Author Archives: Pilot One

Cessna Pilot Centers Get a Part 141 Approvable Flight Instructor Course & Technology Upgrades

Press Release July 27, 2017 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI

The CTA Companion App lets flight instructors record customer training offline and update their records with automatic synching.

Pilots learning to fly at Textron Aviation authorized Cessna Pilot Centers are experiencing a new era of flight instruction with the now-paperless Cessna Pilot Center Training System developed by King Schools. “These learning pilots are enjoying the unparalleled accessibility provided by this web-based, study-anywhere program that can be loaded onto their iPads for offline study no matter how remote the location,” says John King, Co-Chairman of King Schools.

Instructors can bring the course tracking application right into the cockpit on their iPads. A new app provides up-to-date student progress, lesson plans and tracking tools. Instructors can update the learning pilot’s records, and even provide an FAA-compliant e-signature on their iPad app without ever having to leave the cockpit. The records are automatically synced with web servers the next time the iPad is connected to the Internet.

The Cessna Pilot Center Training System consists of an entire suite of Part 141 approvable courses from Private all the way through the just-released Certified Flight Instructor course. “With the addition of the new CFI course, CPCs can offer a consistent, high-quality training experience for their customers from zero experience all the way to being able to earn money and build time as a Flight Instructor,” commented Martha King, the other Co-Chairman of King Schools.

The Cessna Pilot Center Training System has evolved over a period of 20 years. In addition to the new iPad apps with offline capability, upgrades to the web applications include the utilization of HTML5, which allows pilots and instructors to use their favorite web browser on any device including PCs, Macs, or mobile devices.

Doug May, vice president of Piston Aircraft at Textron Aviation stated, “Both instructors and pilots will benefit greatly from this enhanced CFI course given its ability to track students electronically for Part 141 compliance.”

AOPA Members Get Discount on King Schools Drone Courses    


Press Release July 27, 2017 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI

AOPA and King Schools have reached a marketing agreement. Pictured here L – R Martha King, Kat Swain, John King review the new branded AOPA area on

Drone pilot courses are now less expensive—if you’re an AOPA member. As of today, AOPA members qualify for an exclusive discount on the King Schools Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course.

King Schools Co-Founder John King commented, “AOPA’s recent creation of a Drone Pilot Membership welcomes people who fly, or desire to fly, drones. Many will be hoping to acquire a Remote Pilot Certificate and this discount will make it easier for them to reach that goal.” Co-Founder Martha King continued, “We want to help those pilots with courses that not only get them past their FAA Part 107 test, but also teach smart and safe operations. Of course, we make sure that they have fun along the way!”

AOPA Senior Director of UAS Programs Kathleen ‘Kat’ Swain said, “We are happy to add another great benefit for our members. I’ve taken quite a few King Schools courses and have always found them to be informative, fun and easy to understand. Adding their Part 107 drone pilot course is another step in expanding options for AOPA members to receive high quality training and test preparation at a nice discount.”

AOPA members can purchase the King Schools Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course for $108 (retail $129) through the members section of the AOPA website.

About AOPA

Since 1939, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has protected the freedom to fly for thousands of pilots, aircraft owners and aviation enthusiasts. AOPA is the world’s largest aviation member association, with representatives based in Frederick, Md., Washington, D.C., Wichita, Kan., and seven regions across the United States. AOPA provides member services that range from advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, flight planning products, safety programs and award-winning media. To learn more, visit

Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) Members Receive Discount on King Drone Test Prep Course  

Press Release July 27, 2017, San Diego & Frederick, MD

King Schools is partnering with ALEA to offer discounts on the Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course. KING is currently developing drone training video courses for law enforcement organizations.

The law enforcement community is rapidly adopting drones and faces the challenge of bringing sworn officers with no aviation background up to speed quickly, according to Daniel Schwarzbach, Executive Director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA). “Passing the Part 107 test and becoming an FAA Certified Remote Pilot is usually the first step, but officers need help to acquire the necessary knowledge quickly, and often in their spare time,” said Schwarzbach.

As a result of a collaboration between ALEA and King Schools, ALEA members have a solution to this need. ALEA Executive Director/CEO Daniel Schwarzbach explained, “The King Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course, with its efficient and fun teaching style, fits the bill and we are thrilled to be able to offer their course to our members at an exclusive discount.”

John King, Co-Founder of King Schools, said “Drone operations are rapidly becoming an indispensable tool for law enforcement organizations. In addition to offering discounts to ALEA members, we are working with law enforcement departments to create additional courses offering specific operational training for officers flying drones.” Co-Founder Martha King added, “ALEA is the perfect partner as we look toward helping law enforcement adopt drones and manage the risks associated with flying them. Their established experience and knowledge in helping law enforcement manage airborne resources is invaluable.”

ALEA members can purchase the King Schools Drone Pilot License Test Prep Course for $109 (retail $129) through the members section of the ALEA website.

The law enforcement community is rapidly adopting drones and faces the challenge of bringing sworn officers with no aviation background up to speed quickly, according to Daniel Schwarzbach, Executive Director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA). “Passing the Part 107 test and becoming an FAA Certified Remote Pilot is usually the first step, but officers need help to acquire the necessary knowledge quickly, and often in their spare time,” said Schwarzbach.

About ALEA

The Airborne Law Enforcement Association was founded in 1968. Through training, networking, advocacy and educational programs ALEA promotes, develops, prepares, disseminates and evaluates information with respect to the safe utilization of aircraft as a public safety tool. ALEA educates members of the organization and the public about airborne law enforcement techniques, equipment, and philosophy in support of public safety missions. To learn more, please visit

Gary Buzel joins King Schools as Vice President of Video Production.

Press Release – July 27, 2017 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI

Gary Buzel, the newly appointed King Schools Vice President of Video Production, pictured here with one of his two Emmy Awards.

After over 30 years of producing video courses teaching pilots, King Schools has added a new resource that will help continue their video legacy. Gary Buzel has joined King Schools’ executive team as Vice President of Video Production. Barry Knuttila, CEO of King Schools, commented, “Gary’s unique and eclectic experience in fields including aviation, broadcasting and law enforcement have prepared him for his role imagining and managing the creation of King Schools aviation training videos.”

Martha King, Co-Founder of King Schools, explained, “Gary has been a TV reporter, jet captain, flight instructor, flight school chief pilot, police officer and commercial drone pilot. Gary is a subject matter expert in just about every area of aviation that King Schools covers. His comfort and experience in front of the camera, behind the camera and in the edit bay make him uniquely qualified for his role in making our aviation video training smart, safe and fun.”

Co-Founder John King added, “Many King Schools videos are shot outdoors, in cockpits, and air-to-air. Being able handle this dynamic video production environment is a necessity for the King Schools video department. Gary, as a television reporter, would often single-handedly create a news segment. He would set up the camera, get in front of it to do a report, bring the footage back to the studio and edit the material for broadcast. That kind of versatility is a tremendous asset for us.”

Gary earned his Private Pilot certificate in his late teens. He became a CFI in the early 2000’s, teaching primary students in C172’s and PA28’s when not on duty in his full-time job as a police officer. Gary said, “It is a bit surreal filming and directing John and Martha King. All throughout my career I have been using King Schools videos for my certificates and ratings. To be on the team that produces their videos is similar to the feeling an athlete must have when they join a team that includes their heroes and role models.”

In 2014, Gary was the first TV journalist in southern California to obtain from the FAA a certificate of authorization (COA) to fly a sUAS/drone for live TV news broadcasts. His TV career netted two Emmy awards, and two San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards. Prior to his career in TV, Gary was a police officer in Connecticut, working in law enforcement for over 11 years.

Gary has also captained Citation jets under Part 135, flying for a charter company and air ambulance service. Gary has nearly 3400 hours total time, and holds an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate with airplane single/multi-engine land and single engine seaplane ratings, and CFI, CFII, and MEI.  “In addition to being close to a renaissance man for King Schools, Gary is a lot of fun. We are confident he will strongly support our core value of keeping our courses fun,” said John King.

CFIs Can Vie for a Scholarship Valued at $18,000 from NAFI and King Schools

Press Release – July 27, 2017 AirVenture – Oshkosh, WI

Terry Carbonell, the 2016 winner of the NAFI King Schools Scholarship has recently started using her scholarship for a multi-engine instructor rating.

A fortunate CFI will be awarded the second NAFI/King Schools Scholarship for Certificated Flight Instructors. The scholarship, which is to help flight instructors further their education and training, is valued at $18,000, including access to the entire King Schools library of courses for life. The application form is now available online at the King Schools website.

The 2017 winner was Terry Carbonell of Tavernier Florida, who explained, “I have been a die-hard King Schools student since early in my flight training and I look forward to my next journey toward attaining a multi-engine instructor rating.”

King Schools and the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) share a deep appreciation of CFIs. 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 King Schools has led to many benefits for our members, including product discounts and access to free courses. We are thrilled to also give our members the opportunity to receive this scholarship. The future winner will be very happy.”

To apply for the scholarship –

The NAFI/King Schools Scholarship includes $5,000 in cash for the attainment of advanced instructor ratings plus free lifetime access to the entire King Schools course library, including FIRCs. The 2017 scholarship application opened up on July 27, 2017 and the deadline is January 3, 2018. The scholarship will be awarded at the Sun ‘N Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, FL, April 2018.


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!