Smiling? I must have been thinking about the actual flying part!

Friday, August 17, 2007

closing thoughts & one last evidence

Well, I haven't blogged in quite some time. Truth be told, I had to let it go. Sometimes the dream becomes a nightmare and it starts to take you apart bit by bit. Well so aviation has become a heavy weight for me. I am moving on to my idea of greener pastures and that means quality of life. I am sad to say that the condition of general and commercial aviation is so bad it just grieves me to look at it daily and have no ability to make any dents for change. I had hoped this blog would get some attention and get folks talking, but alas I am powerless after all! If you are finding this blog for the first time, please read it through, and if you post any question or comment- I will gladly respond. But at least for now- I won't be adding anything new to this blog unless it is requested. Perhaps one day I will get to be paid for writing on the subject--since writing is one of my great passions just as aviation has been. In the mean time I can be found making a difference elsewhere. One day at a time, One smile at a time. I DO have one final parting story on general aviation that gave me another eye rolling pathetic laugh (completely true story). As well as a few comments that will follow in regard to Commercial Aviation.

A close friend of mine recently was looking to rent a light multi-engine in this area. I won't be using any aircraft, company or other names as I don't wish to be caught in any of that sort of politics- (disclaimer-disclaimer!)
So, said friend (from here on referred to as "CF" short for close friend,) is making a few calls regarding renting a multi engine. When she calls a certain (un-named) place (from here on referred to as "WTF" short for use your imagination! LOL) in regard to the certain (un-named aircraft type from here referred to as ME, short for-- yes- multiengine) they have for rental.
The conversation went like this- This is a direct cut and paste from my email - so as told by "CF" (close friend) text in peach,, with comments from me-- because I can't resist- inserted in purple text, so you can tell it was me- not CF who made the comment. Also I have replaced certain words so as not to identify anyone specific with the proper changes- found inside (parenthesis ).. this ones - just well-- sigh-- pathetic.

Okay - here's the conversation I had this morning with a local flight school. I was calling to inquire about getting checked out in their (ME.) Yesterday when I called (during posted business hours), the phone rang and rang. When voice mail finally came on, it sounded like a personal number so I didn't leave a message.

This morning when I called, it was answered by an older-sounding woman.

Me: I'm calling to get some information on the (ME) you have for rent.

Her: Okay. (hmmmm, just "OK"? not- great! I can help you with that- who am I speaking to? have you ever checked out in any of our aircraft before? )
Me: Can you tell me what the check-out requirements are?
Her: What's a check-out?
(OMG - here it is, this isn't happening!)
Me: Well, usually depending on the insurance company, specific hours and experience are required to rent a plane and I just wondered what those requirements were for the (ME).
Her: Oh, okay. Do you have your license?
(DUH? no I just wanted to rent your ME to see how she goes!)
Me: Yes ma'am.
Her: Are you multi engine certified?
Me: Yes ma'am.
Her: How many hours do you have?
Me: About 2000.
Her: Oh. That's more than enough
. (Oh my dear- I haven't even made that many pies! uhm, clearly we don't know what our insurance policy says)
Me: Are there specific requirements for me to have a certain number of hours in a (ME) or a complex airplane or something like that? Different insurance companies have different requirements so I was wanting to know what I needed to rent your (ME).
Her: might be better talking to one of the flight instructors to get more information

(why do your flight instructors know more about your insurance requirements than you? Perhaps you should get back to your baking granny)
Me: How easy is it to schedule a flight instructor?
Her: Usally 2-3 days is great. I don't keep their schedules cuz I've got other things to do. They keep their own schedule
. (what are those other things? Laundry? )
Me: Oh, okay.

Then she gives me the name and phone number of one of the instructors, saying he's available evenings and weekends and would probably be the best one for me to talk to. (okaaay- your PART time CFI knows MORE than you about the insurance requirements for your ME than you do? I'm gettin' scared -- next question is- is your CFI ME rated? and does HE have the requirements set by your insurance company? Alarm going off in head- these guys are not going to be around long--don't give them any large downpayments on block time!)

Me: Okay. And I just tell him I'm interested in getting checked out in the (ME)?
Her: Yes. And then if you don't mind, just give me a call back so I can put it on the schedule.
(WHAT?? wait a sec- WHO'S keeping whose schedule? I'm confused- I thought you had pies and laundry going? What about I need you to come in during normal business hours so I can get copies of your license & current medical, as well as make a proper file for you according to HSA/FAA requirements?) (please God please let the TSA come in and audit these people-- please? )

Then the usual end of conversation pleasantries.

Isn't that a trip?????? I had to bite my tongue not to laugh.
(oh CF you did so much better than I would have-- I would have had my head spinning like Linda Blair, spewing out obscenities about her responsibilities to help keep this country safe, while wild sarcastic laughter punctuated each point declaring the likelyhood that she would soon found herself jobless as this place is definitely on the DARK side! ) If she's doing things other than scheduling (which, of course, she's allowed to do), they really shouldn't have her answering the phone. Especially if she has no information in front of her - - like an information sheet on the planes, their prices and rental/check-out requirements. And what's with having a potential renter call her back to get on the schedule for a check-out? I would have thought the instructor would do that???? (I'm so sorry CF, I can't understand this either- it's like we are in the twilight zone! I think granny should be left to baking her pies!)

Can you imagine if I'd been brand new to aviation or more intolerant in wanting to get checked out?

I'm still chuckling.......
(end of email here)

I personally feel motivated to say a prayer for anyone who might come in contact with this un-named place- I wonder who is keeping track of maintenance requirements? Furthermore- please God don't let anyone who wants to learn only how to take off and fly straight and level find them!

Now as promised some words on commercial aviation- wow- the commuters are actually canceling flights due to pilot shortages, They are desperate to get warm bodies into the flight deck- the requirements are scary low- and just to add insult to injury-- think about this-- Joe Blow, straight out of an expensive flight school applies, gets hired, sails through ground school cause they are used to studying and haven't ever stopped cause they went straight from high school to flight school compliments of mommy and daddy, (these are the ones you commonly see that look about 15 years old and like they are playing dress up in their daddy's uniform) have very low actual experience time, are hired with 50 ME hours, then they get to the sim-- and have a 50% fail rate,,because they have minimal actual experience-- true story!
Now, consider this next scenario. Seasoned pilot, high times, including ME time, older than the rest of the class by a decade, had to work their way through all their ratings one at a time, while CFI'ing, very qualified- very desirable for that cockpit position, but they are older so they gotta study twice as hard as the youngsters to get through ground school, and then they bust on the oral. Why did they bust? Major pressure- short ground school, not enough training expertise from the airline to get them through it- and they never see the sim- where they would KNOCK THE SOX OFF THESE YOUNGSTERS! Cause nothing takes the place of experience!
God help us! this is so wrong- I can barely tolerate it.
Next complaint-- Okay big corporate fat asses! AKA CEO's CFO's etc. of airlines-- it must be nice to make such a huge paycheck- bonuses, etc, while screaming all the while how the airline is in trouble- here's a suggestion! IT"S NOT WORKING! TRY SOMETHING ELSE!
For Gods sake- if passengers knew the truth they would pay a few extra bucks for their tickets, they WANT meal service, movies etc. Your low budget flights only matter to a small percentage of your clientele. Entertain them, feed them, charge them more- and stop being so damn greedy! PAY YOUR FLIGHT CREWS! Need pilots? well they are gonna have to come from somewhere! Informed people don't decide to be pilots when they find out that they will be lucky to make $18,000.00 a year to start! Take a lesson from Southwest, let your employees have fun, get a decent wage and be happy- don't overwork your crews with bad scheduling, and your passengers will be happy and come back too!
If you have any doubts- regarding how bad it is in the regionals, just leave me a note on this blog- and i'll tell you stories that will make you wonder where the hell these corporate fat asses came from,, cause they are about dumb as rocks.
The end! unless of course someone comments- at which time I will respond with more of my sharp tongued sattire. AND as for my buds, Don't get any wise ideas about sucking me back into this with an anonymous comment!
Fly safe- and make sure you know the ins and outs of your chosen flight school!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy flight students

This is what a happy student looks like!
Todays post is a little different than the norm. I wanted to share some happy aviation moments with you all, and include this picture of a post first solo, of a fabulous gal I signed up for her first flight lessons.
I am still following the progress of each student who I signed up for flight training before leaving my GM position at a local Flight School. They are still flying with the CFI's I had hired there, just at a different school. I am not paid to follow their successes, I receive nothing more than the joy of knowing that they are accomplishing their dreams. I would like to point out that this is the level of commitment and care that should always be present when working with people's dreams. The fact that the CFI took the pictures, celebrated that moment and then presented me an opportunity to share in that joy, shows the CFI's level of commitment and care as well. I received a phone call minutes after the completion of the flight from the student, second call after the one to her father. I am truly blesssed to have been entrusted with these students dreams and to be included in their celebration of successes. This is a demonstration of the students knowledge of how much I care! When the CFI sent me the pictures I started blubbering like an idiot, big fat happy tears and goosebumps,, let me tell you if that doesn't demonstrate not only my passion for each students dream, but the CFI's dedication to that same goal, I don't know what does. Myself and several others put together a celebration party we had this last weeekend not just for "first solo girl", but also for another student who completed her Private check ride (whose picture will not appear today as I have not asked her permission) and a CFI whom I had the distinct honor of having on my staff that just finished ground school with an airline and graduated top of his class. Of course no names will be used and I have painted out places where names would have been seen, aircraft #'s etc. for privacy purposes of course. I wish to point out that I no longer have any obligation towards these people- but have chosen to have them as life long friends and share in the celebration of their accomplishments, this is what should be at the heart of every schools management- without it- you are just another school with one interest- YOU! If you are asking why you should feel any different, and thinking that's what life is all about, then please- find a line of work where you are not entrusted with someone elses dreams. You are just one more of the corrupt who climbs to the top on the backs of others and the rubble of others broken dreams. The lowest of the low, who have helped to create the impossible and heartless environment in corporate America that keeps others oppressed. We are a country originally built on love, tolerance and a sense of community, where are those values now? They are rare, and when seen, should be cherished and nurtured. Finally- congratulations to all my friends whose dreams are coming to fruition, and thank you to the dedicated staff members with hearts of gold and an unfaltering love for teaching and caring for these students and their dreams.
Fly safe!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

part 141 vs part 61 and choosing a CFI

Well, time to look at the CFI and the part 61 vs part 141 schools. Seems thats whats on the minds of my readers right now, so thats where we are going, hold on, the rides gonna get a little bumpy!
You have a ton of questions! Questions regarding the length of time this journey is going to take, and you are getting all kinds of seemingly conflicting answers, whats the best way to go? Well, I guess that only you can decide that for yourself, but here's the info you need, from my perspective.
Unless you want to spend that big money on the high end school and come out with a degree and your flight ratings, which is a nice way to go, but entirely unneccessary unless you are into overkill, or just really want the degree, (or have an overactive ego)--(oops I slipped) there are better ways to go that will cost you much less, but you HAVE to be able to study on your own and stick to the plan. Disclaimer, not ALL students in the high end schools have overactive ego's, just don't let yourself come out with that attitude that your training is better than anyone elses, you would be amazed at how high the fail rate is on these guys when they get to the airline training, they are so cocky they think they already know it all! Not even close! And your classmates will revel in your failures! Hold on to your humility-and stay humble! the saying there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots, is a very true statement!

What about the middle of the road 141 school? This one is pretty pricey huh? If you've done any homework on this one, you know they charge quite a fee for having access to their nice simulators, they are charging you a ton for your flight instruction and aircraft rental fee's and promise the FAST TRACK. Ok- so they have a catchy name and everyone is dressed so professionally, it feels like maybe this is a good option. Look very closely at this, and ask yourself, does my flight instructor suddenly become a better instructor than another just because of his or her clothes? NO! Is my flight instructor more experienced here? NO again. Does the CFI enjoy working here? Probably not, they might get paid a little better, but, if you could choose between a uniform and a casual dress policy at work, wouldn't you rather wear casual dress? This is a gimmick to make you, the student, feel like they are better! Put that CFI in full uniform, or even shirt and tie into a cessna in the heat of summer days, and you have one very miserable CFI! Some actually require YOU the student to dress up for the occasion-- this will not make a lick of difference in the quality of your training! There is one in particular that operated across from the part 61 school I was GM at that made me laugh so hard! They had lots of foreign students, old aircraft, charged a ton, and their students were in full pilot uniform, with,, and here's the funny part, eppaulets with 2 BARS-- ok-- explanation needed? In the US world of aviation, Captains are 4 bars, First officers are 3 bars and FLIGHT ATTENDANTS are 2 BARS! I tend to be a little too heavy on the teasing humor and let me tell you that these foreign students were not real enthused when I explained this to them one day while they were outside smoking! Apparently playing dress up was fun for them up until this point when I wrecked it for them! Of course I laughed for the entire explanation and teased them pretty badly. Needless to say, I wasn't real popular with them after that! Anyway back on track- if you are going this route- which is fine, just don't expect that your training or aircraft will be better, or any faster. How quickly you move forward will be decided upon your study and flying frequency for the most part. Many of these types of schools also schedule you according to who's available to fly with you when you want to fly. Ok sometimes there are times when a different instructor can be of value to you, but not like this. You need a CFI that will be the same one through the majority of the rating you are working on. You need to develop a relationship with your instructor- they will then know your strengths and weaknesses and coach you accordingly! I'm going to say it again, having the right instructor matched up with the student is very important. People have different learning and teaching styles and need someone who can be on the same level with them. If you get the wrong instructor- perhaps they are not patient enough or they tell bad jokes or distract you, conflicting personalities, for what ever reason, you find yourself frustrated, DON'T QUIT! Get a different instructor! Clarification-- there ARE 141 schools out there that don't get weird and fancy, and don't overcharge you!

Part 61 Schools, well in general, this is a good option, less expensive, but these vary alot. Look for a part 61 that has the following: a good track record,(zero to few incursions) Good maintenance on the aircraft, good management, happy flight instructors, cheerful and celebratory environment, regular scheduled ground schools offered, preferably a complex and multi-engine aircraft and, while not neccesary, but highly recommended, a Cessna Pilot Center affiliation (CPC). I am a believer in the CPC affiliation when the school properly utilizes it. However just because they have a CPC affiliation does not mean it's all clear! Cessna doesn't run these schools and therefore their influence is marginal. But I do believe that if you take the CPC curriculum, add a GOOD ground school to it, a good CFI who follows your training in the curriculum, and your committment to home studying & flying 3 times a week, that you have a winning combination! You've covered your bases and are good to go assuming that the school is stable. What I have laid out here for part 61 also applies to part 141. So why do many think 141 is the way to go? Well here's the plusses, easier financing, close supervision of your curriculum through FAA guidelines and some of your ratings, such as commercial rating time require fewer hours, ie less money spent in the end, in THEORY. Generally the only one of these you can truly count on is easier financing. So if you have the money to just pay for it- going part 61 is actually more fun and less hassle. IF you are attending a good school.

Here is a tip when shopping for your perfect school- have them show you their aircraft! Are they clean? Are the small details taken care of? Pitot tube covers, gust locks, doors and seats work correctly? Is there a fresh bottle of oil and funnel in the back? What condition are the checklists in? This will tell you alot about a school and their level of concern for safety and your needs!

OK, one last option here. SO, your town/city hasn't got a single one of these schools that feels right for you. Prepare yourself, I'm gonna get on the soap box! Find a CFI who is offering their services independent of a school. Now this can get tricky, because most schools won't rent their planes out for training with anyone not on their payroll. The CFI you find will know how to resolve this issue. This method of training is nice especially when you are doing your instrument rating and up. Why? Because, the majority of these instructors are doing this because they LOVE teaching! They tend to be more experienced and are not under the dictatorship of a school that is lousy! AND they CARE about YOUR dreams! I still recommend that you get a CPC, CBI(computer based instruction) kit. If you don't know them yet you will, John and Martha King, King Schools, develop the CPC CBI kit. You can purchase it through Cessna or through King Schools. While good old John and Martha, God love them, are still wearing the same hair cuts they had in the 70's, and can seem even annoying after watching too many of their lessons in one day, they have a very thorough and effective training curriculum. I have met them, they are VERY nice people, and extremely knowledgable. They earned their reputation, and it's a very good reputation! One more thought on choosing a school, part 141 part 61, in the end- when you get to training for a part 121 carrier-(airline) none of this will mean squat! It's a whole new training and completely different world! You will study more in 1 month of your airline training class, than you did for your entire training put together up to this point!
As for the CFI questions, well, yes, the majority of CFI's are doing it for the time building, this is a step in their ultimate goal as well. Yes, they are still learning too! This does not mean they can't teach you what you need, everyone starts somewhere. However the more experienced your CFI is, the better off you are. Private instruction is perfectly fine for the new CFI, but as you move up to instrument, ask yourself how you felt about your instructor, (assuming you will use the same one) before moving into a more complicated rating with them. If you don't already know this- yes, they have to have a seperate rating for training instrument students, CFII. So does this rating mean they are good enough to get you through it? Probably, but will your instruction be as thorough and excellent as it shuold be? mmm, maybe not. Depends on the CFII. The best instructors have high times and are instructing because they LOVE it! And they don't really have an interest in the airlines, they look more towards FAA examiner goals etc. Ask your instructor what their goals and total times are, how many sign offs they have and what the pass/fail ratio is for their students! Again, this does not mean a newbie won't be a good instructor- just that they are less experienced.
In the end, how long it takes you heavily depends upon you in most circumstances and part 61 makes it easier for you to move quickly, where 141 can hold you up at times. Keep in mind however that the more experienced you are, the better pilot you will be. Nothing can take the place of experience. Also keep in mind that in part 61, you may have to change schools to get complex ratings as many of the part 61's don't have the complex aircraft. A part 141 school who has these aircraft can still train you under part 61 and they generally have the complexes and aren't neccesarily more expensive in certain circumstances. ME is another issue all together and may mean yet another change. SO, now you are thinking it's easier to just go with the more expensive school who already has all these aircraft, and can give you an ATP as well. The choice is yours. They all have their positive and negative points, only you can decide whats right for you!
On a personal level- some of the best CFI's I employed, had alot of fun while training their students, they made every cross country fun, they went fun places and did silly things while there. These are memories for students and they matter! If the student is having fun, they will love aviation always, have better study habits and look forward to pleasing their CFI!

So now that I have answered a few questions I am sure I also made you think about new questions,, I hope I have shed light on some things, and next time hope to further that goal!
One of my goals for the future, once this blog gets more notice is to host a web site, and have more services available-- including a listing of independent CFI's, their experience, ratings and location. If you are a CFI who is interested in this let me know and I will start a new section for listing you here on this blog!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

aviation careers

So you are thinking about aviation as a career? Well, now that I am back on task, let's talk about what your options are and what the journey is going to look like. I am feeling the enormity of this subject, and trying to figure out how to say it without droning on and on! I also want to give you both the positives and the negatives, and achieve some balance here. First off the line, as I said in an earlier blog, don't be thinking this is where you are gonna hit the cash cow. Aviation has many attractive perks, but big paychecks is not one. Aviation doesn't provide decent wages until you have been doing it quite a while. First year, regionals offer in the neighborhood of, $20,000.00. OUCH! Hard to make a living off that! This of course comes as a shock to many "would be" pilots, (not to mention the general public) and is enough to send them off to a technical school to learn about computer programming, that is if they find out the truth before they are 20 grand into their training investment. There are other better money makers than starting with a regional, and make no mistake, you will not get hired on at a major airline until you have paid your dues in the small time! No ifs and or buts about that. (to be fair- generally your second and third year at a regional will see pretty decent raises, and upgrades to Captain will boost you up to around 50 grand the first year as PIC) Also don't get yourself thinking you are going to work for Fedex right off either, they take the cream of the crop, high time pilots only. Yes - they pay extremely well. Cargo and corporate flying are better paying right off the line than a regional, if you get on with the right company you could start out at around $30,000.00 first year, or possibly more if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. But keep in mind that the more you are making, the more difficult your schedule could be. If you are on call charter, this is a difficult way to live, you will never know when to sleep or eat because you never know when you will get that call. These charters tend to be 20 days on and 10 off at worst, so for those 20 days on- forget about having a beer, unless you have flown your maximum legally and can't fly for at least 12 hrs. Many charters require you to be wheels up in 30 minutes from the call time. Cargo routes tend to be night flying, which is great for your resume, bad for your personal life!
Back to Commercial Airlines, this is an all time high for hiring, seems there just isn't enough pilots to fill the seats, gee, could it be that the cost of training and the payoff are not attractive enough? (check out the all Atp's website for a listing of who's hiring) Hmmmm, I hope this sends the pilot wage back up to a decent living again. Sad but true- that in the 70's and 80's Pilots made considerably more money than they do now-- and the cost of living was less,, just makes me wanna thank Jimmy Carter (gift basket of poo?) for deregulating the airlines and creating this mess. Side note: Truth time-- passengers WILL pay more for their flights if airlines offer more service! Southwest has the corner of the market on bare bones flying and always has since they started. But not everyone wants what SW offers, -- there are people who miss the meal service, friendly flight crews, and littel creature comforts.
This is also a business of "who you know." Make a point to know people, meet the right people and it's much easier to get in. Nothing makes for a faster interview than the captain who walks your resume in. In the end the "make or break" of your goal will be all about ME (multi engine), turbine, Jet, and ultimately, PIC (pilot in command aka Captain) time. You are probably wondering about a college degree as well, and I will address that in another blog. But for now- no you don't have to have a college degree, but it tends to help sometimes. Your flying skills and experience are more important than a 4 year degree in "whatever." trust me, the training and cost of flight training are their own degree! Yes, it does look good on your resume to be able to say you attended Embry Riddle or NDU, Westwind, All ATP's and Flight Safety etc. But like everything else it has it's moments when it ISN'T helpful and if you are so proud of it you are arrogant about it, well, nobody wants to work with that personality. Yes, your training will be excellent, you will be well educated, and you will be paying your loans off for a loooong time! On the other hand you can be properly educated and experienced for less money as well, but you have to learn what the pitfalls and the shortcuts are. Unfortunately, there is a major shortage of smaller schools with ownership that cares about the quality of your flight training enough to treat their customers and CFI's with the respect they deserve. So I intend to help you recognize the traits of a good school and how to avoid the common lack of concern for your investment, and finally,, CYA! (cover your - - -!) Middle of the road school-- yes there are a couple -no I'm not naming any names-- disclaimer disclaimer! -- buyer beware- high prices don't neccesarily mean better training here,, check out all the options- I will go over them in the next posting. But just a taste-- look at their aircraft, consider age and engine time- consider who owns these aircraft, are they leasebacks? are they fully owned? Who is in charge? Who is making the big decisions that affect you? Are they financially stable? Are you required to pay up front for the entire course? Are there alot of foreign students? Are the CFI's treated well and are they genuinely happy? These things all effect your flying experience, don't underestimate these details! I'll explain why- next time!
next blog will be on what to look for and what to avoid in smaller schools.
I hope this is all going to really be helpful for alot of people, and I plan to keep exposing the truth! Last comment for today- one of my past CFI's (employee) told me that she has students considering leaving the school she teaches at due to too much stress, they are thinking of going to another school with not such a great reputation, (just a different bad reputation-) she is going with them to teach them there if this happens-- she said- and I quote, "at least it can't be worse, and having no one paying attention at all, is better than having a jerk cheif pilot and bad management paying attention with a bad attitude!" Ouch, good flight instructor, bad schools. (sigh.) I am going to say it again- owners, management, cheif pilots, SET THE TONE! And,, make or break the school and customers dreams. Thats it for today- fly safe!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

aviation frustration

aahg! Sorry so long in between posts, I've been knee deep in other work. I still need to finish part two, and will do it today or tomorrow, but right now I have a bee in my bonnet, and I'm about to exterminate it! Well, I wish it were that simple actually, but at least I will have said my piece on it. There is such a demand for commercial pilots right now that required times are at an unbelievable low. SO if you are looking to start applying for those positions, strike now, the iron's HOT! This leads me to the overall condition of flight schools today, and in my city, wow, poor is an understatement. The demand for quality pilots really can't be met if the schools are going to continue on with the apathy they currently demonstrate. Yeah, you can go to NDU, or Embry Riddle, or Westwind etc, pay through the nose and owe that loan for a good long time, (unless of course mom and dad are paying) since starting pay for pilots is pathetic and inexcusable. (that is another complicated subject entirely which will be addressed later in this blog, at least a couple of weeks down the road) Of course you will come out of these schools not just owing alot of money, but unfortunately, also thinking you are Gods gift to the industry, driving your regional training classmates to the brink of insanity with your boring prattle about how much better you are than them and how you can't believe you are even in the same classroom with the likes of them. Let me first say this, not ALL of you come out like that, but most do, and frankly you are viewed as the spoiled child, and found to be completely intolerable by the pilots who suffered and saved and flew their butts off as CFI's to get to that regional classroom! So if you are reading this, think about that the next time you address a pilot who didn't have the option to attend that high end school; and try on a little respect, you'll find that a little bit of humble goes a long way with these pilots! Ok- now to the issue on my mind today. WHAT THE HECK is going on with the schools? It's been a downward spiral in these parts for a while but now they are just at an all time low on caring. The owners are either not involved but still sticking their noses in just enough to really irritate the management to the point of throwing it away for another line of work, or they are on serious burn out and really don't give two hoots about what the student needs. I hope that the owners of these businesses read these words, because the students needs are more important than your greed! Students, please read this over and watch for these things, this is valuable information for you! This is a business that involves peoples DREAMS! Their aspirations! This is not a McDonalds where you don't have to see that customers broken dreams. You are not selling hamburgers that really won't matter if it's right 2 days from now! The students you are seeing now are wanting one of two things,
A. Quality instruction for the personal enrichment of someones life,
B. Quality instruction for the student who dreams of flying commercially.

Category A. Ok, these guys and gals want to have fun, they want to enjoy every moment of their training, they are doing this because they want to enjoy it.
Category B. This group has an entire lifetime of this wrapped up in what you provide them with. They have goals which need your assistance to be acheived.

Without regard to the type of student you are dealing with, you are responsible for ensuring some very important things. Maintenance and FAR's aside, obviously these are at the very core of training. I want to talk about your CFI's, managers and customer service. YES, customer service! Are you keeping track of what is happening with each student? Do you know if they are happy with the quality of instruction? Did you match them with a CFI that is right for them? Are they frustrated? Here's a good question for you, are you more interested in their money than their success? There is a frighteningly high percentage of students who never finish; because they are FRUSTRATED! I am not suggesting anything is free, or that someone who can't make their payments should be allowed to rack up a bill. What I AM saying is that you are dealing with people and personalities, emotions and dreams on a long term basis. Do you want to be responsible for another human beings failure to acheive their dreams? Do you care? Do you pay attention to your CFI's? Do you notice if they are providing good instruction? Do their students feel they are free to talk to management about how they are doing? How long is it taking your CFI to complete a student? Are they taking too long? If the CFI doesn't have the skills to give good training, or they are mismatched with a student who's learning style doesn't match the teaching style, they will quickly find that they are paying more than they had anticipated, and may very well give up. I cannot stress enough how important the student/CFI relationship is. Learning and teaching styles have to match up, CFI's are able to make or break both the student and the business!
More on CFI's, are your CFI's happy? Yeah we all know the majority are teaching for time building, but that doesn't mean you should treat them like a disposable commodity. If you are good to your CFI's, if you respect them and get involved with care and understanding that they are also trying to reach a dream, they will be better instructors! Don't over staff ! Your CFI's are trying to make a living at this and need enough students to pay the bills! YOU as management and/or Cheif Pilot must set the tone of your school, and the customer and CFI's are your bread and butter. Set a tone that is happy, celebrate every accomplishment of your customers and CFI's, and do it because YOU care! Give your CFI's a bonus when they have a student pass the checkride, show them you are proud of them when they solo a student, take pictures for the student and put them on your website! Tell your students they are doing well! Ask them how they are feeling about the training EVERY TIME you see them, find out if they are having problems before they throw in the towel, save that dream and celebrate the benchmarks! People sense insincerity, if you don't care, go into another business, do us all a favor and get out of Aviation, and go sit in a back office somewhere where no one ever has to be a victim of your apathy and greed. One final thought before I am done, Chief Pilots, flight school owners and managers, please, acknowledge the beauty of a CFI that loves to teach, they are rare, and needed. Don't let your own frustration ever be taken out on your CFI's, they are not your personal crap catcher! Treat them with respect and they will treat you and their students the same way!
DEEP BREATH IN, and let it out. I'm better now that I've said all that--

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Aviation part 2- The dream of taking flight

As promised, part two! However, part two is going to have several parts of it's own.
I hope this blog is really going to help people sort through the initial confusion of "where do I want to go with my dream?"
There are several directions a person can go with that "need to get into the air dream." If it's a career move, first let me say this, if you don't have a burning desire for this, or at least a career motivational reason to embark upon this endeavor- then don't! Seriously consider your reasons for wanting this before starting. As for the career motivational purpose, let me give some examples, I once signed up a student for flight instruction because she worked for a very large helicopter company as a engineer, and she wanted to have a better understanding of the actual flying experience, this is a great reason, and as far as I know she has no intention of switching careers, or getting multiple ratings. She just felt it would further her in her current occupation & broaden her perspective. Another example- planning to apply to the Air Force Academy? If so, it's good to get that first rating done while you are acquiring your college degree, it looks good when you are ready to apply to the Academy. Furthermore, I am not talking about, the, "I wanna fly because it will be a great job" motivation, I'm talking about, you seriously have the love for aviation so deeply rooted in you that it would be like cutting away a peice of your body if you didn't follow your desire to do this. In which case, for Gods sake, get started! If you are thinking this will be a great career move and you will make great money, re-think that. I'm about to burst your bubble. Keep watching this Blog develop and you will get all the info you need to make a solid decision. Nothing irritates me more than whining bored pilots in commercial aviation. They got in for the wrong reasons and now want to whine about it. SO I hope to save many a flight crew member from listening to that pissing and moaning while waiting for the hotel shuttle, and spare you from hearing shut the _ _ _ _ up! from exasperated crew members who worked hard and long to get where they are.
This is going to have several categories, I'll give you my opinion on them, and then let you ask yourself what your motivation is. You need to determine how far and for what purpose you are interested in taking this journey.
More tomorrow!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

aviation part one

The future of aviation remains a part of the great unknown. So much to be said on this subject! SO I will address it a peice at a time as I blog through the great unknown. Expect to be seeing quite a few posts from me on this subject. Once a great aspiration, now an impossible pain in the (ahem) if you are planning it as a career. If the general public knew what those of us who have the love for it know, mmm- mmm. When speaking to the non-aviation savvy individual, the shock and dismay is pathetically evident when the truth is revealed. Ahh. you ask, of what doest though speak? Well, let me start with this, certainly not an all inclusive list of aviation related subjects, but an idea of what is to come. I plan to blog my way through the very start of the dream all the way through choosing a flight school, ratings, checkrides, building time, the dream job, TSA, Homeland security, (I even plan to do a blog on Flight attending, because if you've never done it, you should know what you are getting into ahead of time!) and the end result. This will be far from boring my friends and I plan to make certain people are paying attention, because no one is protecting your dreams! Unfortunately, you must find a path through this jungle of the unknown and pop out the other side without getting a really bad taste in your mouth, if not a complete loss of your dream! So here I am. Why? Because everyone out there that is knee deep in this business doesn't want you to know the truth- they want to sell you something. I left aviation, because of the corruption. Rubbing elbows with this crowd can get really nasty when you are a caring person, and now I choose to help others avoid the pitfalls. Perhaps one day, I will be doing what I REALLY want to do, and that is writing a column of flight school critiques. Yup, I wanna go out there and sneak around and check out whats what in every city and airport personally, and report it to you. Fair and square. But for now- I won't be naming names, only telling you like it is and letting you do the ferreting for yourself. Hopefully you will know what to look for and what questions to ask- and what gimmicks to avoid. Tomorrow- I'll write about the initial love for and dream to acheive "taking flight"