Smart Phones in Aviation: How Aviation Apps Affect Flying

Toni Mensching

Smartphones have only been on the scene for a little over twenty years. That’s less than the average person. Yet, smartphones have changed the world. Aviation’s changing resulting from smartphone capabilities and aviation apps is undeniable. For better or for worse, smartphones are in almost every pilot’s hand. How pilots use this resource varies with technological savvy. Flight planning, training, navigation, logbooks, and regulations are forever changed with the introduction of smartphones and aviation apps into the aviation industry.

Last year, my boss was standing in a group having an engaging conversation about a new product. The four of us were just outside a large hangar enjoying the cool breeze. His phone gave a buzz and he glanced up at the sky which was mostly obscured by the large hangar next to us. Though I saw no clouds, I followed when he said, “Let’s move inside to stay dry,” as he ushered us into the building. Less than two minutes later we could hear the rain pelting the rooftop of the metal hangar. He convinced them to try the new product. Me, however, he convinced to download the app which notified him that rain was imminent at his location.

Once, radar was only viewable on the local news or weather broadcast. Weather briefers and controllers with radar could only tell pilots what they saw. Now, with the touch of your hand, radar is immediately at your fingertips on the smartphone. Developers have created aviation apps that track rain’s radar return and notify you if rain is less than a few minutes from your GPS location. In aviation, thunderstorms can be extremely dangerous. Knowing where they are and where they are going improves safety beyond measure.

aviation appsComputerized flight planning came along before smartphones. No longer were pilots bound to using E6B calculators and plotters paired with weather reports to find out how long it would take to get from here to there. Computerized flight planning brought with it speed and convenience. Smartphones took this a step further making flight planning mobile and in some cases, seamlessly transferable to cockpit navigation equipment. Simply plan your flight on your phone, hop in your aircraft and Bluetooth will allow you to load that flight plan right into your GPS. No reprogramming necessary.

Smartphones have also begun to replace costly aircraft equipment in private aircraft. In the past, aircraft owners might have invested several thousand dollars on installing multiple receivers to be able to see things like weather and traffic in the cockpit. An iPhone, for instance, coupled with one mobile receiver now can display radar as well as aircraft operating nearby simultaneously. All this awareness information is overlaid onto a moving map of your route on your smartphone so you have the greatest amount of situational awareness possible.

For fear of low return on investment, aircraft owners have long lamented installing costly avionics equipment in an aircraft they may not plan to keep more than a few years. With the advent of smartphones making luxuries portable, more owners will choose to invest in equipping themselves with these awareness tools such as traffic and weather reporting systems. Increased situational awareness on an individual level improves overall industry safety.

Smartphones have also provided a way to ease the manual burden of completing logbook entries. When paired with an electronic logbook, a smartphone acts as an immediately available recording tool in the cockpit. Carrying a large logbook on several flights is not only cumbersome but doing so increases the risk of lost logs. That’s why some pilots carry smaller, pocket sized, crew logbooks along on multiple day trips. An extra crew log introduced a data transfer step into the already manual process of logging flight experience. The convenience of the smartphone helps pilots bypass the transfer, risk of loss, and cumbersome book shuffling by allowing electronic record entry in a device which is already a part of everyday life.

Smartphones have changed aviation by making flying a more social activity. Popular among today’s flight students, sharing training flights via social media is bringing pilots and their loved ones closer together. Families, friends, and spouses are taking an active and supportive role in flight training by using these tools. Therefore, bridging the once crippling gap between the aviation and non-aviation worlds. No longer does a flight student spend the day away training without any significant method to show or tell loved ones about the wonderful training experience. Now, friends and family might follow along via social media or experience a narrated playback of the recorded flight route as the pilot shares it.

aviation appsWhile most of these changes can be viewed as positive, in some ways smartphones have caused a decline in safety. Separating from the constant communications of a smartphone is necessary to maintain awareness during flight activities. Some find putting down these devices more challenging than expected. Display induced attention tunneling is one factor cited by the Federal Aviation Administration to justify new regulations restricting the use of smartphones by pilots when flying. Some also blame technology for complacency. Pilots must maintain redundancy to overcome the looming battery or hardware failure.

Overall, the positive aspects of smartphones and aviation apps far outweigh the drawbacks. Flight planning, weather reporting, traffic awareness, logbooks, flight training communities, and many other aspects of aviation greatly improved with the introduction of smartphones. When used properly, these devices make flying easier and safer.

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The Differences Between Helicopter Flying and Airplane Flying

Margie O’Connor

When asked how helicopter flying is different from flying an airplane, my response has always been the same: it’s much more difficult to eat a sandwich while flying a helicopter, whereas, in a well-trimmed airplane, light finger pressure on the yoke is enough to hold the aircraft straight and level while eating a sandwich with the other.

Why is this? Well, helicopter flying, although an adrenalin mounting endeavor (and the one I prefer), requires the use of both hands simultaneously on the controls. Does this mandate a white-knuckle grip, through all phases of flight, to keep the helicopter flying? Quite the contrary. Helicopter pilots are typically taught to place their hands and feet on the controls and then simply “think” about flying the helicopter or applying very small, smooth movements via the flight controls. But both hands are still occupied.

Aerodynamic Forces

Helicopter and fixed-wing flying use the same aerodynamic principles – just applied in slightly different ways. Lift, weight, thrust and drag play a role in the movement of both aircraft.

Thrust must be greater than drag to cause forward movement in an airplane in flight. In helicopter flying, these same forces act as vectors to accommodate the condition of flight (i.e., left, right, up, down, etc.). For example, in forward helicopter flight, lift acts as the vertical component of the Total Aerodynamic Force (TAF) and drag takes up the position opposite and perpendicular to the TAF. Or using a different visual, lift makes up the vertical component of the total lift vector with thrust acting perpendicular and opposite to lift in the same vector – thrust either acting forward (in forward flight) or left, right or to the rear (in the corresponding direction).

In steady state, un-accelerated flight in an airplane, lift equals weight and thrust equals drag. In a hover (in a no wind condition) lift and thrust combine into one force and are equal to and act opposite the sum of weight and drag.

Airflow

While these same forces come into play in both helicopter and airplane flying, the airflow is slightly different. In an airplane, the air flow over the wing speeds up as the aircraft’s speed increases. Helicopter flying incorporates both the helicopter’s speed and the speed at which the rotor blades move through the air.

How do we manipulate all these forces? Well, in an airplane, the pilot uses the control yoke or column and rudder pedals. In helicopter flying, the collective, cyclic and antitorque pedals control the forces in flight.

Controlling the Forces

In helicopter flying, the pilot’s left hand controls the collective and sometimes a throttle, depending on the aircraft. The collective is a bar or stick, if you will, parallel to the floor of the helicopter, when in the down position. As the pilot lifts the collective, the corresponding change in the rotor blade’s pitch angle increases lift and thus helps “lift” the helicopter up. The collective controls the up and down of the entire helicopter.

The pilot’s right hand controls the cyclic, positioned between the pilot’s legs. The cyclic runs somewhat perpendicular to the floor of the helicopter and provides pitch and roll about the lateral and longitudinal axes, respectively. The cyclic essentially works by changing the tip path plane of the rotor allowing you to maneuver in directions impossible for the fixed-wing pilot. So, yes, you can actually fly backward (without help from an excessively strong headwind) or hover over a fixed location!

While collective and cyclic keep your hands busy, the antitorque pedals demand your feet participate, as well. In a single rotor system, like those found on many trainer helicopters, pushing on the right pedal, turns the helicopter to the right while pressure on the left pedal, rotates the aircraft left. But that’s not the primary function of these two pedals on the floor. Their main purpose in life is not to add yet another required movement to flying a helicopter but rather to counteract torque.

Torque is the force that causes rotation and is countering the main rotation of the rotor blades. In aircraft flown in the United States, rotor blades rotate counter-clockwise, as viewed from above the rotors. Based on Newton’s third law of motion, torque imparts the tendency for the nose of the helicopter to move right. Antitorque pedals exist then, to counter torque.

So there you have it. Flying helicopters differs from flying airplanes mainly in the controls you will use… and that it may be slightly more difficult to eat a sandwich. But I’m still partial to helicopter flying: there’s nothing quite as awesome as hovering.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

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References:

Center, U. S. (1996, July). Theory of Rotary Wing Flight. Fort Rucker, Alabama, United States of America.

Dole, C. E. (1994). Flight Theory for Pilots. Redlands: Jeppesen Sanderson.

Harp, P. (1996). Pilot’s Desk Reference for the UH-60 Helicopter. In P. Harp, Aerodynamics (pp. 6-18, 6-21, 6-32). Enterprise: Presentation’s Plus.

Michael J. Kroes, J. R. (1993). Aircraft Basic Science. Westerville: Glencoe Division of Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.

What to Expect When Earning Your Airplane Instrument Rating

John Peltier

Congratulations, you just got your private pilot airplane license. You want to use this newfound freedom to fly to the family cabin in the next state, but there won’t be any VFR weather between here and there for the next week. Grounded. But what if you had your airplane instrument rating?

Reasons for Getting Your Airplane Instrument Rating

Of course, being able to legally fly in IFR conditions isn’t the only reason for getting your airplane instrument rating. It shouldn’t even really be “the reason” for you to get your instrument rating. You always want to better yourself as a pilot, right? This is a great way of doing it.

There may come a day when you find yourself facing inevitable flight into IMC – the clouds close in around you and there’s nowhere else to go. Having your instrument rating will prepare you for inadvertent flight into IMC and give you the tools you need to safely recover from that dangerous situation.

Even if you don’t accidentally find yourself in IMC, your instrument rating will teach you an effective instrument scan, leading to better control of the airplane. You’ll be better able to hold altitude, airspeed, and heading. And guess what – these are things that potential employers will want out of you as well.

And speaking of employment. If you ever have any desire to fly commercially, most employers won’t even give you the time of day if you don’t have your airplane instrument rating along with your commercial license.

Airplane Instrument Rating Requirements

Getting your airplane instrument rating isn’t as hard as you might think. You may look at the regulations and say to yourself, “wow, that’s a lot, I’ll never get it.” Sure you will! It just looks like a lot on paper.

Summary of Federal Aviation Regulations Part 61, Subpart B, 61.65:

  • At least a private pilot certificate in airplanes, or are currently in the process of getting it.
  • Take a written test (knowledge test) and an oral & flight test with an examiner in either an airplane or FAA-approved simulator (practical test). Your logbook will need endorsements from an instructor stating that you’re ready for both of these.
  • The flight experience you’ll need for the airplane instrument rating is:
    • Forty hours of simulated or actual instrument flying, 15 of which must be with an authorized instrument-airplane instructor.
    • Fifty hours of cross-country flight as pilot-in-command. Ten of these hours must be in airplanes (you can credit helicopter time if you have it).
    • A 250-mile cross-country flight in an airplane, with an instructor, flown under instrument flight rules. You must complete at least three different kinds of instrument approaches and fly an instrument approach at each airport along your routing.
    • Three hours of flight training in an airplane within 2 calendar months from the date of your practical test.
  • The FAA now allows pilots to get their instrument ratings concurrently with the private pilot license. This will speed things up though you won’t have the 50 hours of pilot-in-command cross-country time. The FAA will allow you to credit up to 45 hours of you performing the duties of pilot-in-command (as you do when you’re a student pilot) in lieu of this.
  • If you’re using a simulator, as you most likely will, you can only credit up to 20 hours of instrument time towards your rating – you’ll have to fly the other 20 in an actual aircraft. If you’re getting your simulator time in a structured Part 142 school, you can credit up to 30 hours.
What to Expect

Ground Training: You’ll need a good understanding of academia for your knowledge and practical tests. The amount you spend in academics will vary but it typically runs around twenty hours in the classroom. You’ll learn even more about the national airspace system, regulations, instrumentation, and bringing it all together to fly under instrument flight rules. You’ll also become a near expert at reading the weather and planning cross-country flights. Paying attention in ground school will set you up to do very well during the practical test, which is taken at designated FAA testing centers around the country.

Simulator Training: You don’t have to use the simulator – you can complete your entire instrument rating in an actual airplane, but this will significantly drive the costs up. The other advantage to using the simulator is efficiency of training. Your instructor can replicate conditions in the simulator that you wouldn’t be able to call for in the air. It allows you more room to make mistakes and learn from them, and “start from scratch” if needed. The simulator is where you’ll learn a good scan, preflight instrument checks, communications, and instrument procedures. Exposure to these in the simulator will make them easier once you get to the airplane.

Flight Training: And this is where the real fun begins! You’ll sit in the right seat with a view-limiting device, affectionately known as “foggles”, restricting what you can see to only the instrument panel. You’ll put these on after takeoff and remove them prior to landing. But you’ll wear them for everything in between. Your instructor will have you do some very basic maneuvers like changing altitude, and some more complex ones like recovering from unusual attitudes. You’ll get exposure to different local airports, flying all of the possible instrument procedures that are compatible with your aircraft navigation equipment.

The Practical Test: This is where it all comes together! You and your instructor will go over your logbook to make sure all of your requirements are met and set up an appointment with the dedicated pilot examiner (DPE). The DPE will have you plan a cross-country flight under instrument flight rules, and it may or may not be what you actually fly. But the DPE will want to make sure that you can complete one of these without error. The day will start with an oral exam, and everything you’ve learned up to this point is fair game. The oral exam will vary in length depending on the examiner, but once they’re satisfied you’ll head on out to the airplane! The actual flight itself will be a lot like your instrument training flights. You’ll take off, put on the foggles, and fly under instrument flight rules. You’ll have to recover from an unusual attitude and have another emergency procedure thrown in the mix. After flying a few instrument approaches, you’ll take off the foggles and the exam is over!

Costs of Getting an Airplane Instrument Rating

It’s hard to nail down an actual cost of receiving your airplane instrument rating. There are many different variables to take into consideration – the equipment used, flight time needed, location, fuel prices, extra training required, etc.

A “standard” instrument rating, using a C172 with twenty hours of simulator time will run somewhere in the ballpark of $8,000. If you need extra cross-country time as pilot-in-command, expect these costs to go up.

A good way of reducing overall costs of getting to your goal of being a commercial pilot would be to combine your instrument rating with other requirements of commercial employment. You can satisfy the cross-country time required for your commercial license by taking an instructor or safety observer and flying with the foggles on these cross-country flights, logging this time for both instrument and commercial. You may also want to consider doing some of these flights in a complex aircraft, turbine, or multi-engine.

After Getting Your Airplane Instrument Rating

You can consider your airplane instrument rating as something that dies unless it’s used! You’ll need to stay current in order to legally fly under instrument flight rules. Staying current involves completing six instrument approaches, holding procedures, and instrument navigation within a six-month period. You can complete this in either an airplane or simulator, but you cannot fly under IFR unless these requirements are met.

But these are the minimum requirements to keep your rating current. In order to be a proficient IFR pilot, you actually need to fly in IMC. You need to use your instruments every time you fly, even in VMC. If you’re coming back to the airport on a perfect VFR day, dial in the localizer and shoot the instrument approach back home. It may save your life some day!

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VORs: Avoiding Confusion with the TO / FROM Flag

John Peltier

If there’s one area of the Instrument Flying Course where most students struggle, it’s usually on the subject of VORs. For some reason, VORs are very mysterious, and for some reason many students have no motivation to learn them thanks to the capabilities of GPS!

VORs are still important to learn – not just because they’re on the FAA test – but also because there will be one time where you’re in Instrument Meteorological Conditions and your GPS receiver fails for whatever reason, and you’ll be left to navigate with your VOR. Don’t think it’ll happen? It’s happened to me!

One of the more difficult concepts to understand is that confusing TO/FROM indicator. Many of the modern Horizontal Situation Indicators (HSIs) remove this somewhat ambiguous indication, but the older indicators can leave many pilots confused.

Makeup of the VOR Instrument

To understand that pesky TO/FROM indicator, it’s important to first understand how a VOR ground station works and how it interacts with your cockpit instrument.

For those curious how the ground stations work, let’s take this simplified but maybe not so simple explanation. The ground station looks like a large antenna and has two emitters. The first emits a reference signal, and the second emitter spins while transmitting a modulated radio signal. Your antenna picks up the reference signal and the modulated signal. The difference between the reference signal and the phase of the modulated signal during its rotation is calculated to tell you where you are in relation to the ground station.

Your location around a VOR station is referred to as a radial. If you look at a bicycle wheel, the center of the wheel is the ground station and the spokes are the radials emitting from the ground station. They’re labeled like the numbers on a compass. The radial pointing north is the 360 radial, the one pointing east is the 090 radial, and so on, all the way around for 360 radials.

The instrument that displays all of this information is most commonly called the Course Deviation Indicator, or CDI. The Omni-Bearing Selector (OBS) knob lets you select one of these spokes (radials), and the CDI will tell you where you are in relation to your selected radial.

But the way this information is displayed is where the confusion comes in.

As you rotate the OBS knob, the needle in the instrument will move. You can think of the center of the instrument as your aircraft, and the needle is the selected radial. So it’ll show you if you’re left or right of the radial you have selected…sometimes.

Then the TO/FROM flag will show you if the course you have selected will take you towards or from the station.

Reverse Sensing

Even the FAA Instrument Flying Handbook mentions “reverse sensing”. I disagree with this term – I don’t think there is such a thing as “reverse sensing”. Just a reversed pilot!

In “reverse sensing,” the instrument is displaying exactly what you’re telling it to display. It takes some effort from the pilot to not become “reversed.”

Where pilots get confused and think that the instrument is reversed is when the OBS is set to the reciprocal of the course they want to fly. If the needle is left of center, turning left will actually push the needle away from you rather than centering it – because you’re already left of course, not right. This can sometimes make already confusing situations worse when pilots are multitasking.

To avoid this situation, always have the OBS set to the course you want to fly, not necessarily the radial you want to be on. The TO/FROM flag will tell you if this course is taking you TO or FROM the VOR. For example, if you want to fly south on the 360 radial (you’re north of the station), set the OBS to 180 and the flag will show TO – because you’re going to the station on a course of 180. Now the deflection of the needle left or right will spatially make sense to you.

Determining Your Position

We’ve seen that the CDI can tell you two things: if you’re left or right of the selected radial, and if you’re going to or from the station.

To determine which radial you’re on, once you’ve tuned the proper VOR, center the CDI with a FROM flag. Because remember, these radials emit from the station! Now read the number at the top of the compass rose, under the arrow. This is the radial you are on.

If you were to fly that heading, it will take you further from the station. Flying the reciprocal would take you to the station.

If you were to center the CDI with a TO flag, the selected course would tell you which course to fly to go towards the station, but not which radial you’re on.

Some instructors will discuss how to determine your position relative to VORs just by looking at the CDI and not rotating the knob. This works on the ground at zero knots, and you’ll need to do it for the test, but it’s much simpler in flight to just center that needle with a FROM flag and read the radial you’re on.

To do this for the test, draw the compass rose with four quadrants. Look at the course selected on the OBS and draw a little airplane in each quadrant flying that heading (aircraft heading has nothing to do with the CDI indication, but this helps visualize the aircraft’s course). If the TO/FROM flag is showing TO, “X” out the two airplanes pointing away from the VOR, and vice versa. Now look at the needle – is it left or right? That’s the side of your aircraft that the VOR is on.

See the example:

Example of Quadrants for VORs

In summary, always remember these things:

-Aircraft heading has nothing to do with what is displayed on the CDI. You can fly circles over a point on the ground all day and the display won’t change.

-Set the course you want to fly, not necessarily the radial you want to track, to avoid reverse sensing.

-Center the CDI with a FROM flag to determine the radial you are on.

There are many simulators available to practice this. I like the app Radionav Sim. It allows you to rotate the OBS, move the VOR station around, move the airplane around, and animate the flight path to show how the display would change as you move around the VOR. Use this app occasionally to refresh yourself on the operation of VORs.

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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.

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The Five Best Things About Being a Student Pilot Going to College

What Can You Expect as a Student Pilot?

Deciding to begin a career as a Professional Student Pilot can be one of the most rewarding and one of the most challenging decisions you’ll ever make. Can you imagine, as a college student, getting to fly helicopters or airplanes on a daily basis as a part of your college experience?

Medical school students don’t get to start seeing patients for at least 4 years.  Law school students don’t get to represent clients for years after college. The same thing can be said about engineering students; they don’t get to build awesome stuff until years after graduating. Heck, education students (future teachers) don’t get to teach in the classroom for years.  But what about student pilots?  They can start flying weeks after starting their freshmen (first) semester. That is awesome! Helicopter flying over a city - Student Pilot

Medical students, law students, and engineering students have to go to school for 6 to 10 years before they start their career. Student pilots, potentially, can start flying “commercially” (paid) within 18 months of starting their training. When comparing an aviation career with any other professional career the benefits just keep stacking up.

The 5 Best Things About Being a Student Pilot and Pursuing an Aviation Career

#5 Global demand.  New Experiences:  Being a commercial pilot means you could be flying just about anywhere, at any time.  Potentially, you could fly all over the world. You will fly to some very interesting places.  With the global demand high for both helicopter and fixed wing pilots, you can virtually get a job anywhere on the planet. Helicopter pilots can take off and land just about anywhere, and typically you find heli tours in the most beautiful places on earth.  Airplane pilots can fly and land at airports in Los Angeles, New York, Paris, London, Beijing, Sidney, and even backcountry airstrips or (With the right equipment) on shorelines.

#4. Live a Life of Adventure: Flying helicopters or airplanes is not necessarily something that comes naturally.  We were not built to fly (if we were, God would have given us wings).  Flying aircraft is extremely adventurous.  You will going places and doing things most people never do.  Helicopter pilots take people up on mountains to heli-ski.  They transport folks to oil platforms in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, transport trauma victims to major hospitals, and they might even help locate a criminal and bring them to justice.  Some very lucky pilots get to fly the President of the United States to and from the White House.

#3. Gain Respect:  Professional people garner respect.  Doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, and professional athletes typically enjoy respect from many aspects of the general society. The same can be said of pilots.  With your commercial pilot ratings, you will be one of a the chosen few that has gained the skills and earned the right to fly commercially.  This means you have risen to a place of respect in society.  People are generally impressed by the fact that you are a pilot. Most people understand what it takes to become a pilot and therefore, they know that you are something special and unique. Pilots receive tremendous respect from their family, friends, and the community.

#2. Personal Growth:  As a pilot you will be tested.  You will be challenged.  You cannot make excuses – people must have unshakeable confidence in you.  You will have to dig deep and find out who you are.  The best aspects of you will get better, and the areas you need to work on will become evident – and you will improve and conquer the areas of your life that most people never deal with.  The question is… do you have what it takes?  If you do, you will grow “personally” more than you could ever imagine.  The responsibility of flying helicopters or airplanes is tremendous.  In order to be “trusted” you will have to become the best version of yourself in all ways.  Get ready to grow to heights you never knew were possible.

#1. Rewarding Career:  There is no doubt about it.  Good pilots make great money.  It may take time and a great deal of sacrifice to become a commercial pilot, but remember, helicopter and airplane pilots make an extremely good income.  A pilot does not have the typical 9 to 5 job.  As an aviator, your office view could be at 35,000 feet.  As a helicopter pilot, you might be “spotting Tuna” at sea as you fly for a commercial fishing company. Or, you might be covering live major news events as they happen.  This list of “rewards” for commercial pilots goes on and on.

Coming to the Right Conclusion about Aviation and Pilots

First, please get the picture of being “Maverick” from Top Gun out of your mind. You will not be spending all your time between flights cruising the beach on your motorcycle, grabbing the Hot Girls (or Guys), drinking beer and playing volleyball all day in the sun. If you’re serious about becoming a Professional Aviator, you are going to have to be dedicated and be ready to make serious personal sacrifices.

You will have to commit yourself to studying; probably more than you ever have in your entire life. Learning how to fly and everything that is involved with flying requires a tremendous amount of hard work and focus. If a Flight School advertises a life of “Fun in the Sun” with a helicopter parked on a yacht in the middle of a lake surrounded by girls in bikini’s…  we recommend that you think seriously about the level of training they are actually going to provide. Remember, this is a serious profession and only those who take it seriously will be successful.

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 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.

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.

Upper Limit Aviation Search and Rescue Pilots Sworn In

They will serve as Special Deputies for Iron County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Spatial Disorientation: How and When Does it Affect Pilots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Trust Your Sensory Organs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Sources for this article:

John F. Kennedy Jr. Plane Crash

The Leans

Sensory Illusions in Aviation

Visual Illusions

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.

Five Unique Ways of Paying for Flight Training

Secrets from Successful Pilots

Let’s face it, paying for flight training is very expensive. Airplane flight school is going to cost $35K to $70K for fixed wing training, and $90K to $150K for helicopter training. Unless you have a trust fund from your rich dad, the costs to become commercial pilots can seem to be an impassable mountain. But is it? Learn how people with dreams found a way to pay for flight school.

5. Get a job with a big flight school: The top flight schools hire people for all kinds of jobs. Start at the bottom if you have to, but have the ambition to move up the ladder to the higher paying jobs. Some flight schools offer their employees discounts when paying for flight training.

If you are an exceptional employee (highly valued) you might be able to negotiate a good trade with your employer. There are no guarantees, but employers look for ways to reward the top contributors.

4. Become a “hanger rat” and get a job with a small flight training school: I have known people who were known as “hangar rats”. These hangar rats are alway hanging around the hangar – willing to do anything and everything to help out. Hangar rats are sponges, always willing and wanting to learn.

Even if you have to sweep the floors, or take the trash out – whatever it takes. If you can find some way to impress a owner of the flight school (and flight instructor), you might be able to get a discount when it comes to paying for flight training.

Professional pilots love people who have total passion for flying – willing to do whatever it takes to get flight time. I have heard stories where student pilots paid for gas and the instructor discounted their fees. Its rare, but it does happen.

3. Become a Cadet with Civil Air Patrol (CAP): CAP does not advertise that they will provide flight training to their members. However many CAP members (CFI’s) have been known to discount their rates to members who have the drive, passion, and desire to become pilots.

If you have the right attitude, and are willing to “give back”, there maybe someone in the ranks that will match your desire and help you get your Private Pilot’s license. In the end, people without funding, need to network with as many aviation people as they can. And remember, once you become a commercial pilot, be willing to give back to the CAP – pay it forward!

2. Apply for every Scholarship Available: Make yourself exceptional. You have to take this seriously. Organizations are more than willing to choose exceptional people with scholarships. There are many aviation scholarships, but only the most exceptional people receive the awards. Research the foundations that offer scholarships and interview their people. Find out exactly what they are looking for, and position yourself to be the recipient of the awards.

1. Save Money and Earn a Perfect Credit Score: This is going to take some time to achieve, but you should do it even if you are not going to become a commercial pilot. If you are willing to live a certain low-cost lifestyle, one that will allow you to save a good chunk of money, you might be able to get a student/private loan to cover the remaining financial needs. This route will take longer, and your schedule will be full for several years, but many have take this route and succeeded. Of course you will have debt too! However, if it leads to landing the job of your dreams, it will be worth it.

Always keep in mind that thousands of aspiring pilots have found a way.

I know of a husband and wife team that where the pilot’s wife finished college and nursing school, and got a really good job as an Registered Nurse. Both the husband and wife worked and saved as much money as they could. The plan was for the husband (propsective pilot) to keep his job as long as he could after the couple saved enough money to pay for the Private Pilot certificate. Once the husband got the Private Pilot rating, he planned to continue to move forward to earn his Instrument, Commercial, and CFI as time and money allowed. Improving their credit score was also a part of the plan.

This couple chose to start the flight training process while keeping both of their jobs as long as they could, and continued to save money. They lived off the wife’s salary and saved the rest. They suffered a bit, but they were committed.

I also know of folks who have joined the Reserves (Army, Marines, Air Force, etc.) to help fund flight school. Their goal was to stay in college or keep working, save money, and earn partial VA Educational Benefits to be used later. Unfortunately, a few were called up for active duty and had to do tours in Afghanistan (this is the obvious risk). However, when they finished their duty they had earned partial funding for flight school (one particular gentlemen I know earned 60% funding). Once out of the military the got the best job they could (earning the highest income possible) and utilized student loans and scholarships to finance the shortfall that the VA educational benefits did not cover.

There are countless prospective pilots that have taken two and three jobs to save enough money to start paying for flight training. There are some that have bought fixer upper homes, fixed them up (working evenings and weekends) and flipped the homes for a profit (to be used paying for flight training). There are some pilots who have started a side business, such as an eCommerce website, to make extra cash. It is truly amazing to hear of all the ways people have found of paying for flight training. Each of these pilots had a dream, they developed a plan, and persevered until their dream was realized.

Start Your Training With or Without Funding

Start your journey with or without funding – take the steps you can afford, steps that you will have to do anyway. In doing so, you will be making progress toward your goal, giving you a better chance to realize your dream.

A. Get your Medical: Find an FAA approved Aviation Medical Examiner. The FAA has a “doctor locator” function on their website. Go to https://www.faa.gov/pilots/amelocator/ and find the nearest AME. Get your medical done. At the very least, you will know whether or not you can pass a medical (peace of mind). Without the medical you can’t become a commercial pilot.

B. Enroll into Ground School Courses: At the very least you can watch Youtube videos online. Or, purchase flight manuals, DVD’s, or other related resource manuals. From there you can be brave and enroll into an affordable online ground school.

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You won’t be able to fly without completing ground school, AND you will learn everything you will need to know to pass future FAA exams. You’ll eventually have to do ground school anyway. However, by completing ground school courses you will know a whole lot more about flying – and by doing so you will know for sure that being a pilot is truly in your blood.

Essentially, we are recommending that you invest into the process; learn, study, and get involved with the information that you will eventually have to master to become a commercial pilot.

Ground school will teach you all about flight and aircraft operation, and aeronautical knowledge (weather, sectionals, cross country). Ground school will also help you to prepare to answer the FAA exam questions (“knowledge tests”).

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C. Find a Mentor(s): Find a pilot who has gone before you, an experienced commercial pilot who can guide you through the process acting as your coach. Find someone who has been in your shoes and understands your passion. Perhaps they can help you to discover options to overcome the financial obstacles. Your mentor (or mentors) needs to be someone who will inspire you when the going gets tough.

D. Get the best paying job you can and earn the best credit score you possibly can: Many of today’s commercial pilots found a good paying job and then saved a bunch of money. This is the long-term plan, but for those that took this route will tell you that they are glad they did.

Earn as much money as you can, live frugally, and save. Save enough to pay at least for your private pilot’s license. You can earn a private pilot’s license in 6 months easy (training early mornings, late afternoons, and weekends). And, keep your job while getting your private pilots license (you will need a good job to get a private loan, or to pay for the advanced courses).

Find a way to continue to work while knocking your private license certificate out of the way. Keep your job as long as you can. There will be a time when you need to leave your job and jump into flying with both feet. But the income from your job will help you to make the transition.

Once you have earned your private pilot’s license, you will know whether or not you continue to seek a commercial license (the BIG commitment). To become a commercial pilot you will have to get your Instrument, and Commercial Ratings done (helicopter pilots will need their CFI and maybe even their CFII as well). This requires a tremendous commitment.

But let’s say that you’re having second thoughts after getting your private pilot’s license? Let’s say you discover that flying is not what you wanted? As a licensed private pilot you have not wasted anything, because you can always fly recreationally. You’re a pilot, and you can enjoy flying. You just can’t get paid to fly. You can stop the journey right now without hindering your future financial situation.

E. Earn a Good Credit Score: Supplement your savings with good credit score you can supplement their savings with personal loans or even a student loan. Keep your job while getting your private pilots license. Find a way to continue to work while knocking your private license certificate out of the way.

F. Earn a Degree: There are several powerful reasons you should seek your degree through while getting your commercial pilot ratings. One, the flight hours you need to become a commercial pilot (paid pilot) will be less (especially for airplane pilots).

Two, you might be able to supplement your funds with FASFA or Pell Grants. You might be eligible for cheaper student loans as well. And, you might qualify for one or more scholarships. Any amount of money you can get will help lower the overall “out of pocket costs” of flight training.

The third powerful reason you should get a college degree while earning your flight certificates is to position yourself for the best jobs. Aviation employers will cherish your degree, and possibly put your resume on the top of the stack. Moreover, in the aviation world, there are more non-pilot jobs for professional people (good paying jobs) than there are pilot jobs.

The college degree is your back up plan. What if something goes wrong with your body, eyes, or hearing? Every year pilots have to pass a physical exam. If you fail, you can’t earn a living. So, the college degree is your insurance policy.

Furthermore, many pilots with 10 to 15 years of flying choose to transition into good paying aviation jobs in administration, sales, and marketing. Moreover, most aviation companies have been started by pilots. You never know what awesome opportunities will come way 10 to 20 years down the line, but you want to position yourself for the best opportunities from day one – get your degree.

Important Links to Follow:

Tier 1 Helicopter Pilot Jobs – Your Career Path to becoming a successful Commercial Pilot

Landing a Tier 2 Helicopter Pilot Job – Career Development

The Top Jobs on the Planet – Types of Tier 3 Helicopter Pilot Jobs

Partial List of Available Aviation Scholarships

University Aviation Association (UAA) Aviation Scholarship Guide

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Flight Training Scholarship Program

Experimental Aircraft Association Scholarships

National Air Transportation Foundation Scholarships

National Business Aviation Association Scholarships

The Ninety-Nines Section and Chapter Scholarships

The Ninety-Nines Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarships & Awards

AeroClub of New England’s Scholarship Program

Aircraft Electronics Association Scholarships

Astronaut Scholarship Foundation

Boeing Scholarships

Girls With Wings Scholarship

LeRoy W. Homer Jr. Scholarship

National Coalition for Aviation and Space Education (NCASE)

Women in Aviation International Scholarships

Whirly-Girls Scholarships

The Alaska Airmen’s Association Scholarships

Montana Aviation Scholarships

Minnesota Aviation Trades Association Grants/Scholarships

The Captain Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund

Fred Kacena Flight Training Scholarship (Tri-State Area)

AeroClub of New England (ACONE) Scholarships

Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Scholarships

Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Scholarships

National Gay Pilots Association (NGPA) Scholarships

Aviation Distributors and Manufacturers Association (ADMA) Scholarships

Upwind Summer Scholarship Program

Sennheiser’s “Live Your Dream” Scholarships

Lightspeed Aviation Foundation Scholarships

Helicentre Aviation’s Professional Pilot scholarships

Idaho Aviation Association scholarships

Flight training and aviation maintenance scholarships

NAAA/BASF Agricultural Aviation Scholarship

The Vicki Cruse Memorial Scholarship

Greg Koontz Aerobatic Instructor Scholarship

The Douglas Youst Memorial Aerobatic Scholarship

Southern California Aviation Association

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.

He Absolutely Loved Serving in the Air Force

One Man’s Story of Being Driven by Love

Growing up in a small town; Mike Mower quickly realized that he, perhaps more than most of his peers, had a deep love for his Country. As a young teenager, Mike knew he was going to dedicate himself to serving in the Military. Ultimately, Mike Mower joined the United States Air Force. He left home and was shipped off to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. There, Mike quickly learned the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. These weren’t just statements Mike needed to memorize as a new recruit. These core values would become a moral footprint that would carry him throughout his life. Mike knew, before he ever signed up for active duty, that he loved his Country. It wouldn’t take him long to realize that he absolutely loved serving in the Air Force.

Mike’s serving in the Air Force took him from his primary career field in Cryogenics to the prestigious United States Air Force Honor Guard. Mike was a Flight Sergeant in the Honor Guard responsible for the training of all subordinate Airmen under him. He himself was trained to the highest standards by the men and women who came before him at the Arlington Cemetery. You see, Mike not only loved his Country and serving in the Air Force, Mike had a brotherly love for all those he served with. To him, the Honor Guard was perhaps the most important mission he ever accepted. For someone motivated in life by love, honoring his fallen brothers and sisters was something Mike would not take lightly. This passion was not merely something he felt inside; it resonated outwardly in his performance. Mike was quickly recognized as the United States Air Force Airman of The Year. This tremendous accomplishment earned him a flight in an F-16 Fighter Jet. Although it would take nearly a decade to fully manifest itself; another love was silently and subtly engrained in his heart that day…a love for flying.

Mike’s Love for Country, Is Not the Only Love of His Life.

Shortly after finishing his initial training Mike found another love entering into his life; that of his future wife. Julie was from the same town and Mike was actually friends with her brother. Being friends with Julie’s brother, Mike and Julie would frequently cross paths. It wasn’t long before they both saw something very special in one another. Mike and Julie were married soon after and have two children together. Anyone who  has met Mike and Julie can quickly see that as a couple, there is something that radiates from them. They are not only Husband and Wife; they are best friends, loving parents and true IMG_1521_smpartners in everything that they do. As Mike drew a close to his Air Force career in 2002; he didn’t start his next chapter alone, Julie was right there by his side.

Together, Mike and Julie ran their own Research and Development Company for nearly 8 years. They found great success as entrepreneurs and even hold a few patents. The R&D Industry; like many other industries, saw a decline during the recession our Country is still facing to this day. It was at this moment, that the love Mike felt in an F-16 Fighting Falcon began to take flight. Mike made the decision to become a Helicopter Pilot and has not looked back since. Together, Mike and Julie have endured military deployments, the Terrible-2’s of two children, the stresses of running your own business and the pressures of pursuing a helicopter flight career. Love has been the key motivating factor which drove them down the roads they’ve traveled and love is their guiding sail leading them into tomorrow.

Mike Mower Today, After Serving in the Air Force

Today, Mike is the Chief Helicopter Flight Instructor for Upper Limit Aviation in Cedar City, Utah. Julie is still his best friend and partner. In fact, Julie also plays an integral role in the day to day operations of Upper Limit Aviation as their Human Resource Manager. By summer of 2014, Mike will be responsible for over 200 flight students, over 30 Flight Instructors and  roughly 10 office personnel. Early in life, Mike learned key core values from serving in the Air Force. As a small business owner, he learned quickly to empower people to do their jobs. Being a Chief Instructor Pilot has reinforced what he considers “non-negotiable” when it comes to core values. These core values stand out quickly when asking Mike what makes a good pilot:

Safety 1st, Quality and Attitude. It takes someone who understands that learning never stops. Just as important; you have to Love what you’re doing. Loving what you do and doing what you love is paramount. This profession is way too fast paced and task driven. If you don’t absolutely love flying, the stress and operational tempo of the job will get away from you.

A good pilot also needs to learn from their mistakes. This is a tuff environment and corrective action needs to be quick and decisive; people’s lives are at stake. However, we all make mistakes. You need to learn from them; correct the behavior or the action, pick your head up and drive on. Do not mope on past failures, learn from them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.

At the end of the day it has to do with attitude, attitude and attitude. If I have a student or even an Instructor struggling academically or when it comes to flight proficiency; I can easily fix those issues if they have a positive attitude. I cannot however, fix a poor attitude. In my experience, this is often times what separates people. If you’re a good pilot with a positive attitude, I can develop you into a great pilot.

“Loving What You Do and Doing What You Love is Paramount”

This statement echoes a deeper level of profound truth than one may realize. Mike states that “Relationships are the #1 measure of success”. In any environment, not just an environment as complex as flying a helicopter, one should love what they do. Many people work jobs they do not enjoy so that they can provide for their family. This makes what Mike said so very important; attitude, attitude, attitude! If you are motivated by the love of your family; how can you not love providing for them? It may not be the intricate aspects of your job that you love; it is your family that you love. Working a hard job to provide for them is not burdensome, it is a joy. This is what Mike was trying to convey regarding the importance of having the right attitude and this is what Mike is looking for when he hires his instructors.

When looking to hire a new Flight Instructor, I look a little deeper into their attitude. I want to see their effort. Will this person take a personal interest in their students and will they want to see their students succeed? Those are two questions I am trying to get the answer to. They must take personal pride and ownership in order to be one of my instructors.

A really neat thing about my job as a Chief Instructor is the fact that most of my Instructors today were once my students. I take great pride in seeing my students progress from never having flown to teaching new students how to fly. I know that great instructors will put the effort in and take ownership of their work…and their work is their students.

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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