Author Archives: Pilot One

John and Martha King Honored by The National Association of Flight Instructors

NAFI Chairman Bob Meder presented the Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award to John and Martha at the annual NAFI Member Breakfast at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

NAFI Chairman Bob Meder presented the Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award to John and Martha at the annual NAFI Member Breakfast at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

For Immediate Release – San Diego CA

The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) has bestowed their highest honor on John and Martha King, Co-Chairmen of King Schools. NAFI Chairman Bob Meder presented the Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award to John and Martha at the annual NAFI Member Breakfast at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award is named for the NAFI founder and is given to deserving members, industry leaders and/or organizations that have performed great services for NAFI in benefit of its members. Jack Eggspuehler, a member of the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame, served as president of NAFI for more than 30 years.

Martha King said, “We are honored to be included in such distinguished company. The previous award winners are movers and shakers in the aviation community. NAFI plays a critical role by supporting the flight instructors who mentor our future pilots. Being chosen by this group of peers is very special.”

“Previous award winners have made great contributions to aviation,” added John King, “and to be included in that group is humbling. As Martha said, CFIs set the tone for the entire aviation community. For more than 50 years, NAFI has been at the heart of the flight instructor community. They have played a vital role in coaching instructors on how to teach risk management. We are thrilled to be supporters of NAFI, and to be honored by them.”

Bob Meder, Chairman of NAFI, explained what went into the decision to present the Kings the Eggspuehler Service Award. “The Kings’ passion for flying led them to start King Schools in 1975. Their work, first flying their own plane to give in-person seminars, then teaching through VHS tapes and DVDs and eventually providing courses online, has revolutionized flight training. Just as important has been the Kings’ commitment to improving aviation safety. They’re prolific writers, have given countless live talks, served on many FAA committees, and their personal candor about their flying experiences has helped countless pilots learn and improve. They were perfect candidates to receive this distinguished award.”

About The National Association of Flight Instructors

NAFI’s purpose is to establish and promote a high level of professionalism among aviation educators and to provide recognition for their contributions to aviation safety, education and training. NAFI members teach in more than 30 countries in flight schools, universities, FBOs, corporate flight departments, the military and as independent flight instructors. Founded in 1967, NAFI works with industry and government to help shape the direction of flight training and to serve as a voice for flight instruction. For more information about NAFI or the NAFI Master Instructor program call 866-806-6156 or visit www.NAFINet.org.

 

About King Schools

For over 40 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun video courses. King Schools estimates that over 50% of the pilots flying in the U.S. today have learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot training from Private Pilot to ATP and beyond, including certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft.

 

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NOT YOUR FATHER’S COMMERCIAL CERTIFICATE

DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN

Article appeared in Flying Magazine June 2019
by John King

The instrument rating requirement for commercial pilots created a hullabaloo in Juneau, Alaska that was just an early episode in the on-going dialog about the qualifications a commercial pilot should have.

For the commercial seaplane pilots in the area, it was not happy times.  The FAA had just mandated that all commercial pilots must have an instrument rating, or accept a limitation on their certificates prohibiting flying passengers for hire on flights of more than 50 nautical miles or at night.

This requirement was especially galling for these seaplane pilots, since the communities they served had no instrument approaches.  And flying seaplanes on instruments in the prevailing icing conditions was a really bad idea anyway.

Today, the commercial pilot certificate is changing again.  What you can do with the certificate, the airplane you need to train in and bring to the checkride, and what you have to demonstrate to the evaluator to prove that you are qualified are all changing.

All this is in the context of great demand for commercial pilots because of the airline pilot shortage.  Even though a commercial pilot certificate no longer qualifies a pilot to be a co-pilot in the airlines (they need an ATP now), it is a necessary step on the way to getting there.  Plus, of course, pilots still need a commercial certificate to be a flight instructor and for many other aviation jobs.

For several reasons flight schools are up against a wall.  There are not enough flight instructors.  And there is a severe shortage of complex airplanes—those with retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller.  For decades, commercial applicants have had to be trained in complex airplanes and demonstrate their proficiency in them on their practical test.  Like most pilots, Martha and I had to rent a complex airplane specifically for our commercial pilot training.  In our case we used a Cessna Cardinal RG.  Complex airplanes are increasingly expensive and, in some cases, just not available any more.  For instance, Cessna doesn’t even make a qualifying airplane.

The good news is that commercial applicants no longer have to use a complex airplane, and flight schools don’t even have to own one.  The 10 hours of training required for a commercial applicant in a “sophisticated airplane” can be conducted in any combination of a turbine-powered airplane, a complex airplane, and a technically advanced airplane.  And the checkride can be done in any aircraft that’s capable of doing the maneuvers—even a round-dial C172.

A technically advanced aircraft is what most of us would call a “glass cockpit.”  It must include a primary flight display (PFD), a multi-function display (MFD) with a map showing your GPS position, and a two-axis autopilot connected to the navigation and heading guidance.

Through the years, what is expected of a commercial pilot has evolved.  The first step in that evolution was the mandate for most commercial pilots to have an instrument rating.  Instrument qualifications remain an important part of being a commercial pilot.  Even though commercial pilots can still elect to not get an instrument rating and just accept the limitation, the FAA wants all commercial pilots to at least have emergency instrument skills.  So in preparation for the commercial certificate, all applicants must have ten hours of instrument training.

Many instructors consider the ability to fly the airplane without instruments equally as important, if not more important, as instrument skills are.  Their apprehension is that many of today’s new pilots are too dependent on modern technology.  This concern is exacerbated by crashes like that of Asiana Flight 214, which hit a seawall at San Francisco when attempting to manually fly a visual approach.  So, the age-old visual maneuvers remain a significant part of the requirements to be a commercial pilot.

The latest and most significant changes come as a result of the adoption of the Airman Certification Standards.  The ACS replaces the Practical Test Standards, which as the name implies gave guidance for the checkride.  By contrast, the ACS provides all the standards for being a pilot.  It is the result of a fabulous 8-year collaboration between the FAA and the aviation community.  I participated in this collaboration and believe it to be one of the most important and inspiring examples of teamwork I have ever seen.

Previously, the biggest requirement for pilots going for the commercial certificate was to be able to demonstrate their physical skill at flying the airplane.  Now the pilot’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge has become more explicitly required and for the first time there are standards for knowledge.

Perhaps the most drastic change as a result of the Airman Certification Standards is the requirement for applicants to demonstrate their ability to systematically identify risks and develop strategies for mitigating them.  There is some controversy about this requirement.  Many flight trainers contend that risk management cannot be taught and tested.  The argument is that the risks are so varied and situational that there can be no correct answer.

The inflection point corresponds with when risk management started being taught and evaluated.

When they say this, some people are thinking about “judgement” and “aeronautical decision-making.”  In that case, they are certainly right.  It is very hard to measure judgement and aeronautical decision-making.  Moreover, if someone tells you that you are a failure in these, it gives you no guidance for going forward.

On the other hand, if someone helps you develop good risk-management habits, they can be measured.  And the practice also will help you develop better attitudes, judgment and aeronautical decision-making.

So, what an evaluator is looking for is not correct answers, but correct habits.  A pilot with good risk management habits will continually maintain situational awareness and be thinking about ways to mitigate the risks they perceive.  As in the rest of flying, memory devices to make sure we don’t overlook things can be helpful.

Some pilots like to use the PAVE checklist in planning a flight to help them scan for categories of risk—in this case, risks associated with the Pilot, the Aircraft, the enVironment, and the External and internal pressures on the pilot.  In the air, the C-CARE checklist can help in mitigating the risks.  The first C prompts you to be aware of the Changes taking place.  Then CARE prompts you to think of the Consequences, the changing Alternatives, the Reality of what is occurring, and again the External and internal pressures.

The evaluator on your checkride may not require you to use those exact mental checklists, but you will need to demonstrate your ability to manage risks one way or another.

Now more than ever, the last thing any evaluator wants to see is an applicant who is fat, dumb and happy, and doesn’t see dangerous situations coming.  The goal is to create a new commercial pilot who is not just knowledgeable and skilled but is truly ready to be pilot-in-command.

There is a clear inflection point on the graph of the general aviation fatal accident rate when risk management began being taught through scenario-based training, and later, evaluated on the ACS.

I am very optimistic that we will see this trend continue.

 

Pilots Go To King Schools for Garmin G5000 and Aviation Weather Radar Courses

Two Garmin G5000 courses and Garmin Aviation Weather are now on the King Schools iLearn platform

July 25, 2019 – AirVenture, Oshkosh WI – Learning to use new avionics systems can be a challenge for pilots.  Garmin makes courses available for their customers but delivering them to pilots requires access to the Internet.  The King Schools internet learning platform, iLearn, makes it easy for pilots to take the new Garmin-produced G5000 Essentials, G5000 Essential Plus and Aviation Weather Radar 2.0 courses.

These courses add to the range of Garmin avionics training that King has provided for over 14 years.  The courses included are on the GNS 430/530 and G1000 avionics. Plus, a new KING Garmin GTN 650/750 course will be available in October of 2019.

King CEO Barry Knuttila commented, “We genuinely enjoy helping pilots get the most out of their amazing Garmin equipment.  These new courses focus on the Pro/Jet market, and the King Schools iLearn platform will give those pilots easy access to get proficient quickly.”

Pilots can access the King Garmin avionics courses using any Internet-connected desktop or mobile device. Many of the courses can be taken even when offline on iPads and iPhones using the King Companion App. The courses are designed to be self-paced and lessons can be retaken as many times as desired.

The Garmin G5000 Essentials 2.0 and 2.0 Plus courses prepare pilots to get the most out of their avionics using videos, graphics and explanations that introduce users to the G5000, explain Line Replaceable Units (LRUs), and demonstrate the pilot-aircraft interface. The courses also include a flight scenario.

The Garmin Aviation Weather Radar 2.0 course introduces pilots to radar fundamentals, operational principles, industry standard practices and operational considerations and techniques for all phases of flight. This course also addresses the features, functions and operation of airborne weather radars: GWX 70, GWX 75 and GWX 80, as well risk management related to weather threats.

The Garmin G5000 Essentials 2.0 course retails for $499; product details are at: https://www.kingschools.com/avionics-courses/garmin/g5000-essentials

The Garmin G5000 Essentials 2.0 Plus course retails for $549; product details are at: https://www.kingschools.com/avionics-courses/garmin/g5000-essentials-plus

The Garmin Aviation Weather Radar 2.0 course retails for $170; product details are at: https://www.kingschools.com/avionics-courses/garmin/aviation-weather-radar

All of the King Schools Garmin courses can be found at:

https://www.kingschools.com/avionics-courses/garmin

 

Pilots Get the First 4 Lessons of King Schools upcoming Garmin GTN 650/750 Course for Free

The Main Menu screen from the new King Schools free course – Say Hello to the Garmin GTN 650/750

July 24, 2019 AirVenture, Oshkosh WI – Pilots can look forward to a new King Schools Flying The Garmin GTN 650/750 Course to be released in October.  However, they don’t have to wait to get started since KING has released the first four lessons as a free video course, Say Hello to the Garmin 650/750.  The free course includes lessons on the GTN Home Page, Start-up Pages and Knobs, The Direct To Key and Nav/Com Tuning and Volume.

King Schools Co-Chairman John King said, “This free course welcomes you to the rewarding world of flying with the Garmin GTN 750 or GTN 650. These wonderful systems will enhance your situational awareness and reduce your workload better than any other navigation system that has come before.  Our goal is that when you get done with this course, you’ll be able to operate both the 750 and 650 very competently and take full advantage of what they can do for you. Your GTN will be a big help in your most important job as a pilot –risk management.”

John King teaching in a segment of the new free King Schools course ‘Say Hello to the Garmin GTN 650/750.

The other King Co-Chairman, Martha King, added, “The advanced touch screen technology of the Garmin GTN 750 and 650 is an absolute dream when you know how to use it. This course is much more than a manual or simple how-to video.  The on-screen graphics demonstrating the operations are easy to follow and will have you up to speed quickly and efficiently The videos use vivid real-life scenarios with clear instructions that prepare you so well that when you get in the airplane, your hands and eyes will automatically go to the right place.”

This course is free and available at KingSchools.com/HelloGTN .  The complete course will be available in October of 2019 and will have a retail price of $179.

King Schools has also released two additional free courses for pilots or anyone who is interested in the speed and thrill of turbine engines.  High Speed Flight & Understanding the Mach Meter are courses that cover instruments and principles involved in operating jet aircraft.  

Martha King is the instructor in both Understanding the Mach Meter and High Speed Flight.  The courses show you the information you need to correctly read your Mach Meter, which is the ratio of your aircraft’s true airspeed to the speed of sound.  In High Speed Flight, you will see the surprising effects of travelling closer to the speed of sound, such as the Critical Mach Number, Dutch Roll and the importance of vortex generators.

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NAFI Members Can Now Apply for a King Schools Scholarship Valued at $18,000

All of the King Schools/NAFI Scholarship Winners were together at SUN ‘n FUN in 2019. The scholarship includes $5,000 for training and lifetime access to all KING courses including FIRCS for life.” L>R John King, Martha King, Bob Meder, Andrea Prisca Garcia (2019), Barry Knuttila, Terry Carbonell (2017), Pete Muntean (2018).

NAFI Members Can Now Apply for a King Schools Scholarship Valued at $18,000

July 25, 2019 EAA AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI – A well deserving National Association of Flight Instructors Member CFI or aspiring CFI will be awarded The King Schools/NAFI Scholarship valued at more than $18,000 in early 2020. The scholarship consists of $5,000 cash for the attainment of an initial or advanced instructor rating and lifetime access to the entire King Schools library of over 90 courses, including FIRCs.

The 2020 scholarship application period is now open, and the winner will be announced at Sun ‘n Fun in April 2020. The 2019 winner Andrea Garcia of Buena Park, California commented, “I am a single parent, which is financially challenging in Southern California. To obtain my initial ratings I sold my home, worked, took out loans, and maxed out my credit cards. Beyond money, another challenge I have had in aviation has been being able to move forward with my aviation goals while still spending time with my son before he graduates in 2020. King courses are designed for busy folks allowing me to complete a new lesson in as little as 15 minutes. This scholarship has been immeasurably helpful.”

This is the fourth consecutive year that King Schools and NAFI have collaborated to award the scholarship. King Schools Co-Founder Martha King said, “Through the scholarship evaluation process, we get to meet extraordinary people with lots of passion who have strong beliefs about paying it forward.  They will be able to advance both their CFI ratings and knowledge.” Co-Founder John King continued, “We are genuinely proud of our past winners and the real contributions they are making in the aviation community.  We look forward to reviewing the applications, finding the next winner, and seeing them continue this tradition of achievement and giving back.”

NAFI Chairman Robert Meder added, “Andrea exemplifies what it means to give back to aviation.  We have selected someone who was a passionate, award-winning music teacher. She now wants to use her learned and earned teaching skills to mentor future pilots.  Our past winners Terry Carbonell and Pete Muntean have gone beyond our expectations in representing NAFI. Each one of them is teaching, promoting and are passionate about the future of General Aviation.  We are thrilled to give our members the opportunity to receive this scholarship and are confident that the next winner will be just as extraordinary as our past winners.”

The 2020 scholarship application deadline is January 3, 2020. The scholarship will be awarded at the Sun ‘N Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, FL, April, 2020.

The NAFI & King Schools Scholarship for Flight Instructors application form is available on-line at the King Schools website

About The National Association of Flight Instructors

NAFI’s purpose is to establish and promote a high level of professionalism among aviation educators and to provide recognition for their contributions to aviation safety, education and training. NAFI members teach in more than 30 countries in flight schools, universities, FBOs, corporate flight departments, the military and as independent flight instructors. Founded in 1967, NAFI works with industry and government to help shape the direction of flight training and to serve as a voice for flight instruction. For more information about NAFI or the NAFI Master Instructor program call 866-806-6156 or visit www.NAFINet.org.

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John and Martha Take on a Partner at King Schools

John, Martha and new Co-Owner of King Schools Barry Knuttila arrive at AirVenture 2019. Barry is the first person other than John & Martha to have ownership in King Schools.

July 25, 2019 EAA AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI – Pilots who have known John and Martha and have used King Schools courses over the decades will be interested to know that the Kings have taken steps to ensure the continuity of the company.  According to Martha, “We’re no longer young kids just starting out—even if we still feel that way.”

“Step one,” said John, “is that we have been coaching company CEO Barry Knuttila, who has become a warm, personable video instructor for King courses.  Our customers observe that Barry is taller, younger and better looking than we are.”  “But John,” Martha chimed in, “everyone is taller, younger, and better looking than we are.”

“Step two,” said John, “is that Barry has assumed an ownership role in King Schools.  Martha and I are still owners, and we are staying active in the company and will continue to be video instructors.  It’s just that as the company grows and expands the number of courses it offers; we need Barry’s expertise and the continuity he will provide.”

“This is a big deal to us,” continued Martha.  “In the 45 years we have been in business, John and I have been the only owners of King Schools. We’ve never had a partner before.”  “Barry is the perfect partner for us,” added John.  “He is an accomplished pilot and flight instructor who is passionate about aviation—he owns a Beech Debonair and is typed in our Falcon 10.  He is also competent, ethical, and kind and respectful to everyone. We are thrilled to be associated with him.”

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Women in Aviation International Members get Free Courses and Other Benefits from King Schools

The first Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors was featured as the scholarship that pushed the WAI total amount awarded to over $10,000,000

July 25, 2019 Oshkosh, WI –Women in Aviation International (WAI) members now get discounted KING courses, scholarship opportunities and other premiums from King Schools.

WAI President and Founder Dr. Peggy Chabrian explains, “Martha and John have been consistent supporters of WAI from the very beginning of the organization.  This agreement is an exciting extension to the cooperation we have enjoyed through the years.  We are thrilled that the Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors will continue and that WAI members will enjoy even more benefits from King Schools.”

 

John King, Co-Chairman of King Schools said “Dr. Peggy and her WAI team have created an organization that connects members with opportunities and inspires people; promoting aviation with passion and purpose.” Co Chairman Martha King continued, “WAI has been helping the entire aviation industry by relentlessly evangelizing that women can have a career, wildly succeed and play a critical role in all parts of the growing aviation industry. They have given away more than 12 million dollars in scholarships, benefiting an astounding number of people.”

WAI Conference in 2018 with Sarina Houston the scholarship recipient & 1st year winner Lindsey Dreiling.

Melissa Martin received the 2019 Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors.

WAI member benefits from King Schools now include:

About King Schools
For over 40 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun video courses. King Schools estimates that over 50% of the pilots flying in the U.S. today have learned with KING. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit KingSchools.com.

About Women in Aviation International
Women in Aviation International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing networking, mentoring and scholarship opportunities for women and men who are striving for challenging and fulfilling careers in the aviation and aerospace industries. For more information, contact WAI at 3647 State Route 503 South, West Alexandria, OH 45381, Phone 937-839-4647; Fax 937-839-4645 or through www.wai.org.

King Schools
3840 Calle Fortunada • San Diego, CA 92123
KingSchools.com
Toll-Free USA (800) 854-1001
Worldwide (858)-541-2200
Email: custserv@kingschools.com

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Using GA Airplanes For the Common Good – The Surprising Missions of the Civil Air Patrol

Article appeared in Flying Magazine April 2019
by Martha King

Cadet Rachel Petro enjoys the tow and waits for release above Frederick Municipal Airport

The threat from Axis submarines prowling the East Coast of the United States was very scary and very real.  On-shore shelling terrorized civilians, but the real low-hanging fruit for the submarines was on the seas.  By as early as August of 1942 Axis submarines had caused the loss of thousands of lives, mainly merchant mariners, and sunk over 600 ships totaling more than 3 million tons.  Winston Churchill was quoted as saying, “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.”

Flying enthusiast Gill Robb Wilson, who later became editor and publisher of Flying Magazine, saw how general aviation could help turn the tide.  The plan was to have private airplanes patrol the coast to spot submarines, which at that time had to spend most of their time on the surface.  Wilson took a leadership role in making it happen.  When asked why the German Navy withdrew operations off America’s coast, a German high seas admiral was quoted as saying, “It was because of those damned little…airplanes!”

Some 77 years later, Gill Robb Wilson’s “damn little airplanes” have become the Civil Air Patrol (CAP).  They are still being used to provide a myriad of services that can only be done with general aviation airplanes to the Air Force, and to communities throughout the United States.

As a current pilot you can use your hard-earned knowledge and skills to fly CAP airplanes for something far more rewarding than going for a hundred-dollar hamburger.  You won’t be paid for your flying, but on the other hand on missions you won’t have to pay for the cost of the airplane.

Since all CAP pilots, including instructors, are volunteers, any flight instruction you receive to get qualified for missions will be at no charge.  Your cost will be the fuel, and a flat maintenance fee which is much less than the normal rental rate.  The good news is you can fly the aircraft to keep current or get a new license or rating on the same terms.

The downside to all of this is that if your sole motivation is to get cheap flying, it won’t really work out for either you or the CAP.  There is a non-flying time commitment required.  Most CAP squadrons meet an average of two hours each week, with a specialty/training activity one to two weekends a month.  You will also have to pay dues.  And while you are flying, you will be expected to wear a CAP uniform—which, for the uniform-phobic, could consist of just a CAP polo shirt along with gray slacks and black shoes.

When the CAP recently asked me to serve on the Board of Governors, I was very honored, but at the same time embarrassed.  I realized that while I had seen CAP airplanes around airports for years, I really didn’t know much about the organization.  It was time for me to go to school on the subject, and study hard.  They gave me a head start by having John and me attend the National Conference in Anaheim.  It was like drinking from a fire hose.

I slowly began to get an idea of the magnitude of the Civil Air Patrol.  With 560 airplanes it is the largest general aviation fleet in the world.

A handful of those 560 airplanes

After my first board meeting, the CAP continued in their efforts to educate me.  They sent me to school at Maxwell Air Force Base, the home of the CAP, where I spent two days learning from managers about what their various departments were doing.  It was especially fun for me to be there since it is the same place my father went to school when he was in the Air Force.

First, CAP airplanes are used to support the U.S. Air Force by flying missions at a fraction of the cost that the Air Force would otherwise incur.  They are often used as interception targets for training fighter jet and helicopter pilots.  Plus, they are used to support Predator and Reaper drone operations.  For instance, they escort Predators in controlled airspace in order to provide the required see-and-avoid function until the Predators’ own see-and avoid capability is tested and proven.  Another drone-related mission involves equipping Cessna 182s with the sensors Predators and Reapers use.  That allows the Cessnas to function as surrogates for the drones in training the ground crews that operate them.

Interception training, or perhaps a race?

In addition to supporting the Air Force, the CAP responds to local community needs by conducting disaster relief and search and rescue operations.  With over 1,400 locations the CAP responds more quickly and nimbly after hurricanes, fires. and other disasters than would otherwise be possible, providing time-sensitive airborne imagery to FEMA for their relief efforts.  Plus, along with what the CAP calls “cell-phone forensics,” the fleet makes over 100 search-and-rescue saves per year.

It was at the National Conference that I first began to realize the extent to which CAP also works with cadets.  They use the fleet to inspire young lives by following up classroom and textbook learning with over 30,000 orientation flights to both CAP and ROTC cadets.

Cadets learn about robotics

In addition to weekly learning sessions, cadets also benefit from numerous field trips and annual week-long encampments.  Plus, the cadets receive training in many subjects such as computer technology and cyber defense that gives them a great head-start in their future learning.  As a result, CAP cadets make up about 10% of the Air Force Academy’s classes.

CAP also uses aviation expertise to reach out to local communities with aerospace education curricula for K-12 classrooms to generate interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers.  This program benefits about 300,000 students a year nationwide.

Cadets in the lab

All of this takes people.  The Civil Air Patrol has very few paid employees.  But as I have learned more about CAP, what has impressed me the most is the number and quality of volunteers.  There are some 60,000 volunteers who are deeply committed to making these programs work.  Many have enthusiastically donated their time and effort to the CAP for decades.

I am not sure why I was asked to be on the Board of Governors.  I like to think that maybe they were hoping my passion for flying and background in general aviation education and small business might provide some kind of special perspective.  In the meanwhile, I am learning a lot, and very much looking forward to being involved with a community that uses aviation in so many ways for the common good.

Tempering Passion With Reality
Article appeared in Flying Magazine Aircraft Buyers Guide, March 2019
John and Martha King

Falcon 10F on short final

There are a plenty of reasons to want to own and fly a jet.  Jets are made for capable, reliable transportation.  They come equipped ready to do the job—with pressurization, anti-icing and deicing, and substantial turbine-style cockpit displays and avionics.  Most important, they come with jet engines.
There is nothing better than jet engines.  They never miss. They never run rough.  They just deliver smooth power.  And oh, the power.  To a pilot with a piston-powered background, there is no greater thrill than transitioning to jets.

“There is nothing better than jet engines. They never miss. They never run rough.  They just deliver smooth power.  And oh, the power.  To a pilot with a piston-powered background, there is no greater thrill than transitioning to jets.”

 

You are flooded with excitement and sensations.  The thrill of hearing a jet engine wind up on start, so full of promise, the semi-sweet smell of jet fuel, the exhilaration of hearing jet engines following you wherever you go.  And, ah yes, the power, oh so much power, all at the command of your hand.

With old, out-of-production jets selling at a mere fraction of the price of new jets with similar performance, the purchase of an old jet seems like an irresistible bargain.  It is exactly that line of reasoning that has resulted in our owning and operating old, out-of-production jets for the last 34 years.  Sometimes we are slow learners.
It will be no surprise to you that we soon found that, while the capital cost of old jets is far less, the operating costs can be far higher.  After all, there must be a reason why these old jets are out of production.

Plus, while the value of a newer jet might increase after purchase, the higher costs of operating an old jet mean that as the aircraft ages, you would be wise to count on the value of your jet going down—eventually to virtually zero.  At some point every out-of-production jet will become economically obsolete—it will become just too expensive to maintain.
But the higher cost of operating these old jets and their declining value is not close to the entire story.  The complexity of managing the maintenance of them may be the most important consideration.

When we bought our first jet—a Citation so old that we called it a Citation Zero because it was made before they started numbering them—we had no idea how much personal management was going to be involved in maintaining the airplane.

Our Citation “Zero”

In fact, at first, we flat out weren’t qualified to maintain a jet.  If it hadn’t been for our jet mentor and good friend, Harry Metz, we would have been just overwhelmed.  Although we realized that an annual inspection each year wouldn’t be enough to make us legal, we didn’t begin to understand the complexities of progressive maintenance programs required for jets.
New jet owners learn that with a jet you are required to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance program or get your own program approved by the FAA.  For our old Citation, Cessna’s maintenance program requires as many as 13 different inspections.  These inspections all come due at different times, and with differing requirements, based on the service bulletins that have been applied to that specific aircraft.

We soon began to realize that it is virtually impossible to keep a jet—particularly an old one—safe and legal unless you subscribe to a computerized service that keeps track of the inspections required for your aircraft based on the equipment installed and the service bulletins applied to it.

 

“We soon began to realize that it is virtually impossible to keep a jet—particularly an old one—safe and legal unless you subscribe to a computerized service that keeps track of the inspections required for your aircraft based on the equipment installed and the service bulletins applied to it.”

 

For the Citation we used Cesscom, and for the old Falcon 10 that we now have we use Avtrak.
These services both seem to be always a little behind in their reports because there is a lag between the time an event is reported to the service and when it shows up on the printouts.  So to schedule our inspections around our need for the aircraft, and to keep from having a required inspection catch us by surprise, we also maintain our own spreadsheet that keeps track of major events coming due by date and aircraft time.

In Borrego Springs (L08) with the Citation

Because the manufacturers of both of the old jets that we have operated are still in business, parts have always been available for us—at a price.  OEMs who are still building airplanes, like Textron and Dassault, do a pretty good job of supporting even out-of-production airplanes.  After all, they don’t want to be seen as abandoning their products, even if they are out of production.

We have been lucky compared to some operators who own aircraft from manufacturers who are no longer making airplanes.  In this case parts may not be available at all.  This leaves cannibalization of older airplanes and overhaul/exchanges as their only sources of parts.
Even if the manufacturer is still supporting your old airplane, all the factors seem to conspire against you to make your airplane more difficult and expensive to maintain.  In addition to all the required inspections, you have to periodically meet government mandates such as for ADS-B.  In fact, the ADS-B mandate is only the latest.
As jet owners, over the years we’ve had to meet hundreds of thousands of dollars of mandates, requiring such things as a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS), and reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) capability.  And with the technological evolution involved with the NextGen air traffic control system, there will probably be more, as yet unknown, mandates coming.
Meeting these mandates has not only made us safer and legal, but as jet owners we’ve often felt we’ve been the special beneficiaries beyond that.  Transponders with mode C have not only enabled our air traffic control system to provide far better service to all comers, but they’ve helped enable RVSM which has virtually doubled the airspace available to jets at 29,000 feet and above.

Falcon Avionics Bay

For piston airplanes, the current ADS-B mandate is not particularly onerous and is getting less so.  Solutions have been rapidly getting cheaper and simpler, including one solution that involves replacing a position light with a new LED position light and an entire ADS-B solution for under $2,000.
But for jet operators these low-cost solutions simply aren’t available.  To fly above 18,000 feet our transponders have to be 1090ES transponders rather than the UAT transponders used by the cheaper solutions.

When we started researching solutions for our old Falcon 10, our first quote was for more than $150,000.  It was a really beautiful dual Garmin GTN 750 installation.  But in addition to the cost, and a big delay before we could get started, what really killed the deal was the airplane would be down for at least a couple of months—and probably much longer.  That would definitely send us into withdrawal.
It was clear to us that we wanted to meet the requirement before the deadline —without ADS-B our old jet would become useless.  Besides, we wanted the things that would come with a WAAS GPS, like LPV approach capability, sooner rather than later.

We had a Garmin GTN 725 installed by Neal Aviation, a shop on Gillespie Airport in San Diego where we have the airplane maintained.  It was a lot quicker and less expensive than the luxurious dual 750 installation.  The whole thing cost us a little over $65,000, including some required modifications for compatibility, and took a little less than a month.
In spite of the good deal we got on the Garmin installation, owners of an old jet can, in general, expect parts to cost at least as much as they would for a newer jet.  If the airplane today would sell for six million dollars, the prices of the parts will be no less than they would be for a new six-million-dollar airplane.
This makes sense.  Why would the manufacturer discount the parts just because you have an old airplane?  Parts will probably be even more expensive for out-of-production jets because as the fleet size decreases, the smaller and smaller market makes it less and less profitable for manufacturers to produce and maintain the parts inventory.

Also, manufacturers have little incentive to take risks on a maintenance program for an aging airplane.  So as problems begin to reveal themselves, inspection intervals get shorter, and the number of mandatory inspections increases.  Life limits on parts are reduced, and there are more requirements for non-destructive testing such as X-ray and eddy-current testing.
Plus, there is a limit to the number of times you can overhaul a part.  Eventually cores reach that limit, and you have to buy a new part or search aviation salvage yards for an acceptable core.  In other cases, parts may be superseded by a new design, rendering the old core useless and forcing the purchase of a new part.
You can replace the avionics in an old airplane, but you will still be largely left with old wiring, switches, relays, and gauges.  As the airplane ages, these begin to cause intermittent problems—making trouble-shooting an ongoing nightmare.
In spite of all these problems, we are still happy with our purchases of our old jets.  We recognize that the old airplanes do dramatically increase management complexity, but if you are willing to put in the work, the lower capital costs can make up for all the extra work and operational expense.

Falcon 10F receiving the Royal Treatment

We are extremely lucky that we have the availability of Circle Air Group, our maintenance and avionics shop.  They are based at Gillespie, just a few miles from our home airport in San Diego, and are more than willing to work with us in meeting the challenges of maintaining an old airplane.  Our maintenance technicians even went to FlightSafety in Dallas to take training in the maintenance of our airplane.
Rather than automatically putting new parts on our airplane, they always conduct a thorough search for the possibility of an overhaul or an exchange and present us with alternatives.  When a core is no longer suitable for an overhaul or exchange, they will purchase a core from a salvage yard if possible.  Without the willingness of Circle Air Group to work with us we, don’t believe it would be possible for us to operate our old jet.

It is also critically important to shop around for your major inspections.  Our Falcon 10 has a C-check required every 6 years.  This inspection can cost from $60,000 to $600,000 depending on the problems uncovered, who conducts the inspection, and what they charge for remedying the problems.  We have used shops that specialize in these kinds of big inspections, the latest being Aviation Maintenance Group in Chino, CA.  Their primary business is the performance of major inspections.  We are convinced they have saved us tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other hand, there is always the risk that at a major inspection they will discover some major defect like corrosion that simply would not be economical to repair and would permanently ground the airplane.

If you are considering the purchase of an old jet, our advice would be to find your equivalent of shops like Circle Air Group and Aviation Maintenance Group before you buy the airplane.  It is critical that you and these folks have a clear understanding of the ground rules you will be operating under.  Plus, we suggest that you talk to other owners about where they do their maintenance and major checks, and what their ground rules are.

“If you are considering the purchase of an old jet, our advice would be to find your equivalent of shops like Circle Air Group and Aviation Maintenance Group before you buy the airplane.  It is critical that you and these folks have a clear understanding of the ground rules you will be operating under.  Plus, we suggest that you talk to other owners about where they do their maintenance and major checks, and what their ground rules are.”

 

The bottom line is that, when you consider the capital costs you are saving, you can operate an out-of-production jet, but it means much more management, more down-time for maintenance, and a higher hourly cost of operation.
In our case, we have been willing to put forth the considerable personal effort required to operate these old airplanes—but then, flying is our business and our passion.  Besides, as I said, sometimes we are slow learners.  If flying is just transportation to you, and you don’t want to put that much effort into managing your airplane, maybe a “bargain” jet is not for you.  But if you desperately want to smell jet fuel and hear turbine engines following you around, go for it and follow your passion.  We’ve never regretted it.