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Tips and Techniques to try in a Single-Engine Land Airplane, Radio Communications Technique, My Approach to Learning to Fly a New Plane, A New Book is in the Works.

August 2022

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Tips and Techniques to try in a Single-Engine Land Airplane - Pro Tips Series.

In previous newsletters, we presented tips for operating and teaching in light twins. This new series will give you three monthly tips for flying light single-engine airplanes. Then, over the year, we will move on to tips for Seaplanes, Gliders, etc.

Lets start with this month's three tips:

  1. When an airplane is coordinated correctly, you don't feel like you are sliding left or right in your seat. Instead, you feel straight up and down. Learning to sense this shifting in your seat and using the rudder to stay coordinated is a learned skill but it's not super complicated. DON'T look at the ball and make an input. If the ball is out of the center, the yaw has already happened, and you are just fixing what should not have happened. Feel any motion left or right and keep yourself upright.

  2. When arriving at a high elevation airport, enter the traffic pattern, momentarily set takeoff power, and lean the mixture for peak RPM. The mixture is already set for peak RPM if you need to go around.

  3. When preflighting airplanes, in particular newer Cessna 172s, close the doors. Models after the 172N model don't have stops, so if a gust of wind catches the door, it can push the door open and damage the hinges. In some airplanes, there are door stops to prevent this, but it's always a good practice to keep the doors closed and, if needed, the windows open.

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Radio Communications Technique – How to get what you want more often!

In this article, I will talk about how to talk to ATC in such a way as to communicate to them that you are competent, and if they give you what you are asking for, you won't be a burden to them. You hear pilots constantly chiming in at inappropriate moments, missing radio calls, and so forth. In the controller's mind, they are thinking about how much extra attention will be needed for that pilot and how they can get the person out of their sector without compromising safety.

I'm not going to focus on what to say because you should already know what to ask for. I am going to focus on how to say what you want. If you use this simple technique, you'll have a controller that is more likely to grant your wish and feel confident that you won't mess up the works.

First, it's essential to listen to the frequency and see how busy it is. Controllers will speed up their cadence when it gets busy. They will also leave shorter time for readbacks, check-ins, etc. Here is the technique:

  1. Match the cadence of the controller; if they are speaking faster, you should too.

  2. Listen for how much space the controller is putting in between pilots. That is the amount of time you have too. It may be necessary to just say your call sign with the term "request" rather than blurting out everything you need in one go.

  3. If there are significant gaps and the controller isn't busy, then go ahead and ask for what you want all in one go.

  4. Using these simple techniques, the controller will recognize that you know how to handle a busy environment and that you are paying closer attention to the frequency and controller workload. It's moments like these that you'll be able to get what you want more often.

My Approach to Learning to Fly a New Plane – This has worked so far!

The last time I looked, I had logged over 16,000 hours, mostly in light GA airplanes. That's just about two years 24/7 in the air. I started flying in 1984, became a flight instructor in 1995, a Pilot Examiner for the FAA in 1998, and gained UK licenses and Examining Authority with the CAA. I also flew a Cessna Citation CJ around 2001 or so. So, I've been around the block. I also fly around 67 airplane makes/models. So why am I telling you this?

Because every airplane I get checked out in, I'm afraid of initially. That's right. I've got a huge yellow streak. I believe that helps me because so far, I've not had an accident or violation. I'm initially reluctant to approach the airplane, but that fades as I implement this approach to airplane checkouts I'll describe now.

Here's my approach to a new airplane. Adopt it, and you'll be a safer, more confident, and even efficient pilot.

  1. I never get into an airplane that I'm going to end up flying unless I've read the POH and, in particular, the Limitations section. I want to understand what's different than the other airplanes I fly and what the danger areas are. So before I fly anything, I've read and pulled off various speeds and limitations on a checkout sheet.

  2. On the first flight, I don't want to do any maneuvers. I just want to make a flight to another airport and see how the airplane behaves. How hard is it to slow down, what visibility do the windows offer, etc.

  3. On the maneuvers flight, we do all of the general handling, including engine failures and in a twin, single-engine operations. If there is time, we'll do takeoffs and landings.

  4. If another flight is necessary, it will be for takeoffs, landings, go-arounds, and emergency procedures.

This method allows me to understand what I'm getting into and where potential danger areas are. It allows me to see the airplane being flown to another airport like it should be flown, and then I'm ready to dig into the maneuvers, emergencies, and takeoffs, and landings.

A New Book is in the Works, and it's not a Training Book – Built for Pilots and the Flying Public.

It's about time I wrote a book that wasn't specifically about flight training techniques and procedures. No, it's not fiction either. Yes, it has a chapter on flight training.

The book is in the works and will be done in about a year. The title is "Aviation's dirty little secrets – What the public should know about flying."

This book paints a picture of how airplanes come into service, who checks them, how pilots are training, where they come from, who air traffic controllers are, and so on. It is meant to educate the non-pilot public about how the pieces fit together from all aspects of aviation so that their flight can depart somewhere and arrive safely.

In the first chapter, I debunk a lot of what the public thinks is true about flying, such as where pilots come from. They almost always think we all were pilots in the military. They also believe we have perfect vision, are constantly in radar contact, ATC is always telling us what to do, and so on. With the air now being cleared, so to speak, they are ready to then dive into other chapters like, How Pilots become Airline Pilots. How Airplanes are Certified, How Air Traffic Controllers are selected, trained, how their schedule looks, and so on.

I hope this book will shed light on aviation in general and dispel people's many beliefs about flying. For those who are afraid of flying, it should give enough detail to put them more at ease. For those who have no fear, it will open the door a little into the process and see where there can be issues to be concerned about.

As I write this book, I'll look for input from our newsletter and CFI Classes about other things that may be needed to include in it. I'm giving myself a year to complete it. I'll fit it into the million other things I have to do this coming year. Oh well, writing is kind of what I do.

Are you looking to do CFI training because there is a need in your area?

CFI Bootcamp is looking to partner with existing schools and/or CFIs who want to teach initial flight instructors but don’t have a system. We have a press and play syllabus that runs our 7-day immersion in-person or Zoom class. Each hour has a lesson plan, and all of our custom resources and FAA resources are right next to the lesson plan to click and use.

This kind of training would work for both of us if you are in a busy aviation market or you are aligned with a College or Large school that needs to make CFIs but doesn’t have the staff or time.

Target Major Markets for us are:

  1. Seattle

  2. Denver

  3. Phoenix

  4. Dallas

  5. Chicago

  6. New York

If you are interested in this, please email Mike Shiflett at or call 650-600-1021.

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