Flight Training Time!

Added 1/19/2017

2016 had some great times for me.  It was a highly productive and inspiring year, in many ways.  I finally completed my RV-14 project, which was a MUST DO goal for the year.  I took a couple of great vacations such as the Cayman Islands trip with the family in the RV-10, and my Trip to Idaho in the RV-14 with an old friend of mine.  We had a spectacular OSH this year in July, where we brought BOTH of the RV's to Airventure, one piloted by me, and one piloted by my wife...her first time flying into OSH as PIC, with my student pilot daughter as her co-pilot. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Then came the fall...  Some household projects to do, and (not) looking forward to the misery of Winter in Wisconsin. The November elections brought complete frustration in (many of) the american people, but extreme humor from people like my favorite...Stephen Colbert. With luck, we'll weather the next 4 years and hopefully the people will regain their sanity, while enjoying many laughs at the idiocy we can see coming out of D.C., not to mention our own WI.

With all of that behind me, it was time to start thinking about the next big things on our 2017 calendar...and 2017 is going to be a big one.
We've got one kid graduating from High School, at the top of her class, no less.  Yes, many changes coming with College in the fall!  And then there's the other kid...  This is the year that she will finally be able to solo in the RV-14 (and possibly the RV-10)!

Back in 2015, she began a bit of "official" flight training with a CFI nearby.  She had been gaining lots of skill with me in "student" mode since age 13 or younger, and yet we both knew she'd eventually have to go thru the whole Private Pilot flight training course with a CFI at some point.  She had already, by the time she was 14, been able to reliably land the airplane on a good day, and by 2016 she could complete entire x/c flights with no assistance.  Of course, that assumed good weather, and it was always with me right therefor guidance.  Needless to say, it makes a dad pretty proud to see progress like that.

But in the fall I stared to think thru the dilema I would have...

My Insurance company will cover pilots with 500 hours Total Time and 25 in Tri-Gear RV's (non RV-12), but that isn't sufficient to make it easy for a CFI to train her in our plane(s), because most CFI's I know don't have any RV time at all.  Yeah Yeah, we all know that THEY don't know what they're missing.  But it gave me a problem.  I would now have to pay a CFI to fly with me, to give THEM time in my airplanes, so that they could be on my insurance for giving instruction, in the planes that we own.  That would just cost EXTRA money, and make it more reasonable to just rent a dumpy little Cessna 150 for my daughter to learn in....something that we actually DID do back in 2015 for a few lessons.  But a pre-1970 Cessna 150, while a fine trainer, is nowhere near as fun, comfortable, nor new and reliable, as our new RV-14 would be.  And while I do advocate learning how to use round gauges to some degree, if my family is planning to almost exclusively fly our RV's, it would be most beneficial to get some good time FULLY understanding the systems in our own RV's.  Not to mention that both of our planes are of the High Performance type, and if she flies it well now, why bother with the super-slow?

In fact, I'll take it one step further.  From a safety perspective, assuming a person can "handle" the horsepower and speed, an airplane with strong acceleration and high performance climb is a significant safety benefit.  Would you rather have that engine-out experience at the end of the runway after gaining 200' of altitude, or 800' of altitude?  Vertical climb rate/angle capability is a major plus for safety, as is reliable fuel totalizer and other engine instrumentation, superior warning annunciation, and superior navigational capability.  So for my daughter, I'd feel much better having her trained in the best airplane I could...and the one we built together is just plain (or plane) better!

This insurance dilema, coupled with a couple of bits of feedback from 2 other CFI's, got me thinking about becoming a CFI myself...

First, after my BFR in July, the CFI started querying me about my future goals.  I explained to him that I WOULD like to do the commercial rating, but did not see the value right now because I can't fly commercially in my RV anyway.  And eventually it would be fun to be a CFI, as that's just the kind of thing I'd like to do...someday.
He poked and prodded at me a bit, saying that after flying with me and seeing my level of understanding and skill (his words not mine), that it would be a shame to waste that knowledge and not become a CFI.  I kind of blew it off a little but put the comment in the back pocket of my mind.

Then one day a couple months later or so, we were having an online discussion about insurance for the RV-10's, and another CFI commented that with the amount of time that I have, have I just considered becoming a CFI to fix my insurance dilema for training my daughter?  That's when it finally stuck.  I thought to myself, "why not...it just makes sense!".  In fact, whereas many times a person does well NOT to train family, in the case of my daughter, she actually enjoys learning with me.  So given that, I decided to go for it.

So early to mid-November I set out to read and study everything I could for my Commercial written exam, which took maybe a week to 10 days to prepare for.  Then I took the written, and got going on the flying.    One complication in doing the commercial is the less than completely practical requirement of 10 hours of DUAL time in a Complex (Retractiable gear, controllable-pitch prop, and flaps) aircraft.  While I had nearly 25 hours of Complex time (REAL glad now that I did that years and years ago!!) only 9.3 of it was dual.   So I rented the local piper Arrow for my first commercial lesson.  1.8 hours later, I had passed the 10 hour requirement, and basically learned the basic way the commercial maneuvers were flown.   But, flying in the Arrow gave me a couple of additional challenges...

First, the Arrow is a pig of an airplane.  It's almost embarassing that piper builds such stuff, knowing how a beechcraft and how the RV's handle.  It would not be as easy to do well on the commercial checkride in a piper arrow, given my extensive muscle memory for the RV's.  Also, you must do at least a portion of your commercial checkride in a complex aircraft.  So regardless of what I do, I would need to rent a retract for the checkride.  Then there was the biggest hurdle.  Our local piper arrow requires 10 hours of time in make and model before you can rent it...and it certainly wasn't going to take me 10 hours to prepare for the commercial checkride.  So with that in mind, I did the remaining lessons and solo time in my RV-10, after clearning it with the examiner that we could use the RV-10 for much of the commercial checkride.  There was a 172RG available to rent for the checkride that would be adequate for that portion of the ride.

After passing the written, and just a few hours of practice, it was time for the Commercial checkride...which I completed on 11/21/16!
One of the very cool parts of the study process for the written was that the commercial requires you to study ALL of the original topics from the Private Pilot course...and here's the cool part...   My Daughter had also decided it was time to study and pass her private pilot knowledge exam, so we were studying the same topics, at the same time!  I got to refresh myself and teach her as we both went thru it.

Then the day after I finished my Commercial it was time to start studying for the CFI exams, of which there were 2 of them...one being the FOI (Fundamentals of Instruction) and the other being the FIA (Flight Instructor Airplane) exam.  I actually took 3 exams, adding the AGI (Advanced Ground Instructor) to the list. The FOI is basically a teaching and psychology course, rolled into one, and takes a LOT of studying.  The FIA is mostly aeronautical, as is the AGI.  The AGI is not a requirement at all, but, by taking the course, you can apply to the FSDO to get a permanent, non-expiring ground instructor certificat that can allow you to do some things down the road.  It also allows you to sign off a student for their written knowledge exam...something that my daughter would need very quickly!  These 3 exams were all more intense than the commercial exam.  It took me maybe 10 days to prepare for the FOI, and then pass it.  Then the following week I passed the FIA and AGI exams.  A couple days later I had an AGI temporary certificate in my hand and I was able to sign off my daughters logbook endorsement, and then we headed over to take her written exam.  Below are some pics from those days...  And, BTW, she passed her exam with a very respectable > 90% score!!

RV20161112-113712-001.jpg RV20161210-100655-003.jpg RV20170101-141045-005.jpg RV20170101-152003-007.jpg
Commercial Checkride Day
Private Written Day!!
Two Students
Winter in WI

With all of the writtens behind us by the 2nd week in December, it was time to chill out a bit and just enjoy Christmas.  Nobody wants to wreck the holidays with a bunch of stress and study!!

But as soon as New Year's Day was behind me, it was time to continue the trek toward that CFI certificate...

January 2nd I boarded an airliner to Florida, to escape the impossibility of finishing the CFI course in a reasonable time period during Wisconsin's Winter.  With both In-Laws and parents in Florida, it was easy to go and stay, and the airport nearby does a fair amount of advanced flight training, so we ahd a perfect match for a destination to go to.  On the way down, we had to de-ice before departure, and I decidd to have some fun playing with Foreflight and WingX on my iphone. Yes, I did finally put the phone into airplane mode before liftoff.

RV20170102-133452-001.jpg RV20170102-133452-002.jpg RV20170102-133452-003.jpg RV20170102-133452-004.jpg
RV20170102-133452-005.jpg RV20170102-133452-006.jpg RV20170102-133452-007.jpg RV20170102-133452-008.jpg
RV20170102-133452-009.jpg RV20170102-160721-008.jpg RV20170102-162429-009.jpg RV20170102-162444-010.jpg

January 3rd I started the course with the folks at SunAir in Leesburg, FL (KLEE) and started flying that pig of an airplane, the piper Arrow, once more.  But this time every bit of flying was from the Right seat.  Unfortunately for me, the CFI checkride consists of basically flying the Commercial checkride, and some of the private checkride, from the Right seat, while teaching the examiner the maneuvers as if they were a student.  I wasn't sure what to expect of the Practical Test.  I had heard that it could be pretty involved, and I wasn't sure which part I'd fail....would it be the maneuvers, due to my lack of recent yoke or arrow time? (I'm now so much happier with that center stick!)  Or would it be the oral exam where I'd show my flaws?   Day to day was very stressful....waking up at 6:45am and getting right into it, usually studying until after midnight each night, with maybe an hour or so stress break somewhere in there.  By the time a week rolled by, I was really wanting to get it completed, if for no other reason than to be able to get some sleep again. 

On the weekend I did take some time to see the manatee in a spring fed river, where they were hiding from the cold, and I had some dinner with the in-laws...

RV20170104-100408-011.jpg RV20170106-140329-012.jpg RV20170107-174911-013.jpg RV20170108-122140-014.jpg
RV20170108-122229-015.jpg RV20170108-122939-016.jpg RV20170119-120110-032.jpg

I scheduled my practical test for 1/10/17, and showed up ready.  It was going along quite nicely, despite my high level of stress, when I finally got to something that stumped me.  I was asked to teach and explain, via the whiteboard, how a constant speed propeller works, AND to diagram the various parts of the system out and how they worked.  DANG! I hit the roadblock.  Even though I can tear apart most things on the airplane, and I've installed a couple of constant speed props and governors, and understood how the oil flows into the prop thru the crankshaft, I did not have a good mental picture to draw the mechanical parts of the prop hub to show how the blades are rotated.   After a few minutes of hemming and hawing, it was decided that if I could not produce such a drawing it was a failure and the oral exam was over.  Ouch.

I had HOPED that if I failed, I could re-train, re-endorse, and re-test the same day, but that wasn't in the stars for me due to the examiner's schedule limitations.  We re-scheduled for the following morning of 1/11, and I started studying up on the propeller system.  Sure, after taking a few minutes look at a diagram of the prop, it all made sense and I could reliably draw a diagram.  The above diagram is one of my early attempts after putting it all together, but for the Oral exam the next day, I broke to down futher, going into detail on each component first, then drawing the final all-in-1 diagram.

Day 2 of the Practical Test, after making it thru the propeller systems question, we covered a few more topics and then I finally made it to the point of PASSING the oral exam!!  Now I would have to see if I could actually fly the maneuvers!  These 2 nights before the exam I was unable to sleep later than 3:30-4am...because all I could do was lay in bed and picture the various parts of the maneuver that I could fail on, and try to reinforce the proper body actions that would make them successful.  It is suprisingly easy to fail a maneuver, even something as simple as a commercial level steep turn, just by not doing one small thing right, like reducing power and pushing some forward yoke when rolling out of the steep turn, before rolling into the opposite turn.  I was not sure that every single time I would do just perfectly, at least not in the piper pig...er, I mean Arrow.  The examiner walked his way thru the PTS, making sure to cover all of the required topics and maneuvers, and put together his testing plan for the flight, while I sat their eating myself from the inside out.  A few minute later we headed to the airplane.

I don't know if it was the demeanor of the examiner (he was very friendly and nice to talk to), or if it was the familiarity of the cockpit, having flown about 10 hours in the arrow that week, but when I sat down, it all wasn't so bad.  I did everything by the book, didn't perform too badly at it, felt like I had a thorough grasp on all of the maneuvers and could at least TALK thru them with excellence, even if I couldn't fly them  better than 90% as good as I could in my RV. But the relaxation was key, and I was able to do what I thought was a very good job on all of the assigned maneuvers...earning me a "congratulations", and ending my suffering.  I was finally a CFI, and it was all complete within maybe slightly more than a 2 month window from commercial thru CFI!

With that done, I had but one goal...to get home and vive my daughter her first "official" lesson in our own airplane!  We headed out together and had a great time, flying a large number of maneuvers towards the private pilot solo requirement, and ending with her doing a couple of absolutely beautiful landings.  We're now in a great position for her to prepare for a 16th birthday solo, followed by a way longer than needed year until her 17th when she can finally fly anywhere she wants!

Below are some shots from my return flight, just for my own interest, while tracking the plane on my phone. Also, a pic of an awesome belated Christmas present I received...a nice warm blanket with our 2 N-Numbers on it.  Now that's an awesome present!

RV20170112-115012-018.jpg RV20170112-141643-019.jpg RV20170112-141740-020.jpg RV20170112-160558-021.jpg
RV20170114-150514-022.jpg RV20170119-120110-033.jpg RV20170119-120110-034.jpg RV20170119-120110-035.jpg
RV20170119-120110-036.jpg RV20170119-120110-037.jpg RV20170119-120110-038.jpg RV20170119-120110-039.jpg

MyRV10.com Home  |  N104CD Home