Why go for a Night Flight?

Flights at night are great because all is calm, usually quiet, and the view during the preflight is unbeatable! 🙂

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Student – Instructor Relationships: Ones That Soar

One of my students earned their Private Pilot License today, making me so proud! He texted me this evening, it went something like “thank you for all your help, I was well prepared and owe it all to you.” Wow. It’s great to get a thank you and feel appreciated but really as an instructor we are only part of the equation.

To students:

  • Work hard and know that it wasn’t just your teacher that led to your success.
  • Your hard work and dedication is what will ultimately lead to success in your endeavors. No amount of pure instruction will lead to it. Read what you’re asked to read, study what you’re asked to study, and pay attention!
  • If you don’t care, your teacher probably won’t either.
  • Be thankful for a great teacher.

To instructors:

  • Know your shtuff (…and yes I meant shtuff), no person ever knows EVERYTHING.
  • Provide the tools for your students. Go the “extra mile”, I say go two. Or ten. Or one-hundred. Make your job a labor of endurance: just when it looks like you’re reaching the finish line, push a little harder.
  • Give your students all you can, they won’t care if you don’t.
  • Be grateful for a good student.

I will be the first to admit I am nowhere near perfect. Heck I probably don’t even pass as average (if that could be measured) and I think many instructors often lose sight of the real picture: We are students. I’m not the one who always thinks myself a student. I have to have those nudges that push me along or remind me who I really am so my pride can take a step back. This leads to my last (little) blurb: Please thank one another – it really does feel good! It’s always refreshing as an instructor to receive a thank you, and it helps us “keep at it”. It feels great as a student to know that your instructor appreciates the time and work you put into accomplishing something, anything! Plus, it inspired this post!

So let your relationship soar! 🙂

Do you have any stories of a great student or instructor? What made the difference? I’d love to update the two lists above to help others and I’d love to hear it because it helps me improve too!

To our studies,

Up in the Air

To Fly or Not To Fly: The Benefits

To fly or not to fly? If you’re me, that’s no question at all. I’d fly a plane until the wings fell off…of course, hopefully I’d have a parachute on and a prayer in mind, I’d also have to do it where no FAA guy would find out, and of course I’d have to either have enough fuel on board or refueled many, many, many………many times, in the air. But on to the entire point of this….

You’ve heard of aviation, pilots, airlines, air travel and such. You probably know a pilot, maybe a family member, friend, or neighbor. Maybe you’ve been interested in planes since you were little. Maybe you’ve been interested in flying. Maybe you’ve never had an interest in either or perhaps in something else… You might be thinking flying is too expensive for you, it’s an expensive hobby with not much to show in the end. Maybe not. Maybe your family doesn’t support the idea, maybe you don’t support the idea.

Believe it or not, these are extremely common situations, and I see it nearly every day. I was working just the other day and overheard a conversation on very similar topics (yes, I was eaves-dropping, but sometimes you can’t help it in a quiet building, so shhh…). A man who hangars his airplane at the airport, took some acquaintances flying. From the looks of it, they were not close friends, they were friendly with each other of course, but the only reason he seemed to have taken them flying was to show them how much fun it was and to be open to them. At the end of their flight they began talking about both the expenses and the conveniences of flying. It hit home for me. This man did a great job of being realistic about it all, remaining enthusiastic and encouraging the whole time.

What does it all boil down to? It boils down to worth. What is flying worth to you? Do you care if you spend and don’t receive anything back but the intangible, or are you the type that weighs the costs and benefits – looking for what you will get in return?

For example:

You need to drive somewhere that will take you six hours in a car. In a plane, say a Piper Warrior or Cessna 172 , you can get there in maybe two and a half hours. Not looking at anything else, is this worth it to you?

Lets look at a time table. You have a lunch meeting (business or pleasure, you pick) that will last perhaps 2 hours. You’re meeting everyone at 11:30am. In a car, you will need to leave at…hopefully 5:30am…planning on no traffic. Okay, so you make it on time, and everything is wrapped up by 1:30pm. You say your goodbyes, and after filling up on gas you’re on your way again by 2pm. With no traffic , and no stops, you’ll be getting hope around 8pm. Long day? I know I would hit the hay after that…but then again, I’m not a morning person. In a plane you might plan on being at the airport by 7:30 (to be safe) and taking off by 8:30am, giving you half an hour to get from the airport you’re arriving at (11:00am arrival) to wherever you need to be. Again lunch is up by 1:30pm and you’re on your way to the airport by 2:00pm. You take off by 3:00pm (being conservative) and arrive at your home airport by 5:30 pm. No sooner than you land, you’re greeted by your wife or husband when you walk in the door at 6:00pm. Dinner is on the table, and you’re hungry! Eat up, then go relax. If you’re me, you’d enjoy that – maybe get in a good movie before you’re off to bed, because after all, you didn’t get up before the sun.

Let’s quickly look at finances…Assume you own your airplane, I have never owned an airplane, and don’t deal with maintenance and insurance, so that would be something you would have to do your own homework on for now. This is what I do know: My car, if I’m not driving like a maniac, gets about thirty miles per gallon. Lets assume that six hour trip is 360 miles and I drive sixty miles per hour the entire time…that’s using twelve gallons of gas one way, and twenty-four gallons round trip. At $3 a gallon, that’s $72. I can usually lean out a Piper Warrior to burn six gallons per hour. On a two and a half hour trip that’s fifteen gallons. At roughly $4.75 per gallon, round $71.25 up to $72, and it’s the exact same fuel cost.

What is time worth to you? If time doesn’t matter, how about the fun? What is the enjoyment worth? What is it worth to your family to see you home for dinner? Is it worth maintenance and insurance? You may have another reason to fly, that I haven’t thought of just yet. Whatever your reason, think about it – what you come up with may surprise you (or I could be wrong…I admit I sometimes am, okay, I can’t admit that but you get my point…I think)! 🙂

Happy flying, and see you next time.

Up in the Air

Originally Written: April 29, 2010

Farewell to Miami

I’ve been crazy busy the last few weeks (who isn’t?). Some changes are happening. I moved to Miami barely a year ago and I’m moving yet again. While I’m happy to be leaving Miami (Florida just isn’t for me), there is some sadness to it…take a look and see why! 🙂

I’ve enjoyed my time here and it has been a great experience, but it is time to move on!

Be back soon,

Up in the Air

(I recently discovered Instagram and now have a gallery open to purchase any photos you might like, including some from this post: instacanv.as/cskarp – all support is appreciated!)

Love of Sunsets…and Ducks!

Ducks out on patrol! 🙂

Okay, I love sunsets! Probably because I’m wide awake for them compared to the opposite time of day!

So, is it just me or is there something in the water in the second photo? I didn’t notice until I got home and looked… 🙂 Weird.

To many sunsets,

Up in the Air

First time flying experiences are always the best! This is flying from the perspective of fresh eyes! 🙂

theThinkingArnold

I had the privilege of flying yesterday morning over the city I currently live in, Santa Barbara. And this has been possible thanks to my good friend Julien Lecomte, who just had his license.

After a night of bad sleep, I got up at 6 AM, packed my photo gear and drove to the Santa Barbara airport, where he was waiting for me. After sneaking in the airport (you just open a small door with a card and you are in. I wish you could do that at LAX too!), we prepared the airplane (especially me), filled it with fuel and took off. By the way, don’t go to refill you car at the airport, it’s more expensive…

It was an amazing experience that everybody should try at least once in their life. Plus, I always wanted to be a pilot since I was a kid, and even if I…

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Flying into a Bad Decision

It doesn’t matter how good you are. Poor decisions will lead to poor results.

Ahh frustration…the deceiving villain that always seems to lurk in the recesses of the mind of a student pilot (pilots too I should say!)…Not very conducive to learning and it always seems to come up when you least expect it.

Weather had been holding my student and I back from completing our cross country for some time. Finally a day came that we thought we could get it done. Weather was reported to be fine, good VFR (Visual Flight Rules) weather.

About half an hour into our flight we came across an ever thickening layer of clouds. Perfect scenario.

“What should we do?”

I was no help. “What do you wanna to do?”

We contemplated back and forth but ultimately he made the right decision despite his desire to continue on. Did his mind let him believe that? Maybe the frustration, as it crept out from between the cracks, wanted to sabotage a perfectly sound decision.

I could tell he was feeling pretty down and I wanted to help cheer him up. “You want to do a little landing practice before we head in?” Like a little more frustration would help…I wish I could go back!

“Sure,” was the not so sure reply.

We changed course to an airport near our home base. 10,000 feet long. How can you go wrong?

  • We overshot final. Three times.
  • We did a go around. Twice.
  • We climbed out on go around 20 knots too fast. Every time.

This was my star student! What happened?… Well partially, I happened.

He was frustrated. I later found out he missed a gathering with friends the night before so he could make the flight at 7am. He had really wanted to go to the party. But that doesn’t matter. As an instructor it’s my job to tell when someone is just not ready for learning. This was bound to be “one of those days” from the moment he decided not to go out the night before. That part can’t be avoided. Had the clouds not been there we probably would have continued on not knowing how close the flight was to a mental disaster.

We flew back to our home airport as if someone had just died; Tip toeing our words around each other for the benefit of the other. No fun. If anything was learned we both learned how quickly things can go downhill.

There was a lot I did wrong on this flight.

  • While the weather reports pointed to good weather I failed to make sure my student was ready to go (as much as I could).
  • I took us from one frustrating event and put us in a situation that can often be the most frustration-producing …landing.
  • I overestimated my students abilities to cope with frustration.
  • I tried to make him feel better (at his expense)…

Remember, as an instructor it’s not our job to make a student “feel” better, it’s our job to show them what they did well and what they need work on. Positive is good but a healthy dose of reality is key. Most of all take responsibility when it’s due…I completely own up to the fact that I alone screwed up the remainder of the flight.

For the students out there:

  • Things will not always go your way, be prepared for it and realize that it’s not just you…and like everyone else you will need to keep working at it.
  • Don’t let frustration get to you, yes I know that’s why it’s frustration but don’t let it own you. Even once you have your license there will be frustrations and you’re going to need to be able to handle them…

Did I miss anything? Let me and everyone else know your thoughts! Comment below and you’ll be helping both me and others improve. Thanks!

Fly safely,

Up in the Air