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How to Get Rid of Check Ride Anxiety

by Sarina Houston 18. January 2016 23:37
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Okay, so maybe there’s no getting rid of check ride anxiety altogether. In fact, a certain level of anxiety is helpful. It keeps you alert and ‘on your toes.’ But no matter how many check rides you take, it never seems to get any easier. Got a case of the check ride jitters? Here are a few ways to minimize your anxiety and maximize your chances of performing well on your check ride.

Take a mock check ride.
A successful mock check ride can be a great tool to help ease check ride anxiety. It’s often done with a more experienced instructor or a chief pilot at the flight school, preferably with someone who has been around for a while and has a successful pass rate of his own. You’ll probably find that the instructor evaluating you on your mock check ride will offer some constructive feedback, but in the end will tell you that you’re more than ready.

Get the gouge.
The actual content of check rides can vary wildly based on location and the check pilots themselves are different, as well. Don’t go in blind, without knowing anything about the examiner! Talk to other students and instructors in the local area before choosing an examiner, and you’ll often find that they charge different rates, have different philosophies and focus on different areas of the PTS. Asking students who have recently completed a check ride for tips is helpful, but always be prepared for anything!

Read through the PTS.
We can often ease anxiety by knowing what to expect, and failing to read through the FAA Practical Test Standards is a common mistake among students. The PTS provides information on how the check ride will be conducted, the examiner’s responsibilities, and the exact standards that you’ll be held to. If you know exactly what to expect, many of your fears may be alleviated.

Follow a checklist for what to bring to your check ride.
Your stress level will increase if you leave for your check ride without something important like, say, your logbook. Or your photo ID. Make a checklist and organize your materials beforehand, and then double-check and triple-check to make sure you have all of the required documents and materials.

Remind yourself that the worst that can happen isn’t really that bad.
So what if you fail? You’ll have to go up with an instructor and obtain a bit more instruction on the maneuver or maneuvers that you didn’t perform to standards during your check ride. Then, you’ll take a re-test and you’ll pass. I once heard an instructor say that your private pilot license just says “Private Pilot” and not “Private-Pilot-Who-Failed-His-First-Check-Ride.”

Remind yourself that the examiner actually wants you to do well.
He really does. Most examiners know that by the time you’ve been endorsed by your instructor for a check ride, you’ve put in the hard work. You’ve spent at least 40 hours, maybe 140 hours, practicing maneuvers, and many of those hours were by yourself. The examiner knows that you’re perfectly capable of flying safely. By the time you get to your check ride, it’s just another flight to the practice area.

Remind yourself that your instructor wouldn’t endorse you if you weren’t ready.
If you fail, it’s not just you that fails - it’s your instructor, too. Your flight instructor won’t send you for a check ride if you aren’t ready. It’s that simple.

Think safety.
Your examiner isn’t looking for perfection, just consistency and a safe outcome. Every examiner will have safety in mind. Can you complete the flight safely? By the time you are signed off to take a check ride, you’ve soloed at least 10 hours - probably more - and you’ve demonstrated that you can safely fly to another airport at least 50 miles away and back safely. While on your check ride, always err on the side of safety, and you’ll be just fine.

Prepare, prepare, prepare…
Study, chair fly and spend some time with your instructor going over anything that you don’t clearly understand.

Then prepare some more.
The more prepared you are, the less anxious you’ll be.

Then stop preparing and get some sleep.
Fatigue causes missteps and mistakes. A good night’s sleep is necessary to ensure that you’re at the top of your game. Showing up for a check ride after only a few hours of sleep is always a bad idea.

Bring a lunch.
On the day of your check ride, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and bring a lunch or at least a few snacks. Things often take longer than you think, whether it’s last-minute calculations on your flight plan or waiting for the maintenance guy to show up to hand over the maintenance logs, you might find that the day moves along slower than you anticipated. And the last thing you want to do is get in the airplane with an empty stomach, depleted of energy after hours of running around on the ground.

Think positive!
It’s normal and healthy to be a bit nervous - it keeps us on top of things. But there’s something to be said for positive thinking, and for knowing that failure is often just part of the process. After you’ve spent countless hours preparing for your check ride, the only thing left to do is to think positively and hope for the best!

Add Value or Leave

by David Wyndham 5. January 2016 10:51
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When you get down to the basics, we humans must cooperate with each other in order to survive and prosper. Each one of us takes up space and uses resources. If we don't add back more than we consume, we are draining or depleting resources needed by others. Read into that whatever resources you wish - food, money, relationships, etc. At work, we are the same. As employees we also are taking up the company's resources. We are provided space to work, heat/AC and light in that space, computers, telephones, etc. Periodically, we receive a paycheck. If we don't add back to the company at least what we consume, we may not be in that job very long. This holds true for janitors, engineers, and the CEO. This applies for all the assets of the company, like the business aircraft.

The corporate aircraft and flight department use resources. If they are not adding value to the corporation, they are not needed and should be gone. It is up to you to maximize the value of yourself and the business aircraft your operate.

Organizations and groups like NBAA, GAMA, AOPA, No Plane No Gain and others all provide us with great examples justifying and proving the worth of business aircraft. They start with the obvious, that use of an aircraft maximizes use of time. Most touch on the value of that time to the corporation. But as members of the aviation department, you need to take that generalization and make it apply to your corporation. 

Understand how the use of business aircraft adds value to your company. What are the unique benefits that your business aircraft adds to the accomplishment of your company's goals?  Yes, the aircraft allows for more usable time. But who's usable time is being increased and what does the aircraft enable them to do with that time?  Time is a nonrenewable resource. Employees are often called a company's most valued asset. The effective use of an aircraft allows valued employees to effectively use their limited time to drive the profitability of the company. 

Develop ways to measure and document how the aviation department adds value. There are many ways to accomplish this. They need too apply to your situation. If your business is EMS, the measures are different than for a corporate shuttle. If the company is using the aircraft to reach new clients,  can you document this and assign some value? Does your aircraft utilization strategy support the corporate goals and mission?

You need to also understand your costs. What are the costs to operate and own the aircraft? Are you able to minimize the market depreciation on the aircraft by keeping the aircraft updated and in a "ready to sell" condition? Use this to develop a Cost-Benefit Analysis for the aircraft and the aviation department. You may calculate the aviation department has an annual operating budget of $1.75 million. Can you calculate the value to the corporation? If the aircraft use was critical in winning a billion dollar contract, some of the value of that contract can be "awarded" to having the aircraft, no?

Things to consider trying to quantify regarding the contributions of the business aircraft:

- Adding to the company's market share

- Adding to the profitability of the company

- Enabling the (key) employees to maximize use of their time

- Increasing employee and customer satisfaction or loyalty

- Keeping senior leadership secure 

Whether it is business courses at the local university, online education, or the NBAA CAM program, find and use resources that help you to understand and communicate the "business" part of business aviation. Become a marketer of the aviation department both within the company and within the community. Develop your leadership skills and people skills. Add back more than you consume.

 

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David Wyndham | Flight Department

How to Afford Flight Training

by Sarina Houston 3. January 2016 23:14
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It’s a new year, which means you’re thinking, once again, about that resolution you had to get your private pilot license. Or maybe you want to work on an instrument rating or even a commercial certificate. You finally have the time to fly - but how, exactly, will you pay for it?

Cash
If you’re lucky enough to be able to pay cash outright for flight training, then you’re doing it right. But even if you don’t have 10,000 dollars in the bank waiting to be spent, don’t discount the idea entirely. Many flight students pay for flight training through careful budgeting combined with a set training pace. If you can afford one flight per week, for example, and can budget it into your regular expenses, then your goal might be completely attainable, after all. Most instructors will tell you that flying less than once a week isn’t ideal, but if you can compensate for the slow pace by doing ground school on your own, chair flying from home or supplementing with simulator time, then you’ll be well on your way. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and paying cash for flight training might just mean you have to put forth a bit more effort on your own than otherwise.

Financing
Sometimes, the only way to get ahead is to get behind… temporarily, at least. Many people have successfully financed flight training through private lenders. Taking out a loan is a good option for those who can or will be able to repay it quickly and easily. And it’s a good option for those who want to go through an accelerated program in which the private pilot certificate is earned very quickly through an intense study program. These fast-paced flight training programs often demand a flat-rate payment up front instead of the pay-as-you-go program that local FBOs often use.

If you’re looking for a flight training loan, check out AOPA’s financing program.

Scholarships
Scholarships are more abundant that you’d think, but you do have to search for them and get your timing right. Often, the scholarships that you hear about are ones that you aren’t eligible for, and it’s tempting to give up. But just because they all seem to be meant for other people - like the college kid who has already obtained a private pilot license or the female that wants to become a corporate pilot - doesn’t mean that there aren’t any out there for you. You’ll just have to look harder to find them.

And you don’t always have to be a minority to earn a scholarship. It’s true that many scholarships are offered with minorities in mind, but the same scholarship offerings often don’t exclude anyone, and you may find a scholarship for you on the Women in Aviation scholarship list, even if you aren’t a woman. Don’t pass over opportunities because you assume that they aren’t for you. Read the find print, and keep digging.

Where to look? Professional organizations at the local and national level will often offer scholarships to a variety of potential candidates. Check your local EAA or CAP chapters, AOPA, or your local and national Women in Aviation or 99s groups, the OBAP or the NGPA. And if you’re reading this, you don’t have to look any further than this website - Globalair.com offers a scholarship of $1,000 annually to four students who are dedicated to blogging on a weekly basis about flight training,

Get Serious.
If funds for flight training are tight, it’s time to get serious about your priorities. Here are a few ways to continue to keep your flight training budget in check:

  • Do as much ground study on your own as possible.
  • Complete an online ground school course before you begin flying.
  • Chair fly at home.
  • Observe flights whenever possible.
  • Be a safety pilot for someone.
  • Take advantage of simulator use.
  • Eat, sleep and breath aviation.
  • Choose your flight instructor wisely.
  • Choose your flight school wisely.
  • Ask for a discount or a flat rate.
  • Offer to help someone else study and they can return the favor.
  • Spend some time thoughtfully completing the homework that your instructor gives you instead of just trying to memorize answers.
  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Work with a CFI who understands your personal aviation goals.

Have you made it through flight training on a tight budget? What are your tips? Share them with us in the comments section.



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