Author Archives: Pilot One

My Odyssey Through The FAA Medical Certification Maze

John King recounts the story of how he fought the FAA to regain his medical certificate — and prevailed.

Article appeared on the Flying Magazine website – March 9, 2017 by John King

John & Martha at a recent speaking engagement at the Wichita Aero Club.

“You gave us all quite a scare last night.”  I gradually became aware that I was in a hospital and Martha was explaining to me that I had had a lapse of consciousness. You will appreciate that the very first thing that came into my mind was concern for my aviation medical certificate.

The hospital had done extensive tests to discover that I indeed did have a brain and there wasn’t much wrong with it. I was assured I had no long-term health issues. On the other hand, it soon became clear that concern for my aviation medical certificate was certainly warranted. And as with nearly every pilot, my aviation medical and flying are a very big deal to me.

I am particularly fortunate. If I were to I lose my medical, I could still fly with Martha. It just means that for our long-distance flying we would need to trade our old Falcon 10 for a lower-performance airplane that doesn’t require two pilots. But still, that would be a great loss to us. For the last 30 years we have been flying as a two-pilot crew in airplanes for which two pilots are required. On every leg we trade seats, and captain and copilot responsibilities. We get profound satisfaction from practicing the art of crew coordination.

What was now putting our precious flying as a crew in jeopardy was thefact that while getting out of bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I had passed out. The FAA understandably takes a very dim view of any loss of consciousness.

It was off to Rochester, Minnesota, and the Mayo Clinic. The neurologists at Mayo diagnosed my event as a seizure. Next we were directed to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, where there is a world-class specialist in seizures. After multiple tests, his conclusion was that my singular seizure was provoked by a number of circumstances, including excessive coffee consumption, medications I was taking and a prostate infection. He determined I was no more likely to have another seizure than the general public.

John, as PIC, conducts a pre-flight check of the Falcon before a trip. w/ Tom Keller, King Schools VP of Technology.

With that good news, I submitted myself for my aviation medical exam. Because of my report of the seizure, my medical examiner couldn’t issue my medical certificate directly. He instead was required to defer to the Medical Certification Division at Oklahoma City. Not long afterward he learned, much to my surprise, that the FAA in Oklahoma City was going to deny my medical. As many pilots had before me, I had begun my long odyssey through the FAA’s medical certification maze.

I could no longer act as a required crewmember. Martha had to recruit and train other copilots. I was riding in the back and practicing a very difficult new skill — keeping my mouth shut and not giving unsolicited advice to the flight crew.

I then went to another neurologist who specializes in aviation neurological cases. After examining me, this neurologist likewise stated that I do not pose a risk to aviation safety and that he would “recommend medical certification at this time.” He also suggested in his report that I would be willing to accept a “with or as a copilot” restriction.

Next I made a written request to the Medical Certification Division. I asked that with this more recent supporting neurological evaluation, if they were still unable to issue my certificate, they send my case for review by the Federal Air Surgeon. After four and a half months I received a letter from the Federal Air Surgeon saying that I was “ineligible for medical certification … ” To make matters worse, the letter from the Federal Air Surgeon threw additional obstacles in my path to recertification. There were new reporting requirements dealing with things it would be hard to imagine could have an impact on the safety of flight — such as a report on my urinary tract inflammation.

We decided we needed legal help. We selected Kathy Yodice, an attorney from Frederick, Maryland, who specializes in medical certification cases. Kathy has great experience and obvious expertise at this. She first filed a petition for review by the National Transportation Safety Board. Soon thereafter she requested an informal meeting with the FAA in Washington, D.C. There I made a heartfelt request that the FAA consider a risk mitigation strategy in which I be issued a medical certificate with a restriction that it be valid only with another qualified crewmember.

We thought we had made progress with the FAA because soon afterward they requested a new set of tests from me. Most applicants actually give up at this point. Multiple tests require multiple trips to medical facilities and considerable expenses, which many people can’t afford. But I was hopeful the tests would resolve my situation and I was more than willing to do them. A little over two and a half months later I was deeply disappointed to receive my second letter of denial from the Federal Air Surgeon. It was frustrating. I had two neurologists who had examined me, and both had said I was no more likely to have a problem than the general public, while FAA physicians who had never examined me were denying my medical.

At that time I sent a letter to the FAA Associate Administrator for Safety asking that the four core values developed by the Flight Standards division of the FAA be employed by the medical certification folks:

  • Create a just culture.
  • When reaching a hurdle, try to find ways to get to “yes.”
  • Conduct risk-based decision making.
  • Treat people as individuals.

In a system based on self-reporting and voluntary compliance, these core values are critically important because they support the element of trust. When you are making yourself vulnerable with your flying future, you are placing tremendous power over yourself into the FAA’s hands. For this system to work, pilots need to feel that the FAA respects you, has your interest at heart, is predictable and plays by fair rules.

Less than a month after I sent the email to the Associate Administrator, I received my medical certificate.

Of course, I am thrilled. But my fondest hope is that this represents an embracing of those core values. And that my case represents an example of using innovation to find ways to get to “yes.” This was new territory for the FAA. I am told a restriction requiring a second pilot for a third-class medical or for a neurological issue has never been done before.

The FAA is working hard to improve the percentage of pilots who get their certificates directly from the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). They hope it will get even better as they continue to implement an expanded list of what the AME can issue through what they call the “Conditions AMEs Can Issue” (CACI) program. The FAA medical folks are measuring their success by the improving number of pilots they are able to return to the skies with a medical certificate.

I am certainly thrilled to be one of their success stories!

Getting Qualified to Use Drones in Furtherance of a Business Made Easy by King Schools


King Schools Releases Version 2.0 of  Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course

May 15, 2016 San Diego CA – Drone pilots who want to fly their drones in furtherance of a business have a fun and quick way to prepare to pass the required Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate written test with Version 2.0 of the King Schools Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course. The course can be purchased at an introductory price of $99 until July 1, 2017 from

John King, Co-Chairman of King Schools, said, “Since it was released in January of 2017, over a thousand drone operators have passed the test using version 1.0 of our course.  We have more than 70 reviews for this course and almost all of them have a 5-star rating.  One drone course taker, Jennifer U., commented that ‘The course was so much more enjoyable than reading the manual. It helped me remember the information through acronyms and other fun educational measures.’  Version 2.0 will be even more of what they tell us worked so well for them.  We’ve added more humor, video and graphics to make things clearer and more fun.”

Martha King, the other Co-Chairman of King Schools, added, “Probably the most difficult subject on the Knowledge Test for the Remote Pilot Certificate is airspace.  That’s where our 33 years of experience in teaching with video really pay off.  Learning drone pilots will see a 3-D recreation of airspace so when they see it on a 2-D sectional chart, they will be able to visualize it in the air.”

“We are thrilled to bring techniques that we have developed over the past decades of simplifying and clarifying these concepts,” continued John, “to help drone pilots truly understand and safely participate as partners in our national airspace system.  New users and current owners of our course will also enjoy all new HD-video in the regulations lesson, interactive FAA-style questions and extended content throughout the course.”

Martha King commented, “This new version of our course is a reflection of our policy of continually updating all of our courses.  We expect the drone course will be updated frequently since the drone industry is in such a state of flux and the FAA is scrambling fast to keep up.”  Current course users need not worry about information expiring since King has a policy of automatically updating the courses of all current customers.  This course includes the KING guarantee that if a customer fails their FAA test within one year of purchase, they get their money back AND they keep the course.

The King course gets drone pilots ready to pass the FAA test and gives them the tools they need to both safely integrate into the National Airspace System and stay out of trouble with the FAA.  The course is the result of collaboration between King Schools and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

The King Schools online Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course can be purchased for $129 until  from or by calling (800)-854-1001 or worldwide at +1 (858) 541-2200.

Mastering The Third Dimension

Embracing drone pilots is in the best interest of the entire aviation community

Article appeared in Flying Magazine  November, 2016 Issue by Martha King

It was a whole new world to us.  From the air, John and I saw the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, and what was to become our new home town in California, all on our first cross country after we got our licenses.  We were hooked.  From that time on our lives were different.  Our love affair with flying only became more intense over time.

King Schools has a Drone Training Course that covers all of the Part 107 regulations to help people get their Remote Pilot Certificate

What makes flying so special?  There are so many things.  It provides such spectacular views.  It allows personal travel at great speeds unimpeded by the limitations of roads.  It is deeply rewarding, because it engages you so completely and uses so many aptitudes.  But at the core it is the mastery of the third dimension that changes everything.

Humankind has forever yearned to fly.  Only in the comparatively minuscule time since the Montgolfier brothers took to the air in their hot-air balloons has it been possible.  Since then every landmark achievement in aviation has taken on great importance and been exuberantly celebrated by the world.

Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent, marquis d’Arlandes, … ©

Flying has amplified importance on a personal basis, too.  Every pilot will forever remember their first solo flight and each new rating.  Mention to an acquaintance that you fly, and they’ll recall that every time they see you.

The heightened importance that flying takes on has its obvious good side, but it also has a bad side.  For example, accidents that go unnoticed when they occur in a land vehicle make national news if they occur in an aircraft.

Also, there is generalized fear of anything that inhabits the third dimension.  There is a ban against flying anything in the capital area no matter how small.  When Doug Hughes landed on the west lawn of the Capitol building in his gyrocopter, that could barely carry him and maybe another 50 pounds, it made national news and got him a prison sentence.  In contrast there is no ban on driving to the Capitol in a rental truck with a 10,000-pound payload.

Sometimes I wonder if neighborhood noise complaints aren’t actually a proxy for complaints about fear.  Decades ago when our local airport wanted to extend the main runway by 1,200 feet, thousands of alarmed neighbors showed up at town meetings to complain about the noise from the airport.  When noise monitors were sent to the homes of the most vociferous complainers, they were unable to measure any noise above the ambient noise from a nearby freeway.

Yet, these neighbors were clearly deeply concerned.  Maybe it just seemed more reasonable and acceptable to say the noise bothered them than to say they were afraid an airplane would crash onto their house.

In addition, the third dimension also creates a concern about invasion of privacy.  John and I felt this the other day when a quadcopter hovered nearby while we were in our hot tub.  (Yes, we were wearing swimsuits.)  The drone had a vantage point from which it could also see in our windows.  It did us no harm, but we did feel it infringed on our privacy.

This made us better understand the neighbor at one of the town meetings who complained that word had obviously gotten out to pilots that his daughter liked to sunbathe in the back yard.  He said airplanes were lining up to overfly his house.  I think he would still feel that his privacy was infringed on even if he knew that he lived underneath the downwind leg of the airport’s traffic pattern.

Technology has now enabled a complete new way of exploring the third dimension, albeit vicariously.  The result is the tidal wave of drone flying that is washing over us.  It is destined to take both the good sides and bad sides of our exploitation of the third dimension to a whole new level.  While after over 100 years of flying we have only about 200,000 aircraft on the FAA registry, in about six months there were 500,000 registrations for drones.  And most drone owners we know say they have no plans to register theirs.  The FAA forecasts that 4.8 million drones will be sold in the U.S. in 2017, and 7 million per year by 2020.

In an effort to gain some measure of control, the FAA issued Part 107, setting forth the rules for commercial operation of drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.  What the FAA calls a Remote Pilot certificate is required for anyone who wants to do anything with them that makes money.  To get the certificate, a non-pilot applicant just has to pass a knowledge test.  You can fully expect to see a lot of commercial drone operators soon.

The good news for pilots is that you don’t even have to pass a knowledge test to get a Remote Pilot certificate.  The FAA has a two-hour on-line course that includes a slam-dunk multiple choice exam in which you keep re-taking the questions until you get them right.  Submit your completion certificate to the FAA and you will have “Remote Pilot” added to your pilot certificate.  The bad news for pilots is that any infraction while acting as pilot-in-command of an unmanned aircraft puts your pilot certificate at risk.

This inevitable flood of drones will enable millions of people to exploit the third dimension and likely have profound effects on the aviation community.  Most of the millions of drones will be used by hobbyists.  Many pilots, including John and me, first explored aviation with model airplanes.  Compared with the numbers for modelers, the numbers of drone pilots are exponentially greater.  If even a tiny percentage of drone pilots move on to manned aircraft, the benefit to the aviation community could be huge.

No one wants unwelcome, unannounced guests just “dropping in”.

At the same time drones can exacerbate concerns over fear and invasion of privacy.  John and I witnessed a teenager with a drone flying over a neighbor’s yard.  It didn’t take him more than five minutes to lose control of it and have it go down on the other side of the neighbor’s fence.  Of course, the teenager jumped the fence to retrieve it.  Had the neighbor seen this, he most certainly would have considered it an invasion of privacy.  If drone pilots become thought of as bad actors, the public reaction is likely to be damaging to the aviation community as a whole.

It is in everyone’s best interest for us to embrace these new drone pilots.  We should invite them to the airport, take them flying.  Only by welcoming them to our community can we hope to help them fully understand the combination of joy and responsibilities that can be theirs from experiencing the third dimension directly.  Maybe our aviation associations should do the same thing.  Should these new pilots be members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, and National Business Aviation Association?

Now Hiring – Aviation Course Developer

Job Title: Aviation Course Developer


Job Summary: Our internationally known company provides academic training for pilot qualifications at all levels from new pilots to corporate jet pilots and airline captains. The successful applicant will be responsible for creating and maintaining course content and production scripts on required aviation training topics.  The scripts will be used to create King Schools aviation related instructional videos and other course materials.

Responsibilities and duties:

  • Research applicable Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) source documents
  • Maintaining awareness of aviation developments particularly those involving General Aviation
  • Develop course content to meet FAA training requirements
  • Write studio scripts for video courses
  • Insure accuracy of material presented as a subject matter expert (SME)
  • Review and approve video lessons after studio production
  • Research and respond to customer feedback regarding course content

Qualifications and Skills

  • FAA Certificated Flight Instructor
  • Active involvement in General Aviation
  • Demonstrated writing skills
  • Proficient in MS Office Word and Excel
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to convert regulatory language to easily understandable vocabulary
  • Ability to simplify, clarify and make learning fun


  • A comprehensive set of full-time employee benefits including: paid health insurance, 401(k) plan, and paid vacation and holidays
  • Flying support including hourly cost reimbursement
Send cover letter and resume to

New FREE BasicMed King Schools Course Now Available

Hello Fellow Pilots,

You’ve probably heard the news.  As of May 1, 2017 third-class medical reform, now known as BasicMed, goes into effect.  It is a victory for the aviation organizations like AOPA and EAA that pressed so hard for it, and for all pilots that have found FAA medical certification an intimidating and frustrating process.

There are a lot of nuances to BasicMed and you will most certainly have questions.  That’s why we created our free course – “Pilot Medicals and BasicMed Explained”.  Enjoy it as our gift.

The great news is that BasicMed allows pilots with a valid U.S. driver’s license to fly without holding a current FAA medical certificate, as long as they have once held a medical certificate that was valid after July 14, 2006.  If you are a new pilot, or your medical certificate expired on or before July 14, 2006, you will still need to go through the FAA medical certification process once.

The aircraft you fly under BasicMed can weigh up to 6,000 pounds and have up to 6 seats.  It can be a single or twin, piston or turbine, retractable gear, pressurized—even a helicopter.  Plus, you can fly up to 18,000 feet and 250 knots IAS, VFR or IFR.  This is truly good news.

To qualify, you need to complete a free, online medical education course every 24 calendar months.  In addition, every 48 months you need to get what the FAA calls a comprehensive medical examination, or CME.  The physician you use does not have to be an FAA Aviation Medical Examiner—only a state-licensed doctor.  You just need your doctor to go through an FAA CME checklist and sign it off.  You’ll need to keep a copy of the signed FAA checklist and your medical education course completion certificate in your logbook.

Once again, our new course is free and hopefully helpful to you.  Click here to get started today “Pilot Medicals and BasicMed Explained

                        John                                         Martha

1Step Prep and King Schools Releases new Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 training courses.

Airline Pilots Now Have a New Way to Prepare for their Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 Type Ratings

 1Step Prep creates courses hosted and distributed by King Schools

 March 23, 2017  San Diego CA. – Pilots who are required to go through initial or recurrent training on the Boeing 737 Classic, Boeing 737 Next-Generation or Airbus A320 now have a prep course to get ready.  1Step Prep interactive video courses feature Juan Dominguez and Joseph Munoz conducting comprehensive and detailed training lessons, followed by interactive questions and answers. 1Step Prep has created six courses that are now available on the King Schools iLearn online training system.  The individual courses are available for purchase through the King Schools website, for $139 each, or combined with King Schools Jet Transition and ATP Ground School and Test Prep courses at discounted prices.

Juan Dominguez and Joseph Munoz photo caption – Juan Dominguez (Vice President) and Joseph Munoz (CEO) of 1Step Prep are the instructors for the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 interactive video courses on the King Schools iLearn platform.

Joe Munoz, CEO and co-founder of 1Step Prep comments “As classroom and sim instructors for the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 series airplanes, Juan and I see a real need for pilots to have good material to study before showing up for training. Otherwise, an initial type-rating course can be like drinking from a firehose! Our goal is to make sure that pilots completely understand the airplane systems and pilot procedures, and be able to use that knowledge to make their training a breeze—and most importantly, pass their checkrides.  King Schools’ quality of teaching, longevity and fun approach are a great match for what we want to do with our courses.”

Juan Dominguez, Vice President adds “The relationship with King Schools expands our reach. Working with King Schools and using their iLearn technology also gives additional capabilities.  Their system gives us the ability to provide interactive questions and a great offline study capability through the King Companion App for iPhones and iPads.”

King Schools CEO Barry Knuttila explains, “The exciting partnership with 1Step Prep allows King Schools to serve career-track pilots all the way from Student Pilot into the cockpit of an airliner.  Joe and Juan have the experience and expertise to teach the complex systems and operations of these amazing airplanes in ways that make the material easy to understand and retain.  We have also bundled the 1Step Prep courses with KING Jet Transition and ATP courses in a discounted package that  ensures a new Airline pilot has everything they need when showing up for initial training.”

The online 1Step Prep courses for the Boeing 737 Classic & Next-Generation and the Airbus A320 Oral and Sim Prep Courses are available for $139 each from or by calling (800)-854-1001 or worldwide at +1 (858) 541-2200.

King Schools Releases New Drone Pilot Training Course

Drone Pilots Now Have a Quick and Convenient Way to Prepare for The FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Knowledge Test

Press Release – January 12, 2016 San Diego CA

Drone pilots who want to fly their drones for non-recreational purposes can quickly and conveniently pass their remote pilot test with the new King School’s online Drone Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course.  “That’s all drone pilots need to do to start using their drones to serve the community in any of the so many ways they can be so useful,” says John King of King Schools.

Drone Pilot Training Course, FAA Remote Pilot Test

The new King Schools drone course prepares customers to pass the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Knowledge Test.

The King course not only gets drone pilots ready to pass the FAA test, but it also gives them the tools they need to safely integrate into the National Airspace System, and stay out of trouble with the FAA.  The course is the result of collaboration between King Schools and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

Drone Pilot Course helps poeple pass the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Knowledge Test

Screen grab from the King Schools “Regulations – Overview of Part 107” lesson from the Drone Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course.

Over the last four decades, pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun video courses.  King Schools has helped hundreds of thousands of pilot pass their FAA tests and is the world’s leader in FAA test preparation.  It is estimated as much 50% of the pilots flying in the U.S. today have learned with King courses.

John King of King Schools commented, “We are delighted to be working with AUVSI.  They are by far the most credible and experienced organization serving the drone community.  With 7,500 individual members representing more than 2,200 companies from 60 countries, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is the world’s largest membership organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community.”

The course is the result of collaboration between King Schools and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

King Schools co-founder Martha King added, “AUVSI is the perfect partner to best serve our customers.  Their expertise was extremely beneficial in our putting the course together.  Their knowledge and experience will continue to be an invaluable contribution to us and the entire drone community.

The King School’s online Drone Pilot Ground School and Test Prep Course is $99 and is available from or by calling (800)-854-1001 or worldwide at +1 (858) 541-2200.

Drone pilots seeking to be more engaged in the drone community will want to attend AUVSI’s premier event, XPONENTIAL, which take place in Dallas on May 11 – 18 in 2017.  AUVSI anticipates that XPONENTIAL will have 650 booths and over 7,000 attendees. For more information, visit or call (703) 845-9671.



The Great Debate – John King & Rod Machado on the ACS.

Aviation Expo – Palm Springs International Airport, California October 22, 2016

This past summer,  about the time the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) were implemented, AOPA Pilot Magazine and Flying Magazine collaborated on a extraordinarily unique idea.  Both magazines simultaneously published in their July, 2016 issues the same article – Dogfight – The Great ACS Debate. The story featured John King, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of King Schools and Rod Machado a renowned pilot, CFI, author and speaker.  These two respected aviation educators have very different views on the ACS and presented point-by-point facts that supported their opinions.

Here is the complete unedited version of The Great Debate.

An outgrowth of the article was an event held at the 2016 Aviation Expo in Palm Springs.  John and Rod appeared together on stage with moderator Stephen Pope the Editor-In-Chief of Flying Magazine.  In this video, they debate their sides respectfully, factually, professionally and they had some fun.

John King, left, and Rod Machado at Montgomery Field in San Diego, Calif. on Monday May 16, 2016. Photo by Tracy Bouian + David Ahntholz © Copyright 2016 Tracy Boulian and David Ahntholz,

John King, left, and Rod Machado as featured in AOPA Pilot and Flying Magazine. This was published in the July issues of both magazines. .

John King (l) Rod Machado (r) true professionals.

A fact filled, professional and courteous debate was conducted by John King and Rod Machado during their ACS debate at the Palm Springs 2016 Aviation Expo. Their performances were exemplary of what a debate should be.


When TLAR Beats Perfection

Why Pilots Shouldn’t Always Try To Be Perfect

Article appeared in Flying Magazine September, 2016 by John King 

Getty Images Why were Sullenberger and Skiles able to land an A320 on the Hudson? They knew how to fly by TLAR — "that looks about right."

Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, stands in front of the US Airways flight 1549 fuselage at the Carolinas Aviation Museum Saturday, June 11, 2011. Sullenberger and other crew members met with passengers to recall their memorable water landing in the Hudson River and to celebrate the plane’s arrival at the museum. (Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer/MCT via Getty Images)

“We’re going to be in the Hudson.” It was Captain Sully Sullenberger announcing that they were going to deadstick U.S. Airways 1549 into the Hudson River. It is a story most of us are familiar with. After the loss of both engines in their A320, they first intended to return to La Guardia, and then decided they couldn’t make it. Next they were offered Teterboro Airport and they said, “We can’t do it.”

Ultimately, they pulled off the “Miracle on the Hudson”—ditching with no fatalities and no major injuries. They skillfully missed bridges and steered themselves to be near operating boats so as to maximize the chance of rescue. They didn’t have time to make precise calculations. They didn’t have the guidance of a localizer or glideslope. Their primary resource was the view out the windscreen.

Why were Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles able to do this? They knew how to fly by TLAR—“that looks about right.” They were both flight instructors and Sullenberger was a long-time glider pilot.

In contrast Asiana 214 was unable to successfully complete, with both engines running, a visual approach, when the ILS was out of service, to runway 28 left at San Francisco International. Their Boeing 777 struck the seawall short of the runway. Three passengers died and 187 were injured. The pilots weren’t accustomed to making approaches without an ILS.

TLAR (pronounced T-LAR) is a skill that every pilot should have for several reasons. One is, like the pilots of U.S. Airways 1549 and Asiana 214, sometimes you just won’t have all the resources that you are accustomed to. If you have TLAR skills, you can safely get by without them.

Of course, developing TLAR skills is part of every pilot’s primary training. That’s why we practice engine-out emergencies. But it might be a good idea to take your TLAR development a step further for operations around airports, which is where most accidents happen.

You might pay special attention to what 1,000 feet AGL looks like out the window. You can use the runway length to gauge what a mile on final looks like. The standard three-degree glidepath is 300 feet per nautical mile, so you might focus on what 300 feet AGL looks like when you are on a one-mile final.

Another thing to focus on is what the pitch attitude of the airplane looks like when you are at the proper approach speed and configuration. Likewise, you will want to pay attention to what the power setting on final approach should sound like. Plus, you’ll want to be able to keep the airplane yawed into the relative wind by being aware of side forces instead of having to rely on the slip-skid indicator.

Your TLAR in-the-pattern graduation test would be to fly the airplane completely around the pattern with the altimeter, the airspeed indicator, and maybe more instruments covered. (It would be a really good idea to have an instructor with fully-developed TLAR skills with you.)


“TLAR or That looks about right” is often used in remote non towered locations where the pilots have minimal or no ground support. This airport from this angle looks beautiful and the approach looks just about right.

Having TLAR skills saved the day for Martha one time when she was flying a Cessna 340. When her pitot tube clogged in flight due to dust-turned-to-mud in precipitation, her knowledge of appropriate pitch attitudes and power settings made approaching and landing the twin without the airspeed indicator a non-event.

Another reason for developing TLAR skills is that they allow you to take action quickly without having to first make precise calculations or change your flight plan in your GPS. In all of life, timeliness is often better than perfection. It is especially true in flying. Striving for perfection can sometimes lead to paralysis and inaction, and can distract you from situational awareness.

Sometimes all we have time or resources for is a roughly good job. If you have to make a diversion for weather the first thing to do is make a turn to an approximate heading for your new course. If you know your ground speed in miles per minute, a quick look at a chart can give you a good idea of how long it will take you to reach your new destination. Using quick estimates will keep you from continuing to head towards the bad weather while you are figuring out the details of your new route and entering it in your GPS.

Always having an alternative is one of the most fundamental risk management tools in aviation. But an alternative plan is not really an alternative if the pilot is unwilling or unable to take action to go to the alternate.

Sometimes the need to have everything planned out in detail deters a pilot from taking timely action when they need to. There was a pilot who had spent months planning a trip from the Midwest to the West Coast. He talked to other pilots about exactly what route and altitude he should be flying on each leg. He created a flight log with every leg planned out in magnificent detail.

On the leg crossing the Rockies, he ran into icing conditions, but continued with his planned route even though a simple diversion would have gotten him out of the icing. He and his wife died in the crash.

His friends told investigators they thought he had spent so much time and energy planning the legs in detail that he wasn’t able to adjust mentally and divert when circumstances required it. Although detailed planning is a wonderful thing, having TLAR skills in addition gives a pilot the confidence to quickly create and execute an alternative plan when they need to.

There is a misconception that pilots have to be perfect and precise all the time, and of course, there are times when precision is critical. For instance, when flying an approach procedure in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). But as we have seen, there are times when being willing to be approximate can be less risky than shooting for absolute precision.

Sometimes implied precision can lead a pilot to not have sufficient margins. It used to be that on the knowledge test the FAA would ask for very precise answers requiring interpolation on airplane performance charts. This falsely implied that the pilot could rely on those precise numbers in their own flying. The reality is the numbers were generated in ideal conditions and are unachievable in everyday flying. It’s far better for pilots to pick the more conservative conditions rather than interpolating.

There is a concern that modern aviation technology is luring pilots away from maintaining TLAR skills. The digital precision of GPS is indeed very fetching. But it takes time to program the avionics and a failure leaves a pilot who has no TLAR skills with no alternatives. Maintaining TLAR skills is important. A pilot with no TLAR skills is like a painter who can only paint by the numbers. They may look like a good artist, but without the numbers they are helpless.

Pilots Now Have an Easy Way to Prepare for Their EASA PPL Conversion Exam

October 17, 2016 San Diego, CA 


Kay Vereeken, CEO and Leen Vandendriessche, COO of the EuroPilot Center celebrate the publication of the new course on the KING iLearn platform

Pilots holding an FAA (or any other ICAO State) pilot certificate seeking to convert to an EASA Private Pilot License (PPL), can now study for the three required theoretical tests using web-based training developed by E-gle—a team of experts from the EuroPilot Center.  The course “EASA PPL Conversion Course” is hosted on the King Schools iLearn platform. E-gle is a division of the EuroPilot center, and an EASA Approved Training Organization (ATO). The online course retails for $89.

Pilots with more than 100 flight hours must pass EASA written tests on Human Performance & Limitations, Air Law and Radio Telephony.  The test-prep course material is fully EASA compliant; containing all required learning objectives and over 200 EASA-style test questions with explanations.

“We are excited to address the needs of pilots wanting to fly in Europe with a course from E-gle that excels at preparing pilots for the required exams. And hosting it on the KING iLearn platform makes that learning easily accessible to pilots around the world.” John King, Co-Chairman of King Schools commented. “We look forward to continue working with E-gle to add a full range of EASA pilot test prep courses to our iLearn platform,” he added.

“EuroPilot Center has years of experience training pilots to JAA and EASA standards and has ensured the courses are in accordance with European theoretical knowledge requirements. The SoCal Pilot Center is our USA location,” Kay Vereeken, CEO of the EuroPilot Center commented.  “We have the experience and technical expertise to address the needs of pilots seeking European certification,” concluded Kay.

For more information, visit

Euro Pilot Center
B / ATO 017 EPC Building Antwerp Airport Bus 210 B-2100 Deurne Belgium
TEL: +32 (0)

SoCal Pilot Center
86400 Lightning Street
CA 92274 Thermal (USA)
Phone: (760) 238-0209

About EuroPilot Center
The EuroPilot Center (EPC) is an EASA approved Pilot Center, providing Airplane and Helicopter training, sales and certification of professional Flight Simulators and development of Aviation Training Software.  The EPC has locations in Belgium and Southern California and is a Cessna Pilot Center.  They specialize in Aviation Training, Flight Simulations and Helicopter Training.

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