When Is an Airplane Pilot a Passenger?

Tori B. Mensching

Regulations can be tricky and sometimes downright confusing. Test your knowledge to see if you would make the same decisions this airplane pilot made in the example below. Would you make the same mistake?

The Scenario

Mark is an instrument rated private pilot who hasn’t flown at night in a while. He wants to fly his wife and two kids to the beach this weekend. They will need to fly at night because he doesn’t get off work until late on Friday. Mark hasn’t flown at night in a while so he isn’t legally current to carry passengers at night.

In order to regain the experience he needs to do the flight this weekend, Mark needs to go to the airport and take his Mooney up for three takeoffs and landings at night (per FAR 61.57).

As Mark walks to his hangar at the airport, he catches up with his friend Joe in the hangar next to his. Joe is also a pilot. He tells Joe he needs to go fly and do three quick landings so he can be legal to fly his family this weekend to the beach in the Mooney. Joe says, “Well it’s a nice night, would you like me to come along and be a second pair of eyes?” Mark isn’t sure if he can have Joe come along. Mark knows he isn’t legal to carry passengers yet, but Joe is also an airplane pilot. Surely two pilots are safer than one pilot. Can Mark and Joe legally fly together?

The Choice

Mark decides it would be helpful and invites Joe along on the flight. Mark completes the landings then heads home for dinner. When the weekend comes, Mark and his family have a fantastic family trip.

Was the flight legal? Would you make the same decision in that situation?

The Answer

You might be surprised to find, the answer is no. Technically, the first night flight was not a legal flight. Joe, although he is a pilot, is still considered a passenger if Mark is the pilot in command on the flight. A Mooney doesn’t need two pilots to operate. Mark needs to be the pilot in command so he can complete his three takeoffs and landings at night, and that makes Joe a passenger.

The FAA has determined that the relationship between a CFI and a student need not be considered a pilot and passenger relationship. But all other combinations are considered a pilot and a passenger. Mark made the wrong decision and flew at night with Joe, a passenger, while he wasn’t yet current to carry passengers. It doesn’t matter that Joe is also an airplane pilot.

In Conclusion

This is just one confusing scenario of many which you will face as a pilot. You must be sure you get the best training possible from an FAA approved flight school that covers all the bases with you. Test your instructor’s knowledge with this question. See if your instructor is as proficient with regulations as you need them to be.

Did you make the right choice or did you mistakenly agree with Mark?

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.

Guidelines for Buying an Airplane

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

So what comes first: the pilot’s license or buying an airplane? At first glance, this question seems to elicit a fairly straightforward response that an individual would not be buying an airplane if he or she was not planning on flying it personally. However, business entities, organizations, associations, and even individuals often purchase aircraft with the intent that they will be hiring a corporate pilot to transport them in their own airplane. There is one other category of individuals who makes the decision to purchase an aircraft prior to completing their private pilot’s license, because it provides him or her with the incentive to finish his or her pilot’s training by removing the option of quitting due to the financial investment that is now sitting on the tarmac or in the hanger as a constant reminder of that individual’s commitment.

What to Look For When Buying an Airplane

Whichever option comes first, there are specific guidelines that should be followed to ensure that buying an airplane runs as smoothly as possible. Financing is at the top of the list as many individuals and/or companies do not enjoy the luxury of paying cash for their aircraft. It is often wise to remember that the aircraft purchase is the least expensive part of owning an airplane, due to the costs of items like insurance, periodic inspections, and required maintenance, so investigating the operating costs and loan information then becomes a priority. Another financial consideration is the valuation or online Vref of the aircraft under consideration, which allows the prospective buyer to see if it is reasonably priced. In addition, conducting a pre-purchase inspection helps to eliminate any unanticipated [and typically unhappy] surprises. It is important to verify that parts are still available for the aircraft and that the local mechanics are able to work on it. Taking the airplane for a test flight prior to purchase is the best way to determine if it is a good fit for the skill level of the buyer. A thorough examination of the aircraft logs is a must and non-negotiable. Any evidence of an unusual entry should immediately raise suspicion, such as “replaced sections of fuselage skin,” which could be an indication of a gear-up landing. While still compiling the financial obligations of buying an airplane, it also becomes necessary to research the cost and availability of aircraft insurance.

Probably one of the most common errors in purchasing an aircraft is making an impulsive buying decision without fully considering the effects of that choice, rather than analyzing the requirements realistically and carefully [want versus need scenario]. To avoid purchasing more aircraft than is needed or can be used, it is wise to reflect upon whether all those fancy bells and whistles are really warranted. Renting the type of aircraft of interest is an excellent and less-expensive way of seeing how well it suits the frequency and duration of anticipated flights. Since the amount of the loan, as well as the interest rate, has a substantial impact on the total cost of the purchase, it pays [no pun intended] to invest considerable effort into finding the best source of financing.

A Cessna 182 on the runway

Photo by: Jeremy Zawodny

The major factors that affect the resale value (valuation) of the aircraft are the following:

  • Engine hours where the closer an engine is to its recommended between overhaul (TBO), the less its value but equally important is a record of its consistent use combined with a good maintenance program.
  • Installed equipment which includes avionics, air conditioning, deicing gear, and interior equipment where the avionics constitutes the biggest ticket item increases the value of the aircraft; however, older equipment is typically far more expensive to maintain.
  • Airworthiness Directives or ADs are issued by the FAA for safety reasons, and once issued, the owners of the aircraft are required to comply with the AD within the designated time period. The AD history should be reviewed for the nature of the ADs as well as whether they are recurring or a one-time compliance. The log books should indicate compliance with all applicable ADs which can be found through an online Internet search.
  • Damage history that indicates major repairs can significantly affect the value of an airplane depending upon the type of accident, nature of the damage, and the degree to which major components of the aircraft were involved. Any aircraft indicating a damage history must be closely examined to ensure that it was correctly repaired in accordance with the applicable FAA regulations and recommended practices.
  • Paint/interior is used occasionally to give older aircraft a quick facelift so new or recent paint jobs must be carefully checked for any evidence of corrosion under the surface, and interior items must be checked for a correct fit and condition. If done properly, both items enhance the value of the airplane.
  • Exercise caution when reviewing the terminology used to describe the engine condition. A top overhaul translates into a repair of the engine components outside of the crankcase while a major overhaul involves the complete disassembly, inspection, repair, and reassembly of the engine to its specified limits. If an engine has received a top or a major overhaul, the logbooks must show the total time on the engine if it is known, as well as its prior maintenance history. A “zero-time” engine is one that has been overhauled according to factory new limits by the original manufacturer and is issued a new logbook without the previous operating history which usually has a higher value than the same aircraft with just an overhauled engine.
  • Aircraft records should include the following documents that have been maintained in proper order for examination: airworthiness certificate, engine and airframe logbooks, aircraft equipment list, weight and balance data, placards, and FAA-approved aircraft flight manual or owner’s handbook. Any missing documents, pages or entries from the aircraft logbooks can cause significant issues for the buyer as well as reduce the value of the aircraft. Prior to purchase, hire a trusted mechanic to thoroughly inspect the aircraft, and provide a detailed written report of its condition; the pre-purchase inspection should include at the very least, a differential compression check on each cylinder of the engine and any other inspections that may be necessary to accurately determine the aircraft’s condition. In addition to the mechanical inspection, the aircraft logbooks and all other records should be carefully reviewed for such things as the FAA Form 337 which is a Report of Major Repair or Alteration, AD compliance, the status of service bulletins and letters, and aircraft/component serial numbers. The ideal choice of mechanic to perform the inspection would be experienced and familiar with the issues that may be encountered on that type of aircraft, with the goal of making buying an airplane and ownership of the aircraft under consideration as rewarding as possible.
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.

What Are the Aircraft Annual Inspection Requirements?

Dr. Mary Ann O’Grady

The aircraft annual inspection that is required by the Federal Aviation Administration is a straightforward process that is not difficult to conduct. However, difficulties can arise when the mechanic that is hired to perform the aircraft annual inspection is neither familiar with the process nor capable of keeping track of the time and materials. So, it is the responsibility of the aircraft owner to research the experience of the mechanic with his or her particular airplane, since the annual inspection is certainly not the time for on-the-job-training on the part of the mechanic.

In addition to determining the mechanic’s proficiency with performing annual inspections, it is also the aircraft owner’s responsibility to locate a qualified shop that is equipped with all the special tools and equipment to conduct the annual inspection properly. For example, are the tools well organized, and are stickers readily apparent to validate that the shop’s equipment has been calibrated and will test according to current tech data? The employees working in a qualified shop have been trained much more than just the bare minimum to attain an A&P license, although lesser-experienced mechanics may be working under the guidance of a senior mechanic with advanced training and many years of experience. Well-qualified shops should demonstrate a high degree of organization with the use of a tracking system that not only tracks the job and what parts were required, but also which mechanic(s) worked on the job and for how long. This can be accomplished with a scanner to ensure that the customer is only charged for the work that was done and the actual time and materials that it took to do it. The treatment of the aircraft, including its parts, is also an important consideration with regard to where it / they will be stored before and after the aircraft annual inspection, as well as where it will be parked if it is awaiting new parts.

The inspection guidelines dictate that the aircraft owner should have a record or inventory that identifies just what was given to the shop, and copies made of the most important documentation, such as previous log entries for past years detailing major repairs, tach and total time as well as AD note compliance, modifications and alterations, and 337 forms. Disorganized record-keeping can result in significant delays and greater financial expense since the shop is required to list in the aircraft records any maintenance, all repairs, inspections, and the results and AD notes that were complied with. The shop can only return the aircraft and associated prop, engine, etc. to service if there are no outstanding AD notes due at the time they completed the inspection.

The pre-inspection phase of the aircraft annual inspection determines that the aircraft meets the type certificate design or original configuration and that it is in safe operating condition, which is governed by various approved data including aircraft maintenance manuals, AC-43 13-1b, AD notes, and service bulletins. However, the FARs specify exactly what must be done during the annual inspection via a checklist, and the items that are to be inspected are listed under FAR Part 43, Appendix D.

The preparation for inspection and the inspection itself is divided into separate parts since repairs are accomplished only after the inspection has been completed, all the AD notes have been researched and a determination made regarding what applies and ultimately what needs to be done. To avoid conflict between the aircraft owner and the shop conducting the inspection, the inspection should be treated as a separate entity without including servicing, lubrication, repairs or AD note compliance. The cost of the inspection including labor and materials should be clearly communicated to the aircraft owner so that he or she is aware that any repairs, AD note compliance, parts, alterations, fluids and hardware are additional charges.

Once the inspection has been completed, a list should be constructed identifying each deficiency that was found and whether the repair should be classified as “required” or “just a good idea.” It is important that the inspection be completed prior to discussing repairs, and a determination made that pertains to the airworthiness of the aircraft – did it pass inspection or not? If it did not pass, a discrepancy list must be provided to the owner, and the inspection categorized as “un-airworthy” in the aircraft records. If the owner disagrees with that inspection designation or wants another shop to conduct the repairs, he or she may choose another facility depending upon the required repairs. Once the required repairs are completed, the aircraft does not require re-inspection, and the annual inspection date remains in effect requiring another inspection 12 calendar months after the previous inspection.

Pre-Inspection Details

Rivet on the wing of an airplaneUsually, the first step in a pre-inspection is the walk-around, which is similar to the pre-flight, to identify any previous damage as well as to note of the general condition of the aircraft, such as strut inflation, flap, rudder and aileron position and condition as related to the cockpit indication. The fluids (oil and fuel) are also examined for leakage or puddling, and the engine is checked for oil level, missing parts, baffles, cowling damage, missing fasteners, etc. The aircraft is then operated with a taxi check to determine the proper function of the instruments including gyros, compass, autopilot, radios, brakes, etc., and a written record is constructed. At the time of the run-up, the readings of all instruments before, during and after the run-up are recorded including a static power check using a calibrated RPM instrument which is mandatory as part of the aircraft annual inspection. This detailed record should be kept with the aircraft inspection data for future comparison.

During the actual inspection phase, the inspection panels are removed by anyone including the airplane owner, and the inspection should begin with an oil drain, a portion of which should be collected for analysis, removing the suction screen (if removable), the oil filter and/or the pressure screen to properly check for contamination. While the engine is warm, the spark plugs, either upper or lower, are removed and a compression check computed, after which the results are written on paper rather than on the cylinder. If one or more cylinders indicate low compression or a significant amount of metal particles in the oil, sump screen or filter media there is no point in conducting an in-depth inspection of the engine. If the engine compression is fine, and there is a negligible amount of metal apparent, the inspection continues at which point the inspection panels, seats, carpeting, battery, etc. are removed. Mechanics should report their observations of stripped screws, broken wires, etc. as well as to hang a bright colored streamer from each area that needs attention prior to reassembly. Mechanics should remove the wheels and service the wheel bearings; mufflers are also removed and checked for leakage with a test unit, and any discrepancies are noted in writing.

When the airplane is ready for the actual inspection, the shop inspector is contacted so that he or she can review the AD notes and log books for compliance as well as to review the recent mechanic’s notes recorded in the current pre-inspection phase. The shop inspector then records all of his or her findings, and when this inspection has concluded, he or she will inform the mechanic, what, if any, part of the aircraft can be reassembled. Any areas that require repair will be left open or accessible, and a complete list will be compiled with a written estimate for the necessary repairs as well as for the repairs that can be deferred.

The aircraft owner is contacted and notified prior to any repairs being made, but it is important that all necessary repairs be disclosed by the mechanic whether or not that shop is capable of making the major repairs. Owners are often distressed when an inspection reveals unanticipated or more extensive damage than initially thought to exist, but it is not the inspector’s fault that further damage was identified suggesting a “don’t-shoot-the-messenger” scenario. When the aircraft annual inspection is signed off, it is stipulating that the entire airplane has been found to be airworthy and safe to fly, so there is no such thing as “good enough” to return to service if the inspector is willing to affix his or her signature to the inspection report.

Repairs are another phase that follows the completed aircraft annual inspection, but they are becoming more difficult as parts continue to increase in price and decrease in availability. Competent shops are always searching for ways in which repairs can be made more economically by checking for all options that may be available to complete the job correctly the first time, thereby guaranteeing the airworthiness of the airplane.

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.

Additional Flight Safety Articles:

Know the Signs and Symptoms of Hypoxia and Avoid Becoming a Victim

Positive Exchange of Flight Controls and Language

Halley’s Comet and the Go No-Go Decision

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

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.

Cessna Flight Training: Why Flight Schools Love Cessnas

Jennifer Roth

It may seem odd and almost archaic these days that most initial flight training is done in a small aircraft like a single engine Cessna. Many times, students show up to tour a flight campus and they are often surprised at how small and “simple” the airplanes look. This, however, is an opinion that usually changes once they begin their flight training.

Cessna airplanes are excellent for flight training because they are able to handle the constant stress that training puts on them. Student pilots are able to make mistakes and learn from them during Cessna flight training without putting themselves in danger every time. The airplane is stable, yet controllable, allowing for a wide range of maneuvers to be practiced. Cessnas are also very cost efficient aircraft, not only for the student but also for the flight schools or training facilities using them. The aircraft tend to be smaller when used in the training environment, usually two to four seats. Although it may be smaller space wise, it is enough to allow for a student and flight instructor as well as all the available information for the teaching and learning environment (“Planes You Can Fly”, n.d.).

cess1

Cost efficiency and easier maneuvering are not the only reasons flight schools tend to utilize Cessnas for training, but also the vast amount of information that can be learned within one. When a person decides they want to start flying, usually the less aviation knowledgeable person assumes they will start off in a “jet.” In reality, that is just not possible, and with today’s ever-growing and changing technology, it is hard to grasp flying something like a Cessna. Many Cessna aircraft have older avionics, or “steam gauge” instrument panels.

And for prospective student pilots, this may seem like the “old” way to fly as opposed to the glass-paneled aircraft that are becoming more popular. Learning through these older instruments can sometimes help build a solid foundation of instrument interpretation, and with this knowledge, a student can apply it to more advanced systems such as a Cessna fitted with Garmin G-1000. However, starting out learning in a glass cockpit can also offer benefits to students, and Cessna has multiple types of aircraft allowing for a wide range of flying, depending on the level of learning being sought.

Once a student has completed their flight training, if they choose to continue toward a career in the airlines, they are able to take the knowledge they learned flying a Cessna aircraft and apply it to any aircraft they fly. Of course, like with anything, there will be new training to learn whatever specific aircraft they will fly, but they will have that solid foundation of knowledge. That groundwork will allow them to specifically focus on learning the aircraft rather than having to relearn to fly.

So, to some, the smaller aircraft such as Cessna may seem small in size, but Cessna flight training will teach a person everything they need to know about flying, and they will have fun in the process!

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.

The Questions to Ask When Choosing a Flight School

Early in childhood, most of us were taught these basic types of questions and how to apply them in any given situation. When it comes to choosing a flight school, these old friends will not lead you astray. Selecting where to do your pilot training is a serious endeavor that can be tedious, confusing, and often overwhelming. My goal, however, is that you walk away from this article feeling a bit more prepared when taking the first steps toward your next aviation adventure, whatever and whenever that may be.

Choosing a Flight School: The Who

Do your best to meet several flight instructors, including those who would likely be assigned to you. If the Chief Instructor Pilot is available to discuss their programs, that’s even better. Try to speak with some of the office staff and aircraft maintainers, as well. Talk to them about their backgrounds, ask all your questions, and don’t be afraid to get their opinion on the company and training programs. You would be surprised the kinds of insight people will offer when given the opportunity.

Choosing a Flight School: The What

A Cessna 172 Skyhawk in flight.

Take a good look at the aircraft you’ll be flying, as well as the number of aircraft available versus the number flown on a daily basis. Having twenty aircraft means very little if only three of them are airworthy, and should be looked at as a red flag. Inside the aircraft of today’s schools, the systems and equipment can vary greatly. Do the majority of aircraft have glass cockpits or steam gauges? Dual GPS or a single VOR? Are you looking to be trained only in aircraft with new digital, glass cockpits? The options will be many, so have an idea of your equipment desires before you venture out.

Choosing a Flight School: The When

A student’s pace in training can largely be determined by availability, both on the part of the instructor and the student. Ask about CFI-to-Student ratios, and be honest with yourself about your own availability. Perhaps your planned schedule only allows for early morning flights on the weekends, which the school may or may not be able to support. These will be some of the factors that determine your expectations for the pace at which you complete training. Be justifiably leery of any school whose main attraction is a shortest-time-to-ratings mantra; effective instruction will be inherently efficient and should establish a reasonable pace unique to every student.

Choosing a Flight School: The Where

Is the airport in a remote location? Is it near an International Airport? Is it based at an International Airport? Are there other flight schools at the same airport, adding to the daily traffic density? How will those factors affect your training and do they align with your desires as a student pilot? Some students seek the structure and added rigor of Class Bravo airspace, while others may want the quiet radios of a small, hometown airstrip. Ask to see the briefing rooms where you’ll do ground training, as well as maintenance spaces and administrative offices. You’ll be spending a good amount of time, and money, so get to know the facilities.

Choosing a Flight School: The Why

One of the most efficient questions you can ask a prospective school is “Why should I choose your flight school over every other flight school?” This is where doing your homework and visiting multiple schools if your local area affords it, can really pay dividends. No flight school should be shy about answering this question. In fact, one would hope to hear a prideful undertone in their response.

Choosing a Flight School: The Howchoosing a flight school

The final two questions are a culmination of everything we have discussed. Often times the first and most decisiveaspect of flight training is “How much will it cost?” A valid concern considering the cost of present day flight training. Get specifics in writing for aircraft (including variously equipped), instructors, ground school, written exam and checkride fees, required vs. desired training supplies, security badge fees, and any other school-specific costs. This will be one of the best ways to compare apples-to-apples between various locations.

The last question, and in my opinion far and away the most important: How did you feel? Every flight school is different, from the people to the aircraft to the fabric on the chairs in the lobby. It is of the utmost importance that you not only feel comfortable and safe in the environment but that you get a deeper, internal sense of “this is the right place for me”. I would offer the flight school should feel the same way. They should be accepting of and forthcoming regarding your questions and supportive of you choosing what best suits you and your goals as a pilot. If they aren’t, how does that make you feel?

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.

6 Must Read Tips for Your First Airplane Flying Lessons

Spencer Martin

Your first few airplane flying lessons are some of the most important and memorable you’ll ever have. Here’s how to make the most of your pre-solo airplane flight training.

Get Your Hands on the Controls

You learned to walk by walking. You learned to drive by driving, and flying is no different. It takes hours upon hours of hands-on experience to learn how to fly safely, so don’t let your flight instructor hog the yoke. It can be very helpful to have something demonstrated to you before trying it yourself; in fact, good instruction will require demonstrations. However, one example is usually enough and then it’s your turn to fly again. Even when your instructor is flying, you should follow along with them on the controls to feel how they are maneuvering the aircraft. This builds positive muscle memory and leads to good habits early on. It helps to know what type of learner you are too. Some people like more demonstration than others, but the point is to learn how to fly an aircraft by yourself so the more stick and rudder time you get, the better off you’ll be.

Keep Your Eyes Outside
View from the cockpit of a small plane - Airplane Flying Lessons

Photo by: ravas51

You are training to become a pilot under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). This means that the majority of your time should be spent looking outside and not at the flight instruments. Younger students who grew up looking at screens and digital distractions tend to rely on their instruments too much early on in their training. There is no need to depend on the artificial horizon on your attitude indicator when you have the real horizon right out your windshield. While flight instruments can be very helpful, they are to be used primarily to validate what you see outside. In fact, the FAA recommends “90% of the time, the pilot’s attention should be outside the cockpit.”1 Keeping your eyes outside not only increases safety for everyone in the air, it also leads to better piloting skills all throughout any course of training you set your sights on later. Plus the view is just the best!

Ask a Million Questions

At this point in the game, almost everything is going to be new, so try and absorb as much of it as you can without feeling like you’re drinking from a fire hose. Your CFI will love how engaged you are in your own learning and do everything they can to answer your questions in ways that make sense to somebody new to the complex world of aviation. If the lesson is focused on landings, try and come prepared with a few questions on power settings and airspeeds. If you’re learning about stalls, read the appropriate chapter in your textbook the night before the lesson and take notes on what you don’t yet understand. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are before a flight, the more you will take away from your time in the air. This leads to less repeated lessons and better overall comprehension of aviation and flying technique.

Questions, comments, complaints, concerns?

This is what my initial CFI would ask me every time we got back to his office after a flight to start a debrief. Getting a thorough debrief from your CFI is vital to retaining what you did right, and examining what can be improved upon for next time. Take notes and actively participate with your CFI to get the most out of their critique. Instructors want you to succeed just as much as you do; working closely with them and taking their suggestions seriously will help you become the best pilot you can be.

Become an Armchair Captain

A student pilot in the cockpit - Airplane Flying Lessons

It sounds silly but similar to flight simulator training, chair flying will save you so much time and effort in the long run. Ask any professional athlete how they practice and they will almost all tell you they practice with the same focus they have in the game. Practice only makes perfect if the practice is perfect. Do yourself a huge favor and practice checklist usage, stall recovery procedures, or radio calls on the ground where it is a low-stress environment (and where its free too).

Have Fun with Your Airplane Flying Lessons!

If you get stuck in a rut knocking out lesson after lesson, go for your first $100 hamburger or fly over your house or the nearest scenic landmark (at a safe altitude of course). Training can be stressful at times so it’s perfectly acceptable to do something with your CFI that will be memorable and remind you why you wanted to become a pilot in the first place.

In Conclusion

When everything is new and exciting, your first airplane flying lessons can fly by without you realizing it (pun intended). If you come prepared, are open to new experiences, and take charge of your own learning, then you’ll be enroute to becoming a private pilot in no time.

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.

Sources:

1 – FAA-H-8083-3A Airplane Flying Handbook Figure 3-2

Flying Airplanes: How Can Something so Disciplined Be so Romantic?

If everyone in the world could fly an airplane it wouldn’t be special and because of this flying airplanes requires initiative and effort but it’s rewarded with exhilaration.

Vern Weiss

You’ve just touched down at your destination airport. For the last ten minutes, your passenger has been scanning the ground and unsuccessfully looking for something recognizable. The radio chatter is incessant and the passenger wonders, even if he knew what the lingo meant, how do you know when you’re supposed to speak into the microphone? “Fih-yuv Niner Whiskey?” “Left Zero Two Zero?” What’s all that? Then, out of nowhere, the passenger notices that you have reduced the power and the aircraft slows. The passenger wonders why this is happening because you are still high in the air and nothing…but nothing…on the ground looks familiar. Suddenly you move your hand over to the flap handle and the whole aircraft pitches downward; then another power reduction for who knows what reason and another flap handle movement. With the passenger’s eyes popping out of their sockets in a vain attempt to find where you’re aiming this airplane, you reach over and throw another lever. With a startling “cluh-chunk,” you remain cool as the landing gear extends and your passenger’s bewilderment meter pegs. Left and right the passenger sees nothing and thinks, “for crying out loud, does that radio never shut up!” Then suddenly it’s right there in front… a long ribbon of concrete, inviting, safe…home. The wheels gently kiss the pavement and the airplane decelerates and it seems to anticlimactic. As you turn off the runway and onto a taxiway your passenger says, “how did you do that?!!!” There was so much going on and the passenger could hardly take it all in let alone see any of the visual cues you were using to guide you through the choreography of navigation and configuration for landing. But this is why you are flying airplanes and your passenger is not. Your training and your experience make it all look so simple and you don’t even notice that you were doing things an untrained observer would be incapable of doing.

Curtain falls. Curtain rises. You’re driving down the street and some jerk cuts you off. “Where’d that creep get a driver’s license?” you bellow as you hold back the urge to flip him off. That “creep” probably has a license because it is so easy and requires very little skill or study. This is why people can learn to drive a car in only a few hours. Driving was made to be simple so the masses could do it (and buy cars that do most of the thinking for them). Consider how most people are challenged if, while driving, they try to talk on a cell phone. Then toss into the mix it starting to rain. They’re overloaded…steering, yakking and now they have to throw a switch for the windshield wipers.

Ka-BOOM!

…Then they’re ticketed by the cops and their insurance rates go up. End of story.

But as a pilot, you are trained to safely multi-task. During your pilot training, you will be trained to prioritize and follow orderly procedures. This takes the guess work out of tasks, even emergencies. Flying airplanes demands methodical steps in everything that happens or that the pilot must accomplish. Yeah, sure, there are pilots out there that never use a checklist but with each flight, they’re likely getting closer to the one in which they’ll have an accident, incident or at least something that will be unsavory to them.

But in exchange for the skills you hone and the “smarts” you accumulate, you are controlling a vehicle that is traveling perhaps one-hundred miles per hour or more and leaping over the ribbon of red tail lights you see below on the expressway. Flying enables you to proceed directly to your destination without consideration of construction zones or other impediments around which you must detour like, f’rinstance, Lake Erie.

When flying airplanes you make both conscious as well as unconscious decisions that ultimately result in success. As an example, you are flying to an airport and between you and the airport exists a line of thunderstorms. You only have enough fuel to make it to the airport so long as you do not deviate around the bad weather. This is a no-brainer. You check your chart and see an airport is only a spitting distance from where you’re located right now so you land, take on fuel, wait for the line of storms to pass and then take off and fly to the destination.

Well done! Actually, it’s brilliant what you’ve done. But this is pilot’s think. If you wanted to take chances on a journey you’d drive a car. People are taking chances all the time in cars because they’re not disciplined and don’t take it all that seriously. As a pilot, you know that bad choices and mistakes in flying airplanes can have horrible consequences so you take better care of the judgments and decisions you make.

Do you want to know something that is pretty cool? After people become pilots they tend to be better drivers on the highways! As a pilot and while driving you will find that the whole specter of how you conduct yourself and the decisions you make will start being more pilot-like and less driver-like. When the fuel gauge on a car shows one needle-width above empty, many drivers will interpret that as, “hey, I’ve still got a little gas in there.” But a pilot will look at that needle and interpret it differently. A pilot will think “what if the float in the gas tank is stuck?” or “what if there’s a bunch of water in my fuel tank that the gauge is now measuring?” Or “what if I miss my exit and the next one is ten more miles down the road?” Or… Or… You get the idea. As a pilot you think more about eventualities and the unexpected. You will weigh your windows of vulnerability in everything you do.

There are few things as satisfying finishing a job well-done. As you tie-down your aircraft and walk to your car you will think about how you handled the last flight and those parts of it of which you’re proud. Sure, you may have made some mistakes but you “fixed” those mistakes by subsequent decisions that counter-balanced them; diminishing or eliminating the errors. All pilots make mistakes but it is how they handle them that determines success. And pilots tend to “fix” the small ones early so they don’t escalate into big problems.

There is a well-known poem written by John Magee who was a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Mr. Magee’s poem, “High Flight1 begins:

“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds –

and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of…”

There is no doubt that slipping surly bonds and flying airplanes with laughter-silvered wings is probably as good as, say, a cheeseburger and a beer. But long after the cheeseburger and beer have been forgotten the craving to fill your senses with all that is flying and that flying means remains. You’ll think about it day and night. Some define their personal identity as fliers before even their own name. Who are you? “I’m a pilot…and, uh..my name is Oswald.”
It’s addicting. It will envelop you. It will not permit you to get it out of your mind. Those who have flown and stop flying usually admit that when they look up and see an airplane, they miss it. And that’s because it is a wonderful privilege.

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.

Sources:

1 “High Flight” John Gillespie Magee. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/highflig.htm

Flight Simulator Training: Cutting Costs and Improving Skills

Stimulation by Simulation

Vern Weiss

A long time ago they discovered that training pilots could be done more efficiently if there were a means to duplicate the objectives of instruction given in an aircraft. Not only could pilot training be cheaper but some maneuvers could be accomplished without the window of vulnerability for hazards that comes with some training scenarios when attempted in an aircraft.

A Brief History of Flight Simulator Training

Very rudimentary ground-based simulators had been developed to teach pilots target practice during World War I. It wasn’t until a musical instrument manufacturer and hobby flier became dissatisfied with his own flight training that the first functional simulator became a reality. In 1927, Edwin Link used components from church organs to build his first simulator which featured spartan generic cockpit controls and instruments mounted on a movable platform. Other than erratic and wobbly instrument indications and movement of the student’s seat in the trainer, it provided little else. Even so, Link sold the idea to the military and manufactured some 10,000 of these Link trainers. The Link trainer remained the standard for pilot simulator training until the mid-1950s when Pan American Airways contracted the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company to develop the first full-motion, aircraft-specific simulator. At the same time, United Airlines bought the same simulator but added a visual display which was provided by a camera moving over a model of miniature cities and ground terrain.

Over the years the development of flight simulator training has steadily improved and its value increased. As aircraft operators noticed the cost-effectiveness of using such devices, government agencies took notice as well and began to offer “relief” from some pilot licensing requirements when simulators are used.

The Flight Simulator Training vs. Aircraft Issue

At the center of the simulator-versus-aircraft training issue is the credit toward pilot certification for one over the other. For the purpose of this narrative let’s confine our discussion to flight simulation that comes under the watch of the US Federal Aviation Administration. Other countries have their own governance such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that define their own certification criteria. In order to receive FAA approval for use of a flight simulator, it must meet many design, functional and demonstrable requirements. In other words, the PC computer program, Microsoft® Flight Simulator does not satisfy those requirements. Although some maintain the program is helpful to pilots for casual use, it fails to meet the strict demands of the FAA regulations as a training tool.

The classifications of simulators have become confusing and sometimes clumsily blurred. In fact, there are over 30 such classifications worldwide! Simply stated, the difference in the classifications is this: If the simulator has a letter designation (i.e. Level “C” simulator) it moves and costs big bucks. If the simulator has a numerical designation (i.e. Level “5” simulator), it doesn’t move but still costs a lot of dough (although not as much). The higher the number or letter, the more sophisticated the device. Only devices that move are recognized by the FAA as “simulators.” Those that don’t are considered “trainers” or “devices.” The big difference is that full flight simulators can be used to meet most requirements of a pilot check-ride whereas partial credit for training hours is all you can expect from a trainer.

The 7 Levels of Flight Training Devices and 4 Levels of Flight Simulator

Level 1 flight training devices (FTDs) are no longer manufactured and those few that still exist have been grandfathered into the approval process, but it is unlikely you will encounter one today.

Level 2 FTDs are also no longer manufactured although some operators still use theirs that were grandfathered into the approval process years ago.

Level 3 FTDs are no longer approved however some continue to be in use. The FAA now considers those Level 3 trainers as “Advanced Aviation Training Devices” which is a new classification that we’ll cover later.

Level 4 FTDs consist of a touch-screen and are used only for procedural, navigation and flight management system training. Such trainers are generic and do not have any distinction between aircraft class such as single engine or multi-engine nor do they incorporate a control yoke. These are similar to what is known as a “cockpit procedures trainer” and today the FAA is only officially certifying them for use in helicopter training. They do exist for airplanes however their use is not approved for the training requirements of fixed wing ratings. Visual systems are not required.

Level 5 FTDs begin to look more like an aircraft and are configured with aircraft class attributes (single-engine, multi-engine etc). While Level 5 trainers are certified as representative of a generic single-engine aircraft, some manufacturers are producing Level 5 devices with specific attributes of a particular model of aircraft. Level 5 trainers require special FAA certification and a control yoke, but a visual system is not required.

Level 6 FTDs must be designed and certificated to provide you with accurate function as well as tactile, aerodynamic and spatial relationships (i.e. as you increase power you receive instrument indications of a commenced climb and increased backward pressure on the yoke requiring input and trim). A physical cockpit with accurate controls and instrumentation is required, but a visual system is still not required.

Level 7 FTDs must be model specific with all applicable aerodynamics, flight controls, and systems including a vibration and visual system. These trainers are presently only certificated for helicopters.

But wait! We’re not done yet!

A new classification of FTD has appeared on the scene: The Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) and the Basic Aviation Training Device (BATD). What makes the BATD and AATD confusing is that certification by the FAA is often subjective and without specific criteria as defined by regulation. To further muddy the water…although the BATD and AATD is a flight training device and not a simulator, it is not required to move; however, it might, depending on its manufacturer! Furthermore, even though an AATD may offer motion it still does not qualify under the FAA guidelines for meeting the requirements of pilot training in the same way that a full flight simulator would. An AATD can save up to a maximum of 10 hours of aircraft flight time toward your instrument rating and 2.5 hours toward your private license. Like any FTD, an AATD assists in making you more familiar so as not to require repetitive practice while an aircraft Hobbs meter is ticking away (which means: $$$).

What do the “Big Boys” (and Girls) Use for Flight Simulator Training?

Now that all this talk about the 7 levels has given you a headache, let’s add the coup de grâce to send you running for the aspirin bottle: SIMULATORS.

Mercifully there are only 4 categories of full-flight simulators, Level “A,” “B,” “C,” and “D.”

Level “A” simulators are now gasping and wheezing and nearly extinct. In fact, there are only about a dozen left. They’re required to provide motion of course but provide only rudimentary visual displays and less sophisticated aerodynamic modeling such as the properties of ground effect. Level “A” simulators are only certified for fixed wing aircraft and not helicopters.

Level “B” is slightly more sophisticated than Level “A” simulators although only a handful remain in the US. 80% of an FAA type rating may be completed in one, but the remainder of the check ride must be accomplished in an actual aircraft. These simulators provide you with a higher degree of aerodynamic feedback, physical movement on their motion bases and better panoramic visual displays. In addition to widespread use for airplane training, this is the lowest level simulator that is approved for helicopters.

Level “C” simulators are only slightly different than Level “B” simulators. The visual displays are improved and both feedback and response time is more realistic. Only Level “C” and “D” simulators are approved for a full pilot proficiency check. Other simulators can be used for instrument portions of your proficiency check, but credit is not given for the landing portion as is permitted in Level “C” and “D” versions.

Level “D” simulators are approved for use for a full type rating because of their sophistication. This is the highest level of simulator currently available. In addition to sound, these simulators can even generate smoke in the cockpit to simulate a system fire; no kidding! Full daytime and nighttime visuals are required as well as 150 degrees of up, down and horizontally accurate visual displays. Such simulators are incredibly expensive with a price tag that runs between $1 million to $40 million, depending on whether your shopping with coupons.

So What’s the Best Way You Can Save Money with Flight Simulator Training?

The answer to this question is simple: utilize some form of training device that will not only save money on aircraft rental/expense but also permit you to make mistakes, practice and repeat maneuvers until you are confident and comfortable.

Today there are a lot of different flight simulator training devices being manufactured and the question as to which one is best for you comes down to either an AATD or a Level 5 FTD. Right now the FAA credits more FTD training time toward your license when you use a Level 5 FTD than with an AATD. To be fair, however, there is an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to grant applicants the same credit toward a license or rating in either type of training device. What a student should not ignore is the enormous benefits offered in a Level 5 FTD over an AATD. A Level 5 FTD provides far greater fidelity in feel, response and performance and the experience is closer to what you experience in a real aircraft. At the same time, the Level 5 FTD is aircraft specific whereas an AATD is generic and is to flying like foosball is to playing real soccer.

The bottom line is that Level 5 FTDs provide better quality training because the perceptions are well defined. In the event that the NPRM does not become law, Level 5 FTD training will still stand head and shoulders above AATDs, not only by saving you a great deal in cost on the minimum hour requirements but by making your training time much more realistic and efficient.

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.

Sources:

FAA Advisory Circular 61-136A November 17, 2014

FAA Advisory Circular AC-120-40B July 29, 1991

FAA Part 61 Regulations

Federal Register, July 6, 2015 NPRM Aviation Training Device Credit for Pilot Certification

FAA Flight Simulation Training Device Qualification (FSTD) Bulletin 10-02

Telephone conversation with Jeremy Brown, Frasca December 2, 2015

AOPA “ABCs of Simulators” Alton Marsh May 1, 2011 (http://www.aopa.org/News-and-Video/All-News/2011/May/1/ABCs-of-Simulators)

Have You Ever Thought of Becoming a Pilot?

The Journey from Fixed Wing Single Engines to Jets

Shawn Arena

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That is one question I am sure almost all of us can remember being asked by either parents, teachers, or friends when we were young. Most certainly we replied with an answer such as a ballplayer, a doctor, a nurse, or a fireman.

As we mature and experience the world around us our dreams continue to expand – until that one day when someone would ask that follow-up question “Have you ever thought of becoming a pilot?” Almost immediately our dreams turned towards the sky. That is what happened with me. Though I had a grandfather who first flew in the 1930s, I was left to discover for myself what I wanted to do when I grew up-until he asked the question that titles this article.

If someone has posed that question to you and you don’t know where to begin, hopefully this article will serve as that ‘leading edge of the wing’ to provide some insight. “But I don’t know where to start” may be the question you are asking yourself right now. Don’t worry, there are options readily available to explore. If you are in elementary school, consider a high school that has an aviation program. More and more high schools are expanding their core curriculum to include a private pilot ground school that can lead to earning your Fixed Wing Private Pilot, Single Engine Land Certificate. A nice add-on to also consider with your high school education is getting involved with an ROTC program- an easy bridge to an aviation career. That is what really motivated me!

After high school the amount of four-year universities that offer an aviation education are numerous: Embry-Riddle, Arizona State, Auburn, Ohio State, and Baylor Universities are just a few of the many offering Bachelor’s Degrees in an aviation program.

If you are considering a career in any branch of the military, aviation is an important component of their respective career paths as well (especially the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps. and Coast Guard).

Another option to consider if the aviation college or the military paths are not appealing, go down to your local airport and check out the FAA designated flight schools at a Fixed Based Operator (FBO). They are always eager to answer all your questions, provide a career path or even offer you a Discovery Flight to get started on your dream.

Either way you choose to pursue, advance ratings and certifications follow accordingly after the single engine experience. The tip of the pyramid however is the title of Air Transport Rated Pilot (ATP) – another fancy name for Commercial Airline Pilot. The commercial airline pilot is the typical mindset the general public thinks of when talking about aviation. Though the road may be tough – starting out as a regional pilot and then ‘getting your dream shot’ as an airline pilot, the satisfaction is priceless. Corporate aviation is a similar path to the airline pilot career. Since by definition commercial pilots are flying for hire – you get to fly executive aircraft with state-of-the-art automation to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Wow!

So what are you waiting for? Start by exploring your local airport, high school or even college catalogs to see which track you want to pursue as you’re researching becoming a pilot. After all the sky’s the limit.

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.

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.

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.

Crosswind Landing: Learning The Basics in Small Aircraft

Crosswind conditions increase the risk of the landing, and as a student pilot, it is imperative that you become very comfortable with a crosswind landing. You never know when the wind will become greater than expected, and you need to be prepared for all circumstances.

“A crosswind landing is a landing maneuver in which a significant component of the prevailing wind is perpendicular to the runway center line.”

As a student pilot, crosswind landings are very important to learn, so do not avoid crosswinds landings. A good instructor will take advantage of crosswind conditions to teach his or her student the proper techniques. Practice makes perfect, therefore as a student your instructor should be looking for opportunities to train you in the techniques of crosswind landings. There is no other way to become comfortable than to make landings in crosswinds.

“A crosswind landing starts with proper alignment of the aircraft with the runaway.”

As the aircraft approaches the ground, the pilot should be prepared to make needed corrections (alignment with the runway) depending upon the strength of the opposing winds.

There are two ways to perform crosswind landings. The first technique is the “crab landing”. Crabbing is a technique used to head the nose of the aircraft into the wind while keeping the track of the aircraft aligned with the runway. During the crab, the heading of the aircraft will not be aligned with the runway (aircraft nose will point into the wind), but the direction of the aircraft will be in alignment with the runway.

A quick strong force (side-load) imposed on the landing gear during a crosswind landing could cause damage to the landing gear and result in the loss of the control of the aircraft. It is not wise to land (touch down) the aircraft sideways (pointing into the wind while tracking with the runway) without landing gear capable of pivoting to align with the runway.

Therefore it is necessary for the pilot to align the aircraft with the direction of runway (landing the plane in straight alignment with the runway) prior to touchdown.

The other popular crosswind landing method is the “slip”, which requires greater skill compared to the crab. During a slip the pilot uses the rudder, to align the nose of the aircraft with the center of the runway, and using the aileron to correct the airplane’s drift to align with the runway center line.

The amount of aileron and rudder required will be dependent upon the strength and change of the wind. There could be a lot of adjustments as you approach touchdown. After landing the student pilot will continue to use the ailerons into the wind and keep working the rudders to maintain a straight track down the runway.

Light Aircraft in Strong Crosswind Landings HD

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.