All posts tagged 'Tips'

Do You Know Your Runway Markings?

Runway Markings

Flight training magazine and AOPA discussed runway markings recently because after your private, and maybe a few times in instrument training, it's not really discussed in depth again. Sometimes if you didn't get the best luck of the draw with your instructor it may not be discussed well at all.

Whatever the case is, let's talk about runway markings!

Displaced Threshold

I think this one is most often missed in training. The basic information taught about a displaced is "you can taxi and takeoff there but don't land." BUT WHY?!?! 

The short unprofessional answer for this is because you'll hit something. The better answer is it's there to protect you. If you aim for it as a landing spot, your glide path will become too low and again...you'll hit something. This could be power lines, trees, hills, etc. depending on the airport environment so it is designed specifically to avoid the dangers. Don't aim to touchdown until the threshold to be safe.

Threshold

As previously mentioned, the threshold now marks the beginning of available landing distance on the runway. Thresholds also have a coding system to tell you how wide the runway is. I think the coding system for the threshold is pretty neat. Here's a picture as it's described in the AIM of how the width is depicted:

Threshold Stripes

When it comes to instrument flying, the threshold can also tell you what type of approach the runway has: visual, precision, or nonprecision. On a visual runway with no approaches, it will just start at the beginning of the paved area, but for approaches, you'll see long, bold white stripes between the start of the runway and the edge of the numbers called your threshold markings. 

Designation Markings

Believe it or not, this is the official term used for runway numbers. They indicate the approximate magnetic orientation of that runway. Over time as the earth's magnetic fields change, however, the number has to be changed. A runway might be 17 for 10 years and then have to be changed to say 18 (this blew my mind as a private student!).

Side note: make a good habit as early as you can of saying "runway verified" or "I see 17 (insert correct runway number)" whenever you enter a runway and see the designation markings. It'll save you on that one leg in the middle of the night where you're exhausted and accidentally enter the wrong runway. You never know!

Touchdown Zone 

500 feet down the first stripe of runways with a precision approach is what is known as the touchdown zone. This is the line where football players must reach to score a goal against their opponent.

Just checking to see if you're still reading! These stripes are most useful in helping you know how much runway you've already eaten up in case you're pushing landing distance factors. 

Aiming Point

You might recognize these as they're most commonly called: the 1000 foot markers or captains bars! Similar to the purpose of the touchdown zone, these also help to show how much runway you've used. And if you're a commercial student, these are much better to use to aim for on power off 180's than the numbers!

Side-stripe Markings

These are the solid continuous white stripes that signify the edge of the runway to help provide a visual contrast from the terrain off the side of the pavement. Something similar to this is the yellow runway shoulder marking, cueing a non-taxi area. 

Centerline

Lastly demonstrated on the picture is centerline, perhaps one of the most important! One of its functions is keeping you on the center of the runway, protecting the wings from hazards off the side of the runway like windsocks, terrain, and worst of all aviation YouTubers.

The stripes also help mark the distance you've used. According to the AIM, each stripe is 120 feet long with 80 feet in between each of them. The stripes can be between one and three feet wide depending on the size of the runway. 

Hopefully this was a good refresher for runway markings for you! Remember to work for centerline and don't forget to flare!

Questions or comments? Let us know below!

Tips Your Instructor Wish You Knew

Line of Piston Aircraft

Flying Tigers at KEFD

 

Writing this for all the frustrated instructors out there who want better for their students and wish they would listen when you give advice- you're welcome.

As a student, flight training is expensive, time consuming, and sometimes stressful. You want to be a good student for your benefit and for the benefit of others, but it just doesn't always work out that way.

What if I told you I can help? What if I said instructors secretly hang out outside of the flight school and share all the wisdom they wish their students knew? Would you believe me? Well, pull out your pen and paper because I have some super top secret advice to give. Some of it is obvious, some of it you may not have thought about. 

1) Flight Training & Personal Life Shouldn't Mix

For clarification, I do not mean to not become friends with your instructor. In fact, getting along with and liking your instructor is really important. Having a bond with who you're flying with makes it fun and you retain a higher quality of learning.

Girls Jumping In Front of Airplane

But don't get in the plane to start the prop and begin crying about how you and your spouse had a fight that morning. Your instructor has skills in flying and teaching, but hardly any skills in being a therapist. So don't make them be one! Especially during a flight lesson, because now you're just paying to not learn how to fly. 

When you walk into the flight school, leave your emotions behind and just be ready to learn and dominate your lesson(s). If you can't do that, think of I'M SAFE. Are you really good to fly that day then?

This also goes for ground lessons - try not to interrupt with too many personal stories or get off-topic talking about yourself. Yes, you are paying for that time but is it really getting you somewhere at that point? Not every minute will be spent learning and discussing aviation but there's a fine line between learning a topic and wasting time.

2) Stop Cancelling

Go back and read that again. Okay, now one more time. Did you get it yet? This is so important! There are so many reasons why you shouldn't do this. Will you have canceled lessons due to weather and maintenance? Absolutely. Are there some days your instructor has to take off work for something important too? Absolutely. But DO NOT be the student that cancels half their lessons each week.

- If you have something going on in your personal life, it is best to take care of it and fly again when you're ready.

- If finances are an issue, stop and save up so you can pay for multiple lessons at a time rather than having just enough to pay for each lesson. If you schedule 4 lessons a week then always cancel 2 because you can only afford the other 2, your instructor is not going to be happy with you and in fact, you may face cancellation charges which would make canceling pointless then. Remember too that there are lots of scholarships out there for this, and the ones that are less than $5,000 usually have the least amount of applicants so you have a better chance at receiving these. Winning multiple small scholarships adds up! We even offer a Globalair.com Scholarship for $1,000 to 4 students each year and are always happy to see more people apply. 

3) Be Prepared for Your Lesson

You should almost never show up to a ground or flight lesson without knowing what you're doing. So be ready by knowing what's coming (asking your instructor or, if able, refer to the syllabus), study for it, and if you need to chair fly it! Even seasoned airline pilots will say chair flying is a valuable technique to learn a new maneuver and use it towards mastering it for a check ride. 

4) Don't Blame Mistakes on Your Instructor

Unless you have an awful instructor who has no business teaching, don't blame all of your mistakes on the fact that you weren't taught something. Each instructor has different techniques for how they do things, so if you fly with different people, just expect it. Don't be upset when they show you something new - usually, it's not to you're wrong, but instead to just give you multiple ways to do things so you develop your own style of flying.

If you're on a stage check or something similar and mess something up, don't sweat it, just ask to do it again. Try to always avoid "I messed up because that's how I was taught to do it." Remember instructors are in the right seat for a reason, and we've just about seen it all! We can tell the difference between having been taught something completely wrong and just messing up and trying to cover it up. Read this: it is okay to make mistakes. Everyone does. We are human. Breathe!

5) Right Rudder

That's it. That's all I have to say about that. You know what I'm talking about. So don't forget it!

6) Speak the Native Language Fluently

This truly goes for flight training in all countries, wherever you decide to do yours. English is the international language of aviation but that does not mean everyone truly speaks it fluently. Common phrases might be the bare minimum they know. So just because you may be fluent in English does not mean you are set up for success. So, the best advice is to just learn the native language to where you're at, which may be English but it may not be.

You need to be able to ask questions and have detailed conversations on things like debriefing after a flight, and if there's a language barrier that is a HUGE stump to your training. More time, more money, and lots of frustration will make it a not so fun experience anymore. 

7) Relax and Have Fun

Lastly, don't forget to breathe. Whether you're in a strict academy, military program, private part 61 instructor, etc. flying should put a smile on your face, otherwise, you need to question whether being a pilot is right for you. So remember to work hard but have fun doing it. Flying is a blast, so let it be.

Breathe, let your shoulders down, add more right rudder and keep on keepin' on. 

4 Tips for Safer Summer Flying

There's no doubt about it, summertime is hot and it feels like it gets hotter every year this time around. 

You walk out to go preflight and just feel the heat wave take over you. As a CFI in Texas I feel this all too often this summer, so I wanted to share some tips on how to overcome it and make sure you don't put yourself in a dangerous scenario.

Pictured above is a photo I took flying above the Houston coastline the other day, and then edited it to make it look like I'm flying somewhere like Hawaii instead.

You have to know how to finesse the system my friends.

The relevance of this photo is that I took it on one of my last flights of the day and this was actually around sunset. All day I had been drinking a ton of water and before going up for this flight ran out and didn't have any left at the flight school. I decided "oh, it's okay I'll be fine. The temperature is starting to cool off now anyways."

Well, I was fine. But on this flight I did land close to exceeding my personal minimums. Preflight was hot enough to do without having a sip of water here and there, coupled with the fact that as a CFI our job is basically to talk the entire flight. I remember taking this photo while in the middle of a ground reference maneuver and realizing how much I was still sweating and how quickly I really wished I had water with me. So tip #1:

Bring. Enough. Water.

-Not just A bottle of water, but enough to last throughout the entire flight. I also remember being on a cross country last summer and running out of water in the middle of the flight. It was about 35 degrees Celsius outside and about an hour into being out of water I started to feel slightly dizzy and have a blur in vision. It was a very very faint dizziness and change in vision, but I knew it wouldn't be long before it got worse. Luckily I was near my home airport and landed shortly after, but what if I wasn't? what if I had 200 miles left to go? This could have easily turned into an emergency had the problem persisted. Don't let the Macho attitude take over and make you feel like you can overcome anything. Bring water, bring food, make sure you're well rested...all those aeromedical factors need to be addressed before EVERY flight and taken seriously. 

Pack Windshield Cleaner

-Summertime is when all the bugs like to come back out. Love bugs, mosquitoes, lightning bugs, you name it. They hit the windshield and leave guts everywhere. Make sure the windshield is clean before you fly, and if for some reason it builds up too much during flight then land at a nearby airport and clean it off. Bug spots seem so minuscule but they're important in looking for traffic and can easily be a risk factor. A good tip is if you have trouble getting spots off, don't scrub the windshield harder. Let the cleaner sit on the problem area for a minute or two and then it will wipe right off. 

Do Your Performance Calculations

-Remember that the hotter it is outside, the worse your airplane will perform. It causes your density altitude to increase, and factors such as fuel burn, takeoff, and landing distances will increase. If you're pushing fuel minimums, have a short runway, or especially an obstacle to clear after takeoff these numbers are extremely important. 

Prepare for More Air Traffic

-Even though our planes perform better in the wintertime, people just don't like to fly as much when it's cold. Summertime is when not only airlines are at their peak travel season (outside of corona times) but also general aviation. One thing to talk about here is the new requirement of ADS-B Out this year as of January. While there is the requirement of ADS-B Out there is NOT the requirement of ADS-B In, meaning you don't have to be able to receive the signal of other planes to display on your map screen (ex through syncing an iPad with ForeFlight and seeing it there).   

the busier the skies are, the safer it is to start using ADS-B In. If you can't see them physically then at least you can see them on a screen (like a redneck version of TCAS is what I jokingly say) to avoid them. If you'll be flying this summer, take all the precautions you can to help see and avoid traffic. While midair collisions are rare, they are possible. 

In conclusion, summertime flying is fun and should definitely be enjoyed but with good caution. Never just go out and fly the plane without doing a thorough flight plan and risk assessment. 

Have any tips to add for summertime flying? The more we have the safer we are! Feel free to comment below. 

 

Tips for Becoming a CFI That You Don't Learn in Training

Okay...some of these tips you actually are likely to learn in training BUT I'm writing to give you all of these just in case you don't. 

1) Congrats on deciding to become a CFI! It's a lot of work, it's not always the easiest job, but it is so rewarding and is a great way to give back to aviation. If there is a NUMBER ONE tip that I can give you, it's to make each flight lesson fun and positive if you can.

Now...by this I don't mean to make it your goal to have students laughing and to "baby their feelings" so to speak. But students learn through positive affirmation and feeling association. If you make every lesson 100% serious the entire time where they never have fun, make them feel like they're a terrible pilot by only giving negative feedback and create a stressful environment for them to learn in....they're not going to learn well and may even leave you for another instructor. 

Flight training is dangerous and expensive, meaning you always want to be safe and stay as productive as possible to keep someone moving forward in their training. But this can be done while having a good time and having students look forward to lessons with you.

You'll learn this when reading through Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI's). But this is what you should take away from it. It's important to understand how students learn. Thank back to you when you were a student pilot. What did you like from your training and what did you not like? What constituted a productive day for you and made you confident in your flying? Take these characteristics and use it to make yourself a better instructor.

 This meme of Bob Ross is comical but it applies to this! If a student has a bad landing that wasn't super dangerous and broke anything but it just could've been a lot better.....are you going to yell at them or give them a good critique to make it better next time? Think about what will be most beneficial for THEM. This is their training and it's our job to make it great. If they keep making the same mistake over and over again....maybe it's time for a firm critique that lets them know you're serious. If this is the first time they did this....let them know to stay away from those "happy little impacts" ;)

2) Learn to have patience. Mannnnnnnn ohhhhhhhhhhhh mannnnnnnnnnnnn did I wish someone had prepared me for this more! There will almost ALWAYS be those students who don't study, don't pay attention to what you teach, don't take your advice....the list goes on. It's not worth your peace to lose your nerve every single time it happens. If you have a bad student you have a bad student. At some point the effort to shape them into something better ends and you give them an ultimatum of either: make a change or don't continue flight training. At the end of the day you still have to put yourself first. Becoming an instructor shouldn't mean you lose your sanity. So you HAVE to have patience with people.

3) Learn to have a crazy schedule. As much as you will try to have a set work schedule to follow, it just is hard to keep. Students will cancel, aircraft will break, weather will turn bad...the list goes on. Expect there to always be change and embrace (and that goes for the rest of your career in aviation too). 

4) Take a day off here and there and treat yourself. For anyone who watches Parks & Rec, it's like Donna and Tom would do: treat yo self day! Because you deserve it. This will be something that you'll learn is essential 2-3 months into being an instructor with a pretty good going schedule. Like I said earlier, being an instructor is not easy. You can have a crazy work schedule, bad students who test your sanity, you'll fight with weather and maintenance on almost a daily basis etc. And remember this: your students will almost always want to fly but that doesn't mean you have to. Learn to say no! If you work 12 hour days 7 days a week, you'll be burned out before you know it. And then you'll need a serious treat yo self day. So, take a day off here and there from flying and go do something you enjoy doing that allows you to relax. It'll be amazing the refresh it can give you. 

And of course, the best way to treat yourself is to buy a plane from your favorite website ever Globalair.com. It's okay...we know you love us, you don't have to admit it out loud ;)

If you have any tips you want to add or personal learning experiences that shaped you into a better instructor feel free to add! We're an aviation community and all here to help each other. 

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds!

3 Ways to Counteract Your Fear of Stalls

We've all likely been there before. You're working on stalls with either an instructor as a student, testing out a new plane's stall characteristics, or maybe you are the instructor. You set up for it and work to initiate the buffet and look down to realize you have a death grip on the controls and are HIGHLY uncomfortable. 

Have no fear, you are definitely not the first nor will you be the last pilot to go through this. 

Critical AOA by AOPA
  1. The first step to counteract this fear is go up with someone you trust/is trustworthy. Go up with someone who feels comfortable with these like another instructor or a test pilot. In fact, I struggled with this during CFI training (the thought of letting another student do these) so I went up with my instructor who also flies aerobatics. He was able to show me how hard it can actually be to put a Cessna in a spin and taught me how to do a falling leaf stall which helped TONS. BoldMethod.com describes this stall in good detail of what that is and how to execute it. Like I said, go up with someone who can help with this and fly them MULTIPLE times. Ensure you get to a point where it is consistently JUST you at the controls without them having to do anything. 
    Gleim Fear of Stalls
  2. Stay relaxed and don't panic. As you're setting up for it look down and make sure you have a loose grip on the controls and ensure your breathing is controlled. If you start off in panic mode how can you overcome your fear? Know that you are in control the whole time, not the plane. 
  3. Something that helped me overcome my fear as well is watching the instruments. I kept my eyes 75% inside and 25% outside. The reason I did this is to ensure I was coordinated by watching the turn coordinator, wings level until there was a need to initiate a turn, and at a good pitch up (especially on a power-on stall) to bring on the buffet (by good pitch up this means something aggressive enough yet not overly aggressive). What makes most people nervous is looking outside and seeing the nose above the horizon (aka not straight and level), so keep your eyes moving from the instruments back to outside. 

The best tip overall though is the good old "practice makes perfect." So back to the first point, go practice them multiple times until you feel comfortable. Stalls are NOT a natural maneuver so it's normal to not like them. They can be dangerous if not executed correctly though so just ensure to always take safe measures before going up.

Have any tips to add? Comment below!

In the meantime, our scholarship window is back open for the 2020 year! Need some help paying for flight training? Check out https://www.globalair.com/scholarships/ and apply! 

Happy Landings,

-Addi

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