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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!

Celebrating Girls in Aviation Day

This past week something happened that is vital to the advancement of women in professional and general aviation. Women in Aviation International started an initiative earlier this year that helped make September 26th, 2015 officially “Girls in Aviation Day.” The idea is a spin-off of their Girls in Aviation day held during their annual WAI conferences. The event focuses on introducing girls between ages 8 and 16 years old to aviation and involving them in various learning opportunities.

The ultimate goal of Girls in Aviation day is to help the next generation of young women to consider aviation as a future career choice. In my personal experience, many young girls simply do not see aviation as a field that they have the option to get into. The common image of a pilot presented in the media is usually a male. Having a day like this that raises the awareness of the general public about women in aviation can have a huge impact on how many girls decide to go into aviation in the future.

A large majority of U.S. and international chapters of Women in Aviation International hosted events in their hometowns for the big day. Activities put on by different chapters ranged from an airport tour with static displays to a hands-on experience learning what is involved in creating a flight plan. Several chapters also hosted presentations by women in a variety of fields in aviation. WAI provided the participating chapters with gift bags and informational packets to hand out to the girls. Additionally, a total of 29 states and two cities released official proclamations naming September 26th as Girls in Aviation Day.

A few aviation museums got in on the fun as well. The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada hosted hundreds of girls, and guided them through "career stations" highlighting different paths such as ATC, maintenance, airport operational manager, flight attendant, and several others.

Another meaningful event that happened on Girls in Aviation Day is that Delta flight 8877 – call sign WING 1 (Women Inspiring our Next Generation) operated with an entirely female crew chartering more than 130 young girls to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA for a day of learning about aviation career opportunities. Originating in Minneapolis, WING 1 was the airline’s first-ever all-female charter flight. It is so encouraging to see huge companies really caring about their employees, and many girls who flew on WING 1 reported feeling inspired and amazed at how they saw women were capable of doing any job related to flying.

The all-female Delta flight WING 1 - "Women Inspiring our Next Generation."

The global initiative of promoting women in aviation has certainly been gaining traction in the last several years. As more jobs are opening up in general, the increased demand for qualified and passionate pilots could definitely use a healthy dose of girl power. With programs like this and organizations such as the Ninety-Nines and Women in Corporate Aviation actively recruiting more ladies, the outlook for future increase in female pilots looks very promising.

A few years back when I first began looking into aviation seriously as a career I had no idea how many great opportunities were out there. There is an entire generation of female pilots that want to encourage, support, and mentor as many young ladies as they can. I am incredibly excited to see what the future holds for women in aviation, and I hope that through pursuing professional aviation training I can someday be a mentor or role model to a girl who has aspirations to join such a challenging and exciting field of work.

The Importance of Accident Investigation

This semester I am taking a class that is required for my major called “Aviation Safety Programs.” I did not know much about this class before the first day, besides that we would be learning how to be safer and more cautious pilots in our flight operations. Now that the first week of classes has come and gone, I am looking forward to this class more than most of my others. The basic setup of this class is that we will be reading and watching videos about aircraft accidents and analyzing what went wrong. We then write 250-500 words a week about a factor of the accident that stuck out to us. A large percentage of our final grade is calculated from a presentation that we each give about an accident that is randomly assigned to us.

This may sound grim, but it is so important to sit down and work through exactly what caused a deadly accident to happen so that you can avoid the same mistakes in the future. Whether it is pilot error, instrument malfunction, or an accident caused by ATC, knowing how to understand and avoid the same fate is paramount to creating safer skies.

For example, the first accident that we investigated was Colgan Air flight 3407. As 40+ aviation students anxiously watched the projector screen, we were shown a video that recreated the accident with a 3D model of the aircraft and instruments visualizing what the black box had recorded. Additionally, this video had real audio from ATC communicating with the copilot shortly before the accident. It was disturbing to hear, as it made the accident seem so much more real.

After watching the video, we opened discussion to what we believed went wrong. Was it icing? Was it the captain who had previously failed stall awareness training? Was it the first officer who had been working so much between flying and being a waitress that she was deliriously tired? It is important to consider all of these factors and logically work through why this was a bad decision/scenario. We then read the NTSB report and discussed how they came to their conclusions.

This is the infamous accident that lead to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee introducing the “Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act of 2009.” Many things changed in the world of professional aviation after this law was passed. Regulations governing pilot training became much more strict. Additionally, the hour requirements for a pilot to earn their ATP rating changed from 250 to 1500. Although both pilots had several thousands of hours of training, the distraught families of the victims who pushed for these updates to regulations simply wanted to try and ensure something like this never happened again.

As you can see, the aftermath of this accident was colossal. It had a huge impact on the aviation industry as a whole, the effects of which aviation students will witness firsthand for years to come. Had the NTSB reported that the cause of the accident was icing with minimal other factors, perhaps the outcome would have been different. However, we cannot be sure of this. The important thing to gather from this is that the entire accident could have been avoided if the pilots had stopped the sequence of bad events from early on.

The "Decide" model is often used to evaluate in-flight emergencies. Having a prior knowledge of events that have lead to accidents can assist with logical thinking when evaluating impeding danger.

Each accident starts as a chain of events. Imagine dominos in a line. When you knock down one, others start following after quite quickly. One of the things we will be doing in my class is identifying which moments leading up to the accidents are dominos. We will analyze where it starts, what makes it worse, and what the ultimate result is. I think that this is fascinating, and it is extremely important for all pilots to examine aircraft accident reports to become better informed and prepared in case they recognize something that could be a domino.

I want to encourage every pilot out there, whether it is their profession or they fly for fun, to begin paying attention to accident reports. It can be difficult, as most pilots have an “it won’t happen to me,” attitude, but doing so will help make flying safer for yourself and everyone around you.