Tag: John King

THE GREATEST AIRPORT PARTY EVER

DOWN HOME AVIATION AT ITS BEST IN THE AMERICAN HEARTLAND

Article appeared in Flying Magazine November 2017 by Martha King

John and Martha were at Heartland Aviation in Alliance Nebraska for the total eclipse last August.

This normally non-towered airport was probably the busiest it had ever been. The airport needed to land an airplane about every minute and a half to accommodate the arrivals in the time available between sunrise and 10:30 am, when everyone wanted to be on the ground. The trick was getting everyone off the runway and into parking to clear the way for those behind.

The big show was supposed to be at 11:50 am, but John and I had a great time watching all the airplanes long before then. Every kind of airplane you could imagine was joining the party, from homebuilts to jets. And a great party it would be.

Nature would be providing us a rare show—a total solar eclipse. Over any given spot on earth a total solar eclipse occurs about once every 375 years. If either John or I is ever to see another one, there will likely be an airplane involved—like there was this time.

We had read estimates that said as many as 7.4 million people would be competing with each other on the roads to get to the path of totality. We understood there would be traffic jams everywhere. No problem, we said. That’s where general aviation shines—we will fly.

Our plan was to wait and see what the weather looked like the day before the eclipse and then fly to wherever looked most likely to guarantee clear skies. And if the weather turned unexpectedly cloudy on eclipse day, we could fly to somewhere else.

This sounded great in theory, but when we started investigating good locations for eclipse viewing we discovered that some airports had been taking aircraft parking reservations for the eclipse for years—and all expected to have to turn away airplanes. It became obvious that we needed to pick a destination airport and settle in.

The hard part was what airport to choose. A generally good weather forecast for this time of the year would be key. Plus, we wouldn’t want to be caught in traffic jams on the ground on the big day. So we would need to pick an airport away from any major metropolitan areas. There were a lot places in the great American West that would fit the bill.

Gaylene and Jeff Jensen of Heartland Aviation took the time to meet with John and Martha during the eclipse and what most likely will be the busiest time in the history of the planet for the airport at Alliance.

We chose Alliance, Nebraska (AIA)—and we hit the jackpot. The sole FBO, Heartland Aviation, is a wonderful mom-and-pop operation. (As you can imagine, John and I are impressed by mom-and-pop operations.) Gaylene and Jeff Jensen have owned and operated Heartland Aviation for over 27 years, but their connection goes even further back; Jeff had been working there since he was in high school. Their enthusiasm for aviation, and people who fly, brims over in every conversation.

When we made our aircraft parking reservation with Heartland some months before the solar eclipse, Gaylene told us that they already had over 200 single-engine piston aircraft and twenty-five twins and jets scheduled to fly in that morning. Like every other airport in the path of the eclipse, they also fully expected to have to turn away airplanes.

Their biggest problem, though, was not going to be room to park airplanes. It would be getting the arriving aircraft parked in the time available on eclipse morning. Denver Center had told Jeff and Gaylene that careful planning would be required to get airplanes clear of the runways and to parking fast enough to keep the traffic flow up. That’s when they realized the need to land an airplane about every minute and a half. And that didn’t allow for any instrument approaches, or wake turbulence separation.

The lineup at the Alliance Airport was truly extraordinary. Most likely the busiest day the airport will ever have.

When we heard that, we realized we wanted to get there ahead of the crowd. We didn’t want to join the conga-line of airplanes into that airport on the same day as the event. Now we had a real problem. If we were going to come early, we needed a place to stay. As we got into it we realized that with our original plan to fly in and out on the same day we had wasted precious time while everyone else was arranging accommodations.

This is where an FBO in a small community is so valuable. Gaylene had a friend who knew a woman who had just put her house up for rent that weekend. I jumped at the deal, and arranged for us to arrive on Saturday at noon instead of Monday morning.

One of the things that John and I have savored the most about general aviation is the way that small airports introduce you and communities you would never have known otherwise to each other. In Alliance everyone we met welcomed us with great warmth, and with curiosity about where we were from and how we flew our own plane to get there.

Our early arrival gave us the opportunity to settle in and revel in the grand party the city was throwing for its visitors. We enjoyed lots of free musical entertainment, snacked from food trucks, attended a Native American powwow, and thoroughly enjoyed a portable planetarium show designed to explain the eclipse to grade-schoolers.

Lynn Placek, the airport manager of Alliance Airport worked with the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics and the FAA to get the temporary “tower” in Beatrice and Alliance. Placek explains “So we had five people here that manned the tower. They stayed in a camper and were out in the airfield communicating. They were great help!” The Alliance Airport staff helped set up the tower in the back of the Alliance City truck pictured above. That was some incredible ingenuity by everyone cooperating together.

On the day of the event we headed out to the airport early to watch something very special—FAA controllers, operating from a temporary control tower perched atop a city dump truck, skillfully keeping airplanes separated. The controllers had arrived on very short notice when the number of airplanes expected escalated. It is a life-saving service that the U.S. Air Traffic Control System provides to general aviation when they see the need.

Heartland Aviation hosted a fine eclipse party with food, music and a view that was out of this world.

Meanwhile, beginning at 5:00 am Jeff and Gaylene’s crew of 30-plus volunteers guided aircraft to parking, fueled them, and moved pilots and their passengers to the ramp in trams. Plus, Jeff and Gaylene threw a party worthy of the event, including custom-designed eclipse T-shirts and eclipse glasses. For breakfast they served biscuits and gravy or breakfast burritos, and for lunch burgers, hot dogs or chicken breasts—all at unbelievably reasonable prices

The airport was open only to people who had arrived in an airplane, and as the day progressed, the mood reflected the comradery of 400 or so fellow aviators talking with each other about where they came from and how they had fallen in love with flying. We realized we were sharing an event that each of us would remember for the rest of our lives.

The eclipse, of course, did not disappoint. We were powerfully moved by the phenomena that have mesmerized humankind since the beginning of time—a darkening sky and sudden chill accompanied by sunset colors circling the horizon, a corona ring around the sun, and stars appearing during the day.

But what was truly special to those of us who flew in to Alliance was general aviation at its very best. It was a wonderful day brought to us by a couple who had worked for months to make it happen. Gaylene and Jeff created an opportunity for hundreds of aviation enthusiasts to share a very special event in what for all of us was the most fun way imaginable.

 

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.

King Schools Offers Initial and Recurrent Part 135 Training

Main menu of King Schools Part 135 Initial online training Course

Oshkosh, WI, July 26, 2012— Today, John and Martha King announced that King Schools has completed their Part 135 knowledge training suite by releasing two new Part 135 Recurrent online training courses. The KING Part 135 Initial and Recurrent Pilot Training courses easily fit into a company’s training package to address all the general knowledge requirements of FAR 135.345. These online courses significantly reduce the classroom time required to address the training requirements, freeing up time from the trainer and allowing pilots to meet requirements on their own schedule. Operators with many pilots also have the option to receive regular reports on completion status for their pilots.

Main menu of King Schools Part 135 Recurrent online training course

“These courses greatly reduce workload while providing pilots with a thorough review of the general knowledge topics required in FAR 135.345,” Martha commented. “And because the courses are delivered online, pilots can take them wherever they may be—from any computer or iPad with a connection to the web,” continued John “These courses include progress tracking along with a completion certificate and logbook endorsement to prove the training was received,” concluded Martha.

The King Part 135 Initial training course is available for $189 and each of the recurrent training courses sell for an introductory price of $99. Volume discounts are available.

For more information, visit www.kingschools.com.

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About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com

King Schools Offers Free Private and Instrument Flight Training Syllabi

The KING Instrument Rating Syllabus, available as a free download

The KING Private Pilot Syllabus, available as a free download

Oshkosh, WI, July 26, 2012— Today, John and Martha King announced the immediate availability of free King flight training syllabi for the Private Pilot Certificate and the Instrument Rating. The King syllabi are targeted at independent flight instructors and their customers, and include guidance on incorporating the King Schools Knowledge Test Courses, Practical Test Courses and special subject Takeoff video courses to create a comprehensive and easy to follow roadmap. Each syllabus is not only suitable for Part 61 training, but is also Part 141 approvable.

“The use of a syllabus increases learning effectiveness by ensuring that the instructor and their customer both have clearly defined, common goals for each flight lesson,” commented John King. “When using a King Syllabus, customers will know what to expect, and will have the opportunity to learn new concepts at home rather than in the airplane,” continued John. ”This will increase customer satisfaction by helping them excel at each new task,” commented Martha. “It will also save them money by reducing training hours required to reach their goal,” John emphasized.

“Most significantly, this syllabus incorporates concepts of risk management and supports scenario-based training,” continued John. “Making this important training tool available for free makes it easy for all flight instructors to use a professionally developed plan of action,” concluded Martha.

For more information, visit www.kingschools.com/cfi.

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Transition To the Cessna Skycatcher or Just Learn All About Flying This Remarkable New Airplane

About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com

King Schools Releases Crew Resource Management Course

Main Menu from the King Schools Crew Resource Management Course

Lakeland, FL, March 30, 2012 — Today, at SUN ‘n FUN, John and Martha King of King Schools announced that they have released a new online Crew Resource Management Course. This course is appropriate for all pilots flying as part of a two-pilot crew and satisfies the newly published FAR 135.330, that requires CRM training for all part 135 operators.

“Flightcrews can be safer and more efficient when they are trained to work together well,” said John King.  “Many general aviation and military pilots have not had this important training, and without the training they can often work at cross purposes as a two-pilot crew,” King continued. “The net result can be an actual deterioration in situational awareness and in risk management,” Martha King commented.

“Even crews that have established SOPs and that have flown together for some time, are sure to find a few gems in this course,” continued John. “We started with the idea of what it takes to become a great crew and filled this course with practical ideas that can be put to immediate use for increasing risk management and reducing workload,’’ concluded Martha.

The King Schools CRM course has been designed to run on the iPad and on all Windows and Mac Web browsers and sells for $199.

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Transition To the Cessna Skycatcher or Just Learn All About Flying This Remarkable New Airplane

About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 1-800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com

King Schools To Release Online FIRC For Flight Instructor Renewals

Main menu of King Schools Flight Instructor Refresher Course

Lakeland, FL, March 30, 2012 — Today, at SUN ‘n FUN, John and Martha King of King Schools announced that they will release an online Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC) by the end of April. The course follows the latest guidance from the FAA recently released as revision “G” of FAA Advisory Circular 61-83, which specifies more up-to-date topics for flight instructors and puts emphasis on effectively teaching risk management. The King Schools FIRC includes the option to have King Schools handle all of the instructor’s certificate renewal paperwork, making it unnecessary for a Flight Instructor to visit their local FSDO in order to renew their certificate.

“Solving the two major problems in general aviation, the student dropout rate and the fatality rate, requires a fundamental change in the way we teach,” said John King. “And this program is designed to give renewing flight instructors fresh insights into ways they can help their customers to both become good risk managers and long term members of the pilot community,” King continued.

“The new guidance from the FAA has allowed us to move away from having to cover the same topics that flight instructors learned as private pilots, and to delve into areas that will be interesting, relevant and sometimes provocative for flight instructors,” Martha King commented. “This new approach will be truly refreshing for flight instructors,” continued Martha. “The goal is that by giving flight instructors more insight into topics such as identifying and changing at-risk behaviors, and conducting an effective flight review, they will have more tools available to produce pilots truly ready to be pilot-in-command,’’ added John.

“FIRC options for flight instructors have not changed much in recent years,” continued John. “Renewing flight instructors now have the opportunity to try something new, and we hope they will find our alternative to be engaging, educational and fun,” concluded John.

The King Schools FIRC program has been designed to run on the iPad and on all Windows and Mac Web browsers. It will sell for $99 without CFI renewal processing or $124.95 with processing included.

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Transition To the Cessna Skycatcher or Just Learn All About Flying This Remarkable New Airplane

About King Schools

For over 36 years, students and pilots at all levels have enjoyed King Schools´ clear, simple and fun courses. In fact, nearly 1 out of every 2 pilots flying in the U.S. today has learned with King. The company is also a leader in on-line pilot certification and avionics training for pilots of high-performance and turbine aircraft. To find out more, please visit www.kingschools.com. or call 1-800-854-1001 (worldwide +1-858-541-2200).

Press Contact

Barry Knuttila, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Technology, King Schools
direct phone: (858) 576-6265
e-mail: bknuttila@kingschools.com