The Devil is in the Details: Flight Review Documentation

Every 24 calendar months FAA-certificated pilots are required to complete a flight review, or satisfy the FAA currency requirements through another method, such as earning a new certificate/ rating or completing a phase of the FAA WINGS program. The concept … Continue reading

A Pilot’s Logbook is MORE than just a Record of Flight Time!

Short of buying an airplane, the most expensive aviation item any pilot will own is their logbook. The value of each hour recorded in that book added together after 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years and … Continue reading

Fall in love with flying AGAIN, try something NEW!

At one point or another you realized that flying was such a unique experience, was so fascinating that you simply had to be a part of the aviation world. Maybe you still feel the love of flying every day, maybe … Continue reading

Pick the flight bag that FITS your mission & supplies!

Everyone in aviation has an opinion of some kind on flight bags… Some pilots like aviation-specific bags, some like generic bags and some pilots don’t use a flight bag at all. What is the right choice? The real answer is… … Continue reading

Getting to know Sean Collins, AOPA Eastern Regional Manager!

On the most recent episode of my Mansfield, MA cable access television show, Aviation Adventures, I was very excited to be joined by Sean Collins (@AOPAEastern on Twitter). Sean is the Eastern Regional Manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots … Continue reading

Time to check-in while climbing in 2014!

Cloud surfing

We’re a few weeks (or so) into 2014 and sadly many New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight and go to the gym more have already began to fade. Though, I’m happy to report that I have exercised on 20 of the 25 days so far this year! That’s more than 150 inclined-treadmill or elliptical miles at home or at the gym. In any event, keeping a resolution can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. In 2006, I gave up soda, that was rough at first but I made it. Last year I was determined to lose weight and fly more than I ever had in a calendar year. Again, both presented a challenge, but both were accomplished! It is good to challenge ourselves every so often.

So for 2014, I’d like to ask/challenge every pilot to make and KEEP his or her own flying resolution. Set a resolution (read goal) to fly more this year than you did last year. Flying more will improve your skills, make you a safer pilot and give you more time up in the air to enjoy that awesome view. You’ll also have more time to take others up in the air with you. Who knows, maybe someone you take for a flight will get “hooked,” and become a fellow pilot and active participant in our aviation community. If you succeed and fly more this year than last year, great now you have a new total to shoot for next time. If you don’t succeed, you will know what not to do when you get another shot in 2015. So go fly!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9

Why you should AVOID the straight in approach!

General aviation pilots that make straight in approaches are cheating themselves. There, I said it! Flying out of a nontowered (NOT uncontrolled, thank you) airport has a great deal of advantages, in my opinion. However, there is one thing that … Continue reading

Chair fly and save money on your flight training!

The BEST way to reduce the cost of your flight training is to buckle-down and do some chair flying. There are multiple reasons why chair flying is not only extremely valuable but also very effective. Whether a pilot is training for their private pilot certificate, instrument rating or for a transition to a new type of aircraft, chair flying is the number one way to reduce the cost of training.

Why is chair flying important? Knowing the procedures a pilot must complete is one thing, but how are these steps carried out? That is the key. For example, I teach my students that if we are at 1,000 feet AGL and 100 knots (IAS) in the downwind leg of the traffic pattern in a Cessna 172S, abeam our aiming point (not landing), we reduce the power to 1,600 RPM, add the first notch of flaps (10 degrees). By making the power reduction we change the thrust and the nose will seek lower, with our help the aircraft will begin to dissipate airspeed and begin a descent as we begin to reduce our energy for a precise approach and landing.

This procedure works very well, yet the procedure for transition from cruising down the downwind to beginning our approach can quickly get away from even the most skilled pilot in a new aircraft. Spending “heads-down” time searching for the throttle, flaps lever, etc… is all time where a pilot, with their hands on the controls, is flying the plane (making control inputs) without seeing what they are doing. The longer it takes to find the flap lever, as an example, and ensure the flaps are set correctly, the farther an aircraft can get away from where it should be.

New pilots that are learning what “things should look like,” can certainly reduce the cost of their training by employing the chair flying technique. Instead of figuring out where switches are and what things should look like, literally “on the fly” during a lesson, while paying for a substantial amount for the airplane and instructor, it can be done for FREE!

Chair flying can be done sitting in an office chair with a cockpit poster, spending time practicing where to look for various pieces of information. This will reduce time spent searching for things while in flight as a result of your practice. Another alternative is to visit your flight school on a bad weather day and ask to sit in one of the aircraft. In this case you would actually get to touch and feel the controls and switches as well as seeing the actual instruments and gauges. Either version of chair flying can be very effective if done correctly.

Visualization is a concept that has been employed by various successful individuals. Professional athletes, for example, use visualization to see themselves hitting the big shot, whether it is a three-pointer in basketball or the one-putt in golf. Similarly visualizing the execution a procedure perfectly in the cockpit can go a long way towards making your aircraft control exceptional. After chair flying you can employ visualization by knowing what you need to do and seeing yourself doing it (mentally). Then in the future you are better prepared to carry out the procedure with confidence and less “heads-down” time.

As I stated before, chair flying can be effective for even the most seasoned pilot getting used to new aircraft. An experienced pilot in a new airplane spends time searching for switches and indications in much the same way a new student does in their initial flight training. As a result, chair flying can go a long way in reducing the cost of your aircraft transition. If you take a minute to think about it, an aircraft checkout is about learning the aircraft and getting used to how it performs and “acts”. Therefore, if you can practice getting used to the airplane, for free, what is the downside to that?

Personally, I use chair flying as a way to re-acclimate myself to aircraft that I have not flown recently. As an instructor I want to provide superior instruction and deliver great value, thus I want to know my classroom as best I can. I truly believe in chair flying, give it a shot, I think you will be impressed at how effective it can be in reducing the cost and duration of your flight training.

-Fly safe, @MTElia1B9

New Regional AOPA Fly-Ins: A High Flying Opportunity

Yesterday the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) announced the dates/locations for their 2014 regional fly-in events. This presents a great opportunity for all of us to get more people into the activity, which we all love so much, aviation!

The events will be set up to feature planes, exhibitors, safety briefings, food, presentations, etc… This is a great way to spend a day if you’re a pilot. But even for someone who is not a pilot, it will be a great take as well. One of the features will be a “Learn to Fly” area, perfect for all those not-yet, but soon-to-be pilots! If each of us makes an effort to not only attend the AOPA event closest to us, but to also bring a friend that isn’t a pilot but is interested in flying, this could go a long way towards the objective of growing the pilot population. The events, I’m sure, will be very exciting and a great way to immerse others and us in aviation for a day. What better way to get someone one-the-edge of learning to fly to take that first step and schedule a discovery flight, than to have them spend a day surrounded by everything that is good and exciting in aviation?

Luckily, the event closest to me is going to be at one of the airports I fly to frequently, KPYM (Plymouth, MA). I have already started planning to spend the day with friends at the event and I will be reaching out to individuals I have recently given demo flight to and other non-flying friends to see if they may be interested in joining. My hope is that these events will convey the sense of ‘awesomeness’ about flying (that every pilot knows) to these ‘newbies’ and they will fall in love with aviation as well…

Bringing non-pilots can help grow the pilot population, but equally as important is getting certificated pilots out to the events. Attending events like an AOPA fly-in goes a long way in getting pilots to remember the fun and excitement of aviation. We need more pilots, yes. But we also need the already certificated pilots to be actively flying! So start making plans with other pilots and friends from your airport/area, and get a group together to attend the AOPA event nearest you. Whether you fly in, drive or walk, I’m sure that attending a regional fly-in or a similar events will remind you about a lot of things you enjoy about aviation.

Of course, if you’re going to be attending the fly-in at KPYM in July this summer, make sure you find me and say hello!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9

The BEST way to make sure you FLY more in 2014!

The first sunrise of 2014 from 2500' over Plymouth Harbor. I'll be adding an annual "First Flight" to my calendar each year.

The first sunrise of 2014 from 2500′ over Plymouth Harbor. I’ll be adding a “First Flight” to my calendar each year.

As we move into 2014, there are many ways to make sure you fly more this year. But, the best way is to incorporate annual “tradition” flights into your calendar! Having prearranged flights can go a long way towards getting you to fly more throughout the year. If you have annual flights that you plan to make each year (weather permitting, of course), not only will you shoot to make those flights, but you’ll have to ensure you’re current so you can bring friends along.

As an example, every year on the 4th of July I watch fireworks from above. I take off from my home airport (1B9) just before dusk, and cruise over to Plymouth harbor (where the Pilgrims landed) for the show. The fireworks usually start around 9pm and make for an unreal viewing experience! If you have never seen fireworks from above, I highly recommend it.

The fireworks over Plymouth (MA) Harbor this past 4th of July.

The fireworks over Plymouth Harbor this past 4th of July.

Since I enjoy watching the fireworks I always try to make the flight. I like to bring a friend along for the fireworks too; this means I need to be night current. So not only will I make the 4th of July flight, but I will make a flight to get night current at some point prior. Thus, I have to make two flights, so it’s a win-win for me as a pilot!

Each year I make a flight on my birthday, the 4th of July and Christmas Eve. You can use any occasion as a reason to fly- the day you made your first solo, the day you earned your certificate or your birthday. Just having a couple of these flights will ensure that you are flying throughout the year. Give it a shot!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9