15 Flight Training, Flying & Aviation Career Questions -- Motivation Monday #6

Questions on this episode:
1:01 What do you think of programs like Sheppard Air for written test?
2:46 Would you recommend buying or renting an airplane?
4:13 iPad mini or iPad Pro (11”)?
6:03 Do you know of crossovers between being a pilot and geologist?
7:38 What is the hardest instrument approach you have ever flown?
8:53 Where do most examiners stand on allowing ForeFlight on an instrument checkride?
10:33 How do I get the correct tone of “Cleeaaar Prooopp” with my voice?
11:15 How do you determine when you are proficient enough as a new pilot to safely fly family and friends?
13:43 How to stay motivated/proficient after getting private?
16:27 How can you increase opportunities to fly after ppl? (finances)
18:31 Equipment question: which sunglasses should I buy for flying?
20:42 Going for my commercial checkride here soon. Any final tips?
23:46 Tips for a new CFI?
25:30 What is your opinion about flight simulators? Do you recommend for home training?
27:43 What’s the hardest thing about IFR?

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Episode Transcript

Hello aviators. My name is Chris Palmer from Angle of Attack. This is another episode of motivation Monday where I answer questions live for you in the community about flight training, the aviation careers that you may be getting into, any technical stuff that you’re going through on your written tests or your online ground school, and this is just a place to kind of gather all those information, all those questions every Monday and just kind of give you my candid thoughts, my candid advice on those subjects. So you’re going to find a lot of information here. Those are searchable down below in the description, and so if you just want to search for something that’s applicable to you, you can click the time code and that’ll jump you ahead to that point in the video. Also, please give us a thumbs up and subscribe, share. Please be part of this community. Comment.

I’d love to hear from you and continue on the conversation, and great to have you here. So hope that some of these questions are things that you have as well and they do become helpful. Enjoy this motivation Monday. This question, what do you think of programs like Sheppard Air for the written test? So Sheppard Air is this very popular written test preparation software that’s out there and really it’s literally wrote memorization for the written test. I’ve done it before myself for the CFII test. That’s the only one I’ve done it for and it was very effective in pulling out the questions that were going to be on the test, the block that they were currently working with, but the limitation to the Sheppard Air is it’s kind of like a shortcut or a hack that a lot of people are using instead of actually doing the full knowledge study of the subject that they’re in, and so I think it is a good program to get in the high nineties for your test, however, it is not something to use to study for your test.

In other words, you need to be going through and doing the knowledge in a true thorough ground school, and then if you really want to polish it off as something like Sheppard Air, you’re more than welcome to do that. I think for the most part it’s unnecessary, and what I’ve noticed is that most people are confusing it with actual study of the written test material, the knowledge you need for a certain discipline, and they’re using that instead of … they’re using Sheppard Air instead of doing the hard work. I don’t think that benefits anyone longterm and so I’m kind of against it in a way, but definitely if you have put in the work and you just want that little extra nudge to get a slightly better score, then Sheppard Air is something good to go with.

So here’s a question that I get quite often. Would you recommend buying or renting an airplane? And honestly, I think the best thing to do is to rent at first, find out if this is something that you really want to do, and then get into the buying component. Buying an airplane is a slippery slope, because you need to do your due diligence far beyond what you would usually do for a motor vehicle, something you drive. So it’s a whole new can of worms to open and I just find that a lot of people get bogged down in those details. They have these dreams of owning an airplane and flying that airplane, and then getting bogged down in all of that, they never actually pursue their license because they’re looking for the perfect airplane or the perfect situation and it just doesn’t end up happening.

So actually my advice is to rent first unless you have that airplane opportunity and you’re good at it to actually buy one. Rent first, otherwise what I’ve seen is that people don’t pursue their training because they’re off in the weeds with this other airplane buying thing, which is a whole different discipline. Nothing wrong with buying an airplane, if you can do it for your training. It makes it cheaper, makes it so you can go faster, all sorts of things. It’s actually a pretty great way of doing it. Probably one of the most cost effective ways of getting your ratings, but I just find … and I see that people are getting bogged down in the details on that component and then they never go through their actual training. All right, great question.

iPad mini or iPad pro? So this is actually a really cool topic because obviously these days we are getting into what are called electronic flight bags on the flight deck. We as pilots at the end of the day have to manage a lot of information and so having an iPad with ForeFlight is just such a huge benefit to our flying. So one of the issues here with the size of iPad that you use is actually pretty much in line with the size of cockpit you have. I find personally that in smaller single engine airplanes, the iPad mini is plenty big for all that I need to do. iPad pro, the 11 inch, even the 9.7 inch which was out for awhile. I think there’s still one around that size. It gets just starts getting a little big. I think that you can get some pretty nice panel mounting options, but it is a bit big.

That’s not to say that it can’t work and you can’t go that direction, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind that it can become obtrusive in the cockpit when you have a large device in there, and that iPad pro takes up a lot of room, whereas the iPad mini you can tuck a lot of different locations. Now the iPad mini, they didn’t upgrade for many years until this last year, and so it has all the new internals. It’s affordable. It now works with the Apple pencil. So that’s what I have and I really like it and I think it’s, again, one of the best options out there. It’s kind of a happy medium. So I use my iPad and then my backup device is my iPhone with ForeFlight. So that all works pretty dang well. Good question though, because that discussion on sizes is something that people definitely think about.

So this is an interesting question. Do you know of crossovers between being a pilot and a geologist? I know that in Alaska we actually have a large number of pilots that are working for different organizations to manage the land. So we have even state troopers that are pilots that have to fly to different towns and things to do their work. So I know that there definitely are jobs out there. I know that there’s a guy on Instagram, his name is AK Jeff C. Jeff flies a Super Cub for fun and he also flies it for work. So from what I remember, he’s a hydrologist. So he flies around and he looks at what the waterways and things are doing and that’s something that he reports back. So I can’t imagine there isn’t something in line with geology as well. There’s a lot of opportunities out there in the world of aviation, and so I would say absolutely there’s got to be a pilot/geologist job somewhere, and I did a podcast a few weeks ago that actually talked about bringing your talents to aviation. So whatever that vocation is that you’re working with, you’re actually bringing that to aviation if you decide to make the crossover.

So very cool. So whatever you’re doing in aviation, whatever that is, think of how that can meld or melt, whatever, with an aviation career because there are a lot of crossovers like that. Good question. This is an interesting question. I can’t say that I really have one, but the question is what is the hardest instrument approach you have ever flown? I think one that takes a little bit getting used to are back course approaches or reverse sensing approaches of any kind. Some VOR approaches are that way. Those are a little bit difficult, but I think with instrument approaches and those procedures, eventually numbers become numbers and everything just kind of starts to melt together and you can kind of quickly … almost like in the Matrix, if you guys remember that movie where at the very beginning Neo sees them looking at the screens and it all just looks like weird stuff to him and he can’t really understand it, and really instrument becomes that way eventually where we see all the data after we’ve flown it for a while and we understand what we’re looking at and those numbers and things can kind of just stick out.

So yes, there are some oddball approaches out there, but I think that for the most part numbers just become numbers at some point and it ends up being not too difficult to decipher what you’re actually looking at. So just think of the Matrix that way, and you need to become Neo so you can actually see how it works. A good question here as well. This is kind of becoming an electronic flight bag or ForeFlight flight episode here with all of these questions. Where do most examiners stand on allowing ForeFlight on an instrument check ride? Actually there is an advisory circular out that encourages and basically says that DPEs need to accept electronic flight bags like ForeFlight in the check ride. Now there are some DPEs that choose to not allow that on the private pilot level. I find that to be few and far between these days. Most people are accepting of the fact that we have electronic flight bags. Kind of wondering if I need to shut the window shade here. I’m not in my normal studio.

For the private pilot, there are sometimes saying that you have to use paper, but when it comes the instrument check ride, almost invariably they’re going to allow you to use your iPad. These days, I really can’t see the argument against using an iPad, especially when it comes to instrument, because there’s so much information that you’re using. It’s your primary place to go for your instrument approach charts. You have to have … in terms, I just think you had to have an iPad these days with ForeFlight to be able to do instrument. I can’t see any way around it. So yes, most examiners with that advisory circular, they will do it in private, but I don’t know of anyone … I haven’t heard of anyone that wouldn’t accept it in the instrument rating. Steve-o One Knievel asks, how do I do a correct tone of clear prop with my voice? And Steve, I know that you need help with this.

So I’m actually going to be coming out with a specific video on how to get the correct projection and tone, and so that anyone that’s around your airplane that could be in conflict will instantly be alerted to your about to starting the prop. So I want to see you do it when I release that tutorial here coming out soon, but that’s a very important thing. I can’t just talk about it here in this chat. I need to do a proper lesson on that. So that’ll be coming soon. How do you determine when you are proficient enough as a new pilot to safely fly family and friends? So this is interesting because I think I look at this at a couple of different levels. A, I look at it as if you’re worried about flying with family and friends, why wouldn’t you be ready right at the peak proficiency, right around your check ride?

So I would think right after your check ride, you should be ready to exercise the privileges of that private pilot certificate to take your family. So I would say right away, right now without having been that pilot, you may not have the confidence to do that, and of course if you want to be extra careful, maybe you can work a little bit harder, but you really do get to peak proficiency when you are working on your private pilot license, or any license really, where at check ride time you are the safest you can be. So I would say that’s a good time to do it, and then from there, I think something to bring up is yes, you need to have your plan on how you’re going to remain proficient and stay there so that you can fly safely, but also to bring in the thought of flying of family and friends and make sure that you aren’t adding too much pressure to yourself, those external pressures to fly with family and friends, especially for events that you have to get to and have to do.

You know, it’s one of those things where I look at this Kobe Bryan incident that happened and I think that that is definitely one of the contributing factors to this process. I don’t really know, and so I want to be very, very careful to speculate on what exactly happened, but from the preliminary thoughts and ideas on where the helicopter was and the conditions at the time, it looks like the pilot pushed into a situation where he shouldn’t have been in and it looks like it was controlled flight into terrain. Of course we’re going to learn more, but imagine how much pressure there would be there with work to take these high power people and move them around, and so we really need to think about that and make sure that as we do take our family and friends, we’re being very careful about that, because at the end of the day, the safest thing we can do, the best thing we can do for them sometimes might be the most inconvenient thing for them.

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot more recently and it is how to stay motivated and proficient after getting your private license, and I definitely want to put a lot more thought into this in terms of making a full podcast on it, and if you guys haven’t heard of the podcast, head over to Aviator Cast and you’ll find that. Aviatorcast.com you’ll find it, or on any platform really. So staying motivated and proficient after getting your private pilot license. I think we all need to be cognitive of the fact that it may have been a big push to get our private license and you may … let me address the demographic that maybe can’t afford to fly a ton in the very beginning. You need to have some sort of plan to remain proficient, and I would say at bare minimum you need to fly once a month, and that’s bare minimum.

You could fly more than that, but once a month, you’re not talking about breaking the bank, you’re staying fairly proficient in what you’re doing, and although you may not be growing much as a pilot, you’re not going to be getting incredibly proficient, it still keeps you kind of in safe zone. So once a month is a good place to stay. For those of you that can afford it and you’re just kind of ready to go gang busters, keep learning new things, keep flying with your instructor even though you’re not working on something. Keep trying out new destinations and new airports and broaden your horizons because when we go through our private training, especially if we’re trying to do it efficiently, we’re just hitting a couple of airports in that timeframe, and really a big part of becoming a pilot is having that cross country prowess that you have, going somewhere and doing something and experiencing the new area on the fly.

So finding that airport out there on the horizon and finding it in the trees or whatever it is, dialing in those frequencies, getting the weather, entering the traffic pattern, all of those things happen in the real world, and the more variety you give to yourself as you’re growing your proficiency and you’re becoming a better pilot, that is definitely a great way to do it. So it may seem like a really simple answer, but regardless of where you are, if you’re doing that one time a month or you’re doing as much as you want, go out there and do new things and try new things and stay true to your training as well. Make sure that you keep doing your checklist, make sure that you keep doing your pre flights and making good decisions. Don’t get too comfortable with this process now that you’re just alone, and that’s a great way to build proficiency. So that’s kind of how I view it in the short and quick answer.

Similar question, how can you increase opportunities to fly after your private pilot license with finances? So let’s get into just really quickly here a couple of specifics, because I think this is something that people definitely want to keep flying, but to chip away at it one hour at a time is kind of difficult. So my biggest thing is I really actually think that you can gain a lot from just sharing aviation with other people, sharing the cockpit with other people even though you may not be the pilot in command the whole time. That is a very beneficial process, to learn from others regardless of if they’re an instructor or not, meaning just kind of by osmosis, “Hey, how do, how do you do this checklist,” or, “How do you do this procedure?” You learn a lot from flying with others.

As a private pilot you can be a safety pilot, so you can fight with people that are working on their instrument rating and that can help you build time as well toward maybe a commercial license, because that counts as pilot in command time. That’s a great thing to do, but all of these opportunities aren’t really available unless you go out there and you extend your network, you grow who you are, who you are flying with. So someone mentioned here right in the chat that EAA chapters are a great place to do that, and yes, EAA … I know IMC Clubs does stuff. We’ve got flying clubs, which are a fantastic thing if you can find one nearby, Wings programs, talk to people, okay? You got to talk to people. In fact, I did a podcast recently called How to Get Back into Aviation, but a lot of the pieces of advice in that podcast are actually good about how to stay active in aviation.

So go ahead and go listen to that too. I have a lot of specific ideas you can use there, but yeah, just extend your network, just find people to fly with and fly, and then now and again you might be flying solo, but honestly, for me, aviation is so much more fun when I’m sharing it with other people anyway. So I hope that helped a little bit. Equipment question, which sunglasses should I buy for flying? So I actually have my aviators sitting here because I had them clipped in my shirt. So maybe I should just do this question with my aviators on, and now you can see my camera in the mirror lens. So I have a prescription and so I need prescription sunglasses. So I get mine from a bargain outlet called Zenni. I think they just create their own frames and everything and they’re very affordable.

I think these were about $80. They’re prescription though and I got to choose the color and I got to choose the finish and everything. So they’re pretty good. I would say stay really, really simple when you’re doing it if you can. If you have to wear a prescription while flying, get prescription sunglasses. It just helps out so much, and then … yeah, do that. Some people say don’t wear polarized. I wear polarized. Some equipment, some avionics will mess with the polarization, but it really depends on the angle of the polarization, and then I have one tip for you to leave you from sunglasses, okay? Because I used to buy … before my eyes went a little bit more bad, I used to buy Ray Bands and they were very expensive, $300 glasses, but even these $80 glasses, I want to keep these really nice. I’m a fairly prudent person.

I like to keep things nice and take care of my stuff. So you’re always working around the airplane when you have sunglasses on, and I have a tip for you. If you put your sunglasses in your shirt like this, then what’s going to happen when you bend down to do your pre-flight is often, especially once they get older and hang a little loose, they’ll hang down and they’ll fall out of your shirt. So get in the habit of tucking your sunglasses … even though it doesn’t look cool, tuck them in your shirt like that and then there’ll be nice and grippy and so when you bend over when you’re doing your pre-fight, looking at fuel or looking at the tires or the belly, whatever you’re doing, they won’t fall out. That’s how to keep your sunglasses really nice as a pilot, okay? Pro tip there.

Captain pilot Matthew asks, going from my commercial check ride here, any final tips? So I actually have a check ride course called Check Ride Ace. I do have it for the commercial license where I go through and give you all of my tips on how to do it. It’s basically cramming in what I would do with a student in person into an actual course, and so you can go to checkrideace.com and look at that. Now I’m not just going to tell you, “Hey, go buy stuff, dude.” For the commercial check ride, the biggest thing that I think commercial pilots need to accept and cross over … and I repeat this a lot, is they need to understand that they are a commercial pilot now. They are a professional pilot, so the professionalism of what you do as a pilot is actually the most important part of your commercial check ride.

You need to go into that check ride knowing that you can leave that check ride, and most likely will leave that check ride as someone that can fly for commercial purposes. Now you’ll learn what … you know that your check ride is coming up. You know you can’t just fly commercial anytime, and you need to know how to conduct yourself in that professional environment. How are you going to react with your bosses when they push you toward doing unsafe things? If that’s the type of people they are, are you going to do it or are you going to be the type of person that stays safe? What are you going to do if your airplane breaks when you’re out there in the real world doing stuff? What’s the method that you have to go through in order to determine if you can do that?

What if someone hears that you’re a commercial pilot and they come up and they ask you what you can do for them, what you can fly. If you can fly them, if you can fly cargo, whatever it is. What’s your answer? So that’s a variable answer as well, and then how do you conduct yourself on the airplane? Do you take care of your passengers? Do you make sure that they are comfortable, that they are safe, that they are enjoying themselves? Whatever it is you need to do as a pilot, are you really taking care of them? Are you really taking that upon yourself? And then in whatever you do, flying professionally, using your checklists, communicating professionally, and just being on top of it. So that is the big thing with the commercial license specifically, but the thing that I always say is that you need to go to your check ride as that pilot. So go to your check ride as that commercial pilot that acts professionally in that way, and if you do that then you’ll have a much easier time of your commercial check ride because you are already embodying what you need to be as that professional pilot.

So that’s my advice, my quick advice on being a commercial pilot. Great question, and if you need to and want you to go check out Check Ride Ace, there’s even a trial that you can check out. Tips for a new CFI. So my biggest golden rule with being a fight instructor is that you need to genuinely care about your students, and yes, you can know everything in the world and you can be awesome at all the maneuvers and you can know the ACS and the FARs like the back of your hand, but none of that matters unless you can look deeply into the learning process as your student is experiencing it and make sure that they are getting the best experience possible, that you are adjusting to their needs, their way of viewing the world, applying what they know about life, maybe through their job or other experiences that they’ve had, and speak their language. Meet them on their level and build them up.

That is what makes a good instructor, but you need to truly care about people. You need to have a very deep altruistic part to who you are to get it to work. Is it possible to fly without that? Is it possible to instruct without that? I’m sure it is. I’m sure there are people that are complete jerks that have been instructors and have somehow been able to get people through their licenses, but if you’re going to have true success as a CFI, as a certified flight instructor, then you need to truly care about people and model that to who they are through the lens of getting them through the requirements of that license. So that is my tip really, really take care of people.

What is your opinion about flight simulators? Do you recommend for home training? Yes and no, and it really depends on when. The reason why instructors and educators are back-offish about flight simulators in primary training … so we’re talking private pilot training … is they can grow bad habits without the watchful eye of an instructor and that law of premise is what we call it, the first time you learn something, is the strongest lesson that you learn. In other words, if you learn the wrong way, then it is the hardest to break. If you learn the right way, that’s a good thing because those habits are hard to break as well for a good reason. So the law of primacy, learning it correctly the first time is very important, and so keeping that in mind, flight simulators don’t do a whole lot of good for private pilot training. They do an amazing amount of good for instrument training because instrument training is very procedural.

You’re looking at the instruments and interpreting them in a way, and so that works very well for using a home simulator. Now a bit of all of this is a little bit hypocritical because I had a simulator as a teenager, from video games that were shoot them up World War II video games, me flying a P51 when I was 14, all the way to flying 747s when I was 16. All of that experience did seem to help, but I think where it helped the most was the vocabulary of aviation and the communications it took. I’m not sure how much of it really translated to being able to fly the plane, because really there’s no way to emulate that in the real world, especially when it comes to a single engine airplane. There just aren’t a lot of affordable ways to do that. So that’s my advice on simulators for private pilot. Take a lot of caution. For instrument, absolutely. It’ll save you a lot of time and money to have one for instrument training.

What’s the hardest thing about IRF? I think the hardest thing about IFR is keeping the big picture. A lot of the times pilots get bogged down into the details, especially in training of this chart and that chart and how difficult this approach is versus another one, and they don’t keep the big picture of this relationship between them and the air traffic control system and how they fit into everything. I think once you understand that and you can work with the controllers and know what’s going on on their end, even though they can’t say it, things like you going into a busy aerospace, it being VFR conditions, you being on an IFR flight plan, you have to be separated from people, and so if you really don’t need to have IFR or you can say we can keep our own separation, whatever it is, you can help them tremendously, and I just think that at the end of the day it’s this big partnership.

It’s us working within a system and if you can understand that big picture to a greater extent and why we’re having to do the things we’re doing in IFR, then you’ll be much better off for it. So I think that’s the hardest thing to get about IFR, and then on top of that in fight training I will also mention just very briefly that always takes people off guard how much knowledge you need for the instrument reading. It just takes a whole lot of study. It’s a whole different discipline to understand all of the new things you do in IFR, and so you’re going to need a really good ground school to do that. There are plenty of providers out there that do that. I do have my own ground school and I’m really proud of it because I really harp on that big picture and connecting everything back to why we’re doing what we’re doing as pilots. So that’s what we’re looking at there. Hope that helps. Make it easy on yourself by just making it hard on yourself, meaning study, study, study hard, and you got this. So that’s IFR.

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