Author Archives: Pilot One

Observing a Lot by Just Watching


Article appeared in Flying Magazine May, 2017 by John King

Flying is always deeply satisfying, but for the last three decades or so what has made it especially so for Martha and me has been flying together as a two-pilot crew in an aircraft that requires two pilots.  To us, it is a graceful dance—a special way for us to enjoy intense and intimate teamwork while sharing our deep love of flying.

Pictured here are King Schools CEO Barry Knuttila the right seat, Martha is PIC and John is in a seat he is not accustomed to. on the Falcon 10.

Flying together hasn’t always gone so smoothly for us.  For ten years Martha and I flew our Cessna 340 on a circuit to 50 cities a year teaching our ground school courses.  The Cessna 340 was, of course, a single-pilot airplane.

Since we were both flight instructors, it was all too easy for the pilot-not-flying to slip unsolicited into flight-instructor mode.  Since the pilot-flying hadn’t requested any flight instruction, it was very easy for them to resent the instruction and resist.  Meanwhile, the one in instructor mode would be annoyed and frustrated that their instruction was being ignored.

Often by the time we got home, we’d put the airplane away in stony silence and drive home with steam coming out of our ears.  We weren’t having a good time flying together and sometimes it could be flat out dangerous.

It takes a lot of patience, practice and respect to be able to fly and thrive as couple. Here is John & Martha near the start of their journey.

It’s no wonder.  We had never been trained to operate as a crew and we simply didn’t know what we were doing.  Like most of us, we never got that training until we learned to fly as crew in an airplane that required two pilots.  After we learned to fly as a two-pilot crew it became the most rewarding flying we had ever done.

One of the most important things we learned as a two-pilot crew is to treat each other with great, almost extreme, civility and respect.  The one of us designated as second in command addresses the pilot-in-command as “Captain.”

Another thing we learned from our training in two-pilot operations was that the captain needs not only to accept input from the other pilot, but to solicit it.  After all, the most important role the second pilot plays is to catch mistakes in procedures or strategic risk management.  To fulfill this role, they must able to challenge the captain.

Martha and I have to be very careful to ensure these challenges don’t represent a threat to the captain’s authority, or descend into a husband-wife argument.  We know from experience that it is not comforting to our passengers to see John and Martha arguing with each other in the cockpit.

We were taught to make a challenge in reference to standard operating procedures (SOPs).  SOPs are pre-thought-out ways to do things to provide the safest, most efficient results.  We learned that the pilot-not-flying needs to offer information, not an opinion.  Plus, that information has to be delivered in an agreed-upon, standardized format.

For instance, when I am the co-pilot I am not allowed to say, “You’re too low!”  This, by the way, as I know from personal experience, is guaranteed to start a fight over how low is too low.  What I can say is, “Altitude 3,400 feet, and descending.”  That’s information, not opinion, and it’s helpful to Martha because it’s precise.

Or when I am flying, Martha can (and frequently does) say, “Bank angle 40 degrees and increasing.”  Again, this is precise information that is useful to me, not just an opinion.

Now another part of this deal is that the captain has to respond properly to challenges.  Since our standard operating procedures say our maximum allowed bank angle is 30 degrees, I can’t just say to her, “That’s OK, I know what I’m doing.”  Nor can I just say “OK” and keep on doing what I was doing.  The only thing I am allowed to do (and this is tough for me) is say one word, “correcting.”  And then I have to take action to correct the situation.

The word “correcting” acknowledges the non-standard operation and represents a commitment to return to standards.  If I say “correcting” and fail to make the correction, Martha is not only authorized, but required, to say, “No correction noted.”  If I still fail to make a correction, she is to assume I have gone brain-dead and say, “I have the controls.”  I can assure you that Martha is quite willing to do this.

As you can see, for us, getting along in the cockpit means that while the authority of the captain is clear, so is the responsibility.  The captain is required to fly by standardized procedures, and to accept and respond to challenges when the procedures are not standard.  At the same time, the non-flying pilot must provide information in an acceptable format.

Our shared piloting in our old Falcon came to an abrupt halt for Martha and me recently when the FAA denied me my medical certificate.  I can fly with her in an aircraft that does not require two pilots, and I can even handle the controls.  But until my appeal is a finally resolved, I can’t be a required pilot.  As a result, Martha has had to recruit and train other co-pilots.

Watching Martha in action with them has been a great learning experience in multiple ways.  One of the most important things I have learned is how to be a knowledgeable passenger without interfering with the crew.  I’ll have to admit this has been difficult for me.  I have for more than a decade been a crewmember in that very aircraft.  But while Martha is only a little bit better pilot than I am, as the captain she is entitled to full respect from me.

Now that my role is to keep my mouth shut and observe, I have become aware that Martha not only has learned to practice good crew resource management, she has learned a lot more.  She has had to recruit and train four other copilots who had to learn our standard operating procedures.  Three of her new co-pilots had military turbine experience.  One came up the piston general aviation route.

She has learned to work with them as crewmembers with thoughtfulness, kindness and patience.  She gives them the help they need with specific avionics.  She gives the different pilots room to do the cockpit checks differently as long as the key things are covered.  She isn’t picky about read-backs as long as they are complete.  And she solicits help with situational awareness and error trapping.  She gets a great performance from each of them and sees to it that they are having fun.

Meanwhile, I have petitioned for a hearing by an NTSB Administrative Law Judge regarding my appeal.  I am eagerly awaiting a response.  In spite of the fact that I am observing a lot by just watching, I am eager to get back in a pilot seat next to Martha.  After all, it never has been one of my fantasies to watch Martha with other men—even if only as flight crew.

Late news:  After I submitted this article, I received my medical certificate from the FAA with a restriction of “valid with another qualified crewmember.”

Now Hiring – King Schools Marketing Coordinator

King Schools Marketing Coordinator, Now Hiring

King Schools has a position available for a Marketing Coordinator in San Diego, California. The ideal candidate will be an active pilot and will have an avid interest in the aviation industry. The candidate should have at least one year of experience working in a marketing department or on marketing projects. The marketing team consists of five people who like to have fun, so strong interpersonal skills, and a good sense of humor are helpful.

The position of Marketing Coordinator will report to the Vice President of Marketing. The Marketing Coordinator will be working with a Graphic Designer, Marketing Manager, Software Developer and will have projects assigned that engage with all King Schools departments.

Marketing Coordinator Responsibilities include but will not be limited to:

  • Content creation for social media accounts that include Facebook, Twitter, Google+ the King Schools Blog, YouTube, LinkedIn and others
  • Content creation for traditional media including magazines, newsletters, catalogs, audio and video outlets
  • Marketing to aspiring pilots, student pilots, flight instructors, commercial pilots, private pilots, sport pilots and drone operators
  • Video creation, light editing, posting and tracking.
  • Analytics and testing of A/B versions of web pages, emails and other marketing initiatives
  • Public Relations – Identifying aviation focused news outlets and authors in print, websites, blogs, video, newsletters, podcasts and any other media or medium where King Schools can efficiently and effectively reach potential customers
  • Advertising – Identifying aviation focused advertising opportunities in print, websites, blogs, video, newsletters, podcasts and any other media or medium where King Schools can efficiently and effectively reach potential customers.
  • Product Management and data entry – Creating product codes and managing products and coordinating product production from inception to release
  • Print Catalog Support – Assisting throughout the catalog production timeline
  • Design and implementation of emails that include solicitations, news and other information
  • Other tasks as assigned

The Marketing Coordinator should have experience with:

  • Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook
  • Email programs – Blue Hornet, Mail Chimp or similar
  • Adobe – Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. King Schools operates in a Windows environment and uses these programs
  • Experience with analytics, posting and advertising for Google, Bing, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and WordPress blog/website
  • Marketing and advertising creation in digital, print, catalog, email, audio and video platforms
  • Press releases; editing and proof reading
  • Highly organized with exceptional attention to detail and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously while meeting deadlines
  • Content creation on digital and traditional platforms
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • BA/BS, preferably in a marketing, communications, aviation, education or business related field


  • 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

Salary: Commensurate with experience.  Relocation will not be provided for this position.

Please apply by email with the subject line “Marketing Coordinator Application”  to John Dowd,

Safety Cause du Jour

Does our government’s response to safety issues sometimes cause more fatalities?

Article appeared in Flying Magazine March, 2017 by Martha King

It is the classic way to screw up an approach in a heavy, fast airplane.  As they approached the outer marker at Buffalo at a higher than normal speed, Captain Marvin Renslow, 47, and First Officer Rebecca Lynne Shaw, 24 had allowed themselves to be distracted by an extended conversation about their previous icing experience compared to their current icing conditions.

This left them with little time to level their Q400 turboprop at glideslope interception altitude and slow down.  About three miles from the outer marker, Captain Renslow quickly reduced power to near flight idle and called for flaps 5 and gear down.  In response, First Officer Shaw selected 5 degrees of flaps, put the gear down, and moved the condition levers to maximum rpm.  As the airplane slowed, Captain Renslow called for flaps 15.  When the autopilot leveled the airplane at glideslope interception altitude it began rolling in nose-up pitch trim to hold altitude, and further increased the nose-up trim as the airspeed slowed.

Continental Connection Bombarder Q400 operated by Colgan Air N196WQ at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Rudi Riet – originally posted to Flickr as Continental Connection Bombardier Q400

Two things happened next that are hard for a lot of pilots to understand.

First, as the airplane slowed, it appears the pilots had forgotten they were at near-idle power.  Neither pilot mentioned that the pitch attitude of the airplane had increased from three degrees nose-up to nine degrees nose-up, that the numbers on the airplane’s indicated airspeed display had changed from white to red, or any of the other numerous cues the airplane gave them of their deteriorating airspeed.

It is hard to imagine they had leveled off and dirtied up the airplane, and forgotten something so basic as the fact they were practically at idle power.  But an abrupt slowdown creates a common trap for pilots of heavier, faster airplanes.  The process takes long enough that it is very easy to get out of the loop as the autopilot manages things for you.  You can easily forget that you are in a major transition and fail to bring power back in when you should.  In our thirty years of flying jets together, John and I have each made that same mistake and been rescued by our alert copilot.

The second thing that happened may be even harder to understand.  When the pilots were surprised by the stick shaker and autopilot disconnection, in spite of years of training in proper stall recovery and performing multiple approach-to-stall recoveries in airline training, neither pilot responded appropriately.

The captain, who like every other pilot has for years been trained to pitch down and add full power at the first sign of a wing stall, instead pulled back hard on the yoke—a 37-pound pull—and added only partial power.  Meanwhile the first officer, without the captain’s command, raised the flaps, thereby increasing the stall speed.

The result was the crash of Colgan Air 3407 and 50 fatalities.

What could have been going on in the minds of these pilots that interfered with all the years of training each had received?  We’ll never be able to talk with them, so we will never know for sure.  But during their airline training for winter operations the crew had been repeatedly required to watch a NASA-produced video titled “Tailplane Icing.”  Their flight was in icing conditions at the time, and the video describes tailplane stalls, which, when they occur, are caused by ice accumulation on the horizontal stabilizer.  The tailplane stall recovery procedure taught in the video directed pilots to pull back on the control column, reduce flap setting, and, for some aircraft, use only partial power—exactly what this crew did.

Moreover, in spite of the fact that the Q400 they were flying was not susceptible to ice-contaminated tailplane stall (ICTS), there was nothing in the training program that told the crew these recovery actions did not apply to them.  In view of the fact they were required to watch the video multiple times, they can be forgiven for having thought the recovery actions did apply.

The inclusion of this video in airline training programs was part of a zealous “safety cause du jour” push by the FAA.  The sad thing is that very few aircraft in airline service are actually susceptible to ice-contaminated tailplane stalls.  Requiring pilots flying regional airliners to watch this video when it did not apply to their aircraft presented the opportunity to cause more accidents than it prevented (as it appears to have done in this case).

The FAA seems to be acknowledging that their promotion of the NASA video in airline training programs was inappropriate.  In June 2014 the FAA issued a National Policy Notice requiring that the video not be included in the training for crews of aircraft not susceptible to ice-contaminated tailplane stall.  Plus, the FAA recently replaced the icing video with a new one, giving the lame excuse that “Much has occurred since NASA’s original 1998 ice-contaminated tailplane stall video.”  Then they added, “The information in this training video supersedes, supplants, and replaces the instruction in all previous NASA tail stall icing training videos.”

The Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash may not be an isolated case of unintended consequences from inappropriate governmental zeal.  It may, instead, be part of a pattern.

For openers there is the congressional response to the Colgan Air crash requiring all new airline hires, whether captain or first officer, to have 1,500 hours and an ATP.  This response is especially ironic considering the qualifications of both the Colgan Air pilots.  Captain Renslow had 3,379 hours and an ATP.  And First Officer Shaw had 2,244 hours and an SIC type rating in the Q400.  Rather than an increase in safety, the knee-jerk congressional response might have only resulted in an increase in the cost of flying that forces passengers to the significantly higher fatality rate of the highways.

Another recent case of government overzealousness might be the “discovery” that the majority of aviation fatalities are the result of “loss of control.”  This doesn’t seem like much of a revelation to most of us, when the only ways we can think of to crash “in control” are controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and midair collision.  Recently the FAA has decided that the Colgan Air crash was a “loss of control” type of crash that can be avoided by having pilots be more sensitive to stall warnings.  The new approach is to not require pilots to demonstrate slow flight with the stall warning on—putting us at risk of having a new generation of pilots uncomfortable with flying an aircraft at minimum controllable airspeed.  The result is likely to be fast landings, bounces, gear collapses and runway overruns.

Zeal is a good thing, but when it is combined with governmental power without full consideration of unintended consequences, it can be dangerous.  A slower, more thoughtful response to aviation tragedies could in some cases wind up saving more lives

Flying Jets—What’s the Big Deal?

You Don’t Have to be “Superpilot”

Article appeared in Flying Magazine January, 2017 by John King

“John, AFA.”  My hands were shaking.  I was sweating.  I was clearly intimidated by being in the left seat of this Lear 24.  I had no idea what “AFA” meant.  My questioning look at my instructor prompted his explanation.  “Another friggin’ airplane.”  I suppose that was meant to comfort me.  It didn’t.

It was not my first experience in a jet—we had flown our own Citation in to meet the instructor.  But the very early Citations were famous for being benign.  They had thick, straight wings which gave them great runway performance and wonderful handling characteristics, but made them the butt of a raft of “slow” jokes.  Controllers called them slowtations, crustaceans, frustrations, and mutations.  They had a special bird-strike problem—they got run down from the rear.  Turboprop sellers used to claim that their aircraft flew at “near jet speeds.” The Citation was the “near jet” they were talking about.  These jokes may be the very reason that Cessna eventually built the Citation X, one of the fastest civilian jets ever.

John and Martha in Russia during their trip across Asia when they flew the Falcon 10.

But the Lear was something else.  To begin with it was hard to steer on the runway and my takeoffs consisted of exciting excursions from one side of the runway to the other until we got enough speed for the rudder to be effective.  Once I lifted off, the Lear would climb at a stunning 6,000 feet per minute.  I found the Lear to be hard to control on all axes, but with the yaw damper off, a kick on a rudder pedal would send it into a fit of oscillations which made me wonder if I was ever going to get it back under control.

This wasn’t the only time I was to be intimidated by a jet.  When, after 15 years, Martha and I decided to trade our on Citation 500 in for a Falcon 10, our performance in the simulator made us feel like we had never flown a jet before.  The Falcon is even faster than the Lear, has more highly swept wings, and is more heavily wing-loaded—all of which tend to make an airplane require special attention.  My steering problems in the Lear prompted us to do our first takeoffs and landings in the Falcon on the 200-feet-wide runway at Moses Lake.

The King Schools Falcon 10F on a short-final on Runway 36 at Tullahoma Airport.

Later on, after flying as a two-pilot crew for 30 years, Martha and I each got single-pilot type ratings in both the Citation Mustang and the Eclipse Jet.  I found flying single-pilot in jets to be daunting.  After so many years of flying with a co-pilot, I was very accustomed to issuing commands to make things happen.  During my single-pilot training, I discovered it didn’t work.  I’d keep looking to the right for Martha, only to remember she wasn’t there.

In each case both Martha and I finally tamed the jet that at first intimidated us, but confirmed that learning to fly a new jet requires special effort and attention, even if you have flown other jets before.

The number one thing about jet flying that makes it different from prop airplane flying is just that—jets don’t have propellers.  Propellers provide a lot of benefits in addition to thrust.  In a propeller aircraft, power increases put more air over the wings and tail which immediately increases lift, and reduces stall speed.  It also creates more downforce on the tail and an automatic pitch up.

If you are slow and sinking in a jet, to get more air over the wings you have to accelerate the entire airplane.  And if you are pitched down when you add power, you just go down faster.  To go up, you have to pitch up.

Plus, on jets with high wing-loading and highly swept wings like the Falcon, when they get slow, induced drag increases dramatically—causing them to get even slower and develop a high sink rate.  This is a problem you need to fix right away.  This is not easy because at lower power settings jet engines are much slower to respond than piston engines.  I once got slow in the Falcon and started this scenario.  It’s the kind of thing you only do once.

Another great thing that propellers do for you is help you slow down when you need to.  When you pull the power back, the propeller discs act like great big air brakes.  Jets on the other hand don’t have propellers to help them slow down.  In fact, even at idle the engines are still putting out some thrust.  Plus, jets are very clean aerodynamically.  Most have airbrakes, but pilots often feel that using them is an admission of poor planning.

Once you realize that when you get slow in high-performance jets they tend to get even slower, and when you get fast they are harder to slow down, you understand why people make such a big deal out of speed control in jets.  Speed control is always a good idea.  It’s just that jets are less forgiving about lack of speed control.

Another characteristic of jets is that they require more precise pitch control due to their higher speeds.  Plus you use a wider range of pitch attitudes, especially in highly swept-wing jets.  The pitch attitude in our Falcon for a takeoff with an engine failure is 16 degrees nose up.  But at that pitch attitude, if you don’t lose an engine (which with any luck is all the time), at 16 degrees pitch attitude the airplane will accelerate rapidly and bust through speed limits.  So normally we pitch up to 25 degrees or so.

So what’s the big deal about flying jets?  Are they just “another friggin’ airplane”?  Yes they are, but they are less forgiving and require more attention.  The controls are more sensitive—especially at altitude.  It’s harder to hold speed on final approach.  And the tempo of flight on departure and approach is much increased.

But boy are they fun.  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 engine start, so full of promise, the semi-sweet smell of jet fuel, the exhilaration of hearing jet engines following you wherever you go.  And the power, oh so much power, and all at the command of your hand.  The story goes that Lear pilots used to tape a $100 bill between their seats and tell the back-seat passengers that they could have it if they got there before they reached 10,000 feet.

And you don’t even have to be “Superpilot.”  All it requires is the commitment to do it.  With enough application even Martha and I found we could master it.  In fact, when we got done with our simulator training for the Falcon we figured we must have done pretty well, because the instructor got us aside and said, “John, Martha, I’ve got wonderful news for you.”  “That’s fantastic,” I said, “What’s that?”  “You’ll never have to worry about a midair collision in this airplane.”  “That’s wonderful,” I said, “Why not?”  “Well,” he replied, “You’re so far behind this airplane, you won’t even be involved.”

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.