RTS with an April Fools Day Annual – Charlie Flies into 2019….

RTS – Returned to Service Charlie.

Well, winter is long in Michigan, and there is no rush to get an annual done when you drop the plane off to your mechanic at the end of January and it is just going to snow another month. So…we finally got it all done with an April 1 sign off for this flying season. The weather, my free time, and a relenting from the cold I have been fighting finally cooperated and let me go bring Charlie home for this season’s flying efforts.

Nothing too major was wrong, a couple of new cylinder studs, a new set of spark plugs all around just for good measure, a fuel selector seal replacement, a modification to remove one more reoccurring AD to name a few minor tweaks to go with a GLASS panel (kind of) upgrade. You can see it down in the bottom left of the panel.

A new Dynon D3 digital attitude and heading indicator serves as a replacement for the formerly inoperative heading indicator that I had and I also chose to remove the gyro attitude indicator. Both of these were venturi driven instruments and not completely reliable, so, for this VFR only airplane the Dynon box offers a digital option that would also have a backup battery option in the event of an electrical failure. Continue reading

Wings Credit for an FAA Practical Test? Request it from your DPE/CFI!

The FAA Wings program through the FAA Safety Team (www.FAASafety.gov) is a national effort to “improve the Nation’s aviation accident rate by conveying safety principles and practices through training, outreach, and education; while establishing partnerships and encouraging the continual growth of a positive safety culture within the aviation community.”

For many pilots, interaction with the FAA Wings program or its activities comes through local seminars, online content, or their flight instructor giving them Wings credit on a flight review. But there is much more!

One specific example of a way to get FAA Wings credit is when an applicant completes an FAA practical test with an examiner. Most practical tests such as a private pilot certificate, commercial certificate, instrument rating, or initial CFI certificate count for big blocks of Wings credit, and all you have to do is request credit of the DPE who conducted the test.

As a DPE, I am trying to do a better job of giving credit, but I also note that few of my applicants are registered for the program.

If you aren’t, you can find much more information about the FAA Wings Program at www.FAASafety.gov, where you can also register for an account that will be associated with your FAA airman’s record to get Wings credit. Once you have done this, you can collect your credit.

Oh, one more thing, if you get or give credit, you are eligible for yearly sweepstakes drawings. This past year’s winners can be found by visiting https://www.faasafety.gov/SPANS/noticeView.aspx?nid=8286.

Ok, so that’s it. It’s free. It promotes safety. And if you have completed a practical test you are eligible for credit. Just ask your DPE (me if I am the one that gave you a test) and we will validate your request.

Want a quick way to find a couple of the specific links? Here are a few common ones for you to use:

Request Private Pilot Practical Test FAA Wings Credit

Request Instrument Rating Practical Test FAA Wings Credit

Request Commercial Pilot Practical Test FAA Wings Credit

Request CFI Initial Practical Test FAA Wings Credit


Three Logbook Tips to Save You Heartache

There are lots of tips I could give you about doing better logging of your flight time, but there are three that could save you a big chunk of heartache if things go wrong.

All three of these relate to “what happens if a logbook gets lost, destroyed, damaged,” or otherwise is no longer available to document your flight and training experience.

“It won’t happen to me,” I know you are thinking. Sure, you are just that lucky or careful. But I have seen it happen to others who thought the same thing.

With that in mind, here are the three quick tips.

Back it Up – Multiple Ways

Make copies. Somehow. Actually, I recommend digital copies such as scans or even doing something as simple as taking pictures and saving them to your “cloud” storage of choice. And back it up where it lives in the cloud.

I personally use an app on my phone/tablet that allows me to “scan” via the camera on the device to a pdf file format. Compiling this over time I have developed a running file that is a full backup of my logbook in scanned digital format. A quick search on the app store for your devices will probably generate search results that will offer a few options for this that cost less than $5-10, a cheap price to protect your data.

No matter what you choose, pictures, pdf scans, or old school scanner files, backing this up to a computer is a good idea, but not enough. Hard drives fail also.

I like to back up my files to an online service. There are many options such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and OnDrive that offer a limited amount of storage for free that is more than enough for backing up your logbook. This ensures that the file would live through a computer failure. I know it sounds a little paranoid, but multiple levels of saving this data can ensure that copies of your logbook will live through hardware failures, software failures, house fires, and more.

Don’t forget to backup not just the pages with flight hours, but endorsements also. Missing things like tailwheel, complex, or high performance endorsements can also be a problem if they are lost. without an ability to document them it may require a pilot to re-do them.

Continue reading

Common CFI Checkride “Administrata” Errors

The CFI practical test is definitely known as one of the hardest, longest, most grueling practical tests pilots take. As I have been giving them over the last couple of years, there are a few things that are standing out in the area of CFI knowledge relating to what I generally call “administrata” related to the CFI’s ability to properly train and qualify their students.

These are critical knowledge areas that directly relate to the practical ability of the CFI to demonstrate their knowledge level of how they will actually do their jobs when they are certificated. In some cases, it may seem like these knowledge points are “way down in the weeds” or just part of the “nitty gritty minutiae” that seems trivial, but these items directly relate to whether the CFI will properly train and qualify their future customers (students) for certificates and ratings.

As a DPE, I find the ability of a CFI to answer these questions correctly directly relates to whether or not the students that the CFI will eventually train for things like their Private or Commercial certificates are actually qualified and have received training that is compliant. On more than one occasion, CFIs not knowing some of these administrative intricacies has resulted in their students being provided training that is ineligible for use toward a rating or certificate, representing significant wasted training time and cost, and in some cases, these oversights have resulted in the termination of the CFIs certificate privileges. There really is a reason we ask these questions.

With that said, here are a few common knowledge area deficiencies that might help a future CFI candidate have a better chance at passing that initial CFI practical test. If you are reading this and are already certificated, this might serve as a good refresher to remind you of a few quirks that can ensure you are providing proper training.

Cross-country experience toward a rating or certificate must include a landing greater than 50 nautical miles from the point of departure, not just a leg over 50 miles in length.

One thing an instructor needs to be able to do is properly apply cross-country flight requirements toward ratings or certificates. We commonly give an example of a cross-country and ask the CFI applicant if that will “count” or not. An example of one I might use is below. I would follow that example by asking, “So, does this cross-country flight meet the requirements for a solo-x-c to count toward the aeronautical experience for a private pilot?” Continue reading