorologist. His degree was in music.1

Whether you want to do something to fulfill personal or professional initiatives on your days off or just want something to keep in your back pocket as a hedge against unemployment, it’s not a bad idea to be thinking about back-ups.

As a flight attendant your airline experience would be appealing in any hospitality career field, restaurants, hotels et cetera.. And mechanics often use their skills in automobile repair. Although it’s nice to rake in a little extra “funny money” in a sideline, if the bottom should fall out of your airline job there’s peace of mind knowing you can do something else.

Up until now we’ve been gloomily musing about alternatives in the event that your chosen pilot career interest is taken from you. But there are other reasons for a back up plan that are not necessarily due to misfortune. A colleague of mine was looking to hire a manager of standards for his airline. He was inundated with applications from pilots who had passed retirement age. In spite of the accepted hyperbole that seems to surround any discussion about retirement, retired airline jocks no longer allowed to fly begged him to “get me out of the house.” “I can’t stand the boredom.” “I miss the airlines.” Retirement isn’t for everybody and while some employees dream of the day their lives become filled up with fishing poles, rocking chairs and motor homes, others don’t. A former pilot with 30 years and 30,000 hours of Part 121 experience is perfectly suited to set and supervise the technical intricacies of airline standards and one of them ended up being his choice. The airline benefited by filling the position with someone of vast experience while an ex- pilot no longer felt cut adrift and is able to keep his juices flowing.

Let’s talk about moonlighting. Some airlines have strict policies prohibiting outside employment. You certainly don’t want to jeopardize a solid high $$$ job by picking up (what may amount to) loose change on days off.

Two cautions should be mentioned here. Aside from most airlines prohibiting its pilots from outside flying for compensation there’s other risks. Under FAA Part 121 you are limited to flying 100 hours per month and 1,000 hours per year. Any flying you do outside of the airline must be reported and included in those maximums or you are violating the regs. Airline do not look kindly on pilots running up against the 30 hours in 7 days regulations either. Say you fly for a local company on your day off and earlier this week you flew 3 hours one day. The next trip sequence that begins tomorrow on your airline schedule is built to 28 hours. Legally you must drop some portion of your schedule to be legal. With your outside flying, you’d end up flying 31 hours in 7 days and that’s a no-no. In airline vernacular not being able to fly because you’ve flown the legal limit is known as “timing out.” Sometimes “timing out” is unavoidable such as when delays bloat the legal schedule and 28 hours becomes more. In those cases the airline must remove you from finishing your trip schedule. They do not like doing this but they recognize it as being just one of those unavoidable things that can be caused by weather, ramp delays and so forth. However your outside flying would not be received by your employer with the same yielding attitude.

Another risk of outside flying is involvement in an incident, accident or violation. The serious ramifications to your airline job should be obvious. What a sorry situation you’d create for yourself to get caught-up in some violation that puts a substantial airline job on the chopping block.

Naturally a potential injury is something no one wants but becoming injured on a second job is probably worse because it is avoidable. One pilot for a major airline (with a strict policy against outside flying) was moonlighting as a fill-in pilot on a private corporation’s jet. After completing a short trip the pilot was helping the tug driver hook-up the tow bar to push the jet into the hangar. Long story/short…the pilot’s hand got jammed while fastening the tow bar to the tug and was crushed. After re-constructive surgeries and a year of physical therapy the pilot got his medical back but the airline fired him. In this same vein, a mechanic who gets hurt working part time on somebody’s car is taking a chances. So, although many airline employees do have gigs on the side, most are careful about risk-taking and stay comfortably far away from any window of vulnerability. There is no reason to be too scared to get out of bed in the morning; just use common sense and be careful. It is something to keep in mind.

There are no guarantees, assurances or absolutes in a pilot career. Even as you are preparing for what hopefully will be a successful pilot career it’s a good idea to keep a backup plan in mind just in case your career needs that first aid kit that is found in the Boy Scout’s backpack.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

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Sources:

1 – http://www.tilmongroup.com/images/JAT%20Full%20Bio%20January%202013.pdf

Flight Training Aircraft: The Most Common Types and Models

Shawn Arena

So, in your journey to earn your pilot certificates, you have most likely (a) enrolled in a flight school, (b) been presented the ground and flight curriculum you will follow and, (c) been assigned a flight instructor. The next step is the actual flying. At this step, you will most likely be learning in one of the more common types and models of flight training aircraft.

Flight Training Aircraft You May Be Using

The general aviation industry has a proud and safe reputation of providing successful flight training in time-tested training aircraft. Typically as you acquire the feel for the aircraft and the flight environment, you will be flying a ‘2-place’ trainer (i.e. 2-place is industry speak for 2-seats). While many 2-place aircraft are available, two of the most popular 2-place aircraft are the Cessna 152 and the Diamond DA 20.

Cessna 152 and Diamond DA 20

Over the past 40 years, the Cessna 152 has trained more pilots than any other type of aircraft. Cessna purposefully designed the 152 with the student pilot in mind. This aircraft model is reliable, very forgiving in the landing phase, and allows the student to learn the basic airmanship skills needed to progress in the training process. While the interior is tight, the student-instructor relationship is forged nicely, in a cost effective environment.

The Diamond DA20 Katana aircraft is an Austrian-designed, Canadian built 2-place training aircraft that has been in the general aviation fleet since 1991. Designed with the same mindset as the Cessna 152, the Katana design takes advantage of the technological advances in manufacturing using carbon-fiber composite construction for the airframe that not only reduces the aircraft weight but allows for a more aerodynamic flight.

Unlike the Cessna 152, which uses the yoke style control column, the Katana uses the central control stick system that is placed between the pilot’s legs. Another difference is the 152 is a high-wing training aircraft and the Katana is a low-wing configured aircraft. Regardless of the types and models of aircraft used in flight training, you can be assured of a safe, strong, and very stable aircraft that as you move forward in your career will be looked upon with nostalgia.

Moving Up to the Next Level of Flight Training Aircraft

Prior to your private pilot checkride, you will be introduced to one of two 4-place aircraft that not only will maintain that basic aircraft feel but will allow you taking family and friends along for rides.  They are the Cessna 172 aircraft or Piper Warrior/Cherokee aircraft.

Both aircraft are two of the most commonly available for training or rental uses at flight schools. Utilizing the same safe, sturdy, and reliable foundation of the 152 and Diamond Katana, both are great transition aircraft for instrument flight training.

The Piper Warrior/Cherokee is Piper Aircraft’s answer to the 172. The main difference between the two aircraft is the 172 is a high-wing aircraft like its predecessor, the 152. The Warrior/Cherokee is a low-wing aircraft, like the 2-place Diamond Katana. The choice between high-wing and low-wing is personal preference.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is with either 2-place or 4-place types and models used for flight training, you will initially gravitate to either the high-wing or low-wing aircraft configuration through the early and maturing stages of your flight career. After a bit, however, you may want to explore the other type and may find it just as exciting as your first training aircraft. So go out and flight test each for yourself!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

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Aviation and Your Flight Training: Choose the Best for a Lasting Impression

Wilson Gilliam, Jr.

A paper on economic aerospace forecasting could be as thick as your computer screen is tall. Even the FAA Aerospace Forecast Fiscal Years 2015 – 2035 is nearly 140 pages long. I’m glad this post is long on brevity and to the point about how you can fit into the increasingly influential world of aviation and aerospace.

The word “aviation” may not capture the complete role that aeronautics will have on our world during the foreseeable future. Having been a pilot for almost three decades, I’ve tended to consider the flying universe in terms of my own perspective. Within the last few years, I’ve realized that the aviation / aeronautics business will have an immeasurable influence on the world and will open up a myriad of economic opportunities. There is, or will be something for everyone.

A Cessna Citation on the runway - Aviation and Flight Training: Choosing the Best

Technology is driving innovation within many aerospace subsets. Innovations in imaging are permitting the use of lighter airborne equipment. Smaller, lighter aircraft can now perform aerial observation and recording missions than ever before. Computer chip memory increases are leading to an ever increasing number of features in avionics. Turbine engines are becoming more lightweight, resulting in a popular trend to design and utilize small business jets. These advancements are resulting in an increasing number of aviation career opportunities in the following areas (not all inclusive):

  • Aircraft Crew Operations
  • Drones
  • Air Traffic Control
  • Aircraft Ground Support (FBO operations)
  • Avionics (GPS and aircraft tracking products especially)
  • Aircraft Maintenance
  • Aircraft Design
  • Computer Programming

What better way to get acquainted with this burgeoning industry than earning a pilot’s license or a college degree in aviation? Having “in the seat” experience lends pilots an edge in the aeronautical job hunt by having first-hand knowledge of the flying world at work. This physical skills interface with aviation lays a bedrock foundation for almost any aerospace occupational field.

Pursuing an aviation interest in one emphasis can open doors in another. I remember initially attempting to prepare myself to be an airline pilot. I wound up owning an aviation company with a helicopter ATP (Airline Transport Pilot) instead. Maximizing your exposure within an interest area is the first step toward longer-term success.

Reduce the chances of becoming deflated by learning from a well-established, proven organization. As you begin to make decisions about your aeronautical flight training and/or college education, align yourself with a proven provider. Having a committed, well-experienced organization on your side from the beginning will help contain those early frustrations and career growing pains that all of us have experienced.

There is no substitute for learning from the best. After earning my flight instructor’s certificate in helicopters, I traveled to New York to attend some aircraft transition training for two weeks. The instructor introduced himself to me as Bill Staubach, a retired flight instructor from Fort Rucker. Now, that was a last name that brought back memories.

A helicopter flying with a pilot and flight instructor

The only Staubach that I’d ever known was stitched to the first name of “Roger” and threw a football for the Dallas Cowboys during my childhood. I figured that anyone with that last name couldn’t be bad at anything. I was right about Bill. He flew a helicopter just about like Roger threw a football. The funny thing is that they really were related. Bill is Roger’s uncle.

Before I flew with Bill, I had only performed some well-managed, full-touchdown autorotations. The instructor’s hands were always nudging the controls like Mother Goose and I never knew which one of us was pulling or pushing on what (and that’s not a good thing). Imagine my surprise as I flared too high for our first auto and I noticed Bill to my left, arms folded tapping his feet and hardly paying attention. He was singing…

Oh Susanna, don’t you cry for me – ‘cause I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.

The touchdown had nothing to do with the word “touch” and everything to do with slam, bend and panic. The result was an instructor-controlled hop back to the pad and prolonged stint in the classroom, talking about RANT (RPM, Airspeed, Normal Rate of Decent, Touchdown Point). He must have asked me 3,000 times – “What are three indications of an engine failure?” He knew that I knew the answer (needle split, left yaw and quiet). He was ingraining it in my memory like chipping hieroglyphics into a stone tablet. Bill’s skill as a flight instructor challenged me to be a better, more confident pilot. I believe that I passed along Bill’s etiquette and fundamentals to my own students after that.

Giving yourself an edge by lining yourself up with the best is an advantage that you cannot afford to miss out on. If your flight lessons are the first venture into aviation, then your contact with the training school will result in a long lasting impression. Hint: Make sure it’s the right school. The impression will serve to educate and motivate you into remaining engaged in one of many aviation careers.

The aeronautical / aviation industry will have a tremendous influence on the world’s economy in the coming generation. Why not be a part of it? No matter what your age, there’s going to be room for everyone that’s interested. Not only can you work in an exciting environment, the freedom will exist to “spread your wings” to other industry areas as you fly along.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

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The Call: The Moment When Your Childhood Dreams Come True

Getting “The Call” After Your Airline Pilot Training

Making it through the airline pilot selection process is an accomplishment but successfully completing your airline pilot training is nothing short of awesome.

Vern Weiss

You’ve been submitting applications to airlines for over a year and reading doom-and-gloom on pilot blogs, which is beginning to work on your mind. If you allow yourself to believe what you’ve read, you’d give up. “How can I ever hope to get called-in for an airline interview with my experience?” “What do they want? Space shuttle proficiency?” Sheesh! Simply stated, they seek candidates who exhibit the basic skills required for training, good character, “fit in,” sound judgment, common sense, a positive attitude, compliant principles and professional behavior. They just want quality individuals and pursue neither Einsteins nor dim-wits.

airline pilot trainingNext Step in Your Airline Pilot Training: The Interview Process

Since the 1980s, the field of personality and psychological testing has exploded in American business and even job applicants for low-level, non-professional/non-career jobs can be required to undergo such assessments. Major passenger and cargo airlines are most prone for this screening. Small and medium-sized companies are more content with simplicity in their processes.

The interview process for most major carriers tends to follow a similar format. Dinky little airlines may whip you through their process in a day or two while majors may drag it out to 4 or 5 days and spread it out over several months.

If the airline is actively recruiting pilots and after you’ve submitted your on-line application you may hear from them between a couple weeks to couple months later. Major airlines now incorporate personality and psychological testing along with their on-line applications. While applying, you will be invited to click a link for their personality test. The Hogan Personality Inventory and MMPI are two such tests and consist of 400+ questions to sniff out “the REAL you.” Questions are carefully designed to minimize your “outsmarting” the test. If you are going to be invited to continue in their process, you’ll probably hear within a month.

When invited for an interview the airline often furnishes a non-revenue pass for travel; but not always. Plan a back-up in case your flight cancels. If you can, try to arrange things to arrive the night before and stay at a nearby hotel if even at your own expense. Being slam-dunked into an interview by traveling on the same day can frazzle you, which you certainly do not want.

The interview usually starts with a welcome presentation by human resources and flight operations management. You’re then whisked away to a personal interview with an HR person. They’ll go over your application, resume and ask those “gotcha”-type job interview questions like, “Have you ever had a conflict with a supervisor?.” If you have and spill your guts, make sure the noose is cinched up tightly around your neck before they pull the lever.

Company Knowledge: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

It is very important to do some homework and research the airline because they’ll find out if you’re interested enough to do it. Learn all you can. Know the CEO’s name, their stock value, number and types of planes, their history et cetera. Internet search news stories about them in the last year. When asked if you know anything about them they don’t want you to rattle-off a memorized spiel but if you can casually work in some fact about them it shows your interest and makes a positive impression. (Interviewer: “Why do you want to fly for us?” You:Blah-blah-blah-blah and I understand you’ve ordered 40 new 737s early this year which underscores this as a solid, growing company.” Interviewer’s Voice Inside His Head: “H-m-m-m, this guy’s on top of things. I won’t bother asking him anymore about the company. And maybe for lunch today, I’ll order pastrami on rye.” Interviewers are human, too.)

airline pilot trainingThe Pilot Board or Panel Interview

Another component is a pilot board or panel interview. Expect from one to five management pilots to pelt you with scripted questions. They’re probing. They want to see if you can think on your feet. They’re sizing up your personality to see if you’re the type they’d like to be paired with inside a cockpit for long hours. They’re sampling the depth of your aviation knowledge. They may ask you questions that they themselves don’t even know the answer to like, “I see you are now flying a Beech Baron. What is the maximum takeoff weight of that airplane?” Not one of them on that panel may be able to answer that question but you’d better be able to or, at least, can act like you do. Also, you can expect “What would you do if…” judgment questions. Think through your response before opening thy mouth. They’ve interviewed hundreds like you so don’t blow smoke.

The pilot board interview may be when your logbooks will be scrutinized so be sure they are up to date. The person thumbing through them might pick out something to ask you about: “I see you flew into O’Hare three years ago. What did you think about that experience?” On any questions try to be positive. They don’t want to hear that you screwed-up making a taxiway turn, gridlocked 35 airplanes behind you that were waiting to take-off and got so stressed out that you never want to go back. “Um..,” the questioner might say, “we fly into O’Hare.” Oops. Cinch up that noose a little tighter.

Instead, answer temperately with something like, “It was fascinating to watch how ATC can move so many aircraft so efficiently.” Spin things with an “up” tone. Of course, there are things that cannot be spun positively like violations or accidents. Be honest because it is assured that they will check your FAA records before hiring you. There’s probably no such thing as putting a “positive spin” on a blemished record but we make our mistakes and then move on. If skeletons are in your closet, anticipate dreaded, tough questions and develop honest, humble answers. Mistakes and mishaps might be “softened” by admitting their value as a profound lesson burned into your head that ensures your never again allowing them to happen.

Not All Airline Pilot Training is in the Cockpit: Written and Medical Exams

There is usually a written examination consisting of aviation knowledge questions. The questions are often multiple choice and true-false and similar to those found on FAA written examinations. Such tests are administered both on-line or in person during the interview process.

Large carriers customarily put you through a medical examination and, of course, all airlines are mandated to test for drugs and alcohol. Smaller airlines are normally content just with your holding an FAA medical certificate. Although it was common practice not too long ago there could be a psychological assessment done by a “shrink.” Major US airlines have moved away from this but some foreign carriers haven’t. In one such interview of mine, I entered the company psychiatrist’s office. In front of his desk was a blue chair and an orange chair. I don’t know if it was true or not but word from the grapevine was that whichever chair you chose somehow mattered. Since I was hired I guess they wanted pilots who choose blue chairs. Sigh.

One Last Piece of Airline Pilot Training: The Simulator Evaluation

The final component is frequently a flight simulator evaluation though the majors are abandoning them. Smaller airlines generally use a contracted simulator center at a nearby pilot school or Part 142 training company. Though many times smaller carriers use simulators emulating small general aviation twin-engine aircraft, large airlines conduct the assessment in a simulator for one of their aircraft types. You may find comfort knowing that they don’t expect a non-trained pilot to fly the simulator as an experienced one should. However what they do expect to see is good instrument scan, judgment, prioritizing skills, planning and corrective action if something goes wrong. The simulator evaluator may run the simulator by remote control while sitting in the right seat and serving as your co-pilot.

Important: Use the simulator evaluator all you can get away with!

Have him/her adjust your power settings, dial radio and navigation frequencies, run checklists, set flaps and landing gear. Don’t feel rushed. When it’s time to set up for an instrument approach, tell the evaluator to take the controls while you familiarize yourself with the approach procedure. It’s not expected that you would know their emergency procedures but if something happens like an engine fire, order your “co-pilot” to run “the appropriate checklist.” You don’t have to know what the checklist is called; they just want to see a pro-active reaction from you. This isn’t a check-ride, it’s an evaluation to see if you possess core abilities to be “trainable.” Do your best, be respectful and gracious, shake hands and exit the simulator on your wobbly knees. Then hope for the best.

Waiting and Fitting In

Each step in the interview process may be separated by days or weeks. The waiting is agonizing although applicants disqualified during any phase are usually notified quickly.

When I arrived to interview for one of the majors I wore a tan coat with brown pants but noticed that every other pilot wore either a dark blue or black suit. I was also the only one with a mustache. Somehow, even with my colossal blunder, I got through that day and, obviously, when getting called back for Phase II, my mustache was gone and my suit was dark blue. Silly? You bet it is! Maybe it wasn’t even noticed by anyone at the airline. But why blow this opportunity by with something that may be interpreted as not fitting in? Airlines are not interested in pilots who hear a different drummer. They want discipline, consistency, and players who fit in with the team.

airline pilot training

They say there’s a pilot shortage but leave out that the jobs with good, solid companies still get plenty of applicants. It’s smaller airlines flying smaller equipment with less pay that seem to be having the pilot shortage. Many small-to-medium sized airlines are overlooked great places to work. Even if you land a job with a company but cannot see yourself there for the long-term, it’s never a wasted effort. The time and experience you acquire will make you that much more attractive to the good, solid medium-sized and major carriers than you are now.

In Conclusion

Airline pilots must continually prove themselves and the first proving of oneself is the pilot selection process. It’s a compliment just being chosen but then your effort continues. Next comes the interview process. Slaloming around the pitfalls and potholes of the interview to be offered a job is deserving of all the gratification you’ll feel. But the job offer is just a gateway allowing you to be trained. Airline pilot training is demanding and challenging and successful completion provides another well-deserved feeling of accomplishment. Then, as a line pilot, you’ll prove yourself through PCs (Pilot Checks), line checks, annual ground school final exams, upgrades or transition training and, of course, your frequent FAA physical. Some pilots scornfully view these checks as a game of chance with its stakes being their jobs. Others see these re-qualifications as only routine renewals for the privilege of having a pretty cool job. Though periodic checking is an ongoing requisite throughout an airline career you’ll come away from each with a sense of professional recognition and satisfaction.

But the most satisfaction comes during your quiet moments of reflection. Each day of flying presents hundreds, maybe, thousands of things, each one requiring a perfect plan, a perfect response and perfect handling by you. It is then that you’ll understand that each day is really a check-ride and those periodic ones become nothing more than routine formalities demonstrating what you know, what you do and what you are every other day.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Flight Attendant Training: It’s More than the Seat Belt Demo

If the public had a clue as to how necessary flight attendants are and how rigorous the airline flight attendant training programs are, they’d can their stupid comments.

Vern Weiss

They are there neither to serve you a beverage nor bring you a pillow. That’s what the airline’s marketing departments tell them they should do but it’s not their function. They are flight attendants … air host and hostesses … stewards and stewardesses and they are there for only one reason: to save your life if something goes horribly wrong. It’s a proud profession and tough to enter and equally tough to do.

Flying as a captain for one airline, I was inbound one night to New York’s LaGuardia airport. With 106 people on board, it was the last leg of a long day that started out in Tampa. Due to a hurricane nudging its way up the East coast all occupants in our plane had enjoyed our flight as much as anyone might being dragged on a pothole-filled street in a bathtub. Passengers were crabby and had been taking it out on the exhausted flight attendants all day. As usual in lousy weather, LaGuardia was stacked up and New York Center moved us from one holding fix to another, ostensibly inching us closer to the airport. Although the flight ordinarily took one hour we had been in the air 2-1/2 hours.

As the air traffic controller issued yet another holding clearance, hail began to pound our fuselage. The flight interphone chimed and I answered. The “B” flight attendant said the gentleman in seat 23-C was having chest pains. As is procedure, she made a PA announcement asking if any medical professionals were on board. No. Meanwhile, the first officer was busy convincing Approach Control to give us priority handling into LaGuardia. The airspace was thick with airplanes, every one of them filled with passengers similarly without cheer. Aircraft in a sorry state like ours get priority so we were cleared to leave the holding pattern for immediate radar vector headings to a “conga line” to join the airplanes on the approach. This would still take us north of New York City but then we’d double back and land to the south.

flight attendant trainingAnother call to the cabin and I could hear babies crying behind the flight attendant’s taught voice and what sounded like a guy angrily yelling. She’s doing all she could but 23-C is now sweating profusely and his color is changing. To my right, the first officer is arranging for an ambulance to meet us on the ground. A lady in 5-B then pushes the flight attendant’s call button. The “A” attendant breaks off the commotion around seat 23-C to check on what 5-B needs. 5-B thinks she’s having a baby. “…make that TWO ambulances.”

We are cleared for the approach…I call for flaps. Behind me, the flight attendants are doing cabin checks in the midst of telling 5-B to breathe while watching 23-C for signs to start CPR. They’re running through the before-landing PA announcement like an auctioneer. “Breathe ma’am!” “Hang on, sir!” Glide slope intercept. “Landing gear down”. Flight attendants rushing around to configure the cabin for landing. “Full flaps.” One last plea to 5-C to “BREATHE!” then the “A” attendant hustles to strap in her seat. Passengers see the parking lot lights at window level. Meanwhile, the “B” attendant loosens 23-C’s shirt collar, adjusts the fresh air directed to his face, scurries to her fold-down seat and straps in. Ten seconds later our main landing gear touches down on runway 22.

For flight attendants, it’s all in a day’s work. And very likely on that flight, there were passengers who went home grousing that the flight attendants didn’t offer drink refills.

So, What Does a Flight Attendant Do?

Let’s cut through it all and talk about why a flight attendant is there in the first place. He or she exists to evacuate the aircraft if something bad happens. When an airplane crashes, ditches, skids off a runway or its cabin fills with smoke, the flight attendants are responsible for getting the passengers out. Don’t rely too much on that doofus occupying the seat next to the emergency exit. Like most passengers he was ignoring the flight attendant’s safety announcement and will probably not be able to figure out how to operate the mechanism anyway. In addition, he’ll be crushed and immobilized by people crowding him against the exit. Add to the mix a fuselage that’s upside-down, in water or filled with smoke or fire and it’s no scenario for an amateur. It is the flight attendants who will get the exits open, escape slides activated and people moved out without life-threatening gridlock in the cabin.

flight attendant training

Photo by roman ring

The FAA manual titled Flight Standards Information System (FSIMS) is a repository containing documentation, interpretation, and guidance for FAA inspectors. It’s used for certification and operations of commercial operators. Although regulations specify the criteria1 and duty/rest periods for flight attendants2 it was not until 1985 that the FAA made a legal interpretation to define the flight attendant’s job.3 And here it is: “Safety briefings, Compliance checks of seat belt fastening, Conducting passenger briefings, Ensuring passenger compliance with stowage of the food and beverage tray, Ensuring passenger compliance with the seatbelt and no smoking placards/lights, Checking for the proper stowage of carry-on baggage, Attending distressed passengers, or Responding to emergency situations.” As you see there’s no mention of providing beverage service or pillows. (Those come from the company’s marketing department.)

Flight attendants (or “FAs”) working for FAA Part 121, 125 or 135 operators fall under strict regulations. This is not the case for a flight attendant working for a Part 91 corporate aviation department. Corporate Part 91 flight attendants very often exist primarily for passenger comfort whereas the air carrier flight attendant is a safety role.

FAs belong to a branch of the Flight Operations department called “inflight.” The phrase “inflight” is used casually to describe those holding the position of a flight attendant (as in saying “Who’s working inflight?” instead of “Who are the flight attendants?”).

Until 2003, FAs were not required to be certificated in the US. The certification process is simple. An air carrier’s Director of Operations confirms that a flight attendant has completed its airline flight attendant training course and submits an application for a Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency. The certificate need not be carried by the flight attendant but must be produced within 15 days if requested by the FAA or National Transportation Safety Board.4

All About the Airline Flight Attendant Training Programs

So what does the airline flight attendant training program involve? Commercial operators requiring compulsory FAs produce a manual approved word-for-word by the FAA. This “bible” is called the company’s Operations Manual and in it is specified what the company agrees to do to train their inflight personnel. More likely than not, the airline flight attendant training programs greatly exceed the spartan requirements found in the regulations. The Sunday newspapers are full of advertisements from schools offering to train you as a flight attendant. This may make training easier but you will still have to pass the airline flight attendant training program of the specified air carrier for which you are hired.

The training is pretty standard between all airlines with variations necessitated by different aircraft configurations. Some airlines use flight attendants on every type of aircraft they fly while others don’t. Aircraft complexity limits the number that one should fly, but it was more ironed-out in negotiations between the airline and its flight attendants’ union.

Initial airline flight attendant training typically runs run no less than 3 weeks and no more than 8 weeks. The Operations Manual specifies what you will spend in classroom lectures. 95% of your flight attendant training program will be safety-related. You will practice evacuation drills, CPR, and first aid, operation of emergency equipment, safety demonstrations, fire fighting and learn about aviation security. Given the unmindful obsession many passengers have with it, you may be surprised to learn that very little of training is devoted to customer service! It’s very expensive to train flight attendants so the airline wants you producing as soon as possible. So most of what you will learn about passenger amenities comes after you are actually on the job.

Airlines either own their own simulators (or lease them from other companies), and this is where the bulk of your training will occur. You will memorize, practice and be graded on all the announcements but that’s not the “fun stuff.” Your simulator is a mock-up of an actual fuselage. In it, you will experience all sorts of adverse conditions like smoke in the cockpit, severe turbulence, and even ditching. Yep. Be sure to bring a swimsuit because you will evacuate your classmates in a swimming pool built just for this training purpose.

In the last phase of your training, you will be paired with an experienced flight attendant who will fly with you on live, passenger-carrying trips. This final portion of your preparation is called “I.O.E” (Initial Operating Experience). You will work the flight as if you are already qualified but the IOE instructor will be making a final check of your abilities. This ordinarily amounts to a 2 to 4 day trip but can be extended if you need a little more time.

Although fading into obscurity, many airlines still have height and weight requirements. These are not meant to discriminate against anyone. They exist because height and weight may preclude some from being capable of performing the physical demands of their duties. Age requirements are essentially non-existent. In fact, I know a man in his sixties who retired from a career as a bank president! I asked him why he wanted the job of a flight attendant and he said he loved travel, talking to people and hated the rocking chair.

Next time you watch a flight attendant go through their demo with the seat belt and oxygen mask remember that they are even more bored with it than you are, BUT they HAVE to do it. If they don’t, an incognito inspector can bring a violation against them, their airline or even shut down the company. More importantly, someone who IS paying attention may get some vital information that could save their life. Now doesn’t that make drink refills and pillows seem awfully silly?

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Sources:

1 – Federal Aviation Regulations 14 CFR Part 121 Section 381 Flight Attendants
2 – 14 CFR 121.467 – Flight attendant duty period limitations and rest requirements: Domestic, flag, and supplemental operations
3 – Flight Standards Information System 8900.1 Vol III Chapter 33 Sec. 4 (Para. 3-3513)
4 – http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/info/all_infos/media/2008/info08016.pdf

Dispelling Three Myths About Flying an Airplane

Toni Mensching

The military definitely isn’t the only group who will train you to fly airplanes. It may be one of the few groups who will pay you while you learn to fly, but it certainly isn’t the only place you can learn to fly an airplane. The fact that the military will pay you while they teach you about flying an airplane is one of the reasons they are able to be much more choosey: To be a military pilot candidate you must meet a litany of requirements.

Don’t fret though; you can still be a pilot if you don’t meet all those requirements. You don’t have to train in the military to fly several types of aircraft such as airliners, private airplanes and helicopters, stunt planes and crop dusters. To learn to fly civilian private aircraft here in the US, you need only meet the requirements set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (the FAA). These requirements are vastly different than military requirements and almost always less restrictive.

Myth 1: Flying an Airplane is Not an Option if You’re Colorblind

If you’ve ever seen the Jennifer Aniston film We’re the Millers, you might recall the scene where young Kenny discovers he is colorblind. This results in him having a meltdown on the side of a desert road after his pretend sister tells him he can’t be a pilot since he’s colorblind. Even if you haven’t seen the film, it’s easy to sympathize with Kenny. In the real world, your dreams don’t have to be dashed by your fake sister’s assumptions. While a certain severity of color vision deficiency might disqualify you from flying an airplane in the military, most color vision deficiencies are allowable in civilian flying. This means you may still be able to fly airplanes like private jets, airliners or biplanes.

Boeing Airliner in Flight - Dispelling Three Myths about Flying an Airplane

Those who are colorblind are sometimes allowed to train after completing a simple test which demonstrates their abilities despite colorblindness. Pilots must be able to know and understand a variety of signals and light configurations when flying an airplane. Some of these lights are red, green, yellow, blue or white. You might be colorblind, but if you can differentiate between these light colors during a real world test, then you may still be able to fly airplanes. Many pilots have completed this process. If you would like to know more about it, check out this page on AOPA’s website for more information.

Myth 2: Flying an Airplane Requires Pilots to Have Perfect Vision

The same goes for those of us who don’t have perfect 20/20 vision. Pilots are not required to be perfect, nor are they required to have perfect vision. In most cases, pilots do, however, need to have vision that is at least corrected to 20/20. If you wear glasses or contacts, you will be required to wear those glasses or contacts any time you are flying airplanes. So if you lose your glasses one day, your feet are glued to the ground until you get a new pair.

Myth 3: You Can’t Fly if You’re Short

We all know Tom Cruise is rather short. Yet in Top Gun he flies fighter jets, saves the day, and gets the girl. Some people aren’t aware that during the filming of Top Gun great efforts were made to have Tom Cruise, while playing Maverick, appear taller than he really is. The purpose for this might have been rooted in military height limitations for certain pilots. Some cockpits can only fit a person between say 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 4 inches tall. Any shorter or taller and you simply can’t fit in the plane and fly it safely. Maybe your knees get in the way of the controls or your feet can’t reach the pedals. While some military aircraft are not accommodating to vertically challenged people, civilian aircraft seats are typically adjustable in a number of ways. In some aircraft, the pedals adjust as well as the seat. There is no law or agency that will stop you from learning to fly most types of aircraft just because you are excessively short or tall.

In Conclusion

There you have it. You can be short, colorblind, and nearsighted and still spend your life flying airplanes. Find your local flight school and get started.

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When Was the First Helicopter Invented?

Anders Clark

Flying has long been a dream of humankind. And surprisingly, for as long as we’ve dreamed of wings, and airplane style flight, we’ve also dreamed of rotor-based, or vertical flight. Centuries of study were poured into the subject of flight, but it wasn’t until a little over a century ago that the first helicopter lifted off from the Earth, and spun its way into history. Since that time, helicopter design has become incredibly refined, and helicopters now serve a variety of important purposes. But where did it all start? When was the first helicopter invented, and where, and by who? Well, turns out that’s kind of a tricky question.

A Brief History of Vertical Flight
The first helicopter toy, a simple bamboo one developed by the Chinese.

Image by: Haragayato

The very earliest references we can find for vertical flight come from China, around 400 BC. Around that time, there are records of Chinese children playing with a bamboo helicopter-like toy. It worked by rolling a stick attached to a rotor and then releasing it. The spinning would generate lift, and when released, the toy sprung into the air. This toy, eventually introduced into Europe, became profoundly influential and early Western scientists based much of their research and attempts to design flying machines on this simple toy.

A drawing of Leonardo da Vinci's first helicopter design, or aerial screw.

Then, in the early 1480s, Leonardo da Vinci created the design for what was described as an “aerial screw.” This is considered the next big step forward for vertical flight. Then in 1754, Russian Mikhail Lomonosov developed a model based off the Chinese toy but powered by a wound-up spring. For the next hundred years, other scientists and researchers began developing new and different models, including Frenchman Christian de Launoy and British inventor Sir George Cayley. In particular, Cayley’s experiments and models were very influential on future pioneers.

Then, in 1861, French inventor Gustave de Ponton d’Amecourt demonstrated a small steam-powered model. It failed to lift off, but was important for two reasons: Gustave coined the term “helicopter” in describing his model, and it marked the first use of aluminum, a then rather new and exciting metal. Then, in 1878, an exciting first. Italian Enrico Forlanni built an unmanned, steam powered model that was able to take off vertically, rise to a height of nearly 40 feet (12 meters) and hover for almost 20 seconds. Model, unmanned and brief, but it was the first helicopter to achieve flight.

Around the world, the different countries forged ahead, trying a variety of methods to power their craft. In 1887, Frenchman Gustave Trouve built and flew a tethered electrical model. In 1885, Thomas Edison began working on a helicopter powered by an internal combustion engine, which ultimately resulted in an explosion and failure. Slovak inventor Jan Bahyl was able to make an internal combustion engine work in his model, and in 1901, it was able to hover at a height of almost 2 feet. Four years later, a more refined version of his helicopter model reached 13 feet (4 meters) and was able to cover 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) of distance.

The First Manned Helicopter Flights

Then, French brothers Jacques and Louis Breguet entered the scene. They had developed Gyroplane No. 1, which may be the first known quadcopter. The exact date is unclear, but sometime between August 14th and September 29th of 1907, Gyroplane No. 1 lifted its pilot about 2 feet (.6 meters) into the air, hovering for roughly a minute. It was, however, an extremely unsteady aircraft, and required a man to hold it steady at each corner of the airframe. For this reason, the flights of Gyroplane No. 1 are considered to be the first manned helicopter flight, but not the first free or untethered flight.

Cornu's first helicopter design to achieve manned flight

That would happen very soon after that same year, on the 13th of November. French inventor Paul Cornu had built a helicopter that used two 20 foot (6 meters) counter rotating rotors driven by 24 hp engine. The Cornu helicopter lifted the inventor 1 foot (.3 meters) off the ground for almost 20 seconds. Though this was not as high or long as Gyroplane No. 1, it did not require assistance to remain steady, and so is considered the first truly free, manned helicopter flight.

Helicopter Designs Abound

The Wrights had achieved manned flight with the first fixed wing aircraft in December 1903, and in 1907, the Breguet brothers and Cornu had achieved the same with helicopter flight. The doors to the world of aviation were thrown wide open, and inventors, scientists, and enthusiasts poured in.

By the 1920s, Argentine Raul Pateras-Pescara de Castelluccio had successfully demonstrated cyclic pitch, or the ability to tilt the rotor hub forward a few degrees and allow the helicopter to move forward without the need for a separate propeller for pushing or pulling. He also was the first to successfully demonstrate the principle of autorotation, which was key to the safe landing of damaged helicopters.

Rare footage of a test flight of Pescara’s helicopter in 1922

In 1924, Frenchman Etienne Oehmichen set the first helicopter world record for distance recognized by the Federation Aeoronautique Internationale (FAI). He flew 1,181 feet (360 meters). This record was beaten a mere four days later by Pescara, who flew 2,415 feet (736 meters) in 4 minutes and 11 seconds, at a height of roughly 6 feet (1.8 meters).

In the US, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Russia, countless models were tested, flown, abandoned or improved on at an incredible rate. Then, in 1936, another first.

The Birth of the Helicopter Industry

In 1933, German Heinrich Focke was brought into the world of helicopter research. Inspired by autogyro designs, he set to work. He designed the world’s first practical, stable transverse twin rotor helicopter, and on June 26, 1936, it flew for the first time. The Focke-Wulf Fw 61 then broke all the previously established helicopter world records in 1937 and pushed the flight envelope for helicopters to new heights.

The world was paying attention. In the United States, Russian-born Igor Sikorsky competed fiercely with W. Lawrence LePage to produce the first helicopter for use in the US military. LePage was successful in acquiring the patent rights to design a helicopter in the same style of the Fw 61, so Sikorsky went with a more simple, single rotor design. LePage was also awarded a contract from the military after winning a military sponsored contest in early 1940, which also included designs by Sikorsky, and others.

The contract specified that delivery of a flying prototype must be accomplished by January 1941, and by July of 1940, the airframe for LePage’s model, the XR-1, was complete. However, they were unable to meet the prototype deadline, and due to this delay, Sikorsky was also able to receive funding for his model.

The XR-1 helicopter designed by LePage, during a flight test.

Finally, three months late, the XR-1 arrived. It resembled the Fw 61, with its two, three-bladed rotors, and was powered by a 450 hp Pratt and Whitney engine. It first flew on May 12th, 1941, though it was flown tethered in its early flights, and wasn’t flown flee until late June. Even then, it was flown within a few feet of the ground. This was because the XR-1 showed a variety of design and stability problems. Over the next four years, additional money and time were spent refining the design, and though it improved, it was never quite good enough. Finally, in April of 1945, the military canceled all their contracted with LePage and his company, after a US Air Force report concluded that the company was “inept” and employed a “hit and miss method” with their research and development.

The World’s First Helicopter to be Mass Produced
Igor Sikorsky test flying the VS-300 with floats

Sikorsky test flying the VS-300.

Meanwhile, Sikorsky and his team had been hard at work, and the result was the VS-300. It had a single, three bladed rotor powered by a 75 hp engine, and a single vertical tail rotor for anti-torque. It could also have floats attached to it for water use. The first tethered flight was conducted by Sikorsky on the 14th of September, 1939, followed on May 13th, 1940 by the first free flight. This made the VS-300 the first single lifting rotor helicopter in the US, the first successful helicopter to use single tail rotor configuration and the first practical amphibious helicopter. It was a monumental achievement.

Igor Sikorsky in the XR-4, the first helicopter to be mass produced on a large scale

Sikorsky in the XR-4.

The military contracted with Sikorsky, and using the VS-300 as a basis for the design, Sikorsky produced a new, refined model, the VS-316. Designated the XR-4 by the military, it made its first flight on January 13th, 1942, and was accepted into use by the military in May. The XR-4 broke all previous helicopter endurance, altitude and airspeed records, completing a 761 mile (1,225 km) cross-country flight; setting a service ceiling of 12,000 feet (3,700 meters), and with an airspeed of nearly 90 mph (140km/h).

The military ordered 100 XR-4s, making it the world’s first helicopter that was mass produced on a large scale. All told, 131 XR-4s were produced before newer models replaced it.

One Final First Helicopter

While Sikorsky and LePage were working with the military on helicopters, Bell Aircraft was working on a civilian solution. They hired Arthur Young and were interested in building a helicopter based on a design by Young’s that promised simplicity and ease of use. The result was the Model 30 prototype, which was eventually refined into the Bell 47. On March 8th, 1946, it became the first helicopter certified for civilian use. For the next 30 years, it was considered the most popular helicopter model and more than 5,600 of these helicopters were produced.

Conclusion

So, which helicopter was first? Well, as you can see, depending on what you’re asking, there are a lot of firsts. The first helicopter model to fly, the first unmanned helicopter flight, the first manned helicopter flight, and so on. And these firsts, though they may be credited to a single person or machine, represent centuries of research, testing, and determination from scientists, inventors, and enthusiasts across the globe.

Since the arrival of these first helicopters, the designs have continued to be refined and adapted for use in a variety of industries and for a variety of purposes. Learning to fly these incredible machines requires training, skill and dedication, but it opens up a wide world of opportunity for those who dream about flying helicopters for a living. It is an exciting time to join the world of aviation, and as many pilots and aviators have expressed before, the best work view is the one from the cockpit.

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Ice Bike Mountain Top Riding on a Frozen Lake

Filmed in the winter of 2015 near Mt. Mason, British Columbia, Canada, Bill Hitchon riding his monster ice bike, Suzuki Boulevard on top of a frozen mountain lake at 5000 feet above sea level. It is crazy to think that Bill Hitchon is probably the only man or earth to race on this lake. Bill is a former ice racer who owns his own custom motorcycle shop in Richmond, BC. He built this bike for a movie called “Dead Rising, Watchtower” that filmed in Vancouver. http://5thgearbeta.com

The bike took 880 hex head screws in the back tire to be able to ride on the ice and about 250 screws in the front tire. The bike has an ATV tire on the rear and a KTM front end, which lightened it by about 250 lbs, making slinging it to the mountain possible.

Bill and Bill, pilot and racer, took their collective skills and pulled off one of the most amazing sports events ever filmed.

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Super Cub Landing on Windy Mt Top

The Super Cub is a two seat single engine fixed wing aircraft and it has one main set of wing surfaces. As far back as the early 1950’s and Piper Aircraft introduced the Super Cub in a big way. It originated from the design of the Piper PA-11 and can actually find design similarities to the J-3, which was built first in 1937.

Cub Landing of a Single Engine Super Cub on Top of a Snowy Mountain Top

Although it was clearly rooted in the earlier Cub designs, the are many improvements and design changes that make the Super Cub truly super. For example, the engine is much more powerful than previous entries in the cub series.

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6 Student Pilot Mistakes That Can Ruin a Career

There are certain things that student helicopter pilots need to know before they invest in an expensive flight training program. In other words, you might want to consider some things that can sink your career before you ever start. You may be surprised to know the following examples of student pilot mistakes have kept many student pilots out of the cockpit.

#6. Social Media Disasters: Posting photos that would make your grandmother cringe or inappropriate Facebook posts can ruin your career. Images and videos you post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram last forever. Controversial, offensive, and off-color posts/images can keep a career from getting off the ground. Remember the day you got drunk with your buddies in Tijuana?  As a Facebook or Instagram post, it might be funny to you, but if you aspire to be a professional helicopter pilot, it could be a job killer.

When your potential employer finds photos of you looking less than professional, it could put your resume in the trash. Google your name and see if you need to start looking at damage control. When you post anything, think deeply about how your posts could affect your future.

For example, Alica Lynch did not think when she posted an image of herself in the outfit she’d put together for a Halloween party. She had on a Victoria’s Secret running skirt, blue T-shirt, and road-race bib, accessorized by a faux gash on her forehead and bloody, bruised legs. The 22-year-old Michigan resident uploaded the image to her Instagram and Twitter accounts, as she had done with so many photos before. She used the hashtag #boston #marathon #runner. Her costume? a Boston Marathon bombing victim. You can imagine how this social media disaster played out for Alica.

Your future aviation employer will check out your social media accounts – count on it. A recent survey by Vault.com found that 44% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates. Therefore, be smart… use social media to present yourself to the world in a way that reflects the values of prospective employers. Brand yourself to succeed.

#5. Being Too Heavy – Overweight: Helicopter pilots have to watch their weight. To a student helicopter pilot, weight is extremely important. Why? The cheapest aircraft for pilot training is the Robinson R22 ($200 to $300/hour). The weight limit for each seat in the R22 is 240 lbs. However, with fuel load and other considerations, student pilots above 200 lbs may need to train in bigger, more expensive aircraft, such as the Robinson R44 ($500 to $600/hour).

If you are a prospective student pilot above 200 pounds, and it is possible to lose weight and maintain a health BMI, our recommendation is that you start dieting now. Eat healthy, and cut out the beer, sodas and potato chips. We realize that this may sound cruel and insensitive, but the repercussions of being overweight are real. It’s also a safety issue, not to mention an expensive journey.

Some students lay down a big sum of money for flight training, sign up for courses, and attempt to start their training 15 to 20 lbs overweight. Guess what? They are grounded until the shed the excess weight – unless of course, they are willing to pay twice the amount for the larger aircraft.

#4. Piercings, Tattoos, and Dyed Hair: You need to know how piercings and tattoos can limit your career opportunities. Piercings and tattoos will not prevent you from becoming a pilot, but they might slow you down when it comes to getting your dream job.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center found nearly 40% of people between the ages of 18 and 29, have at least one tattoo. And, it should come as no surprise that body piercings are a growing means of self-expression among people in this age group. Although piercings and tattoos are becoming more acceptable, they can harm people in certain industries – aviation being one of them.

Just as important, piercings and tattoos can limit each new job opportunity – not to mention future performance evaluations, raises, promotions. The fact is that most employers will make assumptions about your character based on your appearance.

#3. Criminal Record – Driving Under the Influence & Domestic Violence Charges: If you are charged or convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), it will affect your future as a professional helicopter pilot. It might even prevent you from becoming a pilot. As a pilot, if you are found guilty of driving under the influence your career can be ruined. Although each situation may be looked at differently (case-by-case basis), a DUI is hard to overcome.

The FAA is not going to stop you from obtaining your pilot ratings if you’ve been charged with a DUI. It is also true that you can earn your pilot ratings having been convicted of a DUI. However, as a professional pilot your job prospects will be very limited at best.

With a DUI conviction, no employer will be eager to put you in an expensive aircraft with precious cargo. Prospective employers are very concerned about driving records (speeding tickets, reckless driving, etc.). So, a DUI can be considered a job killer.

If you don’t have a DUI, we recommend that you never get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Never! If you have a DUI, the best thing that you can hope for is to put some distance between yourself and your past poor choices. Somehow you have demonstrate that you have learned from your mistake(s). Show that you have become the kind of person who will never do those things again.

A domestic violence conviction will end your commercial flying career – period. Essentially, if you have a criminal record it will be very hard, if not impossible, to get a good job in the aviation industry. Our recommendation is that you don’t spend a dime on flight training if you have a substantial criminal record. There are way too many helicopter pilots out there without a criminal record – competing for those same jobs. Very few aviation companies will take the gamble on you.

#2. Skipping School – A College Educational: Earning a college degree is not necessary to obtain your flight ratings. Moreover, you can land good paying helicopter pilot jobs without a college degree. However, having a college degree is becoming more and more important to the industry. This trend is gaining momentum.

Some industry experts believe that it is only a matter of time before a relevant college degree will be a prerequisite to applying for the best jobs. Furthermore, in the aviation industry, there are plenty of incredible aviation jobs that pilots aspire to land – good-paying jobs. The top jobs in the industry require a college degree. At the very least, without a degree, you will be limiting your future career options.

#1. Choosing the Wrong Flight School: The best and worst decision a student pilot can make is related to the helicopter flight school they choose. Too many prospective student pilots fail to do their homework on flight schools before enrolling. Unfortunately, students can spend a great deal of money before they realize they chose the wrong school.

To become a commercial pilot (professional pilot), all students must earn a Commercial rating. But to get an entry level job as a commercial pilot it takes a lot more than ratings – it takes 300 to 400 flight hours or more (in most cases, a lot more). A student pilot can earn a commercial rating at 150 hours, which is not enough flight time to get a job. Therefore, most students go beyond the Commercial rating and obtain a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) rating. As a CFI, a pilot can earn the flight hours necessary to obtain their first industry job (referred to as a Tier 1 job). Find a flight school that can take you all the way through the process, including CFI.

What’s more, is the fact that most new pilots get their first industry job through networking. The aviation world is small, and where you get your training matters. To effectively compete for Tier 1 pilot jobs, you have to be credible – as a pilot and as a person. That means you have to be known by someone with credibility. Your mentors, flight instructors, and the school you get your training through must be able to help you enter the industry. So make sure you get your training through a school with a verifiable track record of graduates landing good paying jobs.

We hope this helps you avoid these student pilot mistakes and keep your aviation career progress on track.

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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.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

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.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

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