Author Archives: Pilot One

Seeing Flying with Fresh Eyes

John & Martha’s first airplane was a Cherokee 140.

The Experience Is Everything

Article appeared in Flying Magazine September, 2018 by John King

There was a lot of blood in the water as we flew over the bowhead whale being harvested for the sustenance of the native Iñupiat community of Barrow, Alaska. It was a thought-provoking and broadening experience of the type we found we were having regularly after we began flying our own airplane for transportation.

Personal flying means different things to different people. But for nearly everyone, flying represents a profound expression of freedom. It gives us the ability to leave the earth, take command of the third dimension, and explore our world from above for experiences like we had in Barrow.

John & Martha’s Cessna 340 expanded the range, speed and scope of their experiences.

For Martha and me, using our airplanes as our vehicles for personal transportation has allowed us to extend that freedom even further. With our own airplane we have the ability to travel to the places, and at the times, of our own choosing. Within days after earning our private pilot certificates in our first airplane, a Cherokee 140, we headed from our Indiana home down to Florida and the Bahamas.

On our way back north, the first appearance of snow on the ground in Tennessee prompted us to exercise our new-found freedom by immediately turning left to go explore the California coast. The aerial tour resulted in our discovering a little Southern California seaside town that resonated with us. We have lived in La Jolla, California ever since.

It wasn’t long before we hungered for more speed and more range, and we gained wider horizons with the purchase of our Piper Comanche. In our first year of flying the Comanche we experienced the breath-taking vista north of Acapulco as we crested the mountain range and viewed the sparkling bay and the dramatically beautiful expanse of the sea. Within that same year we also made the mind-opening trip to Barrow, Alaska.

Through the years, except for some international trips, we have always flown our own airplane for transportation, and, whenever money allowed, stepped up to faster and longer-legged aerial steeds.

So when we had to put our current airplane, an old Falcon 10, into scheduled maintenance for 6 weeks for what is known as a C-check, for the very first time in many years we found ourselves using the airlines for our personal transportation. We were totally unprepared for the experience.

First was the issue of time. We discovered that managing our time before and after we got to the airplane would require completely different considerations. We were used to driving up to our airplane, loading luggage, and being airborne and on our way in less than a half an hour. We had to make some real adjustments.

Ready to board at San Diego’s Montgomery Field – MYF.

Ready to board at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field SAN. (Photo credit to KPBS and ALIST, FLICKR)

We felt compelled to leave more time for the ground transportation to the airport. When we are flying our own airplane, if we get caught in traffic and arrive late the airplane never leaves without us. We were pretty sure that wouldn’t be the case on the airlines.

Then, we realized we had to leave lots of extra time once we got to the airport to check in, drop off our luggage, go through TSA, and be ready at the gate at the recommended 30 minutes before takeoff. As we added all this up, we decided we needed to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure time. Plus, after arrival at our destination, we needed to allow more time to retrieve our luggage and get to ground transportation.

The most surprising part of the experience was how stressful all of this was to us. The worries about getting caught in traffic jams on the way to the airport and getting through the terminal in time added stress that we don’t have when we are flying our own airplane.

Plus, when we got to the terminal, we didn’t know how to navigate our way around. We discovered we would frequently have to take an automated train to get to luggage drop-off, then another train to the gate area. This was not intuitive to us. Our confusion was so obvious that it was not uncommon, when we were staring at airport signs, for someone to approach us asking if they could help.

Then, of course, there is TSA. It is just not normally a part of our lives. What an enormous source of stress. Martha had gone to the trouble to get pre-check for us. But it was yet another case where we simply didn’t know the rules. We kept having to re-submit our computer bag for further inspection. Plus, I was frequently pulled aside for a “random” inspection. If it is random, how come it happened to me nearly every time?

Finally, there are the crowds. When we fly in our own airplane it is just us and our invited passengers. We had forgotten about all the crowds involved in airline flying. Airline flying would be great if it weren’t for all the people.  On the other hand there are many things to be said in favor of travel on the airlines.

First, it should be no surprise that you can travel around the country much cheaper on the airlines than in a general aviation airplane. That hasn’t always been the case. Back when we were traveling in our single-engine Comanche, if we had two people in the airplane we could fly coast to coast for the same price as on the airlines. But today, if the only consideration were money, going economy class on the airlines would win hands down.

Next, when it comes to time, in most cases the airlines win. But not always—it depends on how fast your airplane is and whether the airliner is going where you want to go. But when you figure in the extra time you have to allow to compensate for possible traffic delays and then the extra time for getting in and out of the airline terminal, the calculation changes. Plus, there is the benefit in personal flying of traveling according to your own schedule, not that of the airlines.

But what has motivated Martha and me to use general aviation airplanes for our personal transportation is neither money nor time. It has been the experience. Flying once again on the airlines made us see private flying with fresh eyes and reminded us of what we love about it.

While we tolerated the hassle of the terminal and the packed seating on the airlines in order to get to our destinations, we actively enjoy every minute of the experience of flying our own airplane. It makes us eager to make business trips when otherwise we’d look for excuses not to go. When we fly our own airplane, it is not unusual for us to get back from an important business trip, and on the drive home the conversation is all about how fun the flight was rather than about the business.

Even though flying is challenging, every aspect of it from the pre-flight planning to the management of the airplane in flight is deeply rewarding.


Perhaps the most significant and deeply personal touchpoint with the FAA for every pilot is the medical certification process. (Illustration from Flying Magazine July, 2018)


Article appeared in Flying Magazine July, 2018 by Martha King

When John came to in the hospital a number of years ago after a lapse of consciousness, you will appreciate that the very first concern he expressed was for his aviation medical certificate.  Perhaps the most significant and deeply personal touchpoint with the FAA for every pilot is the medical certification process.  To a pilot, the ability to fly is a profoundly important part of their very being.

FAA medical certificates are issued by the Aerospace Medical Certification Division (AMCD) in Oklahoma City.  It is a part of the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI).  John and I recently had the opportunity to tour CAMI and we found everyone to be knowledgeable professionals committed to their mission “…to assure civil aerospace safety…”

Considering the extreme importance to the pilot of their medical certificate, and the virtually unlimited power that the FAA’s aeromedical folks have over the very soul of the pilot, you would think they would bend over backwards to convey a sense of great care to the pilot.

But as truly dedicated as the folks at CAMI are, that sense of care hasn’t been evident to many pilots.  When John had his medical certificate denied, many related their own medical certification experiences to us.  To a person they reported that the FAA’s approach to certification felt heavy-handed and adversarial rather than helpful.  In particular they felt that the letters they received were cold and mean-spirited legal documents lacking in kindness or empathy.

A pilot who has followed the rules and reported a doctor visit revealing some medical imperfection often feels unfairly treated.  Many who have disclosed very intimate and personal information feel the FAA doesn’t appreciate that the pilot voluntarily submitted the very information the FAA is now using against them.  It does not appear to them that the FAA has their interest at heart and is trying to help them.  Indeed, they often feel that the FAA themselves doesn’t play by fair rules.

Rather than helping them get over a hurdle to “yes,” pilots often feel the approach appears to be to throw new hurdles in the path of applicants.  Pilots attempting to obtain special issuances frequently feel trapped in an involuntary game of Whack-A-Mole.  Demands are made for numerous tests that the specialist treating the patient often feels are irrelevant—and sometimes unnecessarily risky.  After the demands have been met and satisfied, new demands are made.

Meanwhile, while this game is being played, it not uncommon for the pilot to be deprived of their medical certificate, and often their livelihood, for many months.  After the certificate has been received, when the next application for renewal is made, it is not unusual for a demand that was previously satisfied to resurface, starting the process all over again.

It is easy to understand how this lack of trust, among other things, caused the hard push in Congress to allow pilots to fly light sport aircraft with what is known as a “driver’s-license medical.”  It also led to third-class medical reform in Congress, which culminated in what is known as BasicMed.

Why haven’t the dedicated people at CAMI retained the support of the aviation community?  As counter-intuitive as it is, the problem begins with their mission “…to assure civil aerospace safety…” What could possibly be wrong with that mission?  Who can complain about the assurance of safety?

Well, to assure absolute safety would mean we ground every pilot.  The reality is that the management of safety is a tradeoff.  There is a balance between protecting the public and helping even medically imperfect pilots retain their privilege to fly.  What we really mean when we talk about safety is that we want to strike the right balance.  This is a very difficult concept because there’s no bright line between ‘too risky’ and ‘safe enough.’  Adding “helping pilots keep flying” to their mission statement would change everything.  Suddenly pilots would become “customers” that they are serving.

Right now these dedicated, well-intentioned people are trapped in a dysfunctional culture that has caused the loss of trust of the aviation community and even the disapproval of Congress.  It cries out for leadership to change that culture into one that conveys their respect for pilots and the desire to serve them as customers.

Of course it would be dramatic change for the FAA to consider pilots as “customers” rather than as people they regulate.  However, the California DMV has done it.  It used to be a classic example of a dysfunctional government agency that everyone loved to hate.  Now, after an amazing cultural reform, they do a wonderful job of conveying their respect for you and their desire to help you.

The Flight Standards Division of the FAA is another example.  It has established a relationship of trust with the aviation community by pursing core values such as creating a just culture, helping pilots get over hurdles to “yes,” promoting risk-based decision-making, and treating people as individuals.  The trust these principles have engendered has helped to create the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), the Compliance Philosophy, easier installation of non-required safety equipment, and Part 23 reform.  The result is an extraordinary balance of risk management and productivity.

The very good news is that in our conversations with the folks at CAMI, John and I learned they have made the decision to follow the spectacular example of the folks at the California DMV and the FAA’s Flight Standards Service.  They intend to effectively manage the personal touchpoints with new policies and procedures that demonstrate concern for the constituencies they serve, including pilots.

They have already embarked on a program to improve their communications with pilots.  Previously, their letters to pilots were largely directed by the legal department who had no conception of the damage to the relationship with the aviation community the cold, legalistic letters were causing.  Now they are re-crafting their letters to display the kindness and empathy that John and I observed when we met the folks at CAMI.

They have also made the decision to actively seek out other ways to mitigate risk rather than simple denial of a certificate.  For instance, in John’s case the FAA was responsive to his petition to mitigate the small risk of a repeat lapse of consciousness by requiring him to fly with another qualified pilot.  This was not much of an imposition on us since most of our flying is in an airplane that requires two pilots.  John is very appreciative of this solution and is very eager to see other pilots benefit from the policy.

The needed culture changes are very significant, and will be difficult to identify and implement.  However, there is precedent right within the FAA.  Flight Standards has reformed the way they evaluate pilots from a competency standpoint by participating with a working group for over seven years in collaboration with varied constituencies of the aviation community.  The spectacularly beneficial result is the Airman Certification Standards.

At our CAMI meeting they indicated they would be eager to participate in a similar working group to help design and implement medical certification reform.  This is wonderful news that will benefit the entire aviation community.


Free LAANC Course Shows Drone Pilots How to Quickly Get ATC Clearance to Fly in Controlled Airspace

Martha King is the Instructor in this free course that explains how LAANC enables drone pilots to access controlled airspace near airports through near real-time processing of airspace authorizations.

September 17, 2018 San Diego, CA  Drone pilots can take a new free King Schools course titled Using LAANC to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace to learn how to use the FAA Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability.  The online course includes HD video and bullet points followed by interactive questions to test your knowledge.

Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, pronounced “LANCE,” is the result of a partnership effort between the FAA and private industry.  LAANC enables drone pilots to access controlled airspace near airports through near real-time processing of airspace authorizations.  In this course, Co-Chairman of King Schools Martha King explains how operators of drones can get that authorization.

King Schools CEO Barry Knuttila explained, “The FAA has made it possible, but navigating the system is not easy.  In this course you will find simple, clear tips and information that can speed you on your way to getting the most from LAANC.  We have also added this LAANC information to updated versions of our Drone Pilot License initial test prep course.”

The Using LAANC to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace course covers topics including:

  • UAS Facility Maps
  • Approved LAANC UAS Service Suppliers (USS)
  • B4UFLY FAA Mobile App
  • FAA’s DroneZone
  • Airspace Authorization and Waivers

The LAANC course is available for FREE at




In the U.S. , the ATC system (for example at Wichita, KS) smoothly accommodates numerous airliners, business jets, helicopters, and training planes simultaneously.

Article appeared in Flying Magazine May, 2018 by John King

The eight of us had flown into Borrego Springs for lunch.  As Martha and I helped the folks from Australia back into the airplane and gave them our pre-flight briefing for the return trip, I explained, “We are about to challenge the air traffic control system a bit.  We will pop up in this small jet and accelerate to 350 knots indicated airspeed.  We will then request an ILS clearance for landing at Montgomery Field in San Diego, and see how ATC handles it.”

Each seat in the airplane was equipped with headsets and everyone would be able to hear what we said to the controllers, and the controllers said to us.

It was an extraordinary group of passengers.  There was the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (the Australian equivalent of the policy and rule-making part of the FAA), the Chairman of Airservices Australia (their air traffic control organization), and the heads of various departments of the ATC organization.

Martha was pilot-flying, and I was pilot-monitoring, so I was handling the radio.  “SOCAL, Falcon November One Zero Foxtrot, one-one miles southeast of Julian VORTAC, one two thousand five hundred.  We have Montgomery information Alpha.  Request the ILS approach to Montgomery Field.”

“Roger One Zero Foxtrot, turn right heading two-five-zero.  Intercept the localizer and track it inbound.  Descend and maintain four-thousand.”  The controller was completely calm and unperturbed.

As measured by our GPS, in eleven minutes from lift-off at Borrego Springs we had flown the 55-mile trip and were on the ground at San Diego’s Montgomery Field.  The Australians were awestruck.

The amazing part was not the speed of the airplane.  It was the unbelievable willingness and ability of the controller to accommodate us without hesitation and completely without advance notice.  That simply is not done in Australia (and for that matter, in the rest of the world).  It was what the contingent was here to see, and they certainly got what they came for.

Martha and I have flown throughout Australia in general aviation airplanes and have seen many examples of this contrast.  It is not uncommon for the presence of a single airliner to cause a general aviation airplane to be held outside a control tower’s airspace (today called Class D airspace), or for a hovering helicopter to be required to land.  By contrast, in the U.S. the ATC system (for example at Wichita, KS) smoothly accommodates numerous airliners, business jets, helicopters, and training planes simultaneously.

Pushing Tin is a 1999 comedy-drama film directed by Mike Newell. The film is loosely based around the real world New York TRACON radar facility.

In spite of operating the world’s largest and busiest air traffic control organization, the FAA’s ATC system is legendary for its willingness and ability to flexibly accommodate traffic of all varieties and speeds.  As dramatized by the movie “Pushing Tin,” it is built into the DNA.  Controllers take pride in their in their ability to move airplanes efficiently.  It is all about providing access.

Martha and I see this flexibility all the time.  We often depart San Diego from Montgomery Field, which has a mix of traffic ranging from Cubs to jets.  Yet the ATC system there efficiently takes care of all comers.  Frequently we get our departure release before we get to the runway, and never have to set the brakes of our old Falcon 10 before takeoff.  Then at Wichita, KS, our frequent fuel stop on our trips to the East Coast, the same thing happens again.

The airlines often complain about delays, but our experience indicates when there are delays, they are most often caused by too many aircraft being scheduled to take off or land on the same pavement at the same time, rather than by the capacity of the ATC system.  General aviation aircraft don’t add to the delays because we mostly use different airports and runways.

Sometimes ATC is effortlessly the star of the show when even the fixed base operators at their airport can’t keep up.  We were at an event the other day that ended with dozens of jets all wanting to leave at about the same time.  Aircraft had to wait as much as two hours for the FBO to move the aircraft to where they could be fueled and start engines.  But there was absolutely no delay from ATC.  We taxied out to the runway and were cleared for takeoff as soon as we were ready.

And to help make things run smoothly with general aviation pilots, the U.S. ATC system partners with them.  When services are provided on a workload permitting basis, such as flight following for VFR aircraft, controllers will still go out of their way to provide service, even when they appear busy.  Plus, ATC proactively engages with the community.  A recent flying club meeting in San Diego had representatives from multiple local control towers, SOCAL TRACON, and Los Angeles Center.  All had shown up to explain to pilots how they could get even better service.

The partnership includes an incredible kindness and courtesy towards general aviation pilots.  When general aviation pilots are less than perfect in their communications, controllers work with them patiently.  On a recent flight we heard a pilot being asked to describe his route.  When spelling the name of one of the waypoints, he used “Motel” as the phonetic code word for the letter “M” instead of “Mike.”  As a result the controller heard it as “Hotel” and thought the letter was “H.”

An extended period of confusion resulted because the controller couldn’t find the misspelled waypoint.  When the controller realized what had happened, he simply corrected the waypoint name, and didn’t say a word to the pilot about using an incorrect phonetic code word.

We have something great going for us with ATC in the United States.  They are general aviation’s best friend—indeed, they are often GA pilots themselves—but we have tended to take them for granted.  You might say they are our “unsung heroes.”  Among other things, ATC services are the key to the unique connection that lets general aviation tie rural communities to the rest of our economy.  Architects, lawyers, developers, ranchers, and small businesspeople of all kinds use airplanes to make operating in smaller communities economically viable.  General aviation helps them connect their businesses to larger communities, and make their goods and services broadly available.

To protect this special relationship that U.S. general aviation enjoys with ATC, we need to preserve the oversight that Congress provides in ensuring that a profit motive doesn’t change the special service culture of ATC.  ATC absolutely ain’t broke.  Let’s not let people, who don’t have a clue how well it works, try to fix it.

Online Drone Pilot Recurrent Test Prep Course From King Schools Makes Renewing Remote Pilot Certificates Quick And Easy

John & Martha offer a quick and easy way to prepare for Remote Pilot certificate renewal with the online Drone Pilot Recurrent Test Prep Course from King Schools.

September 10, 2018 San Diego, CA.  Drone pilots now have a quick and easy way to prepare for their Remote Pilot certificate renewal with the online Drone Pilot Recurrent Test Prep Course from King Schools.

Martha King, Co-Chairman of King Schools, said, “The FAA Remote Pilot Recurrent Knowledge Test eliminates questions on many areas that applicants were required to know for their initial certification.  This shorter course makes preparation for the recurrent test quick and easy by focusing tightly on the topics required for recertification.  It also gives drone pilots the tools they need to learn about changes in FAA regulations, procedures, and airspace, and stay out of trouble with the FAA.”

John King, the other Co-Chairman of King Schools, added, “Since it was released in January of 2017, over four thousand drone operators have passed their initial Remote Pilot Knowledge Test using our Drone Pilot License Test Prep course.  We have more than 400 reviews for this course and almost all of them have a 5-star rating.  Our customers enjoy the HD-video in the regulations lesson, the interactive FAA-style questions, and the extended content throughout the course.  Our re-certification course continues that same style.”

The King Schools online Drone Pilot Recurrent Test Prep Course is currently available and can be purchased for $59 from or by calling (800)-854-1001 or worldwide at +1 (858) 541-2200.  Purchasers will have lifetime access to their course.


Flight training industry leader Martha King named to CAP Board of Governors

August 24, 2018,  ANAHEIM, Calif. – Martha King, co-chair and co-owner of a major E-learning-focused aviation school, has been appointed to Civil Air Patrol’s Board of Governors.

King succeeds retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Teresa Marné Peterson, whose second three-year on the Board of Governors expires in November.

“The Civil Air Patrol has a long and storied history, and represents the biggest and most committed group of volunteers in aviation,” King said. “It’s an honor to be associated with this wonderful group of contributors.”

San Diego-based King Schools Inc., which King founded in 1975 with her husband, John King, develops and provides online courses for individuals interested in achieving all levels of pilot certification.

The Kings, both certificated flight instructors, launched King Schools as a traveling ground school that conducted two-day courses in various cities. About 10 years later they created training videos for other flight instructors’ use in presenting their courses. They subsequently moved to online training.

King and her husband were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in 2006.

In 2003, she was honored by the First Flight Centennial Commission as one of the 100 Distinguished Aviation Heroes in the first century of flight and was also named as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Aviation” by Women in Aviation International. Two years later, she received the National Aeronautic Association’s “Cliff Henderson Award for Achievement,” annually presented to “a living individual or group whose vision, leadership or skill has made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation or space activity.”

In recent years the Kings were jointly:

  • Named “Aviation Educators of the Year” by Professional Pilot Magazine in 2006
  • Honored with the Vision Award from Business & Commercial Aviation and inducted into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in 2008
  • Recognized with the American Spirit Award by the National Business Aviation Association in 2009
  • Awarded the Frank G. Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education by the National Aeronautic Association in 2012
  • Presented the Pinnacle Award by the Flight School Association of North America in 2015.

“Martha King has an excellent reputation as an industry leader in innovative approaches to pilot training, and we’re all delighted to welcome her to CAP’s Board of Governors. The vision and experience she brings to our governing body are especially valuable as we increase our emphasis on flight training for our youth in response to the nation’s ongoing pilot shortage,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Smith, CAP national commander.

As Civil Air Patrol’s top governing body, the 11-member Board of Governors consists of four Air Force appointees, three members appointed jointly by the Secretary of the Air Force and CAP’s national commander, and four members-at-large — including Peterson and King — selected by CAP’s Senior Advisory Group to represent industry, government and education.

The Board of Governors moves CAP forward through collective decision-making to generate strategic policies, plans and programs designed to guide it both today and tomorrow. It is assisted by CAP’s national commander and CEO, the organization’s chief operating officer and the CAP-U.S. Air Force commander, who act as advisers.

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 60,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit or for more information.

 CAP contact info:
Julie DeBardelaben – – 334-953-7748, ext. 250
Steve Cox – – 334-953-7748, ext. 251


King Schools & Textron Aviation Celebrate 20 years of Helping People Achieve Their Dream of Flying

For Immediate Release

King Schools and Cessna/Textron celebrate 20 years of the Cessna Flight Training System partnership at AirVenture 2018. (L-R Barry Knuttila CEO King Schools, Allison Varriano, Cessna/Textron Manager of Training & Fleet Sales, Martha & John King, Co-Owners and Founders of King Schools.)

July 26, 2018 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI.  Twenty years ago King Schools and Cessna Aircraft Company created the first fully integrated, computer-based flight training system by combining flight lesson tracking at the flight school with home-study courses for their customers. The original courses were designed to help people attain their FAA Private Pilot Certificate and Instrument Rating.  The evolution of the Cessna Flight Training System started with CDs, moved to DVDs and today all courses and the Course Tracking Application (CTA) used by flight schools to track customer progress are 100% online.

The current roster of courses includes Private Pilot, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine, Commercial and CFI.  Chris Crow, Textron Aviation Vice President of Piston Sales said “Textron Aviation, and before that Cessna Aircraft Company, and King Schools have worked tirelessly for 20 years to produce training programs that are constantly improving based on innovation and customer feedback.  Our primary goal has been to help people achieve their dream of becoming a pilot.”

Martha King, Co-Owner and Founder of King Schools said “Since we started this partnership, we have sold close to 200,000 Cessna Flight Training System courses. As a small business, this relationship has been a key driver of success at King Schools.” John King, Co-Owner and Founder states “Cessna, and now Textron Aviation, has been wonderful to work with. Together we have been able to make a positive impact on many people’s lives. We are thrilled that so many people have put their faith in our teaching.  When someone is learning to fly, it is often the most important thing they are doing in their lives at that time. Every single customer has trusted us to teach them and we have had a lot of fun along the way.”

For information regarding King Schools:


New Aviation Mechanics Courses Help Careers Takeoff!

For Immediate Release

Screen capture from the new King Schools new, online A&P Mechanics Course series.

July 26, 2018 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI. Aspiring aviation mechanics have a new way to prepare for their FAA Oral, Practical, & Written TestsKing Schools has released online versions of their popular General, Airframe, and Powerplant Knowledge & Test Prep Video Courses.  The online A&P Mechanics courses include updated video lessons and an integrated Test Prep section featuring an extensive database of FAA-style questions, online flashcards and timed practice exams.  The new courses are also compatible with the KING Companion App for iPad or iPhone.  The App allows you to download your lessons (videos and quizzes), and take them when offline. When back online, your course progress is automatically synchronized with King’s servers and available from any other device.

Barry Knuttila, CEO of King Schools explained “These courses are ideal for busy aviation mechanics who are preparing for their A&P exams.  They are accessible from any computer or device and allow the completion of a new lesson in just 15 minutes.  With lifetime access and free updates, the courses will continue to provide a great refresher for mechanics long after passing their exams. Pilots will also enjoy taking these courses to learn more about the airplanes they fly and to become more knowledgeable partners with their aircraft mechanics.”

John King, Co Chairman and Founder of King Schools said “There is great news for anyone passionate about aviation who would like to make a living doing what they love. Salaries, benefits and opportunities for mechanics, pilots, flight instructors, flight crew—jobs in just about every area of aviation—are rapidly improving. Short and long-term trends point toward aviation offering a fulfilling and financially rewarding career that will enable new hires to prosper throughout their working life.”

Martha King, Co Chairman and Founder of King Schools added, “Aspiring mechanics have an especially bright future.  King Schools recently completed an in-house study considering aviation mechanics and their future job prospects. Some highlights include a 9% supply and demand gap of new mechanics by 2027, as global airlines grow their fleets by 40%. Boeing predicts 101,000 new mechanics are needed between now and 2034. Airlines and local shops are offering better benefits, programs and salaries to attract aircraft mechanics to fill both new spots, and those vacated by retiring baby boomers. There is now, and will continue to be for many years to come, an aircraft mechanic shortage.”

The three new King Schools Online A&P Mechanics courses are:

They sell for $199 each and include lifetime updates. The Online A&P Mechanics Bundle includes all three courses for $495 and includes the new King Schools Online Aviation Library ($79 value).


NAFI Members Are Eligible for a Scholarship Valued at $18,000 from King Schools and NAFI

For Immediate Release

Pete Muntean, the 2018 NAFI/King Schools Scholarship Winner, is actively teaching with GT Aviation at Potomac Airfield in Maryland and covers transportation as television news reporter for wUSA9 in Washington, DC (Left to right – John King, Pete Muntean, Martha King, Bob Meder)

July 26, 2018 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI – A well deserving NAFI Member CFI or aspiring CFI will be awarded a scholarship valued at $18,000. 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 2019 scholarship application period is now open, and the winner will be announced at Sun ‘n Fun in April 2019. The 2018 winner, Peter Muntean of Washington DC commented, “Accepting this scholarship was an honor. But it was not about me as an individual. Strong flight instructors light the way for aviation’s future. ”

This is the 3rd consecutive year that King and NAFI have partnered to award the scholarship. King Schools Co-Founders John & Martha King, in a statement said, “NAFI and King Schools understand that flight instructors are the key to creating pilots that are truly ready to be pilot in command. Our organizations are passionate about preparing CFIs for that awesome responsibility and this scholarship will help the winner advance both their CFI ratings and knowledge.”

NAFI Chairman Robert Meder added, “Working with the King Schools team, we have found profoundly qualified and competent winners that are making strong contributions to aviation. For example, our winner in 2017, Terry Carbonell, our 2017 winner, does extraordinary work with children in Florida. 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 are our past winners.”

The 2019 scholarship application deadline is January 3, 2019. The scholarship will be awarded at the Sun ‘N Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, FL, April, 2019.

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

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.




Article appeared in Flying Magazine March, 2018 by Martha King

There was nobody to marshal us in as we wheeled into the parking spot.  After we shut the old Navajo down and started looking around to see where to go after we got out, a man ran up to the pilot side of the aircraft.  I opened the little side window and expectantly bent an ear, only to hear him say, “You can’t park here”. “Where can we park?” I asked.  “I don’t know, but you can’t park here!”

A common site at just about any FBO in the United States. In Australia, things are quite different when you arrive at an airport.

It was not unusual for this trip.  On our month-long tour of Australian airports, we were discovering that most Australian airports don’t have FBOs the way nearly every airport in the United States does.  FBOs are the wonderful legacy of the roving barnstormers who settled down for a more stable life and became “Fixed Base Operators.”

Without businesses focused on taking care of the needs of general aviation, GA pilots are on their own and airport operations are focused on what is known in Australia as “Regular Public Transport” or airline operations.  This leaves GA pilots without access to terminal buildings or restroom facilities and all the other amenities that come with an FBO.  We were forced to find our own parking, often in the grass, snag a roaming fuel truck when it wasn’t serving an airliner, figure out how to get our luggage out the gate, and procure our own ground transportation.

We were in Australia to share the details of the U.S. system with Australian pilots.  When we described arriving at airports with competing FBOs offering free steaks and wine, and an attractive young woman from each waving flags to lure us in, Australian pilots were in disbelief.  One on the front row exclaimed to another, “B.S., that just can’t be true.”

Although the days of free steaks and wine and fetching greeters waving flags seem to be over, back in the U.S. we still have it good.  Many FBOs in Middle America still represent the ideal of mom-and-pop operations providing their parking, fuel and connection to the local community with down-home warmth and hospitality.  This is certainly true of Heartland Aviation’s Jeff and Gaylene Jensen, who extended a warm welcome and put on a wonderful eclipse party for fly-in attendees at Alliance, Nebraska’s municipal airport last August (see the article here).  I routinely say to FBOs, “Thanks for being here, and taking such good care of us.”  I usually get a confused “Huh?” for an answer.  I explain to them that I have seen flying without FBOs and it is not as practical, or nearly as much fun.

Heartland Aviation’s Jeff and Gaylene Jensen mind the store at Alliance, Nebraska’s municipal airport .

Due to the increasing range of business jets, we have reason to be concerned about the preservation of the delightful Middle America FBOs and the airport and community access they provide.  As we saw in Australia, airports without an FBO become far less accommodating to GA.  It is a serious concern for general aviation.

Surprisingly, we have business jets to thank for our wonderful network of FBOs in the U.S.  Many FBOs simply could not survive on the business generated by piston airplanes alone.  Back when John and I were flying our Cessna 340 around the Midwest teaching live, 2-day weekend ground schools, I remember sitting in airport cafes (also an endangered species) and watching Learjet after Learjet pull in for a quick turn on their way from coast to coast.  The joke was that the early Lears gulped fuel at such a rate that they had a low-fuel emergency right after takeoff.  When business jets became longer-ranged, and more of them could reach their cross-country destinations without a fuel stop en route, Middle America truly became “fly-over country.”  The FBO businesses there became more precarious, and as a result the number of our mom-and-pop FBOs in Middle America is declining.

Much of the jet fuel sales that would have been made by mid-country FBOs has been shifted to prime destination airports.  These airports are having such a heyday that piston general aviation airplanes are seen as annoyances.  While fuel prices in mid-country can be less than $3.00 per gallon, some FBOs at these prime destination airports charge over $8.00 a gallon.  Often in addition they assess ramp fees and overnight parking fees in the hundreds of dollars.

The root problem is that most of these airports don’t provide any aircraft parking except at FBOs.  Consequently, all transient airplanes are required to use an FBO and buy a minimum amount of fuel or pay a minimum ramp fee.  Due to the high prices, this has made many of these airports and their runways, taxiways, and ramps, that the public invested in, virtually inaccessible to most general aviation pilots.

This loss of airport access is a serious concern for the future of general aviation.  A simple and elegant solution for airports without an affordable FBO, or without any FBO at all, may be to make available transient parking that doesn’t require the use of an FBO.  This should be required at every airport where the government has provided funding.  With mobile phones, and the ready access to off-airport transportation that ride-share apps like Uber and Lyft now provide, using transient parking without the services of an FBO has become much more practical.

There are some airports that already have such parking arrangements, including Lunken Field in Cincinnati, which John and I used recently.  But they are few and far between.  And the problem is, due to concerns for airport security, you have to call to get through the gate and back to your airplane.  This limits the hours when you can return to your plane, and the spontaneity that is such a valuable attribute of general aviation.

Advances in technology may help out here.  A pilot leaving the transient parking area for the street could now pose for a camera on the way out.  Upon re-entry a similar camera could capture the image of the pilot.  Then bio-metric facial recognition could confirm that the person returning to the airplane is the pilot who flew it in.  If a pilot can fly an airplane in to an airport without being vetted by security, the same pilot flying it out shouldn’t have to be vetted by security either.  Such a sensible, low-risk approach to airport security would be beneficial at every airport.

There will be pilots who even at prime destination airports would prefer to pay the prices the FBOs charge in order to receive their services. But they shouldn’t be forced to do so in order to gain access to the airport, any more than drivers should be required by the government to use a particular gas station as a condition of using the road.

It would be great for those of us how have been priced out of prime destination airports to regain access to these airports that government funding has helped pay for.  Plus, if pilots aren’t forced to use the FBOs at prime destination airports, they could buy their still-needed fuel at a less-fortuitously-located FBO that desperately needs their business to stay alive.  One way or another the future of general aviation as we know it depends on keeping these FBOs viable.