All Aviation Articles By Tori Patterson

Part 61 and Part 141 Flight Schools – What's The Difference? Should I Care?

Sometimes picking the right flight school can be as confusing as your first time seeing a sectional chart.

Every student pilot knows that where you train is as important as how you train. When I first began searching for a flight school, I quickly learned that the style of training offered by one flight school could be wildly different from another. There can be a huge contrast between having an independent CFI and being part of a flight school with rigid schedules and precise syllabi. I was constantly urged to learn about the instructing styles of multiple schools and instructors before choosing one.

For a number of months I attended a distinguished flight school in Louisville. They were great at training, and despite the fact that I was 12 at the time, they treated me like any other student. I remember attending a group ground school session where I was the youngest student by at least 40 years. I was this young girl trying very hard to fit in with the adults, and to learn advanced concepts of aviation at the same pace they were. In reality I had just started learning algebra a few weeks before.

The flight school was top notch and I gained a great deal of experience there but my training was quickly halted as money and time became an issue. After more searching and talking with other pilots, I was able to find The Institute for Aerospace Education, a high school program that was based at a school less than 30 minutes from my house. A couple years passed from when I had been instructed in Louisville, so I began this program with a new motivation and passion.

At the time I joined the program, it was a Part 61. This week, my great little flight school became certified as Part 141. This is a pretty big deal for a high school program, and further assured me that I have made the right decision for my future in attending this school. For those of you who do not know the difference of Part 61 and Part 141, here is a quick rundown. The number refers to which part of the federal regulations it is authorized under to train pilots.

Part 61

Schools certified under Part 61 are the most common type of flight school. All FAA-approved flight instructors, freelance or otherwise, may train students under Part 61. Typically Part 61 schools have a more relaxed schedule, working with the student’s preferences and availability. They have less accountability and paperwork requirements for the FAA than their Part 141 counterparts. These tend to be better for students who just want their first couple ratings or do not plan to pursue aviation as a career.

Part 141

In order to be a certified Part 141 flight school, the owner must go through a process that involves hours of paperwork and close examination of the actual teaching procedures at the school. All curriculum, training, and operations must be in accordance with the regulations outlined in Part 141 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. There are benefits to going through such a long process to certify the school, as students are able to get their licenses and ratings in fewer hours. This does not make a huge difference for Private Pilots, as they only have 5 hours taken off the standard of 40. However, once you reach the Commercial rating you can get a certification at 60 hours less than any Part 61 peers.

Which is better?

In reality, that depends entirely on you. If you personally learn better with a rigid schedule and lesson plan, then seek out a 141 certified flight school. If you tend to learn better in a more relaxed, casual environment, 61 would be better suited for you. One disadvantage of a Part 141 school is that many students can reach the point of feeling overwhelmed with the fast pace. I have always felt that a Part 61 would be better for a pilot who has never been exposed to aviation before their training, so that they can ease into the material.

I hope this has helped you grasp a better understanding of the different types of flight schools. Good luck on your training, whether it be Part 61 or 141!

The Aerobatic Experience of a Lifetime

There is great excitement around Louisville right now. Last weekend Thunder Over Louisville came to our charming little city. Thousands of people gathered around the Ohio River to watch the Blue Angels, Lima Lima Flight team, Trojan Horsemen, Team AeroDynamix, and several other big names in airshow entertainment. It was a sunny day with a slight breeze, the perfect setting for the 25th anniversary of the airshow.

One of these Thunder performers was John Klatt. He is an Air National Guard pilot who proudly flies the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and C-130 "Hercules" aircraft on combat, air support, and humanitarian missions. In addition to all of this, he is an airshow performer extraordinaire with over 10 years’ experience flying for millions of spectators. In his current routine he flies his MXS in a plethora of twists, turns, and flips at stunning speeds.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to ride along with John and his flight crew for some practice before the big event. I strapped on my parachute and climbed into the front seat of their 300 horsepower Extra 300L. I had not experienced aerobatics previously, so as they secured me with the abundance of harnesses and safety straps I had a brief moment where I was questioning what I was getting myself into. Being born a thrill seeker, I gave a thumbs up to the crew and braced myself for the adventure that awaited us.

After an incredibly speedy liftoff, we flew in close proximity behind John in his single seat MXS. When we reached the practice area he headed north of the Ohio river and we headed south to do maneuvers. We started out simple, with just a dive from 5000’ to gain airspeed and roll into some steep turns. After this we did a hammerhead, loop, and barrel roll. I tried to play it cool but every moment I lost sight of the ground I couldn’t help but grin.

Flying aerobatics is what I believe to be one of the fundamentals of aviation. Humans have always been seeking out the biggest thrills. We question how fast something can go, how high we can fly. Part of human nature is pushing the limits and finding new ways of controlling our surroundings. For years we have been building faster and better aircraft in this pursuit of maximizing our abilities. Maybe I am getting too philosophical with this, but the entire concept of aerobatics beautifully demonstrates the human spirit. Airshows are built around this human adoration of pushing boundaries. The fact that we have created machines capable of such breathtaking feats is worth celebration enough. Add in the remarkable skill and talent of pilots like John Klatt, and you have a perfect display of human intellect and liveliness.

After I hopped out of the Extra 300L, I felt like my eyes had been opened to a whole new world of flying capabilities. The sheer power and agility of the plane shocked me. This truly was an unforgettable experience and I want to thank John Klatt and his team for this opportunity.

Report From the 25th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference

photo by Andrew Zaback—record attendance to hear Eileen Collins speak at the Luncheon on Friday, March 7 at the 25th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference

On the weekend of March 6th 2014, over 4,500 people attended the 25th annual Women in Aviation International conference held at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was fortunate enough to find myself able to attend for my first time this year. Although I was not sure what to expect, I left the conference with unforgettable memories and a true love for Women in Aviation International.

I was determined to get out of my comfort zone and make the most of this experience, so on my first day I made a beeline for the volunteer booth to sign up to help in whichever area they needed me. I was told by the volunteer coordinator that they had over 300 volunteers signed up for the conference. She said that the success of the conference really had so much to do with volunteers, who help with every aspect from registration to article writing for the Daily newsletter. I shared a resort room with fellow aviation writer Sarina Houston, so I was nudged towards volunteering in the press room and had some great learning experiences with the women working there.

On the first day, after attending a New Member breakfast and meeting tons of great people, I was sent to the exhibitor hall for my first volunteer assignment. In celebration of the 25th anniversary, a large time capsule was filled during the conference and will be reopened in 25 years. I was asked to talk to each of the 133 exhibitors individually and pick up their time capsule items. Many were unsure as to what they should put in the capsule, but I assured them that a pamphlet or business card would work. Simply a way to say "I was here." The capsule will be opened at the 2039 conference.

It was invigorating to hear some true aviation legends speak at the conference. On Thursday night attendees were treated to an inspiring speech by SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul. After flying 212 combat missions as a USAF fighter pilot, Shul was shot down and so badly burned that he was given a very slim chance of survival, and next to no chance at a normal life. After spending 2 months in intensive care and an additional several months in physical therapy, he made a full recovery and was able to return to flying. He presented a stunning collection of rare photos he took after his recovery, during his time as a Blackbird pilot.

Attendees were invited to a special luncheon on Friday featuring a speech by Eileen Collins. Collins is a retired NASA astronaut and has the distinction of being the first female pilot and first female commander of a Space Shuttle. It was unreal to hear her causally talk about her training, and describe in detail what it is like to feel a space shuttle takeoff. She chuckled and told about when she looked out the window and it hit her that "wow, the earth IS round!"

Of the thousands in attendance, a large percentage had come for the job opportunities. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United Airlines were all present at the conference, taking resumes and conducting short interviews with applicants. Sharply dressed pilots flocked to their booths and it was fun talking to some of the energetic young job searchers.

I’m in a great spot for attending this conference, because I am graduating high school and beginning the rest of my flight training in a few short months. I tried to make a point of visiting every flight university and hearing about what makes them special, and how they are conducting their training of the next generation of pilots. I lingered at the Bristow Academy and Whirly-Girls booths, envisioning my life as a helicopter pilot. There are so many scholarships and opportunities available for an education in aviation, it is simply a matter of knowing where to look.

After passing by and lusting over an Abingdon watch a few times, I went to some of the education sessions. I learned tips and tricks for publishing my own book, and listened to a panel of female airline pilots. There were dozens of other educational sessions happening, and I only wish there were more of me so I could have attended more of them!

Seeing thousands of people who are passionate about aviation and are enjoying their careers in the field was extremely inspiring. I highly encourage anyone who is serious about aviation to look into attending the next Women in Aviation International conference. I can’t wait to attend next year’s conference myself and reunite with some of the great girls I met last weekend.

Your Guide to Summer Aviation Fun

After months of freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and grounded airplanes it’s nice to finally have some warm weather in the forecast. What better way to embrace the end of winter than to begin planning for summer aviation activities? The number of events that await your attendance this summer is both exciting and a little overwhelming. I hope to help give you a quick reminder of the major events, as well as introduce you to some that are lesser-known but well worth looking into.

Airshows

There is nothing better on a warm summer day than to go to an airshow. You can grab a cold drink, wear a sun-blocking hat, and watch beautiful aircraft dazzle you from the flight line. Listening to the buzz of the engines and hearing the enthusiastic announcer awakens the love of aviation that is inside all of us. Last year was a difficult one for the Airshow industry, but thankfully things are looking hopeful for 2014.

The Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels are back in action, ready to woo audiences in their tours around America. The patriotic and awe-inspiring pilots will be at several locations during the spring and summer, so visit their websites to get more information on this can’t-miss show.

Classic airshows for summer fun are being held at AirVenture and SUN 'n FUN. However, most states host at least one local airshow during the year, several hosting more.  The Globalair.com Aviation Events calendar can help you find your nearest show, and give you an idea of what is going on around the world.

Fly-Ins

For pilots who are itching for a change of scenery, a fly-in is a great option. Many airports and aviation organizations host fly-ins, which usually involve great food. Most EAA Chapters host monthly pancake breakfasts which are open to the public and feature speakers or activities that are of interest to aviators. These events are great for meeting other friendly pilots, and enjoying a relaxing summer’s Saturday.

I have recently come across a couple of truly unique fly-ins that would be unforgettable to attend. The International Seaplane Fly-In in Greenville, Maine is designed specifically for those with an interest in seaplane operations. Beautiful Moosehead Lake is the setting for the graceful seaplanes and visitors are close enough to town to explore the unique shops and restaurants of Maine. The Cessna 150-152 Fly-In in Iowa celebrates the most loved basic training aircraft. The small Cessna has been the starting point of a life in aviation for nearly 60 years. Over 100 of the aircraft will be flying into the heartland of America for this event.

Conferences

If the weather gets too hot for you, there are plenty of indoor conferences going on this summer. The Ninety-Nines are hosting their annual conference in New Orleans, Louisiana during the month of June. The Great Alaska Aviation Gathering is happening the first week in May. If there is an area of aviation that you find particularly interesting, there’s very likely a conference happening which covers it. There is even a NBAA Business Aviation Taxes Seminar happening in May. These seminars and conferences offer the perfect environment to learn new skills, network within your industry, and have a great time.

Other Happenings

In addition to all of the fun events already covered, there are plenty of unique activities going on if you know where to look. The 6th Annual 1940’s WWII Era Ball is happening June 14th in Colorado. Visiting this amazing ball has always been on my bucket list. For pilots who want a good challenge this summer, the Arizona Rumble in the Desert is a self-proclaimed “back country Olympics.” Competitions include short field landing, short field takeoff, power off approach, spot landing, and flour bombing.

Last but not least, there are always aviation summer camps. Many are available for all ages, but I cannot think of a more perfect way to introduce today’s youth to aerospace than a fun week of learning. These can get a little expensive, but there are scholarship opportunities available for most. AOPA has compiled a good list, but doing some quick Google searches around your area may help find one that is not listed.

Hopefully this quick list has helped you get excited for all the events happening this summer. It’s almost time to shake the ice off, pack some snacks, and enjoy beautiful summer weather!

Pilots Getting a Buzz

Recently the world of Aviation has been flooded with criticism of the Federal Aviation Administration's update of regulations regarding the crew rest period. Highlights of the new regulations state that all airline pilots get at least 10 hours of rest between shifts, eight hours of which must involve uninterrupted sleep. Depending on when the flight begins, pilots are also limited to spending only eight or nine hours in the cockpit.

These stricter regulations come as no surprise to many airlines, as incident reports stating "pilot fatigue" as a main contributing factor became too frequent to ignore. To quote the FAA’s Official Report on the amendment: “Fatigue manifests in the aviation context not only when pilots fall asleep in the cockpit in flight, but perhaps more importantly, when they are insufficiently alert during take-off and landing. Reported fatigue-related events have included procedural errors, unstable approaches, lining up with the wrong runway, and landing without clearances. ”

As most pilots know, human error is the #1 cause of aviation accidents. Add in fatigue and stress from a long flight and you have a recipe for disaster. These new regulations will assure pilots rest as much as needed before beginning a long period of flight.

One additional facet of this change is that more responsibility has been given directly to pilots in determining their fitness for flight. They must confirm that they are fit for duty before any flight operations, and may be removed from the flight should they display signs of fatigue.

It will be interesting to see how this has an effect on the daily consumption of certain stimulants, namely caffeine. Pilots are no strangers to a good cup of coffee, which many drink as a delicious energizer before flights. The short-term effects of caffeine can be great for feeling alert and awake, but these benefits wear off quickly and can put a pilot in danger.

Caffeine has been linked to such symptoms as anxiety, fear, sweating, irritability, nervousness, and feeling “on edge.” These are perhaps the worst feelings for a pilot to have during a complicated flight. Should they not feel these symptoms, they are still likely to suffer from insomnia and have a difficult time managing their rest period. Caffeine effectively blocks the chemicals in the brain which tell you that you are tired, causing the brain to be exhausted but unable to rest and recuperate.

The best thing for pilots to do is to only drink coffee or caffeinated drinks in moderation, monitoring caffeine consumption to assure the safety of their flight operations. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating foods rich in protein will also help give a natural “boost” without paying the price of negative symptoms.

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