Author Archives: Pilot One

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

October 17, 2016 San Diego, CA 


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

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

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

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

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

For more information, visit

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

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

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

# # #

Pilot Fatigue and the Unspoken Goal

The most important part of being pilot in command

Article appeared in Flying Magazine July, 2016 by Martha King

The view out the windscreen from 38,000 feet wasn’t really scary, but it was fatiguing. Nexrad confirmed what we were seeing. After our fuel stop in Wichita, Kansas, we would have to pick our way around air-mass thunderstorms in the dark all the way home to California.

It had been a hardworking business trip to Washington, D.C., with multiple meetings every day. After the day’s late luncheon meeting, we loaded up our rental car and made the hour-long drive out to Manassas Regional Airport. It took us another 45 minutes to get the airplane loaded up, the rental car turned in, and say goodbye to the folks at the airport.


Martha, Pilot in Command of the Dassault Falcon 10 jet .

The departure procedures out of Manassas always require careful attention. There are notes over all of them. The airport is in the special flight rules area for D.C., and this is no place to mess up. By the time we reached cruising altitude, we already knew we had been working hard. John, who was serving as the required copilot (more formally, the pilot monitoring) in our old Falcon, said, “It has been a packed week. I am really tired.” “I know,” I responded, “We’ll be home in just a few hours. It’ll be great to be home.”

Approaching Wichita, John missed our clearance for descent from center. I picked up on it, answered center and started us down. “I’m sorry,” John apologized. “For some reason, I’m just whipped.” “Yeah, I’m really looking forward to getting home tonight,” I said.

After landing, John did a last check of the airplane while I went into the FBO and ordered fuel. When we met inside, John said, “Let’s sit down for a minute. I’d like to consider spending the night here in Wichita instead of going on home. I’m really tired.”

John’s words struck me. I now realized that this was at least the third time my copilot had told me he was tired, and up to that point, I had never considered doing anything about it. I had set a goal of getting home that evening, and I hadn’t considered any alternative.

“Of course,” I said, “Let’s have a nice dinner and go to bed here.”

It may be the first time ever that we had interrupted a trip simply because we were tired, but it was the right choice. After we slowed down, I realized that I too was exhausted, but I had been driven on by adrenaline and my desire to get home. Neither one of us could have been operating at 100 percent. As it was, we finished the trip to San Diego the next morning, refreshed and alert with virtually no weather to contend with.

Lightning thunder storm

Localized lightning and thunderstorms at night require absolute attention and respect. They represent an even greater risk when pilots are fatigued.

John and I love flying our airplane for business. It gives us the ultimate in flexibility. We go when and where we want. But that flexibility can be a risk factor.

Airline operations have elaborate precautions against fatigue. All flight crew members, schedulers and individuals with operational control in airline operations are required to receive fatigue education and awareness training annually. Complex rules adjust allowable flight times based on things like how far pilots are from their home time zones and what time of day they are starting their flights.

As noncommercial operators flying our own airplane, there are no such systems in place to protect us from ourselves. There is nothing to prevent us from finishing a day of work or recreation and then departing on a long flight late in the day. It is strictly up to us to balance our fatigue against our desire to complete what we set out to do.

In my case, I had set a goal to get home that night, but it wasn’t even a conscious goal. I hadn’t announced it to either myself or John. When I filed the flight plans for the day, as a matter of course I filed them for a trip all the way home. I never considered whether one or both of us were fatigued. Going home was my default position.

Even though the goal hadn’t reached the level of consciousness, it was very real. It lurked behind every decision I made. It may be that while stated goals are dangerous, unarticulated goals are even more dangerous. When a goal is out in the open, it can be dealt with. But when nobody has stated the goal, it can influence you without you realizing it.

John and I use the PAVE memory aid to think and talk about the risk factors on a flight. In retrospect, I realized that on that flight, three out of four categories were at play.


Pilot: We were both fatigued and had reason to know we would be.

Aircraft: We had a perfectly functioning and capable aircraft that we were putting at risk.

EnVironment: The next leg would be in the dark with thunderstorms.

External/Internal Pressures: My unstated goal to get home that evening was a risk factor.

Fatigue can be a vicious circle. Everything is harder when you are fatigued. It can be easier to just keep going because it’s too much work to come up with a different plan. When John brought up the possibility of spending the night in Wichita, one of the first thoughts that went through my mind was that it would be too much trouble to get over to a hotel and check in. Continuing seemed simpler.

Since we don’t have protections against fatigue built into general aviation, we have to manage fatigue on our own. However, our innate flexibility gives us options that the airlines don’t have.

To make wise use of that flexibility, we need to manage our own internal and external pressures. Our biggest threat is our own goal orientation — we pilots just hate to give up on a goal. Understanding this gives us permission to not complete what we had set out to do. I guess the most important part of being pilot in command is being in command of our goals.

Women in Aviation Celebration, A Look Back.

We celebrate the recent Girls in Aviation Day and the incredible cover of Aviation for Women magazine in the May/June edition 

 September 27, 2016 San Diego, CA

On Saturday, September 24th, Women in Aviation celebrated the 5th annual International Girls in Aviation Day . The goal was to connect with teen girls to encourage them to pursue careers in aviation. Created by Women in Aviation International (WAI), the event is already in 10 countries and over 30 states and connects women who are already working in aviation with girls who are curious about aviation as a career.


John & Martha King with the Lindsey Dreiling, the inaugural Martha Martha King Scholarship for Female Flight Instructors

Below is a look back at the 2016 WAI Conference in Nashville TN and the incredible interactions that led to this magazine cover.

Day 1, March 10 – John & Martha King along with King Schools CEO Barry Knutilla were greeted at Smyrna Airport by 2016 Martha King Scholarship for CFIs winner Lindsey Dreiling and her crew from Kansas Polytechnic School in Salina, Kansas. There was a brief tour of the Falcon and then the rain came down and the stories continued despite the rain setback.


Pictured left to right in photo: Christopher Van Nostrand, Katarina Szentkereztiova, Cody Lampe, Hernan Ensaldo, John King, Martha King, Lindsey Dreiling, Jason Helkenberg, Kendy Edmonds, Madison Perry


The rains came and put a damper on the Falcon tour, here’s everyone running for cover.

Day 2, March 11 –  John and Martha were surrounded at the morning General Session by sea of pink shirted Boeing employees. The enthusiasm of the crowd is genuine, passionate and inspiring.


Sea of pink shirted Boeing employees.


Long time friend, student and supporter of Kings School’s Pia Bergqvist, Executive Editor of Flying Magazine addresses the general session Friday morning.



King Schools and Cessna Pilot Centers partner Liberty University was busy the entire conference with enthusiastic interest in aviation. Here in the convention show room are Keegan Starkey (left) and Deanna Ludwig (right).

Day 3, March 12 – This was an action packed day from the morning general session until the end of the evening. During the day, the K State team had a Meet and Greet in the conference headquarters with Dr. Chabrian and a nice chat with John and Martha.


Dr. Chabrian. (L – R) Hernan Ensaldo, John King, Jason Helkenberg, Martha King, Katarina Szentkereztiova, Dr. Peggy Chabrian, Christopher Van Nostrand, Lindsey Dreiling, Cody Lampe, Madison Perry, Kendy Edmonds

Saturday night, WAI held their “$10 Million Banquet and WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame” event.  The highlight was just after the Martha King WAI Scholarship for Female CFIs was announced, WAI President Dr. Peggy Chabrian exclaimed the scholarship was the one that put the WAI over the $10,000,000 total of scholarships awarded.


This is just part of the estimated 2,000 that were packed in to the ballroom for the banquet.


Lindsey is presented the Scholarship and then something extraordinary happens.


Dr. Chabrian invites past winners to the stage and a celebration ensues. An awesome tribute and success story.

Day 4, March 13 – Sunday, the conference is over and it’s time to head home. Scholarship winner Lindsey was invited to catch a ride on the Falcon to her home airport in Salina, Kansas. Lindsey comments that she has never flown into Salina in anything other than a small plane or as an instructor. Lindsey got the full treatment; from the walk around to greeting her family at the airport. What a great trip but it’s always nice to be back in San Diego.


Preflight check on the Falcon.


Cockpit Tour


Home sweet home, Lindsey’s family meets her at the Salina airport.


New ACS Instrument Practical Test Checkride Course Launched  

Course is the 2nd ACS offering from King Schools


Mary Schu (DPE) and Martha King (Applicant) shown during the preflight segment . The course depicts a simulated, complete instrument checkride following the ACS from the first handshake to the final signoff. SPOILER ALERT – Martha passes!


September 6, 2016 San Diego, CA – Pilots, Flight Instructors and Examiners will benefit from the new King Schools Instrument Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test).  The course shows a model instrument rating checkride based on the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS).  The new HD course covers every task as outlined by the ACS and includes nearly seven hours of oral and in flight video.  The course retails for $139 with substantial discounts for CFIs.


The course features a simulated ACS checkride with Mary Schu as the examiner, and Martha King as the applicant.  Mary, the 2015 National Flight Instructor of the Year and owner of Mary Schu Aviation, is an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). Together they demonstrate a complete checkride from first introductory handshake to the final sign off, with pauses to point out valuable tips along the way.


Martha King explained, “We released the Private ACS course in July and customer reviews on our website have told us they find the course very helpful. This course follows the same principles as the Private ACS course by allowing an instrument rating applicant to view a simulated checkride and learn what to expect, how to answer questions and how to demonstrate their skill. We have found that watching our Practical Test courses makes pilots feel more confident when showing up for their practical tests. ”


Martha adds “The ACS has challenged learning pilots, CFIs and DPEs to adapt how they learn, teach and evaluate.  There has been some resistance to the changes with passions running higher than we usually see in our community.  But most pilots are seeing the value; especially in teaching risk management.  The ACS is the result of a long FAA/industry process.  It is not going away and King Schools will continue to create courses to the most current standards.”

Martha KIng, Mary Schu and John King on set during the shooting of the newly released Private Pilot Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test) course.

Martha KIng, Mary Schu and John King on set during the shooting of the newly released Private Pilot Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test) course.


The course is available either online or on disc for Windows.  The online version includes compatibility with the free King Companion App for iPad and iPhone.  The App allows customers to download lessons to their iPad or iPhone.  Then, they can watch the lessons later, even while offline.  When reconnected, their course progress is automatically synchronized with the KING servers.  This allows them to move seamlessly between devices, browsers and operating systems. The online course also includes free, automatic updates for life.

ACS —Warding Off Tragedy

Improving Knowledge Tests to Save Lives

Article appeared in Flying Magazine May, 2016 by John King –

“John, Dr. Williams is dead. I thought you’d want to know.” The news hit me like a thunderbolt. The caller was an FAA inspector. Just two weeks earlier, I had asked him to talk with Dr. Williams. Dr. Williams was a towering figure. He was a physician, a radiologist and an Episcopalian priest. He was a pillar in his community. But as a pilot, he had worried me.

Martha and I were teaching two-day ground schools, and Dr. Williams had been in my class. He just didn’t follow the normal conventions of classroom behavior. He was impatient and in a hurry. He returned late from breaks and blurted out comments in class. I was worried he might behave impatiently in his flying. In fact, I was so concerned that when the FAA inspector came to administer the knowledge test, I asked him to speak to Dr. Williams.

“John,” my FAA friend said, “I can’t just pick someone out of your classroom and lecture him because you told me I should. He’ll call his congressman. You talk to him.”

“He won’t listen to me,” I said. “I’m just a traveling ground instructor.” So neither one of us talked with him.

He died on a solo cross-country. On the first leg, he got lost and wound up in the mountains. Asking for help on the radio, he said, “There are clouds around me with trees in them.” He landed safely at his destination.

Greatly relieved to see him, the folks at the Flight Service Station literally begged him to come in to talk. He didn’t have time, he said. He was scheduled to make a speech after he returned to his home airport. Without shutting off his engine, he took off on the return leg. He died in the same mountains on his way back.

I was devastated. I felt terribly guilty. I had foreseen that this might happen, yet I hadn’t spoken to him. I considered quitting teaching flying. I felt that I didn’t want to continue teaching people to do something that could kill them. Martha and I were traveling on a circuit of cities, teaching more than 2,000 pilots a year. All too often we returned to a city to learn that a pilot we knew had died. It was getting to me, and Dr. Williams was the tipping point.

Moreover, I was deeply discouraged that many of the questions we needed to prepare pilots for on the knowledge test were obscure, trivial and even tricky.  As a result, we were being forced to teach obscurity while pilots were coming to grief because they did not know how to identify and mitigate the risks of flying. Being part of that failed and dysfunctional system was depressing.

I loved flying and loved teaching it. It would be, I decided, my job to teach pilots how to identify and mitigate the risks of flight. I made one more resolution: I would never again fail to speak out when doing so offered any chance of saving someone’s life.

The unanswered question is: What would I have said to Dr. Williams that would have gotten a positive result? I still don’t know. That’s probably the real reason neither my FAA friend nor I spoke with him. An even more pertinent question is: What, if anything, could have been done to head off that catastrophe? I believe the answer would have been to teach him aviation risk management, but it would have needed to start with his first flight lesson.

Physicians are not unaccustomed to the idea of managing risk. Dr. Williams had been a radiologist. There are all sorts of risks associated with radiology. Dr. Williams and other goal-oriented people can develop the habit of identifying and mitigating risks in aviation as they do in the rest of their lives if that habit is cultivated from the very first flight lesson.

Flying Magazine "Battling the 'Big Lie'" article that led to many discussions and eventually a change in tone and focus in the aviation industry.

The Flying Magazine interview that Lane Wallace conducted with John King that preceded a change in tone and focus in the aviation industry.

As time progressed, it became apparent that Martha and I were far from the only people who had these concerns. In the March 2001 issue, Flying published an interview of me by Lane Wallace titled “Battling the ‘Big Lie.’” This gave me the venue to speak out to the aviation community. I wanted pilots to know that we should recognize that the activity of flying is risky, and we should manage the risks. It was a provocative interview, and it took courage for Flying editor Mac McClellan to run it.

In response to the story, Jim Lauerman, head of Avemco Insurance, wrote a letter proposing that we work together to help pilots manage risks. The folks at Avemco had been mourning the all-too-often loss of pilots and customers as Martha and I had. In response, we developed a series of practical risk-management courses, and Avemco grants a premium credit to pilots who take them.

At about the same time, Bob Wright, who was head of the FAA’s General Aviation and Commercial Division, spearheaded the implementation of the FAA-Industry Training Standards (FITS), with a goal of incorporating scenario-based training and risk management into flight training programs.

Still, the accident rate remained high, and the FAA knowledge tests continued to be profoundly irrelevant. In May 2011, the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) organized a landmark conference in Atlanta, which brought together hundreds of concerned pilots and instructors. Among them was Van Kerns, head of the FAA’s Regulatory Support Division, which is responsible for airman testing standards. Van listened while person after person railed about the poor quality and irrelevance of the knowledge tests.

That evening Van bumped into Susan Parson, who is special assistant to the Director of the FAA’s Flight Standards Service. Susan, always deeply disturbed by the irrelevance of the exams, was by then steaming as result of the ATP written exam she had recently taken. Van and Susan agreed that this needed to change.

Not one to ignore opportunity, Susan seized on the momentum provided by this perfect storm of events. She organized the Airman Testing Standards and Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to reform the way airmen are tested and evaluated.

Susan recruited folks from nearly every segment of the aviation training community, including even me, and the right people from the FAA, and set us all to work. The result of the five-year effort from the ARC and the two ACS Working Groups that followed was the development and implementation of the Airman Certification Standards (ACS). The ACS incorporates everything a pilot is required to know or be able to do for a specific certificate or rating into a single document.

I am delighted to report that beginning in June, the ACS will replace the Practical Test Standards for the Private Pilot-Airplane and Instrument Rating-Airplane practical tests.

The first thing folks will notice when they prepare for a check ride is that now, for the first time, there are standards for the knowledge a pilot is expected to demonstrate on both the knowledge test and practical test. The knowledge required of pilots will be relevant to a pilot’s ability to get utility from the aircraft, and to identify and mitigate the risks of flight. No longer will the pilot be tested on the trivial and obscure.

Plus, a pilot will be evaluated on the ability to actually apply the knowledge they have learned to identify and mitigate the risks of flight. Pilots with this habit will be situationally aware and far less likely to be caught by surprise by events that, with risk-management skills, they would have seen coming.

I now have hope that extremely goal-oriented pilots like Dr. Williams will get the help they need to ward off tragedy. If the ACS had been in place when Dr. Williams was learning to fly, perhaps he would have learned to identify and mitigate the risks associated with scheduling a speech right after a solo cross-country.

Loss of Control

When You Ask for Too Much

Article appeared in Flying Magazine April, 2016 by Martha King –

It was the slightest of rumbles.  Both John and I felt it.  John, who was at the controls, eased the control yoke forward slightly and the rumble stopped.  We landed safely and taxied into the ramp.  We had a plane full of pilots, but an after-the-fact survey revealed no one else on the airplane had felt the rumble.  It was the aerodynamic warning of a stall in our old Falcon 10.  With hydraulically-assisted, irreversible controls in this airplane, the pilots don’t get feedback in the controls.  The rumble was the only aerodynamic warning we would get.

Martha King PIlot and John King Pilot land the King Schools Falcon.

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

Had John reacted differently the aircraft could well have stalled and the aviation community would have racked up one more “loss of control” tragedy.

We had been on our way to Oshkosh for AirVenture.  Ironically, we were diverted to Appleton due to the loss-of-control crash of another jet.  The pilot was on approach to runway 18 at Oshkosh and had been given instructions to slow for traffic on the runway, and keep his approach south of runway 27.  These are the exact circumstances that John and I had escaped some years ago with a go-around.

Our diversion to Appleton left us scrambling.  We quickly briefed our approach, but then at the last minute the tower directed us to another runway.  The rumble occurred during John’s last-minute maneuvering with a steep turn from base to final to get lined up with the new runway.

What these situations have in common is that they were set-ups for loss of control.  The National Transportation Safety Board has loss of control on their most wanted list, and for good reason.  Loss of control is a big deal.  Almost half of all general aviation fatalities are caused by loss of control, and they are almost always fatal.

I confess I have had a hard time getting my brain wrapped around the subject of loss of control.  It has become the safety issue du jour, but it is a huge category.  I mean, you could say there are only two conditions in which an aircraft can crash—either in control or out of control.  I am not sure that learning that a crash happened as a result of loss of control gives us much actionable information.  Plus, I have a tendency to see loss of control as a result rather than a cause.  Having said that, if we as a community could crack the code to eliminating loss-of-control accidents we could save thousands of lives.

Loss of control has occurred anytime the aircraft does something you don’t want it to do.  That can happen whenever you expect too much of either the aircraft or yourself as the pilot–asking one or the other to do something they just can’t do.  For instance, asking an airplane to fly with too much load factor will result in loss of control.  Yet pilots do it on the turn from base to final with regularity.  Pilots frequently ask too much of themselves when landing in crosswinds, or flying in instrument weather conditions without proper preparation.

There are many ways to lose control—pilots can be very creative about it.  What they all seem to have in common is that almost all loss of control accidents occur in repeating scenarios—with perfect hindsight you realize the pilot should have seen them coming.  The idea behind learning the habit of risk management is to turn that perfect hindsight into foresight for pilots when it counts.  It means knowing what’s happening now and what bad thing might happen next if you don’t do something about it.

Looking at it that way, all loss of control accidents are the result of a failure in risk management.  But not everyone looks at it that way.  A flight instructor-friend of ours firmly believes that anything that might distract from stick-and-rudder skills during flight training is doing the learning pilot a disservice.  In fact, he calls these “distractions” “fantasy flight training.”

Truly, there is much to be said for helping learning pilots have the highest level of skills they can attain.  However, all pilots inevitably have some limitation on their skills.  Without risk management, it is possible for any pilot to get themselves into situations that no amount of skill could get them out of.  To paraphrase an old saying, it is wise to use your superior risk management to avoid situations that just might require even more than your superior skills.  A training program that focuses solely on skill, and ignores risk management, will leave pilots unnecessarily vulnerable.

When a pilot does manage to avoid an accident, it is hard to know whether it might have been superior risk management or superior skill that saved the day.  On our approach to runway 18 at Oshkosh, it could be said that I executed a go-around so that I didn’t have to use superior skill, although cleaning up and doing a go-around in a highly wing-loaded, swept-wing jet from low altitude is not without its challenges.

On John’s approach to Appleton it could be said that John’s slight forward pressure on the control yoke in response to the rumble was a demonstration of superior skill.  But with all due respect to John, it didn’t take all that much skill to apply that slight forward pressure.

The important point in each case is that a successful outcome required the knowledge and risk management habits to recognize a scenario that was a set-up for stall/spin, and also recognize the mitigation needed. Although in times past we sometimes did not demonstrate these qualities, our performance in these instances seems to indicate that over the years we might have developed them.

Then, in addition to knowledge and risk management, skill was required to execute the response.  That’s why the Airman Certification Standards (ACS), which in June will replace the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for the Private Pilot and Instrument Rating tests, will require pilots to demonstrate all three.

Pilots have been taught knowledge specific to aviation since the beginning of flight.  We need knowledge to get full utility out of our flying.  But the real reason we need it is to be able to identify and mitigate risks.

The knowledge needed for the Oshkosh and Appleton events was the standard knowledge that everyone learns about stall/spins—the need to manage angle of attack and load factor, and the importance of keeping the nose yawed into the relative wind.  Additionally needed was knowledge of the aerodynamic warnings that our airplane provides for a stall.

Learning risk management, in this case for stall/spin, requires practice at recognizing scenarios that can lead to stall/spins, and coming up with mitigation strategies.  The specific scenario in the traffic pattern that most often leads to loss of control is the very one we had at Appleton—turning from base to final with lots of distractions.  In this case there was also a last-minute runway change requiring maneuvering to get lined up.  Add in a tailwind from base to final, and an overshoot, and it becomes an almost irresistible temptation to steepen the bank and maybe even add some bottom rudder.

Consideration of the skills required for preventing loss of control prompts a call for a return to the basics.  All the skills we learned when we learned to fly are about keeping control of the airplane.  In addition to all the other skills every pilot learns, in stall/spin scenarios it becomes particularly useful to have a well-honed sensitivity to load factor, and to the side loads that tell you when the nose is not yawed into the relative wind.

While learning knowledge and skills has always been fundamental to learning to fly, the recent emphasis on preventing loss of control brings a new understanding that loss of control is at its core a failure in risk management.  Among the many outcomes of poor risk management, loss of control is the most frequent and the most deadly.

The ideal is for pilots to become so practiced at identifying risky scenarios that they develop the ability to “smell” trouble, and not allow themselves to get into situations that might lead them to ask themselves or the airplane to do something they just can’t do.

The problem with any kind of loss of control is that while it may take considerable time for the situation to develop, when it comes to the actual moment of loss of control, it can happen very quickly.  When things have progressed to that point it is very difficult to recover.  The best recovery is not to need one.

Cessna Pilot Center Companion App Lets Pilots Download and Complete Lessons Offline on iPads

Cessna iPad App

The Cessna App view of the Main Menu of the Cessna Sport/Private Pilot Course

Cessna Pilot Center Seminar, San Diego, CA, June 23, 2016—Cessna Pilot Centers’ use of the latest technology gives pilots convenient access to their online courses on an iPad even when they are offline. The CPC Companion app, a free download from the Apple App Store, allows pilots to download lessons from their courses to their iPad.

The next time the pilot is online their course progress is automatically synchronized with the servers, allowing them to move seamlessly among their iPad and computer. Then when they resume their course, either offline or online, all the progress they made offline will be displayed on their menu.

“The great thing about our iPad Companion app is that customers are not locked into choosing between using their iPad or a computer,” commented Cessna Pilot Center Business Leader Christopher Crow. “The ability to work offline on an iPad and then sync their progress with the servers gives learning pilots the option to continue their course from anywhere, connected or not,” he noted.

Cessna Instrument Rating course for iPad.

View of the Main Menu for the Cessna Instrument Rating Course as seen on the Cessna Companion App for iPad.

Pilots learning at Cessna Pilot Centers have lifetime free upgrades to their courses. “Every time a pilot connects with the servers, their course is automatically updated,” said Crow. “The courses have already been upgraded to reflect the new Airman Certification Standards (ACS). Plus we’ve expanded the digital library. There are now more than 100 reference manuals, Cessna aircraft PIMs, and books.”

The Cessna Pilot Center Sport/Private Pilot training kits now come in a custom-made flight bag from MyGoFlight. Says Crow, “The new pilot bag looks great, and has room for an iPad, headset, flashlight, and other materials. In each Sport/Private Pilot and Instrument Rating kit there is also a free one-year subscription for Garmin Pilot VFR or IFR that has a value of $129 or $149, and the Sport/Private kit also includes a 20% discount card for any MyGoFlight product.”

For more information visit the Apple App Store on your iPad and search for “Cessna Companion”.



The New King ACS Course Now Available!

It has been personal. It has been passionate. It has taken a long time. Many caring, competent members of the aviation training community have given countless hours of their time, traveling many thousands of miles. Every one of them has been stirred by needless accidents, where lives might have been saved if only those pilots had known how to effectively manage risk. The lost pilots and their passengers were a constant presence and motivation. But it’s now here.

Starting in June, pilots taking the Private Pilot and Instrument Rating checkrides have been using the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) instead of the Practical Test Standards (PTS)—ensuring that future pilots will have the risk management tools they need.  We have put together an ACS information page that we hope you will find useful Click Here – ACS information page.

ACS checkride, PTS checkride

Mary Schu , Designated Pilot Examiner, and John King preflight a Cessna 172.

King Schools has released a new version of our “Private Pilot Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test)” course with new video to cover every ACS task.  It contains over 5 hours of oral and in-flight HD video.  It features a simulated ACS checkride.  Mary Schu is the DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) and joined John and me on camera to demonstrate complete check rides from first to last handshake in this brand-new course.

You will find these new ACS Practical Test courses useful whether you are an applicant, a flight instructor, or a designated examiner.

The process that led to the ACS started with an Airman Testing Standards and Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which determined the need for change. Next was the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) Airmen Certification Systems Working Group, which made it all happen. The group members came from aviation associations, universities, manufacturers, pilot unions, course developers, and training providers—all collaborating and cooperating with the FAA. King Schools supplied two members of each group: John King and John “Mac” McWhinney. It was a privilege and a big responsibility for everyone who participated.

Martha KIng, Mary Schu and John King on set during the shooting of the newly released Private Pilot Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test) course.

Martha KIng, Mary Schu and John King on set during the shooting of the newly released Private Pilot Practical Test (Oral Exam & Flight Test) course.

As a result, the checkrides (Practical Tests) will ensure pilots understand how knowledge, risk management, and skill work together. Using the ACS for training and testing will fashion the habit of thinking systematically about what’s happening now, what bad thing might happen if you don’t do something about it, and what you can do now to prevent it from happening. The ACS provides the standards for what a pilot is expected to demonstrate on both the knowledge test and practical test. The tests will now be relevant to a pilot’s ability to get utility from the aircraft, and to identify and mitigate the risks of flight. No longer will a pilot be tested on the trivial and obscure.

We hope you enjoy our new course.

Happy Flying,


When You Declare an Emergency

Staying in Command

Article appeared in Flying Magazine March, 2016 by John King –

The light on the panel said “OIL1.” It was telling us we had low oil pressure in the left engine. We didn’t believe it.
In 14 years of flying our old Falcon 10 we had never seen an “OIL” light come on. We looked down at the oil pressure gauge to reassure ourselves that there was nothing wrong with the engine.

To our shock the gauge confirmed the low oil pressure. It was hard to believe this extraordinarily reliable airplane was letting us down.

Each of us knew what we needed to do. It was Martha’s job as captain and designated pilot-flying, to fly the airplane. As co-pilot and pilot-monitoring, it was my job to run the checklists and take care of the problem. We both knew the very first checklist was going to tell us to shut the engine down. We just wanted to do it right so we didn’t create more problems for ourselves.
O-ring gap
Shutting down an engine in this airplane should be no big deal. It can climb at 1,000 ft./min. on one engine. Also, we practice single-engine landings every time we go to FlightSafety for simulator training. But this was for real. In the simulator you have nothing at risk except for maybe embarrassment. Now we were at risk of, in the worst case, botching a single-engine landing and suffering grievous harm, and at the minimum, trashing an engine because we didn’t shut it down soon enough. I was nervous.

The checklist for low oil pressure is very handy. Like every light on the panel, it has an easy-to-find checklist associated with it. As we anticipated, the checklist associated with the “OIL1” light said to shut the engine down, which requires the shutdown checklist. Martha had already pulled the power lever back to idle.

The first step on the shutdown checklist, I was sure, would be to pull the power lever past the detent to idle cutoff. I wanted us to go ahead and do that, but Martha asserted her authority as captain to insist I find and refer to the shutdown checklist before we do anything that might be difficult to undo. Within maybe a couple of minutes, which seemed like an eternity, we had followed the checklist to put the engine into idle cutoff, and completed the rest of the items on the list.

We hadn’t said anything to ATC yet because there wasn’t anything they could do for us. Moreover, we didn’t want the distraction of explaining our situation to them until we had the engine shut down and secured. However, we now wanted to abandon our Las Vegas destination and reverse course to land at San Diego’s Gillespie Field where our maintenance shop is located. I explained to Los Angeles Center that we had shut one engine down and wanted to head to Gillespie. The controller immediately gave us the clearance I asked for.
Dipstick and o-ring
“Do you want to declare an emergency?” he asked. I knew that if I did so, it would start a whole new conversation which we weren’t yet ready for. Along with the engine, we had lost a generator and a hydraulic pump. We still needed to minimize our electrical load, consider the hydraulic implications, and deal with the imbalance caused by burning fuel out of only one side. We needed time to deal with the checklists for those issues.

Nevertheless, the controller was concerned. “Do you need any assistance? Is there anything we can do for you?” “No,” I explained, “The airplane flies fine on one engine and we are in no rush. We just need to take time to run some checklists.”

Controllers are in a real bind when a pilot reports a problem. They know their questions can be a distraction. But every controller is rightfully concerned when you have a problem. The last thing they would want to do is fail to give a pilot with a problem the help or information that could have prevented a catastrophe.

Plus, controllers are accustomed to being in charge of things. After all, they aren’t called “controllers” for nothing. And the hardest thing in the world for a competent, controlling person to do is nothing, even when nothing is the right thing to do. So every time we were handed off to a new controller, we understandably went through the same questions.

Getting the fuel balanced was a priority for us. Having a fuel imbalance on landing would make the landing trickier. The longer we burned fuel out of one side, the bigger imbalance we needed to correct for, and the more time it would take. Correcting for a fuel imbalance in our Falcon 10 is complicated and offers plenty of opportunity to screw it up and make things worse. We really needed to concentrate on running the checklist. The questions were truly a distraction.

As we approached the San Diego area on this magnificently beautiful San Diego day we realized that everybody and his brother was out flying. Our traffic collision advisory system showed numerous airplanes between us and the airport. We now wanted priority from ATC in the hope of avoiding a diversion or a go-around. There is plenty of power for a go-around but it is all on one side. Every power change requires coordination with a lot of rudder pressure. It is very easy to get dangerously destabilized. It would be much simpler if we didn’t have to go around.

Since we had caught up with all the checklists we decided it was time to declare an emergency. Of course, as we knew would happen, the controller asked us the required questions. “Say souls on board and remaining fuel, and do you need any assistance?”

Declaring an emergency did pay off. We could hear aircraft being vectored away from our path as we made our uninterrupted straight-in approach to the airport. Martha made a beautiful landing right on the centerline of the runway. As we turned on to the taxiway we noticed a firetruck was accompanying us on the adjacent road.

When we landed at Gillespie Field and had a chance to investigate, the cause of our problem became obvious. There was oil all over the left side of the airplane. Further exploration revealed that the left oil filler/dipstick cap had developed a gap in the O-ring, allowing the engine oil to escape. When the O-ring was replaced and the oil replenished, the engine didn’t leak oil and ran fine. The next day, without any problems, we made the trip we had started earlier.

A little less than a week later we got a message from an inspector at the local FAA district office, “At your convenience please email me a statement describing the events that led you to declare the emergency.”

At first I was very disappointed to have received this message. I like to tell pilots that you don’t get into trouble for declaring an emergency, and that you shouldn’t let fear of repercussions from the FAA deter you from doing so. Then Martha countered that if people are having to shut engines down due to something as simple as O-ring failure, the FAA needs to know about it. “How else would the problem get fixed?” she asked.

The experience re-affirmed our belief in the necessity in an emergency to manage your communications with ATC to minimize distractions from flying the airplane. There is no rush to tell someone about a problem unless they can help you somehow. Once you tell ATC about your problem, in their concern to make sure they give you all the assistance and information you need, they will inevitably start asking you questions.

When you decide you do need help, like priority handling or search and rescue, and are ready to answer the questions, it is time to share your problem. The “souls on board” question is pretty easy to answer, but knowing fuel remaining in hours can take a little figuring. You can lower your stress level if you make the calculation before you declare the emergency.

All in all, we were very satisfied with the way things worked out. The situation did require a competent performance on our part. But we had much more than that going for us. We had caring and capable air traffic controllers who continuously monitored our progress and were standing by, ready to help in any way possible including arranging for emergency vehicles to be there when we landed. We were very well looked after.

Rich Martindell, VP at King Schools Awarded a 2016 General Aviation Award

General Aviation Award winner 2016, Rich Martindell

Rich, pictured here in his King Schools office has been named the FAA 2016 Safety Team Representative of the Year.

FAA’s 50 plus year tradition recognizes aviation professionals for their contributions to general aviation

San Diego – Richard Martindell, King School’s VP of Course Content and Experience has been named FAA 2016 Safety Team Representative of the Year.

Every year for more than 50 years, the General Aviation Awards program and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have recognized aviation professionals for their contributions to general aviation in the fields of flight instruction, aviation maintenance/avionics, and safety.

The FAA will recognize Rich’s accomplishment in July during EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. His name will be added to the large perpetual plaque located in the lobby of the EAA AirVenture Museum. “These awards highlight the important role played by these individuals in promoting aviation education and flight safety,” said GA Awards board chairman Arlynn McMahon, “The awards program sponsors are pleased that these outstanding aviation professionals will receive the recognition they so richly deserve before their peers in Oshkosh.”

Rich Martindell - 1

Rich was a USAF fighter pilot and instructor in both the F-4 and F-15. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Meritorious Service Medals, eleven Air Medals, and three Combat Readiness Medals.

In his capacity as VP of Course Content and Experience, Rich works with his team to create and maintain over 90 courses from Sport Pilot to Airline Transport Pilot including ground school, practical test preparation, Flight Instructor refresher courses, professional pilot courses and numerous topical flight training courses. Rich formerly served as a USAF fighter pilot and instructor in both the F-4 and F-15. He retired with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, five Meritorious Service Medals, eleven Air Medals, and three Combat Readiness Medals. He flew 323 combat sorties in the F-4 in Thailand, and has been stationed at bases around the world.

As Lead Representative of the FAA Safety Team in San Diego, Rich works with and trains many other representatives. He often speaks throughout the region at EAA chapters, flight schools, flying clubs, and airport businesses. Rich excels in teaching leading-edge aviation topics from ADS-B to Unmanned Aerial Systems to the redesign of the Multiplex Airspace System in Southern California. He writes newsletter articles and maintains an online blog titled “Let’s Go Flying“.

Rich is member of the San Diego Airports Aviation Advisory Committee that advises the mayor and city council on airport issues. He regularly teaches Private Pilot ground school courses for the San Diego Air & Space Museum at the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems campus. He is an active pilot and instrument flight instructor, and a trained aviation accident investigator frequently called upon by local media to comment on aviation mishaps. Rich also teaches formation flying in war birds to pilots interested in learning this challenging skill.

Rich holds Airline Transport Pilot, Instrument Flight Instructor, and Advanced Instrument Ground School Instructor certificates. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Transportation and Public Utilities from the University of Arizona, and an MBA from Golden Gate University, He graduated from the Safety Program Management and Aircraft Accident Investigation programs at the University of Southern California.