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Insider’s Guide to the Practical Test Added to Store

Posted by on Feb 18, 2017 in Alaska 2013 | Comments Off on Insider’s Guide to the Practical Test Added to Store

If you really want to understand the nature of the Practical Test and if you wish to be better prepared, check out the new “Insider’s Guide to the Practical Test” available now in the Store. This comprehensive guide will help anyone preparing for an FAA Practical Test. Inside you will find information about the philosophy of the Practical Test, Key Questions you must be able to answer, Tips for both the Oral and Flight portions and much more.

“Insider’s Guide to the Practical Test” is available on sale now for $39.95.

First Pilot Completes Adventure Pilot Course

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Aviation News | Comments Off on First Pilot Completes Adventure Pilot Course

Mike Kelley is our first graduate of the new Adventure Pilot course offered by ProMark. Mike and instructor Tres Clinton spent several hours in the classroom and another couple of hours in the Super Cub where Mike received an in-depth introduction to flying in a General Aviation airplane. The course is aimed at folks who don’t necessarily plan to pursue a pilot certificate but who want more than a typical Discovery Flight. If you know anyone who might be interested, please have them get in touch.

Redbird Migration

Posted by on Nov 5, 2015 in Aviation News | Comments Off on Redbird Migration

Tres and I just returned from the annual Redbird Migration Conference whichimages showcases new training concepts, innovative aviation marketing ideas and keynote speakers including Michael Huerta, the FAA Administrator. There are many significant issues being worked by the FAA including the new regulations for unmanned aerial systems (drones), a new certification system, a move toward education and correction rather than enforcement for unintentional pilot deviations and a re-write of the Part 23 regulations for aircraft certification.

I have attended the conference for the last four years and always find the information thought provoking and useful. This year, we heard a presentation from Susan Parson, the FAA lead representative on the new Airman Certification Standards which will become effective next year. If you haven’t heard of the ACS yet, you probably will soon. This will be a significant improvement over the current Practical Test Standards that we are now using for training and testing. We are busy adapting our training syllabi to match up to the ACS for Private and Instrument courses.

We got an update on George Bye’s electric airplane project which holds a lot of promise for the not too distant future. http://www.byeaerospace.com/home-banner5 With operating costs of around $12.00 per hour, this will bear watching. The first deliveries are expected in around three years.

We heard a presentation from Roger Sharp about why applicants fail checkrides. Roger always has great insights about problems in aviation education and this was no different. Often the instructor fails to properly prepare the student for the nature of the test. The student expects an exam based on rote memorization of material while the Examiner expects the applicant to exhibit “Pilot in Command” abilities including organization, application and correlation of the material that he or she has learned. The applicant must be able to come up with reasonable solutions to common scenarios that arise in the course of a typical flight and articulate their answers. This is simple if the applicant is given opportunity to practice.

Joe Browndsc_0366-version-2, president of Hartzell Propeller, is working with aviation industry partners to develop an ongoing pilot proficiency program that will encourage pilots to seek out ongoing aviation training from affiliated flight schools and instructors. This is sorely needed and will be introduced in the coming year.

The conference drew approximately 225 attendees from around the country and overseas. Redbird certainly deserves a tremendous amount of credit for putting on this event for those of us involved in aviation education.

 

 

Texas STOL Demonstration Team at the Alliance Airshow

Posted by on Sep 23, 2015 in Aviation News | Comments Off on Texas STOL Demonstration Team at the Alliance Airshow

_DSC0129N9496D landing during the Alliance Airshow STOL DemoWhat is a Super Cub doing flying with the Blue Angels? Well, a couple of weeks ago I joined a few other pilots at the Bell Helicopter Alliance Airshow in Fort Worth to do a Short Takeoff and Landing demonstration. Along with a DeHavilland Beaver, three Carbon Cubs and a STOL Cessna 182, we practiced on Friday and performed for the crowd on Saturday and Sunday. Each airplane’s takeoff distance and landing distance was combined for a total score.

The first pass required a landing over a 25 foot tall inflatable pylon to simulate landing over an obstacle, and the second was just a maximum effort to stop as soon as possible beyond the target line. (I actually disqualified on Saturday by touching down just short of the mark.) As each airplane completed a takeoff and landing, the results were radioed to the announcer’s stand and passed to the crowd.

STOL competitions showcase the capabilities of these backcountry airplanes and pilots in a very entertaining way. The airshow audience was treated to a unique look at this segment of general aviation and we got an opportunity to experience the life of an airshow performer for a few hours. Great Fun!

Terlingua Ranch, Big Bend Texas

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Promark News | Comments Off on Terlingua Ranch, Big Bend Texas

 Terlingua 1 The wind funnels off Taurus Mesa and sweeps through the canyons of Terlingua Creek, stirring up some low level turbulence as we make the descent into the gravel strip at Terlingua Ranch. For the last hour we have flown over the convoluted landscape west of the Pecos, viewing the terrain carved by wind and water over eons of time. This is a harsh country with almost no surface water, little rain and sparse vegetation that consists mainly of cacti and creosote brush. But it has a desolate beauty reminiscent of southern Utah’s Monument Valley with fantastic carved outcroppings, dry washes and rocky ridges colored in rusty shades and tones of brown and orange.

Upon landing and climbing out of the airplane, you can’t help but notice the quiet. Other than the sighing of the warm southwesterly breeze, there are no other sounds. No traffic noise, no voices, human or animal, disturb the afternoon silence. At first it seems odd, almost unsettling, but then we faintly hear the drone of the other incoming aircraft as they make their approach. Soon all 10 of our travelling companions are parked and we shuttle to the cabins where we’ll spend the next couple of days. Our Adventure Flying Group, consisting of a cross-section of General Aviation pilots who share an interest in exploration, has selected Terlingua Ranch for our first foray.

TTerlingua 2he timing is coincidental but significant as Sunday is March 2nd, Texas Independence Day. Back in 1836 a group of settlers, feeling abused and neglected by the Mexican government, decided to revolt and take responsibility for their own circumstances. Today, some of their descendants are still searching for freedom from too much government and are turning away from the trappings of modern society to live a simpler, more independent life here in Big Bend. In a way, these people remind me of Alaskans we encountered last summer who are willing and able to take responsibility for their own welfare, who seek the solitude and who share the simple pleasures offered here. Many choose to live “off the grid”, collecting power from the sun and wind, water from the seasonal rains and consuming little of either along the way. Most don’t have television, air conditioning or much else that most of us consider essential. Many do have access to the internet, using the power of social media to connect to friends and family far away. Things the rest of us would never stop to think about often require a great deal of planning. When it is 80 miles to the hospital and hardware store, you get in the habit of making lists and checking them twice. Neighborliness becomes an essential skill as folks share labor, talent and equipment to perform basic tasks. And like any group, there are squabbles, outliers and oddballs but on the main, everyone makes the best of it. Visitors are made welcome, stories are shared and bonds are quickly formed. However, they don’t suffer fools well and you hear stories of the few who simply weren’t cut out for life out on the edge and who soon departed for something more suited to their liking.Terlingua 3

Our small group of aviators shares some of the same attributes of independence. A sense of adventure, along with an acceptance of the challenges of flying small airplanes in remote regions is essential. These pilots and passengers enjoy and embrace the freedom of travelling with minimal oversight and maximum flexibility. Plans change based on weather and whims. Some leave early, some remain an extra day as their circumstances and desires dictate. As Jimmy Buffett sang, these folks choose not to “swim in a roped off sea”. But when they are gathered up, stories are shared, some even true. Laughter fills the air as friendships are formed or renewed and new adventures are planned. The party ebbs and flows from the porches to the airport and back to the Bad Rabbit Restaurant where adult beverages, Mexican food and live music help us get in sync with the Terlingua timeline. As we retire to the cabins, wading again through the silence, along gravel paths where shadows from the nearby peaks are cast from the undiluted starlight above, I can feel why we are drawn to this wild place.

Everyday Heroes

Posted by on Feb 6, 2014 in Promark News | Comments Off on Everyday Heroes

I just finished reading Joaquin Jackson’s book, “One Ranger” about his life in West Texas as a member of the legendary law enforcement unit during a period of dramatic cultural change. His story is full of wonderful characters, some of whom have gone on while others remain in the Texas I know. Most of all, I was struck by the character of his mentors, friends and fellow officers who despite many adversities and amazing temptations, chose to do as conscience requires even when the consequences were unkind.

Most of Joaquin’s characters live quietly, going about serving their fellow citizens, raising children, making a living and making a difference. These are his heroes and he has done a fine job telling their stories.

It seems to me that a society defines itself by whom it chooses to celebrate. We should pick our heroes carefully as they reflect our own values. Jimmy Buffett says most of us are flawed individuals, left in the oven a little too long by the Cosmic Baker. I think he’s right. While many folks end up just fine, some emerge over-done and burned around the edges, while other are taken out too early, ending up half baked and working in aviation.

Within the aviation community we have our own set of characters who define what it means to be an aviator. Many of us grew up watching astronauts and reading about aces. But beyond these well known heroes are so many others, mostly unknown outside of our small circle who make aviation special. The pilots, mechanics, controllers and instructors who enrich our daily lives are my heroes.

Aviation is a passionate mistress with a mean streak. The price of a dance can be high if you don’t step lightly. These are the folks who help make sure you and I don’t have to pay that price.

Joaquin Jackson concludes his book by recognizing how much being a Ranger has meant to him and how much he misses the experience that defines who he is. He knows despite the difficulties, heartaches and disappointments that the opportunity to serve his fellow citizens and the sweet memories of doing something truly important alongside his personal heroes reminds him of life at its best.

As an aviator I know what he means.

Tucson Flight Training

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 in Flight Training, Promark News | Comments Off on Tucson Flight Training

I flew out via American Airlines on Thursday to teach for the Bonanza Pilot Training group. I sometimes forget how privileged we are as GA pilots so an occasional airline flight serves up a rude reminder. Our flight from Killeen to DFW was delayed by low ceilings which is fine with me except if I had chosen to fly the Bonanza, I would have not had any weather issues as the low IMC was local to the Dallas area. We sat out by the runway for 45 minutes then took off. Once we arrived in DFW, of course our connecting flight Tucson had already left. I was re-booked for another leaving shortly so no big deal up to this point. Once aboard the TUS flight, we taxiied out, stopped and waited. After 10 minutes we taxiied back toward the gate. Turns out we needed to be de-iced which is confusing since the temperature was in the high 40’s. the de-icing truck arrived but nothing happened. After about 30 minutes we are informed that the de-icing cannot proceed until the De-icing supervisor is located as he has to sign off on the work. Another 20 minutes goes by before the de-icing is complete and we finally depart.

Upon arrival in Tucson, I wait for my bag, which I had foolishly checked in Killeen. After 30 minutes, no bag appears and a check determines it has taken an uncertain journey of its own with a new ETA of 8 PM. I arrange for delivery to the hotel and go to dinner with friends. Around 10PM, I check on line and discover the bag is MIA but am assured that most bags are located within 24 hours and not to worry until 5 days have elapsed. It finally shows up at midnight and refuses to tell me where it has been or with whom.

The Bonanza Training group is the premier provider of type specific instruction in the U.S. and I am pleased to be associated with them. I presented a new seminar on emotion and cognition titled “What Were They Thinking?”. Then I flew with two different Bonanza pilots where we practiced a variety of VFR and IFR maneuvers as well as emergency procedures. Flying in the desert this time of year is simply spectacular. The National Guard F-16s were out in force over the weekend so we enjoyed watching them coming and going.

The Instructor Cadre is very close as we’ve been teaching together for several years in different venues around the country. It is always fun to see each other and catch up. I presented the Alaska trip highlights for the client dinner on Friday night as many Bonanza pilots would like to fly their airplanes on an Alaskan adventure.

Judy flew out on Friday and joined us for a mini-getaway. It was nice having her meet the team as well.

Now we are on the flight home and already we have been informed that the flight from DFW to Killeen is cancelled. Like I said, I should have just flown the Bonanza.

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Flying with Tres

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Promark News | Comments Off on Flying with Tres

TresWell, all I can say is “Wow!” Tres wanted to fly the Super Cub yesterday afternoon to get current after being in Kuwait for almost a year. He needed a Flight Review as well. We headed over to a nearby grass runway that I use for training and asked him to do a three point landing. That’s when the fun began. The approach was great, speed was right, flaps set, carb heat on. As he entered the flare, I noticed the airplane was still 10 feet in the air. I waited for the synapses to fire in his brain and the correction to happen. As we lost energy, still at 10 feet with no obvious awareness from the PIC, I mildly suggested “ADD POWER NOW!”. Belatedly, doing his best imitation of Ray Charles, he recognized that we were still well above the surface of the cow pasture, rapidly running out of airspeed and ideas. Slowly the power came up, the airplane began to settle and then hung on the edge of a stall before finally giving up in exasperation and falling a couple of feet to the earth. “Well, that was certainly interesting.” I commented. The expression on his face was priceless. Think of a rooster looking at a card trick.

We reset the flaps, checked that all the parts were still attached and took off for another try. What followed were 6 excellent landings. While he thinks it was that he never really lost the touch, I believe it was superior instruction, but whatever, he had the Super Cub dialed in. We decided to return to Burnet for a couple of short field landings. Once again thinking all was right with the world, our young instructor totally confuses an Air Ambulance helicopter pilot by reporting that we were nearby when, in fact, we were about 20 miles away at a different airport. Oh Well, welcome home Tres!

Home Sweet Home!

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Flight Training | Comments Off on Home Sweet Home!

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I’m happy to be back in Gods country of Burnet, Texas.  After 9 month in the Middle East I realize how fortunate we as Americans are to live in not only a great country but, a gorgeous part of the world.  If your not familiar with the sights and scenery of Kuwait, find your nearest 5 foot by 5 foot sandbox, add a space heater and an industrial size fan and now you have seen and experienced the entire waterless beech of a country called Kuwait.  It’s such an ugly country the birds don’t even fly there, much less civilians.  Flying over the rolling hills and highland lakes has only become more attractive and enjoyable.  My deployment was without regret, and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to serve my country.  It is a positive experience that I will never forget but do not have a strong desire to return.  I can compare it to running 10 miles, throughout the run you are motivated, tired, excited, and kind of bored.  Once you complete the race, there is a feeling of great relief and a strong sense of accomplishment along with no desire to return to the starting line and run the distance again.  We as Americans don’t realize exactly what we have and what we have the opportunity to achieve.  Flying is one amazing opportunity that very few in this world ever experience in their short lifetime.  I am more than ever happy to fly in this beautiful place and work with great people.  I plan on working at Promark lightly for this month and will resume full time in February.  I hope everyone will be smiling as much as I will in the air.  Come fly with me and experience what others don’t.

 

Take care and fly safe,

 

Tres

Ike Weathers, Master Pilot

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Aviation News, Promark News, Student News | Comments Off on Ike Weathers, Master Pilot

Ike WeathersI sometimes wonder how to recognize a life well lived, as I imagine it to be, particularly when viewed through the admittedly narrow focus on friends and clients, most of whom are aviators. Recently, I had the rare privilege of presenting the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Ike Weathers, who at 80 is still actively pursuing a pilot’s quest for excellence and adventure.

The Wright Brothers Award recognizes pilots who have flown for at least 50 years, which in and of itself is quite an accomplishment, but there is so much more. Over 2600 pilots are listed as recipients on the FAA website. But what is missing are the stories behind the names… the reflections, if you will, of their aviation lives which span almost half the history of humans in powered flight.

As Ike’s friends and family gathered in the church meeting hall on a glorious fall day, we listened to his children tell their stories of family adventures big and small while growing up in an aviation family. They recalled flights filled with joy as when Ike took his new mother in law for her first ride in an airplane, and another of immense sadness as his 87 year old father suffered a fatal heart attack as they descended towards their destination. Ike spoke poignantly of his last flight with his dear wife Betty, who despite her Alzheimers, was there for him and he for her.

There were photos of various airplanes including the aerobatic Edge in which he won the highest scoring percentage for the intermediate class at the 1999 U.S. National Aerobatic Championships. We marveled at the photographs from his trip to Alaska in 2010, where he flew floats and bush planes with Don Lee in Talkeetna. But mostly there was Ike, quietly thanking us all for being there.

And in case I’ve left you with the impression that Ike is winding down his flying, let me explain that in the past years, he has been to Florida to fly the P-51 and T-6. He makes an annual trip to the southwest to fly aerobatics in a Pitts and sailplanes in the afternoon. He regularly flies with me in the Super Cub, the Float Plane and in his wonderful V35B Bonanza where we spend delightful hours challenging each other to figure out the mysteries of the advanced avionics he has installed to assist him in his many trips around the U.S. as he flies single pilot IFR with uncommon skill. This commitment to regular training, passion for excellence and humility while seeking new challenges defines his flying. But it is the evident love and respect of his friends and family that defines his character.

As Ike and the rest of us continue to fly the lines into our logbooks, I hope we take time to learn the stories, to share the experiences and to enjoy the reflections of an aviator’s life well lived. Congratulations, Ike! Well done.