CFI/Pilot Training Pro-Tip – Don’t Announce “Engine Out” on the radio unless it’s real…try “Short Approach”

“Airport XXX Traffic, Cessna N1234 Engine Out Runway 27.”

Yup, that was the radio call I heard. Obviously, location and aircraft number have been changed to protect the pilot, an instructor, who made this call.

When I hear this on the radios I think there was actually a problem. But nah, they were just practicing.

Verbalizing a potentially catastrophic event like this on a radio frequency can give those listening on the frequency the incorrect impression a real emergency may exist.

It is important that instructors teach emergency procedures to their students and customers, but it is also important that they are careful in their communications about their actions on radio frequencies to avoid creation of the impression that an emergency may exist.

So, what would have been better then? Continue reading

CFI/Pilot Training Pro-Tip – Lower Volume on Radio Two When Listening to ATIS/AWOS/ASOS

“Sorry _______ approach, can you say that again? I missed your call while I was listening to the ATIS.” Or, worse, you hear “Aircraft N1234, third call, descend to 3000 and turn to 360 degrees.”

It is common for pilots to miss radio calls when they are trying to listen to ATIS, AWOS, and/or AWOS. Sometimes it is embarrassing and other it can become a problem if that missed call was ATC trying to get you to change course or altitude to avoid other traffic.

One reason that I have noticed that many pilots miss these calls when listening to weather is that they listen to the weather broadcast too loudly on their second radio while still trying to listen to their controller on their primary radio.

Pro-tip: Listen to weather broadcasts at a lower volume than the radio selected to the primary communications frequency. Continue reading

CFI/Pilot Training Pro-Tip – Practical VOR Check Tips

IFR pilots (or applicants on practical tests with me) will readily tell me the different types of VOR checks available, and many will even be able to find designated points they can use, but fewer apply some of the more practical questions related to VOR tests for IFR navigation.

Let’s assume you remember the types of tests you can do (dual, FAA designated check points of which there are a couple options, and having an avionics shop check the devices being the most common methods) and that you also recall that when you do a check you have to log where it was done, when it was completed, who did the test, and the error that was present (if any) to prove it has been done within the preceding 30-days.

From here, let’s ask a question.

Most pilots do “dual VOR checks” as the most common method of testing. For this test, in the air, an allowable difference of no more than 4-degrees is required to be useable. Ok, most of you are with me so far. But, and here is the question.

What if the error between the two VORs is depicting a 6-degree difference? Continue reading

Early Pilot Career Advice – Don’t Create Barriers to Mobility

So, what’s the best advice I can give a pilot who is in the early stages of their career?

Well, it is kind of simple. Be mobile. Your first professional flying job is just that. The first one. There will be more. Make it so you can accept offers for career-advancing positions by not placing barriers in the way.

I only half-jokingly tell many young pilots who are just beginning their careers to not get married, not to have kids, to not buy a house, and don’t even get a dog in their first 5 years of their aviation career.

I am not disparaging doing any of these things in their lives, just making a point that these are all things that can potentially stop a pilot from being as mobile. They are potential barriers from saying, “Yes”, when a company offers a pilot a job hundreds of miles from where they currently call “home”. Continue reading