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Questions on this episode:
0:37 Do you offer PPL, Instrument and Commercial flight training and when can I start?
1:49 Any tips for Commercial lazy 8’s and 8’s on pylons?
5:02 Any advice on forming partnerships to buy a plane?
6:21 Best advice for a new CFI? Best advice for a CFI check ride?
8:59 The weather has been bad, both of my CFIs are always booked. What can I do at home?
10:47 Crucial things to remember on the PPL flight test?
13:34 Can I do flying with you if I go to Alaska?
14:13 Are you planning on joining a Major Airline?
16:15 How did you get into flying?
18:00 What exactly should you be studying to have the best results on the written?
21:23 How do you counter ATC fear of reading back long calls?
23:32 When they issue airmet’s whether it be Tango or Zulu, does that mean it is an absolute?
26:08 Do you think that Aviation YouTube is saturated now?
27:53 Tips/Tricks on winter flying?
30:04 Do you have pros and cons of studying aviation in college?
32:00 Have you ever had a bird strike/wildlife strike?
34:45 Being from Alaska I’m sure you get snow packed and iced runways. How do you do the engine run-up?
36:09 Hi, I am 32, just started my flight training part time in South Africa. Is it too late for ATPL?
37:13 I’m an aspiring student pilot. Medical got deferred. Sent in documents. How long until I head back from OKC?
39:37 Do you typically video record lessons for your students for them to use as an aid & help them debrief?
41:19 I start Instrument ground school tomorrow at a Part 141 college. Any tips?
42:15 Does the DPE allow you to miss a certain amount of questions or does it work differently to see if you are good for the private license?

Submit questions every Sunday night on Angle of Attack’s Instagram:

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[vc_toggle title=”Episode Transcript”]

Hello, fellow aviators. Welcome to another Motivation Monday. In Motivation Monday, I answer your flight training and aviation career questions and anything else you’re going through or need to know or need help on in your journey to becoming a pilot and an aviator. So feel free to jump into this particular episode here. See the questions that I answered this week. However, on Sunday nights and Monday mornings go to Instagram and enter your questions in there because I will answer them live on the air and then post them here. So just trying to help you guys out in the community. And so I’ll see you inside. Let’s go and answer some questions that you guys have.

Do you offer private pilot instrument and commercial flight training? And when can I start?

So I actually do have a flight school here in Alaska. It used to be called Aviator Training but it’s just Angle of Attack. So if you’re ever in town, if you’re ever visiting Alaska, I’m open for business. I take people up and fly on the mountains, and you can do a little mountain flying course. Or if you are looking for different flight training, then I can offer certain things at my school. It’s basically just me in a 172, but I have a lot of fun and get to do a lot of great things here in a beautiful area. So if that’s ever anything you’re looking forward to and maybe you want to find a place to train elsewhere, then I do real flight training.

Like me coming on this live here. It’s one thing to be someone that talks online and does all that stuff. I have an online ground school and I share a lot of stuff online. But I always want to be someone that’s doing the real thing because I feel like that’s going to help everything else. So I don’t want to just talk about flying. I actually want to be out there doing it. So it’s really important to me that I continue to do that, and I have that flight school. It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy teaching.

Any tips for commercial lazy eights and eights on pylons?

Two completely different maneuvers. Don’t confuse the eight as them being anywhere similar. I’m going to point you somewhere else for the lazy eights, but I will talk about the eights on pylons. Okay, so lazy eights. You’re going to need to go to YouTube and find the finer points and Jason Miller’s video on lazy eights. He does a great job teaching that. It’s kind of become the gold standard recently for how to do lazy eights, so go check that out. Quick YouTube video from Jason Miller.

Eights on pylons. Now we need to think of the pylon part before we think of the eight part because really what we’re doing on a pylon turn is we are keeping our wing pointed directly at the pylon that we are flying on. Now, if you imagine one of those C130 gunships that are out there that basically pivot around the target and shoot, that’s kind of how I build it up and talk about it with my students, maybe even show them a video of that, that we pivot perfectly around that point.

Now, we know that in private pilot that to go around the point we actually had to change our bank angle to get around a point and draw that perfect circle around a point. With a pylon turn, we are changing our altitude because our ground speed is changing. So in order to do that, to stay right at our pivotal altitude is what they call it, we need to be at a specific ground speed and we change that based on our altitude, which is kind of interesting.

But basically what I do is I look at my pylon and I actually don’t touch the power at all. You set the power where it needs to be and you calculate what your entry air speed is going to be roughly. And then what you’ll do is you will use your fingertips is what I do. I use my fingertips and I just adjust my altitude. As it’s moving away, then I move toward it. And you’ll basically be able to see it and feel it as you’re moving with the control. So just ever so gently, I’m always staying on top of it. When I see the slightest movement backward, if it’s moving back, then I’m pulling up or pulling back. It’s moving behind my pivot point. It’s going forward, then I’m relaxing that pressure to let it go forward. And that’s basically how I do a pivotal turn.

Now then, you connect that into a eight on pylon. When you come around the other side and you aim for your other pylon, they have to be fairly close together, usually about a half mile, maybe a little bit more so that you fly maybe a straight line for a few seconds and then go into your next turn on your next point. So it’s a constant re-entry into that pivotal turn, but it’s giving you awareness for your speed and your altitude to pivot around that certain point and then doing it successively. All right. So that’s my tips on eights on pylons.

Any advice on forming partnerships to buy a plane?

So I think anytime you get into a partnership, you’re getting into some territory that you need to be careful of. Basically you need to be able to trust the people that you’re getting into a partnership with. They need to be financially sound. They need to be able to put in their share of what you’re doing. Really it comes down to people and trust. I think it’s a fantastic thing to do to share an airplane because very rarely does an owner fly an airplane so much that they aren’t utilizing it or that they’re utilizing it to its full potential.

So I think partnerships, flying clubs are a fantastic idea, but you got to be really careful and make sure you have the right people. There are some good documents out there, some good procedures, some good kind of starter questions and things you can do from organizations like AOPA I know has some stuff. EAA probably has some stuff. But some people out there that have already been through this a lot and they have some things you can start with in terms of airplane partnerships and then just go from there. I think at the end of the day you just got to be careful with who you’re doing business with and it’ll work out from there. All right, so that’s my advice really quick.

Sometimes I get CFI certified flight instructor questions because I am one and actively doing it. So this is kind of a look into that world. So best advice for a new CFI and best advice for a CFI checkride.

So usually when we go into a checkride, no matter what you’re doing, if that’s private pilot instrument, commercial, you are going to be essentially acting like that pilot. So you’ve already done all the training, you’ve proven to your instructor that you’re ready to say be a private pilot. And so you’d go to that checkride acting like a private pilot and doing all the decision making in such as though you were that private pilot. And that’s how it is for instrument, commercial, multi, a bunch of different things. However, when you go to become an instructor, your checkride is a little bit different because it becomes a role play of the DPE being the student and you being the instructor.

And so what you need to do to prepare for your CFI checkride to be ready is to have a lot of teaching practice. There are several different ways to do this. You can do it with your instructor and teach them. You can bring up people that you know that are maybe other pilots and you can teach them. Just basically the act of being able to talk through things and help them throughout the process. You could even have a friend show you a maneuver and then you could grade them or give them feedback or tell them how you would do it, so on and so forth.

Another way is if you can link up with a local flight school and you can do some ground training for them under their watchful eye, that’s another great way to just be able to talk to people and talk through different things, especially for the oral portion of your CFI checkride. So really it comes down to quality teaching at the end of the day. Yes, there are certain paperwork things and everything you’re going to have to show the DPE that you can do, but you need to be able to be a good teacher. And if that’s not natural for you, you need to practice it. And the best way to practice is by actually doing, just make sure that you’re not teaching a real student pilot because that wouldn’t necessarily be kosher. But there are ways to pretend that you’re teaching. And I would encourage you to do that.

Again, you can teach on the ground. I really encourage that teaching someone real on the ground, but just be careful what you’re doing in the airplane that you’re not doing something that’s not legal. All right, so good question. Good luck on your checkride. Let me know how you do. Curious how it goes for you and what you experienced and yeah, good luck.

The weather has been bad. Both of my CFIs are always booked. What can I do at home?

There’s a lot you can do at home. You can continue to study the maneuvers and what it takes. You can do what’s called chair flying with those maneuvers. That means that you’re literally sitting in your chair imagining that you’re reaching out and touching a certain instrument and working through those procedures so that when you go and do them in the airplane, you’re still fresh. I would say doing chair flying for pattern work would be a really helpful thing because pattern work is such a fast moving process that you can really get through a lot of the muscle memory type of things you need to know as a pilot just by doing the pattern work.

Even making the radio calls would be really helpful and all that. It’s kind of awkward. But just pretend that you’re actually doing it. Okay. But keeping your head in the game and being here and watching something like this, being on Instagram and finding other useful resources, interestingly enough keeps you in the game by osmosis a little bit. But I think you can go a step further by doing something like chair flying would be very, very helpful.

And even looking ahead to the maneuvers and things you’re going to be doing, and studying up on say cross country flight planning and the different methods, and maybe even getting into ForeFlight and learning how to use that to a greater degree is just going to help you more and more and more. The more you practice now, the more you’re going to be ready for when you take your checkride. But really checkride, whatever. Really it’s you being ready to be that pilot and just go out there and do that thing in the real world. But if you practice now, then that’s muscle memory. It’s things that are just getting you ahead. So that would be my advice while you’re not flying.

Crucial things to remember on the private pilot flight test.

So again, what you need to realize about any checkride or flight test in this case, as how this person refers to it, Zachary, is you are going to that checkride as the pilot that you’re taking it for. So you are going to go as a private pilot. Now that big picture thinking is very important because if you don’t go with that mindset, then you’re going to be looking toward the DPE or the examiner as someone that will do things for you or make decisions for you. But really you are the private pilot now. You need to make the safety decisions. You need to determine the weight and balance, the weather, the go, no-go decision, the cross country flight planning. You need to have your stuff together so that you can actually do it.

The reason why that’s important is because right after your checkride, so you passed, right after your checkride, you are going to be able to go and do that in the real world. And so you need to make sure that you actually know how to do it. Okay. So I know that sounds simple, but if you go with that mindset being prepared there, then you’re really good to go.

Now another big component of any test is your ability to do an actual flight with the knowledge. Okay? So that goes to cross country flight planning. You need to know everything in between that you’re going to experience from pre flight all the way to landing at the other end, tying down whatever it is and the airspace you’re going to, experience the procedures, how you are going to navigate, what you’re going to do if something goes wrong, in other words, some, some, some alternates or whatever even if they aren’t official alternatives, which is something we use in instrument. Then you have some alternate plans that you can carry out. Okay.

So just think of it that way. Go prepared as that pilot because you wouldn’t want to just get your license and then not know what to do. So just know what you’re doing and really prepare for the ability to carry out those flights safely. If you do that and you know how to do that, even if it’s within maybe like an apprehensive, hey, there are certain things and certain places I don’t want to go yet, that’s exactly what the examiner wants to see. They want to see that you have good safe decision making. You know what you’re doing and that you can be trusted to go out there and fly. Okay, so that’s what we’re looking for.

Kind of answered this earlier, but can I go flying with you if I go to Alaska?

Absolutely. I’m open for business. I have an airplane. I have a flight school. I have insurance. I’ve got everything. So that’s what I do. I love to fly, especially during the summer. I kind of set everything aside and try not to do so much office work, and I just want to fly. So definitely if you’re visiting during the summer, just get in contact with me, and we’ll get you on the schedule. Sometimes even last minute is okay. If you’re just visiting town, you say, “Hey, I want to pop by. Is there something we can do?” That can work as well. So just let me know, and we’ll look into it and see if we can get you up in the air and get you some cool flying experiences in Alaska.

Are you planning on joining a major airline?

And actually the answer is no. I’m not planning on it. Initially it was my dream to become an airline pilot. That’s how I fell in love with aviation a little bit, kind of latched onto the career thought of aviation. But as time went on I realized there were all these different corners of aviation that I enjoyed. And family is really important to me and so I realized that to a certain extent I wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices it took to be an airline pilot. I want to see my kids grow up basically. So I didn’t want to risk anything because of that. So I decided that I was going to go this way. I really enjoy doing a lot of other stuff outside of aviation, like video and photography and business. I’m an entrepreneur by heart, not just by name. And I wanted to put them all together. So I’m a flight instructor. I have an online business here. I do online ground school. I have a flight school here in Alaska, which I’ve told you guys about. And I really enjoy teaching. So this is my corner of aviation.

And for you, I would say that don’t pigeonhole yourself into one part of aviation. Go out there and explore different areas, things you think you might like because there’s just so much cool stuff to do. You can live almost anywhere and do something really neat. So just keep an open mind. You can have a goal, but keep an open mind on where you end up because it could be way better than expected. I never really envisioned that I would be in Alaska, own a flight school, have a beautiful little family. And life is just really good. And so I’m really, really happy about where I’m at.

But airlines are such a good route right now, and there’s such good high demand for those jobs, and they pay well, and it is a good lifestyle if you can handle it. And it’s pretty good. I mean it’s even been tempting to me even though life is pretty dang good. So yeah, keep that in mind.

I want to stick mostly to the helpful questions, but this is a really, I guess, just a quick interesting question about me, and my story I think is probably very like your story. So as a kid, I really liked airplanes. I had them flying over all the time. I was on the approach path to our international airport in Salt Lake city. And so I saw big jets all the time, really loved that, made World War II models growing up because I would watch Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel was kind of new and all the World War II aviation shows, and I would put together my models while I was watching those shows and really enjoyed that.

Kind of fell out of that for a few years as I became a teenager. And teenage stuff came up. I was focused more on girls for a while, and I was in a band. But then as I got into high school, obviously they start talking about career, and so I was thinking about military, but that didn’t work out for medical reasons. And then I was thinking about some other things and nothing really fit. And then I found out my cousin was going through aviation civilly through a college. And I didn’t know you could do that. I thought you had to go through the military for some reason. I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do. I ended up going hard in on aviation, took ground school and Human Factors in high school before I ever went to college. Did one year of college and got my private pilot license, and then I’ve gotten my licenses elsewhere over the years.

So that’s how I got on the aviation. I just loved it. It was just kind of naturally. I was attracted to airplanes and flying and I still love it. So it’s a good thing.

What exactly should you be studying to have the best results on the written?

This is a really good question. I covered this a lot because I do the online ground school. I actually did a an hour long podcast on my study strategy and how I studied for tests. You can go look it up. It’s called the Past and Passion. If you search Aviator Cast the Past and Passion, you’ll find that podcast. Basically what you want to do is you want to learn the material well first and foremost so that you can answer any question they throw at you. I think that’s where you start. You start with a quality ground school so you know the knowledge. Again, I have a ground school. You guys can check out if you’re interested.

Then you have these pockets that you’re really good at and then these pockets that you aren’t that good at. Okay, so how I take a test is I go through and answer everything I just know right away. Okay? Just very quickly I’d go through and answer the questions I know right away and get those out of the way. Usually that’s 80% of what I need to know just right out the gate. So then the arithmetic questions, the questions that take a little bit more time to go through on the written test. Then I have the rest of the time, which is everything but 30 minutes maybe to go through and answer those questions. I don’t feel rushed and then I just take my time.

Now you studying is going to be the same things. You’re going to go through and study your tests. But you’re going to find that you know a lot of material, but there are some areas you just struggle with. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes it’s the takeoff and landing performance charts. Sometimes it’s weight and balance. Sometimes it’s the cross country flight planning stuff. Sometimes it’s airspace. Those are some of the bigger ones that people struggle with. So what you’ll do is you’ll hone in on just that one area, and you’ll study it very well. You’ll get in the books. You’ll go to YouTube, watch videos. You’ll go back to your ground school and watch those videos and just get a better grasp of that particular subject. Then you rinse and repeat on your tests. Keep taking them in that method of answering everything you know first and then the arithmetic or questions that take a little bit longer, and then you’ll start to learn it better, how else to say it.

Then once you’re scoring in the 90s, I think that’s the point to go and take the test. If you really want to push hard and go for a hard 100%, you’re more than welcome to. I think that it’s a little bit of a struggle to do that because the way the FAA does the test is sometimes like there are a couple of questions it seems in the question bank at all times that are not actually the right answer, and it’s kind of a gotcha question because it isn’t the right answer. So even if you do study up to 100% and get that, you might go and take the test and find that you can’t get 100% because the FAA didn’t ask it well. Okay.

So again, go check out that podcast to add to what I just said. That’s a really brief summary elevator pitch of that podcast, but the Past and Passion Aviator Cast, it should pop right up. Good question and something that people struggle with quite a bit.

How do you counter air traffic control fear of reading back long calls?

So this is something that everyone fears, right? We fear sounding stupid on the radio and getting in trouble. Well, let me say it this way. You are going to sound stupid on the radio so just get over it. Okay. I still sound stupid every now and again. You are going to sound stupid on the radio sometimes. You’ll sound less stupid as you get more experience. And then you can’t really get in trouble over minor things in the air like not getting a radio call back. The whole point of talking to air traffic control is to have a direct line of communication. So as long as you understand what they want and they know that you are going to comply, then you’re good to go.

Yes, there are certain phrases that they need to hear in a certain way. There are certain ways you need to say that. You’ll pick those up as you move along in your training. You’ll understand what the big ones are, and then you’ll understand the smaller ones later on. But at the end of the day, if you’re doing what you need to do and you’re trying to do well by them and help them as well, you’re just fine. And then everything else is just chalked up to experience. So go from there. Just practice. Listen to Live ATC to get used to hearing what they’re saying. And then if it is a really long radio call, obviously a good strategy is always to have a way to write down that clearance or whatever it is so that you can read it back. That’s something where you can just listen to what they’re saying quickly, jot down some shorthand, and then you can understand it, reply and then everyone’s good to go. And then if you forget, then you’ve got it write there on paper as well.

There’s a really good note-taking section on ForeFlight. They have different templates and they have a just place where you can write stuff down really quick. This is a question that came across and it’s a little more technical. So I think it’s a fun one to answer. So Curtis 86 asks when they issue AIRMETs, whether it be Tango or Zulu, does that mean it is an absolute?

And no, it does not. So the only absolute we get in aviation, and it’s still not very absolute, would be like an actual observation. So we’ve got to differentiate between an observation in aviation weather and a forecast. And observation is actually looking at the weather right the second and saying this is what it is. So obviously that’s fairly definitive. A forecast is basically guessing, educated guessing, data guessing, whatever you want to call it, that says, “Based on our data, based on our opinion, based on our training, this is what we think it will be.” AIRMETs are that way. So while there may be certain things that are going on that are saying that there’s going to be icing or turbulence or mountain obscuration, a handful of different things, it doesn’t mean it’s an absolute. It means that there may be pockets of it in that area. It may mean you don’t ever see it in that area, but it’s not an absolute.

Now one of the best absolutes and one of the best things to look for when you’re doing your preflight planning and looking at weather are pilot reports. Okay. If you can correlate, say, an AIRMET to a pilot report, then you can verify that an AIRMET is in fact correct. Now that is predicated on pilots actually flying through that area and those pilots giving pilot reports. A pilot report is one of the best observations because it’s human driven. They can say exactly what’s going on and where, and it’ll tell you definitively that there is icing, there is turbulence or whatever.

Things move fast, right? I mean we have these weather systems that are moving too, so you might be an hour or two behind that person and conditions have changed for better or worse. So you got to keep it all in context. But AIRMETs are a forecast at the end of the day. Then you can verify those with conditions on the ground there or observations basically. Observations on the ground somewhere along the way or pilot reports are very helpful one. So that would be my response to AIRMETs thing.

Interesting question here. Kind of non-aviation related in a way. But do you think that aviation YouTube is saturated now?

I do think it is getting pretty saturated, and there are a handful of people that are trying to start just now. I’ve even found trouble myself growing my own YouTube channel. I suffer a little bit with consistency because my main vocation and business is not vlogging. It’s not showing these cool experiences that I get to have. And I am focused on flight training and growing my online ground school and teaching people to get their license, all sorts of stuff. So that’s not my full time thing. So I understand that my struggle to grow is because my consistency is bad, and that’s my own fault.

But it’s getting pretty saturated, and people only have so much time. Even for me, I don’t necessarily go to YouTube to watch aviation content. I go there to watch other things that are useful for me that are training me to be a better video editor or business person or just person in general. I’m more into that motivational and educational sort of content, and there are a few aviation people I follow. But yeah, there’s too much, right? We’re getting to the point where there’s just too much content and too little time to watch it all. So it is getting a little saturated.

I think if there are new and fresh ideas and good people to do it, there’s always room for that type. But if you’re trying to do something that everyone else has been doing, then it might be a little bit bland. That’s just my 2 cents. I guess that’s more of a professional business opinion than anything.

Let’s talk about this for a moment. Tips and tricks on winter flying.

So obviously a lot of you are in the southern states or somewhere where it’s warm, so you don’t so much worry about this. But one thing we need to keep in mind with winter flying is that the airplane needs to stay airworthy in some new environmental factors. So obviously icing is one, but if you’re not flying in the clouds, then maybe that isn’t such an of an issue. We definitely need to keep our wings clear and stay on top of that if you’re not hangered. You need to watch things like the crankcase breather line. You need to heat up your engine properly before you start it up if it’s really cold. It’s good to heat up the cabin as well. That just makes everything comfortable.

With the engine, you’re basically just helping the engine have a long life by not heating up the metal really quickly. It’s just the thing how metal works. If you heat it up quickly or cool it down quickly, it can hurt the quality of the metal. Obviously, we want our engine to stay nice and strong. So those are the big things. Obviously planning for the inevitable. If you were to have to put the airplane down somewhere, having warm gear is really important. I also think these days having like a Garmin inReach, or what I use is a TracPlus, is very helpful.

So having something where you can contact somebody is important. Because if you were to have to put down, getting found is important. If you’re in the airplane, you’ve got the heater and that usually keeps you going. But if you had to put down somewhere, then you could be in a struggle. So that’s my quick advice on winter flying. Otherwise it’s really beautiful. It’s just those pastels of the morning and the afternoons. It’s just a really beautiful time of year to fly, and I have always enjoyed flying, especially when there’s snow outside. So those are my quick tips on winter flying. Otherwise not too much different except for the density altitude is pretty awesome.

Here’s an interesting one. Do you have pros and cons of studying aviation in college?

First off, you don’t have to have a degree to be a pilot. And so a lot of the times it’s a bit of a waste if all you want to do is get an aviation job. There are still some major airlines that really look highly upon a four-year degree. So keep that in mind if you’re wanting to go to the major airlines and make really good money.

But what I’ve seen people do I think is probably the smartest way if you do need a degree and you also want to do aviation is they do an affordable degree program at an affordable school, and then they do their aviation study outside of school. You get your aviation licenses quickly or faster than you would in college and you can actually get a job as an instructor, even at your college if you want to. So you could be teaching students at your college while you’re going through college, which is pretty cool to have a job doing that.

But just think of separating the two. I’m not saying that the college degree programs aren’t good for aviation. I think it works out for a lot of people because it can be financed. Don’t spend a ton of money doing it. Your licenses that you get from a college degree program are just as valid as ones from a mom and pop down the street. Okay. Keep that in mind because there are a lot of colleges out there and universities that try to sell you this thought that only their program can get you into the airlines and get you a job. It’s not true. It can cause an exorbitant amount of money. You could be in debt for decades by doing it that way. So just think through this a little bit more and some alternate ways to do it that are smart for you. So that’s my 2 cents.

Have you ever had a bird strike or a wildlife strike?

Nothing big. I’ve gone through… I think I saw this flurry of birds one time just as I was landing, and I took out probably a dozen of them, a bunch of little tiny birds. I’ve had some bigger birds I’ve hit that have put a dent on my wing. Nothing too major. There was a Single Turbine Otter here in town that hit an eagle, a bald eagle. And they tried to return here in land and had some issues on landing, and so they went around, did a go around and came back. In the meantime called emergency services because they were a little bit nervous about their ability to land. They landed just fine. Everyone was safe and the bird hit the wing pretty dang hard and left the gigantic hole.

And this is one instance where I’m going to look at the comments and see what you guys guess. But guess what part of the anatomy of the bald eagle was inside the wing. So I want to see some guesses here in the comments. What part of the eagle? So the eagle hits the wing. What part of the eagle went into the wing that they heard rolling around in there? Okay. I want to see some comments on this because it’s crazy. It’ll blow your mind. Okay. Someone says the head, the head, the beak. Beak is a good one. Beak. Yep. Feet. No, still claws and beak. Nope, still not it. Still not it. The skull. All right. Still not it. I’m just going to tell you. Okay. It was the heart. They found the heart of the eagle rolling around in the wing. Pretty mind blowing. I thought that’s just such a cool story.

We have a new ramp here on the lake, but the lake is just like a stone throw right here. They used to drive that airplane down the road on a trailer to their hanger, but now they can just take it up the ramp. Anyway, it’s really cool to see all the traffic blocked off and them going through town with a gigantic airplane. But yeah, it was an eagle heart that got embedded in the wing. Kind of a cool story. Not necessarily my story, but yeah. I got nothing on that. I just hit little birds. I also have a friend that hit a deer, but yeah. Crazy, crazy stuff.

Interesting question here. Being from Alaska, I’m sure you get snow-packed and ice runways. How do you do the engine run-up?

It’s pretty snowy and compact, and so I’m really not worried about bringing up the debris in that case. And so actually it’s just fairly normal. We find a spot to do that. I saw something for the first time this last summer, which I thought was a very smart idea, and now I understand it a little bit more because I’ve seen it several more places, is we have a lot of gravel strips in Alaska and most everything is gravel. But obviously doing a run-up on gravel is bad because you’re sucking up rocks into the propeller. The propeller is creating at high power is creating a lot of crazy energy actually a tornado in a way. And it’ll suck up rocks.

So what I’ve seen is they’ll have big metal plates like five feet by six feet that they’ll set on the ground, or they’ll do a concrete pad in an otherwise just gravel area so that you can pull up on top of those where your engine is and do your run-up there. So I thought that was a very smart idea. That’s kind of outside your question on the snow, but I thought that was a very interesting idea to do something like that. So if you see that out there, you’re at a gravel strip, you see one of those little pads, that’s exactly what it’s for is to pull up on it. Do your run up there as you’re not sucking up rocks.

Really quickly, I get this question a lot. Hi, I’m 32 just started my flight training part time in South Africa. Is it too late for a TPL which is airline transport pilot license?

No, it’s not too late. The same advice I gave last week. I actually imagined, I’ll give this one, this piece of advice every single week is, it’s not too late right now. But if you wait more and you come back and are like, hey, I’m 35. Is it too late? Hey, I’m 38. Is it too late? Hey, I’m 41. Am I too late? Hey, I’m 45. Am I too late? The answer is still no, but eventually you’re going to get to a point where it’s like there’s diminishing returns here. At some point you’re going to have to decide to go for this. Don’t make excuses. Go for it. It sounds like you’re on a flight training, so I’m really happy about that. Make it happen. Find a way to stay with it and make it happen. Because if you revert back to that lazy side of yourself and you don’t follow this dream now, then time’s just going to keep going on. So just keep going for it. Okay.

I’m an aspiring student pilot. Medical got deferred. Sent in documents. How long until I heard back from Oklahoma City?

You need to keep bothering them, so call them every single week. Ask about the process. Ask where your documents are. There’s no problem in you doing that. You can also talk to AOPA. They have a medical division that you can talk to there that can maybe be an advocate for you. Your doctor can help as well. They have certain lines that they can call and talk to people. There’s actually regional offices that handle a lot of these situations as well. So the doctor works with them and they work with Oklahoma City, so just stay on top of it. Keep working through it. It can be several weeks. It can be several months.

I had to go through that for the first time when I got my license. I think it was three months it took. Some people, it takes longer. It just kind of depends on how complex your case is. Let me just end with this on this particular question. Make sure you find a doctor that is an advocate on your behalf to keep things out of the hands of Oklahoma City because they are very slow. Your doctor can work with the regional office, and they can make decisions rather than passing it on to Oklahoma City. So find a doctor that’s a pilot. Find a doctor that’s on your side that understands the power within their hands of this dream that you have and make sure that you work with them closely.

Actually, I originally called some medical examiners to ask if I could become a pilot with a certain thing I have. And they said, “No, you cannot become a pilot.” I was devastated. I was in tears. This is when I was about 17, and then I realized I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I was going to find someone that heard my case because I was a healthy person. I did. I found a guy that was a pilot. He was fantastic, worked it out, got my medical. It took a while with Oklahoma City, but we eventually worked it out. Things went on over the years. It’s better to stay in the system than get out of it. I got out of the system for a while, and so my medical lapsed. Had to go back and get it. The doctor just sent it straight to Oklahoma City, exactly what he shouldn’t have done. Just sent it straight to Oklahoma City. So find a doctor that knows what they’re doing and can work on your behalf. Okay.

So I do a lot of video work and this is a question I get often. I’ll just briefly touch on this. So do you typically video record lessons for your students for them to use as an aid and help debrief?

Sometimes I record lessons for content, like for YouTube or for Instagram, and I will give it to my students if they have a method to take it, but it adds a lot to my workload. I am totally gained from my student bringing their own camera, hooking it up, and debriefing. Now when you’re in an airplane and you’re listening to the commands of an instructor while still trying to apply all the knowledge from your head into controlling the airplane, you miss a lot. I mean you miss a lot that the instructor is saying. You don’t do as well as you wanted to do. A lot of things kind of get missed.

But if you have a way to review that flight, it is actually one of the most underutilized, powerful tools you can do in aviation training. So I really do encourage you to do that if you can. The audio is very, very, very important in this. So make sure that you go to someone like Nflightcam or Flight Flix and get a cable from them that can hook into your particular type of camera so that you’re getting the cockpit audio because that is… I mean I would rather you have the audio than the video. It’s that important. So the GoPros are good these days, the 7 and 8. And I say that because they’re simple. I don’t use GoPro but I don’t use them for image quality reasons and for ease of use reasons, more of a professional level. But just right out of the box, GoPros are usually the easiest to use. So I would just go for something like that. That’s the simplest to do.

I start instrument ground school tomorrow at a Part 141 college. Any tips?

Yes, you are probably going to have to go through some of the materials several different times. So taking it in context is very important. Try to understand the big of instrument rather than getting too bogged down in the details. One way you can do that is simply asking the question why a lot of the time. Why do they want me doing this? Why does air traffic control want me doing this? Why are they protecting me this way? Why am I required to do it this way? So getting context that way is very, very, very important. Okay, so go through those things you need to go through several times if you need to. You’re going to understand it even more when you start to do the flying. But getting it done first off is very, very important. So what I mean by that is getting your instrument ground school done before you actually do your flying is really important.

I was asking if the DPE allows you to miss a certain amount of questions or does it work differently to see if you are good for the private license?

So they’ll tell you right when you get there. Every time and every DPE I’ve gone to and everyone I’ve observed a student going with, they say something in the very beginning. They say, “I don’t expect perfection.” Okay. They just want to see you’re going to be a safe pilot. Your oral test, the one where you’re sitting down with them, it’s not an interrogation. They don’t sit there and just spit out questions and ask you a bunch of questions. They usually pose the questions through a scenario sort of questions. So they say, “Hey, we’re going to fly over here. We’re going to pick up this package and this passenger and do this and that. What do you need to do if we changed the plan like that?” They’ll ask a question more in those terms.

Sure. They might ask direct questions that are more related to systems or something, but just relax. You’re having a conversation with somebody. It’s not an interrogation. It’s really important to understand that. And if you go prepared and you’re really doing well and they can tell that you’re conscientious and you’re really trying to be safe. Yeah, you might stumble here and there. Everyone does. But they might let you, and usually do, get into the operating handbook if you forgot something or go look something up. You’re not expected to know everything, just absolutely perfect. And if you don’t know it, then you’re going to get kicked out. It doesn’t work that way. Okay. Do your best. Keep working at it and it’ll be fine.

The most important thing, again, big picture is you being that safe pilot that knows how to take someone from point A to point B, and you know what’s going on and in between, and you make the safe decisions. There’s been this pivot. It used to be in aviation, even in my timeframe that I’ve been in, and I’ve been in about 16 years now, is it used to be the situation where everything was maneuver-based. And you fly a maneuver and you do really well and you pass. Or you answer a question and you do that well and you pass.

As things have moved on, after it getting really kind of rote memorization for a long time and just a little too focused on too much that doesn’t matter is now the FAA is focused on safety. They want to know that you’re thinking of the big picture, you’re thinking of the scenarios, and that you’re making safe decisions for your passengers, that you’re not going down the road through all these bad decisions and then it becomes too late and there’s an accident. They are recognizing that there is a lot more than just you being able to name all the AIRMETs or define what a TAF means or read a METAR, a raw METAR. Okay. There are so many more important skills in aviation. Not that those things aren’t cool to be able to do, but the skills in aviation that you have should be all surrounded with the good stuff, the healthy stuff.

It kind of makes me think of like bread or something. Okay. You have pieces of candy or fruit or something. Maybe I’m thinking of a fruit cake. This is a terrible analogy, but I’m just going with it. So think of a fruit cake. Okay. You have these little goodies in between. But really, the healthy stuff is the actual bread. All right. And the FAA and you should be focused on the bread, not those little bits of candy. It’s an okay analogy, although I don’t eat fruitcake, but there you go.

Okay, everyone. Thank you for joining on this Motivation Monday. I appreciate you being here. Again, if you need more questions answered, you can ask them on Sunday night, Monday morning, or you can tune in live. I appreciate you being here and all that you do. You guys are my road warriors. So when you’re out there and you see people needing help in aviation training, please suggest me. I’ve got an online ground school. I’ve got checkride preparation that are some official courses. Other than that, I have YouTube. I have a great podcast that I do each week, 1 Minute Wings. I’ve got these Motivation Mondays. So I’m here just trying to help out with you and your friends in your flight training journey. So thanks so much. Keep up the good work. Keep taking positive steps forward and until next time, throttle on.


Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


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