All Aviation Articles By Tori Patterson

Top 5 Jobs in Aviation (That are not Professional Pilot)

Since I was a young girl and I took my first airplane flight, I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life associated with this wonderful world of flying machines. My immediate action after this flight was to decide I would be a professional pilot. After all, in my young mind that was the only job that would let me be around airplanes and airports all day. Since then, I have pushed on with single-mindedness towards earning my flight ratings. First private, then instrument, now I am building hours towards taking my commercial pilot checkride.

However, he more that I dig deep into the world of professional flight, the more I see that it is certainly not just the pilots that play an important role. In reality, they play just as important of a role of any of the hundreds of other personnel that run airports and flight operations daily. These jobs are not given the "rock star" persona that the general public tends to give pilots, and I believe that is a terrible misunderstanding.

In my Crew Resource Management class at my flight university we have been discussing a lot about what exactly the definition of "crew" is. Is it just pilot flying and pilot monitoring? Is it also ATC? If ATC is included, wouldn’t maintenance and dispatch also make the cut? A commercial flight operation could not possibly happen without the combined efforts of all of these resources.

I want to give a brief overview of what I consider to be five of the most important "crew" resources for every commercial flight. I would also like to encourage every young aviator out there to take a step back and appreciate all of the supporting people that work to make these operations happen. They are all "rock stars" in their own right and work very hard to keep the skies safe and efficient.

Air Traffic Controller

Picture this scenario: It is a sunny and beautiful day at a medium-sized airport that supports both commercial and general aviation traffic. Everyone suddenly gets the urge to stretch their wings and spend a few hours in the air. At the same time, routine commercial flights are coming and going at breakneck speed to accommodate travelers. As a controller, it is your job to perfectly orchestrate the dozens of aircraft that are in your airspace at any given moment. You also have to take into consideration the type, speed, altitude, and intention of each plane. Air traffic controllers have an extremely difficult job, that when done well is not noticed.

Dispatcher

A dispatcher is in charge of organizing a large portion of the logistical information for a flight. In the U.S. and Canada they also share legal responsibility for any aircraft they are assigned with the pilot in command. Dispatchers are trained to ATP standards, and must have extensive knowledge of meteorology and aviation regulations in general. A dispatcher typically handles between 10 and 20 aircraft at the same time, and must monitor each of them to ensure safe flight operations.

Aircraft Maintenance Worker

If aircraft were not maintained to the high standard that they are today, there would be twice as many accidents happening during daily flight operations. Aircraft maintenance technicians are highly skilled in mechanics, computer systems, and a whole host of other practical expertise. They spend weeks memorizing the complex systems of each aircraft that they work on. They are not afraid to get dirty, and keep thousands of aircraft flying every day.

Management

With all of these moving parts, there has to be some sort of management in place to assure that everything is running smoothly. That is where the managers, administrators, HR workers or "higher-ups" come into play. They know the business side of aviation, and often incorporate their personal aviation knowledge into their managerial methods. These are the people that help to keep the business going when things get tough.

Flight Attendant

No list of important aviation jobs would be complete without mention of flight attendants. These hard working crewmembers deal directly with the general public for hours every day. They travel the world just as much as the pilots do, and have to be wise and patient when handling any issues caused by passengers onboard. They must be friendly but assertive, constantly holding a professional demeanor. The life of a flight attendance is not glamorous, but it sure can be fun.

This list does not scratch the surface of all the types of jobs available in the aviation industry. I am sure that if you thought of almost any job, there is an equivalent job in the aviation industry. Keep an open mind when looking towards your future career endeavors, and always do what you love! We have a great list of job search resources available on the GlobalAir.com Aviation Directory.

Nine Great Aviation Events you Don't Want to Miss

There are hundreds of exciting annual aviation events for seasoned pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike to visit this year. These events will bring a lot of new networking opportunities, as well as chances to just have fun. With the pilot shortage quickly approaching, there is no better time than now to get your foot in the door with the company you’ve always dreamed of being with. Networking with them at an upcoming aviation event could be your chance to shine.

Even if you are not looking to get into a job in the industry, visiting air shows and conventions can be the highlight of your year. Many companies unveil new products and aircraft at these events, so I encourage everyone to attend as many as possible and enjoy the unique culture and friendliness in the world of aviation.

I have personally visited or know of someone who has gone to each of these events, so I can vouch for their outstanding quality. I included one for almost every month, as to give a good overview of when these major events are happening. I hope that you are able to attend at least one of these events this year, and that you have a great time!

Soaring Society of America Convention
February 18-20
Greenville, South Carolina
This three-day conference is the perfect getaway for those of us who prefer to take the to skies without an engine. The Soaring Society of America was formed in 1932 and currently has upwards of 12,000 members. According to their website, SAA members and soaring fans from all over the United States and Canada gather to learn the latest soaring technology developments, attend lectures, and meet with friends.


photo by Andrew Zaback—Attendees of the 2014 WAI Conference hear Eileen Collins speak at the Luncheon on Friday before being dismissed to enjoy seminars and interact with exhibitors.

Women in Aviation International Conference
March 10-12
Nashville, Tennessee
I was lucky enough to attend the 2014 Women in Aviation International conference at Walt Disney World in Florida. I was truly blown away by how much thought and preparation was put into every aspect of the weekend. This year should be no different, as the lineup of workshops and speakers listed online look incredibly interesting. They also have a variety of companies that come and conduct face-to-face interviews with job seekers that attend the conference. Participating companies include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, NetJets, FedEx, and several more.

Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in Expo
April 5th-10th
Lakeland, Florida
There is no better way to kick off your year of fly-ins and air shows by paying a visit to the beautiful Lakeland, Florida for Sun ‘n Fun Something that is unique about Sun ‘n Fun is how the majority of its profits sponsor the Aerospace Center for Excellence that helps shape the future of aviation by providing educational programs for youth interested in aviation. Who knew having so much fun could have such a great impact!

AOPA Fly-In
May 20-21
Beaufort, North Carolina
There are several AOPA Fly-Ins around America during the year, and this event in May is the perfect weekend trip for pilots with all levels of experience. All attendees are invited to the Barnstorming Party on Friday and encouraged to enjoy the fly-in sights and sounds on Saturday. AOPA offers several educational seminars during the weekend, including the Rusty Pilot seminar to help get you back on track if you have taken a few years off flying.

Ladies Love Taildraggers Fly-in
June 3-5
Sulphur Springs, Texas
Tragically, last year’s LLT Fly-in was canceled four days before the event due to a tornado hitting the airport. This year the ladies are as excited as ever to host taildragger enthusiasts from all over as they rebound from last year. Attendees are welcome to camp by their aircraft, or spend the night at the Sulphur Springs Best Western. During the weekend they have a poker run to benefit their scholarship fund, amongst other fun activities.

 

Photo showing around 10% of the attractions at Oshkosh.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
July 25-31
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
I have been lucky enough to attend AirVenture the last three years, actually flying in with my fiancé the last two. I am uncertain if I will be able to make it this year as our wedding is the very next weekend, but AirVenture has been the best week of my summer every year I’ve gone. The sheer size of the event alone is worth visiting just to see. There is never a dull moment at Oshkosh, and I encourage every pilot who has never gotten the chance to experience it to do their best to stop by this year!

Lee Bottom Fly-in
September 16-18
Madison, Indiana
This privately owned grass strip in Indiana holds a special place in my heart, as during one of my first ever flight lessons my instructor took me to their beautiful field on the Ohio river and we did our first exhilarating grass landing. I have flown up and attended their annual fly-in twice before, and the relaxed atmosphere with incredibly friendly hosts makes this a must-do for any pilot.

Finale of the Red Bull Air Race
October 15-16
Las Vegas, Nevada
Few things mix the world of extreme sports and aviation better than the Red Bull Air Races. Even watching the event on television gets my heart pumping, and I will hopefully be attending their previous stop in Indianapolis. This is a big year for the air race because they have their first ever female competitor, Melanie Astles.

NBAA’s Business Aviation Convention
November 1-2
Orlando, Florida
This event is truly the holy grail of business aviation. All different aspects of the business aviation world are represented at this conference, and most are there to get deals made. If you want to network with other business professionals then this is the one event that you cannot miss. It also gives you a pretty good idea of what the next biggest trends in aviation will be.

I hope that this gives you at least an idea of the variety of events that are offered this year! To view more events, or to list your own, please visit our GlobalAir.com Aviation Events Calendar!

General Aviation Around the World

During my trip to Munich, Germany for the International Ninety-Nines Conference over the summer I was able to meet female pilots from all over the world. I met women from Russia, New Zealand, Canada, China, and Jordan to name a few. All of these accomplished women had similar goals and dreams in the world of general and commercial aviation.

One of the excursions available during the tip was to fly around the Alps in Bavaria. The day that it was offered I ended up being on a tour of Neuschswanstein Castle, but I found it fascinating that in Germany you have the ability to hop in a small airplane and go flying, just like America. This led me to an interest in how the process of earning your license differs between countries. The FAA doesn’t control air traffic outside of America, so who is in charge in other parts of the world? Is it more difficult to become licensed there? I did some research into the regulations of 5 countries and will share what I found here.

1. The United States

To earn your private pilot license in America you have to obtain a student pilot certificate and third class medical, which are often the same document. An informal pre-solo written exam, which you cover with your instructor, is all that is additionally required to solo. You must then pass an FAA written exam that consists of 60 questions, and earn a minimum of 40 flight hours in accordance to the requirements in 14 CFR 61.109(a) for different types of aeronautical experience. After all this training you must take a "check-ride" with an FAA-certified examiner based on a document called the Practical Test Standards. Student pilots in America can solo at age 16 and earn their full license at age 17.

2. Canada

Canada has similar requirements for private pilots. However, in order to earn your student pilot certificate to solo you must sit and pass a PSTAR examination. This is a multiple-choice test with 50 questions covering most areas in the FAA written exam, with the exception of it being over the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

3. Germany

Pilots seeking their private license in Germany have a few more hoops to jump through than other countries. Candidates must have a certificate of having taken a first aid course of immediate life saving measures, as well as a Radio Telephony Certificate. The "check-ride" process appears to be similar to the U.S, with a multiple-choice test and practical flight with a designated examiner. More information can be found here.

4. Japan

Based on what information I could find online, Japan is one of the most expensive places to earn your pilot license. With rates estimated around $500 an hour, most aspiring pilots will travel abroad to a less expensive country for their training. They also have a ranked medical certificate process, and a "B" Aviation Medical Certificate is required to a private license. Most airports have a strict curfew, so pilots in Japan have to be especially careful to not fly into these airports after-hours.

5. New Zealand

Famous for its beautiful scenery and the Lord of the Rings movies, New Zealand is one of the most popular countries for pilots from other parts of the world to visit and fly at. The rolling hills and striking landscapes make for an extremely general aviation flight. As far as I can tell, the licensing process is very similar to the U.S. The major difference is that you have six examinations over subjects relating to New Zealand aviation. These subjects are radio, human factors, meteorology, air technical knowledge, navigation and law. These exams are mainly multiple choice and require a 70% pass rate.

English is the universal language of aviation, and I was surprised to find that the regulations regarding earning your first license are pretty standard around the world. Despite a few small changes, the typical process has most of the same steps. The most dramatic difference is the availability of aircraft to rent.

In the future I would like to research more heavily into the history and current climate of general aviation in different countries. It is an interesting topic, especially when contrasting it with our rules in America. We really have it easy when compared to other countries as far as aircraft availability and the sheer amount of airports we have across the country.

Looking for an international flight school? We have a list of them available on our GlobalAir.com Aviation Directory.

YOU Should Finish Your Flight Training

Perhaps you are one of the thousands of people who have always looked to the sky when an airplane passes over, pausing in awe. You have been determined to fly your entire life, but just never completed your training. Your dreams may have been temporarily grounded due to money, children, work obligations, or simply not feeling qualified. There is no reason that your dreams have to be put on hold anymore, and I am here to give you some inspiration for why you should finish learning how to fly.

Earning your pilots license is a huge accomplishment, but it is not as unobtainable as some seem to believe. The majority of people I interact with outside of my flight university see flying as this magical, dangerous pursuit. Some ask if it is scary, but the most common question by far is, "just how difficult is it to fly an airplane?" I’m here to tell you that flying is difficult. Earning a college degree is difficult. Flourishing in a career is difficult, raising a family is difficult, and anything that is worth doing is going to be difficult.

The one thing that separates those who can’t with those who can is determination. If you determine that you will finish training, you will put in the hours it takes and you will learn the material and succeed. If you continually make excuses for why you can’t finish training, then you never will finish.

There is a possibility that you are on this website right now looking at the huge selection of aircraft for sale and wondering what it would be like to own your own and fly it whenever you wanted. There are affordable options, and earning your license is the first step to becoming an aircraft owner and successful aviator. You might not even need more inspiration for why you should earn your license, but I have compiled some great reasons that I like to remind hopeful future pilots of.

Flying Increases Your Intelligence

Like most hobbies, flying requires you to learn something new every day. However, unlike most hobbies, almost everything you learn in training is transferable to another skill set. A pilot has to be proficient in time management, communication, resource management, and decision making, to name a few. You will constantly be sharpening different skills that apply to situations outside of the airport.

You Have Options

Not everyone wants to become a licensed Private pilot, but many do want to fly. There are several options out there for that as well, such as a Sport Pilot license and flying gliders. These have limitations on taking passengers and can be less free as far as regulations that must be followed, but for a fair weather flyer they are perfectly viable options. The great thing about aviation is that it is incredibly diverse. Find something that fits your lifestyle and dreams and run with it!

You are Joining a Great Community

Some of the best people I have had the pleasure of meeting are pilots. Not only are they wise from years of continual learning, but they are also adventurous and supportive. The aviation community is very welcoming, and you can feel at home at almost any airport you visit. I suggest joining a local chapter of EAA or the Ninety-Nines if those interest you. If not, simply sitting around in an FBO often leads to great conversations.

It Will Look Great on Your Resume

No matter what field you’re in, adding that you have your pilot license is a great addition to your resume. It shows your potential employer that you have dedicated yourself to working hard on a single task for a long period of time and earned it. Employers are looking for well-rounded individuals and having this qualification makes you stand out in a sea of other candidates.

So Many New Adventures

My fiancé and I flew to over 25 different airports in our first year of dating. I can think of something memorable or exciting about every single one of them. Whether it be the people we met, the hangars we explored, or simply how beautiful the sunset was while we sat on the porch of the FBO, none of those amazing memories would have happened if we didn’t decide to go on an adventure and fly to a new airport. Taking to the skies opens up so much possibility for adventure and lifelong memories.

Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Why not chase after your dreams?

7 Practical Tips for Instrument Training

I am happy to report that in my pursuit of a career as a professional pilot, I successfully passed my Instrument Rating checkride a couple weeks ago. Although this is just a milestone along the long road to my goals, I am proud of how far I’ve come from my first attempt at flying an approach. Several pilots warned me that instrument training is more difficult than any other training, and I have to say that I now understand what they meant.

Instrument training was different from private training in a lot of ways. Everything that I had already spent hours learning and practicing was expected to be second nature to me at this point. This really hit home when I executed a poor traffic pattern and my instructor scolded me, saying, "This is PRIVATE stuff! You should know how to land." I could not longer struggle to control any part of my flight operations and blame it on still being a student. In a sense, you change from being a student of the airplane to a student of everything outside of the airplane. Factor in how you cannot see outside, and the learning curve suddenly gets that much more difficult.

Upon landing and being told I had passed my checkride, my DPE told me that he strongly believed that instrument training was more difficult than ATP training. This surprised me, and I will have to report back in a few years on if I find this true for myself or not. Regardless, my previous instructor’s warning that it will be like a "fire hose to the face" when I began training was definitely true. I struggled for months in the ground course and every flight seemed to make me feel more emotions than Private training did. If it was a good flight, I definitely knew it and felt like a champion. If it was a bad flight, it was more difficult to recover from and I felt more like a failure. I am sure this is because the acceptable margin of error in instrument flight is so small.

During my training I jotted down some notes on things I would like to tell other students currently working on their instrument rating. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful for navigating the difficulties you will face along the way.

Accurate representation of what it feels like to study for the Instrument Written.

Knock out the Written Exam

There is nothing more frustrating than getting grounded during flight training because you haven’t completed a written test. It is policy at my school that if you have not passed the written test before you start the second "flight lab" (25 hours of training) then you cannot move forward. Even if the threat of being grounded is not looming over your head, the written is a huge hurdle to pass and I recommend taking it as soon as possible to get it out of the way. Some concepts are more difficult than Private, but it’s nothing that a few extra hours of studying cannot remedy.

Reference the Instrument "Know All" Handbook

My instructor sent me a link to this page early in our training and it was a game changer. It lays out the highlights of regulations and procedures in a way that is easily understood, and it is perfect for printing out and highlighting. I even made some sections into flash cards for further memorization. Being a pilot is about knowing how to use every resource available to you, and this is certainly a goldmine of helpful information.

Memorize Approach Plates you use Often

I would say that in almost every other flight lesson we flew over to KLEX and did an approach into whichever runway they were using. I became really familiar with the VOR-A, ILS, LOC, and RNAV approaches for 22 and 04. Knowing that I frequent these approaches so much, it was extremely beneficial to me when I sat down by myself and mentally flew the approach plates several times. It made the approach briefing less confusing, and helped me to understand exactly what I was doing as I went along. Even before a cross country, I recommend looking over the plates a few times to get familiar with them so that you are never a few miles out and looking at the plate for the first time.

Don’t Stress Over the Brief

When I first began my training, it seemed like every time we were getting close to the airport and I needed to brief the approach to my instructor my palms suddenly got sweaty. There was so much to go over. There is so little time. Don’t let yourself stress over the approach plates, and find an acronym or method that works best for YOU. I always use "FACTM" approach. Frequencies, Altitudes, Course, Time, and Missed. I go over this in my head, and find the information that relates to it on my approach plate.

Invest in Good Foggles/Hood

One thing that I almost got in trouble with during my checkride was the type of foggles I used. They are clear, except for the opaque white around the edges. When I was coming in on my final approach, I experienced a familiar phenomenon: a blinding glare from the sun. As we were coming straight towards the sun, it reflected off of the opaque part of my foggles and I could not see any of my instruments. I had this happen before but never to the extent of during my checkride. My extremely kind check airman held a binder up to block the glare as I finished the approach, and recommended that I look into a hood for future flights. Find what works best for you and consider all the possible negatives of all options.

Get into Actual IMC

Near the end of my training, when I was pretty comfortable with approaches, my instructor called me up on a particularly overcast and nasty looking day. He told me that I had better not think I wasn’t flying that day, and to get to the airport as soon as possible. That was the day that we went into real, solid, terrifying instrument meteorological conditions. Up to this moment I was sure that I could handle it, after all I had about 40 hours in simulated instrument conditions. Immediately when we burst into the clouds my entire body tensed up. It was the most disorienting experience I had ever had. I asked him to please take over the radios so that I could get a feel for it. I highly recommend going into IMC multiple times during your training to truly understand the mental aerobics that come with completely trusting what you see on the panel.

Keep a Reminder of Why You’re Doing it

I won’t lie, I thought about quitting a couple times during my training. Everyone said that Instrument training either makes or breaks you as a pilot, so I thought that if I could not get it down then I was not fit to be a professional pilot. I watched as a few of my friends switched majors or quit their training because it was just too difficult. Every time I had to remind myself that this has been my dream since I was a young girl, and I could not quit until I had given it all that I had. It absolutely pays off in the end if you dedicate the time and effort, and keep motivated.

I wish you all the best in your instrument training, and I hope that these tips will at least encourage you to stick with it. Stay safe and keep working hard towards your goals!

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