“It’s empowering.” That’s what a friend told us last night at dinner about learning to fly. As you already know, learning to fly changes who you are and how you feel about yourself. You learn a whole new body of knowledge and a whole new set of skills. You also learn lots of things that you can apply to the rest of your life. That’s why you find pilots bringing up flying so often in everyday conversation. We aren’t bragging. We just see how what we learned from flying is relevant.
In many of us this creates a desire to learn even more. There is a great big world of aviation out there and learning more about it can be lots of fun, and make you be a safer, more capable pilot. The bonus is that it also adds to your knowledge that you can apply to the rest of your life. That’s why you see so many pilots who keep pressing on to learn more. They become instrument rated, and even pilots who know they will never fly for a living go on to become Commercial Pilots or even Airline Transport Pilots.
Wherever you are in your flying “career,” you can be certain we have a course to help make it easier for you to get the knowledge you need to earn that next certificate or rating. If you need advice, please call one of our Customer Service Pilots 800-854-1001 [+1 858 541-2200 Int'l]. We don’t have “order-takers”, just fellow passionate pilots who will be happy to talk with you about your flying—and can also take your order!
P.S. If you are interested in getting an ATP, your “doctorate in flying,” you will want to pass your ATP written by August 1st. If you do, then all you have to do is pass your checkride within two years. To take your written after August 1st, you will have to attend a required, protracted ground school and take expensive simulator training first.
If you are mentoring potential pilots, or considering doing so, you might want to think about the concept of making aviation “sticky”. The gaming industry has figured out how to keep people engaged for long periods of time, getting personal satisfaction and fun from games.
As a pilot you know that flying is deeply rewarding and just plain fun. I believe the reason that we enjoy flying so much is that we are hardwired to enjoy any activity that makes us become more adept at using our capabilities. And flying uses nearly every aptitude we have—physical coordination, 3-dimensional problem solving, emotional control—you name it.
While flying develops skills that allow us to do very special things that can only be done with a combination of an aircraft and a pilot, you might be surprised to learn flying has a few things in common with computer gaming. Gamers seek engagement, goals, and “significance” in computer gaming. If you mentor folks interested in flying, you may want to think about the powerful draw of computer gaming and how flying appeals to the same needs.
The U.S. has 170 million gamers, many of whom spend from 20-40 hours a week playing games. What’s going on here? How can these folks get so deeply involved? As it turns out, the fun from both gaming and flying revolves around three important concepts: failure, flow, and fiero.
Failure is an important part of keeping you in the game. One of the things that makes gaming so capturing is that it keeps you in the game by providing very difficult, but eventually achievable, goals. It is like going to a carnival and trying to throw a basketball through a hoop. The trick is that in the carnival the hoop is just enough smaller than normal that the basketball bounces out nearly every time. If on the first try you could get the ball in the hoop, the game would be over. You’d go on to another game.
As a mentor you will want to explain that a very important part of learning to fly is coming to terms with the concept of failure and the satisfaction of overcoming it. Many people quit flying soon after starting because they feel like failures. Often, this is because the bar is set too high. Games can be tweaked so that you get just the right amount of failure mixed with success to keep games engaging. This is something we need to consider when teaching folks to fly. Every lesson needs successes to match failures. Focusing a flight lesson solely on difficult and failure-prone tasks can lead to feelings of frustration and a loss of confidence that the tasks will ever be mastered. I think it is important to explain that, yes, flying is difficult, but that is one of the reasons it is so much fun. It makes you grow in your capabilities.
Flow describes the deep engagement that gaming can provide. Gamers lose all track of time, and awareness of anything else. This state of absolute absorption and concentration tends to distract you from all the problems of the rest of your life as you “flow” with the game.
Well, pilots universally report that when they’re flying is the one time all of the other problems in life go away. In order to fly well, flying requires the same total concentration that leads to flow.
Finally, fiero is the satisfying, exhilarating feeling we get after we triumph over a major challenge. Everyone who has soloed has experienced fiero. You have it when you simply can’t help but pump your fist in the air and let out a big Woohoo!
If as mentors we understand what keeps folks “in the game”, and how flying satisfies those needs, we have tools and a vocabulary that can help us attract people to aviation and keep them flying.
While flying and gaming might appeal to similar needs, there is a huge difference. Gaming is an escape from the reality of life, but flying is a real and genuine part of life with real world benefits, not just to pilots but to others as well. You can’t find a better passion for someone to have.
You likely remember someone in your life whose time and dedication to mentoring made the difference in helping you reach a goal. For a learning pilot, the value of a good advisor is enormous. Martha and I have benefited from the attention of mentors through the years, and have also received immeasurable rewards through mentoring many wonderful pilots.
Mentoring is at the heart and soul of King Schools. More than just delivering material, we are invested in your success and we put in enormous time and effort building courses that are clear, simple and even fun to take. You can be confident that King material will put that next rating or certificate easily within your grasp. You can do it!
Recently, our friends Mike and Karen purchased their first jet, an Eclipse. Moving from a high-performance single to a jet is a big step, but is within the grasp of pilots with moderate experience and an Instrument Rating. Mike started from zero time and, with the help of King courses, had become an instrument-rated pilot in short order. But when we met, Karen had not yet started to fly. She wanted to learn to fly, but did not believe she could do it. Well, with lots of encouragement, King courses, and Martha’s mentoring, Karen has gone all the way from Private Pilot to Jet Pilot in just 3 short years. What an accomplishment—congratulations, Karen!
We would love to see you challenge yourself with a new certificate or rating. You can visit our website (www.kingschools.com), but if you need personal help, we also have dedicated Pilot Advisors standing by to mentor you about your piloting goals and discuss how King Schools can help you take that next step. Give them a call at (800) 854-1001.
You can help the future of aviation by providing your comments regarding FAA testing.
For years pilots have complained about the FAA knowledge test questions. While there are so many important things to ask pilots about, many test questions have made trivial distinctions. Worse yet, some test questions, by requiring interpolations on takeoff performance charts, have implied that takeoff distances can be relied on to the foot. Pilots relying on that level of precision from their airplane might be in for a very scary surprise or worse.
Wouldn’t it be nice if FAA test questions would always test pilots on the knowledge and insight needed to manage the risks of a flight, to get a safer outcome for themselves and their passengers, rather than trying to trick them with trivia?
Not only have pilots been given trivial questions when they take a test, there have been no standards for the knowledge test that would give pilots practical guidance on what they should study.
Plus, the Practical Test Standards have given pilots no guidance on what will be expected from them regarding how to conduct practical risk management.
Responding to these needs, concerned pilots within the FAA (yes, there a quite a few of them) successfully lobbied to create what is known as an Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The FAA solicited highly qualified instructors, examiners, and course designers to participate in the ARC. (Among the participants were John McWhinney and me from King Schools.)
After many long and thoughtful discussions this very engaged and committed group proposed improving the Practical Test Standards by including standards for the knowledge test and for risk management.
The FAA then sought another equally stellar group of industry leaders to guide the implementation of the program the ARC recommended. This group is called the Airman Testing Standards and Training Working Group (ATST WG). (Once again John McWhinney and I from King Schools participated.) After great effort this group has developed Airman Certification Standards for the Private Pilot and Instrument Rating, with more to come for other certificates.
There have been a few responses to the request for comments regarding the proposed Airman Certification Standards that have slammed the initiative as a ill-advised attempt to do something about the aviation accident rate. These respondents are truly concerned that this initiative will send the aviation community down the wrong path. The concern is that a focus on risk management is misguided.
Based on these comments, it is apparent the members of aviation training community who have labored for many months on this vital proposal have not adequately communicated that risk management is much more than just knowledge. It is a process that we hope that pilots will put into practice. Plus, it is far more than just “risk assessment” as some have implied.
It may be that some folks don’t fully understand that risk management has three basic elements: risk identification, assessment, and mitigation.
Identification is an important step in the process because many pilots are unaware that they have exposed themselves to risk. It is not uncommon that the pilot who comes to grief is, for just a few moments, about the most surprised person in the world–they simply didn’t see it coming.
Other pilots, such as those who continue VFR in worsening weather conditions, know they are taking a risk, but completely underestimate their probability of coming to grief because of it. They just have not learned to assess the risks they are taking.
Some pilots who fully understand risk identification and assessment fail to come up with a good plan to mitigate the risk.
All of these risk management elements are things that pilots simply aren’t going to get good at unless they have had some instruction and practice.
Finally, commenters refer to a study that says the vast majority of aviation accidents are caused by a failure of skill. That’s like saying that accidents are caused by the ground, because almost all accidents involve hitting the ground. Likewise, almost all accidents involve a failure in skill, because pilots who fail to adequately manage risk put themselves in a situation requiring skill they simply do not have, and could probably never acquire even with constant training focused solely on skill.
All of this points out the communication job the aviation community has ahead of us to make this very important initiative successful.
Here’s where you come in. These documents have been posted on the FAA website and we are seeking your input on these efforts in behalf of the future of aviation.
You can review the documents at:
Download and read the 5 files, and then click on the “Comment Now” button on the same web page.
Please help us make these Airmen Certification Standards documents better by giving us your advice and insight. You’ll want to do it very soon; comments must be in by July 8.
If you have a new iPad, and are a pilot, one thing is almost certain—you’re going to start using your iPad in the cockpit. The challenge is to make sure your iPad is indeed a help, not a distraction.
The first step is to decide which aviation apps you like, and install them on your iPad. We have made PDFs of our checklists and put them on our iPads. Plus, we use a moving map displayed as either a sectional chart or IFR chart, another app that displays approach charts and SIDs and STARS, plus another app that stores and displays our flight plan information and weather.
There are so many wonderful apps available, you can hardly go wrong. The important thing is that you figure out how you will use them in the airplane, and practice using them before you take your iPad into the air. A handy way to practice is to use one of any number of simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane, or any of the Redbird simulators featured in our catalog.
Then, use another product in our catalog, Cygnus by Redbird Flight Simulations, which sends your simulated position to your iPad or iPhone. Every app will then display your simulated position. You can fly simulated trips and practice using your iPad just as you would use it in the airplane.
You’ll not only want to practice working with the apps themselves, but you’ll also want to get familiar with moving between them. We have found the new 4-finger swipes a particularly efficient way to move between apps.
We have entered a fabulous new age of capability that we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. We just need to make sure we are familiar enough with these wonderful apps so that the result is a net increase in safety, rather than a dangerous distraction.