It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like IFR Release Time…


The winter holidays are right around the corner, which means the majority of us will be embarking on some kind of journey, whether great or small. For many, this involves air travel. And while the majority of the population might be lamenting over the commute – being squished into the seats of a large airliner – those of us who are pilots get to walk a different path. The pilgrimage to see aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, siblings and all the varieties of in–laws might start with a flight from the front seat because you are flying your family to the holidays. You’ll get to keep your shoes on, not dread the parking situation, leave on your own schedule, probably have more room for legs and personal items, but most importantly, your holiday travel will start and finish with one of your favorite pastimes. And it’s always fun to tell distant relatives that you flew yourself in for the festivities.

If this is you and you are already thinking about your upcoming holiday flying adventure, while it may not yet be time to start pre–flighting the aircraft, this is the time to start pre–flighting your own piloting skills and making sure that you are ready for this undertaking.

We had a student come in to one of our schools last year a few weeks before Thanksgiving; he was flying the whole family several states away for their big family gathering in his Bonanza. Over the course of a few half days of training, he flew the entire route in one of our simulators – several times – in the worst weather we could create and with several different emergencies to deal with. Each day he left the school at the end of lessons feeling confident and worked out, having honed some skills and learned others. Not every scenario was an instant success, but a few days of concentrated practice resulted in him being able to conquer the challenges he might face in a worst–case scenario on his way to Colorado. His actual trip was obviously much less dramatic, but planning for the worst and “going back to school” for a few days made him feel more confident that his skills were ready for a long trip with the whole family.

Before you retract the landing gear and set your course for food, family and fun, come into one of our offices and get back into the classroom for a brush–up lesson or two to knock the rust off of some of those non–standard flying practices you haven’t used since your check ride; might as well make it a flight review, instrument currency or even an IPC. (You’re going to fly the time anyway, right?)

Remember that a flight simulator/training device is an educationally better, more cost–effective, usually more convenient, and far safer option for practicing skills, procedures, and especially emergencies than an airplane. Even some of the desktop or computer–based programs available will do a good job of allowing you to “fly” your trip, loading it up with road blocks and speed bumps, before actually flying your trip.

The holidays require their own preparation and planning as is, but adding an airplane to the mix – as enjoyable as it may be – does add a few more steps to ensure that everything goes smoothly; just ask Santa. Spend some time with a flight school, local CFI, or respectable senior pilot before you pack the cranberries and elastic waistband pants into your baggage compartment. It will be worth your time, and will provide an idyllic way to start and end your holiday excursion.

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10 Gift Ideas for Pilots


Pilots are a unique bunch and often appreciate a unique approach when it comes to gift giving. Now granted, as different as they are, pilots do wear clothes, eat food and go to movies; and it goes without saying, gift cards are always welcome. But for those who want to go a bit above and beyond, here are some suggestions from a few festive fellow flyers out there:

Backup Tablet.
The Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) is great, but a backup in the event of a failure is a must! A smaller – maybe less expensive – tablet can certainly fit this bill, i.e., an iPad Mini to back up the standard iPad. Even with a backup tablet, American Flyers recommends having backup paper charts as well; their batteries never die, nor do their screens break.

Spare Headset.
A backup for the pilot in the event their primary fails, or a primary headset for passengers. Choose well because it may be snuggly clinging to your head on your next flight with them!

Handheld Radio.
This makes an unplanned radio or electrical failure a much easier process. Devices range in price and functionality from the most basic at $150 to having both communication and navigation functions at $400; choose whichever fits best into your gifting budget.

Mountable Camera.
Recorded flights can provide both education and entertainment. Rest assured that reviewing these pilot “home movies” is significantly more exciting than slide shows across Egypt or a 1987 video tour of a paper production plant in Nekoosa.

Warm–weather Gear.
Jackets with built–in rechargeable heaters or heated gloves will ensure that the winter tundra of the frozen north doesn’t rush the outside–the–aircraft inspection that every good pilot performs. Consider garnishing your gift with a large thermos and a few packets of hot chocolate.

Gift Certificate for Flying.

Consider a weekend course to add a seaplane rating, a little time in a tail dragger or behind the stick of a war bird, or an hour in a military jet. Besides the addition to the logbook, the joy of the experience is a gift that will last a lifetime!

Shielding your eyes from the bright sun is a necessity in aviation and a bonus for those of us wishing to be able to see into our 50’s. Polarized sunglasses are great, but many modern avionics already have polarized screens, so a little knowledge of the cockpit of your pilot–giftee is necessary here.

Flight Jacket.
Nylon, leather, sheepskin… the classic WWII bomber jackets are always an eye turner, and they provide the perfect canvas for those desiring to spice them up with various pieces of aviation flair. Plus, they stylishly announce to the world that the wearer is a pilot.

Pilot Travel Books.
State–by–state guides to the best airport fly–in restaurants, airports in close proximity to fun destinations and attractions, or noteworthy airports to brag about in your flying memoirs (see KLXV, Leadville County in Colorado) will help your pilot get the most out of that airplane. Most of these guides will fit comfortably into a flight bag or aircraft glove compartment and will get the creative and adventurous juices flowing.

During this time of celebration, giving of thanks, and all–around fellowship, companionship is the gift that will pre–heat the pilot heart the most. Toys, devices and “things” are nice, but every pilot out there desires most to fly, and to share their passion for flight with others. A “Co–pilot Coupon,” redeemable for a reserved seat next to them during their next slipping of surly bonds is quite simply the best gift you can give to your pilot friend.

Happy shopping, enjoy the holiday season, and always remember that it is far better to give a PIREP than to receive a holding clearance.

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Featured Staff: Kasey King

Kasey King

Kasey King is a graduate of Western Michigan University and American Flyers’ 30-Day Flight Instructor Academy in Addison, TX. After completing the academy, Kasey King started teaching for us in Addison. After a few months of instructing, he volunteered to leave Dallas to help instruct at our school in Morristown, NJ. He returned to Texas – just in time to avoid the northern winter – where his experience made him an ideal candidate to become one of our Check Instructors, providing quality control and oversight to our pilot courses.

Two years ago, Kasey was promoted to one of the Addison school’s Chief Pilots, where his contagious energy and aviation know-how could help guide and mentor new flight instructors as well as continue to guide students’ programs. After another year, Kasey was asked to permanently relocate to Morristown to serve as the primary Chief Pilot, and this past spring Kasey became the Morristown School Director. He also currently serves on American Flyers’ National Safety Board, where he contributes to American Flyers’ commitment to safety planning and management in all our schools.

Kasey is one of the most positive and exuberant pilots you will ever meet.

Whether on the phone behind the Director’s desk or in person walking through the school and on the flight line, Kasey’s passion for flying and teaching excellence is palpable, making him an invaluable asset to the American Flyers family.

Stop by Morristown Airport this winter – get out of the cold – and come say “hello” to Kasey King.m

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Flight Path from Maintenance Intern to Chief Pilot

Paul Janecki

Paul Janecki has been serving the general aviation community as a member of the American Flyers’ team for over 30 years. Originally from Illinois, Paul started with American Flyers in Fort Lauderdale as part of our Maintenance Intern program in the early 1980’s. Upon completion of the intern program, Paul began working as an instructor for us, eventually working his way up to Chief Pilot and School Manager.

All this experience is why we have asked Paul to spearhead the grand opening of our new office in Scottsdale, AZ. When opening a new office, you need a jack of all trades, and that’s Paul in a nutshell. Paul has performed 100’s of maintenance inspections, provided 1000’s of hours of instruction (he has over 3,000 hours in Cessna 310’s alone), and he is very enthusiastic about the growth of our Scottsdale office.

Paul is an invaluable resource to the American Flyers family. We’re incredibly proud of him and would love for you to meet him. If you’re able, please stop by our new office and say hello to our “jack of all trades.”

Thank you, Paul, for all your hard work. You make American Flyers a better place to work and train.

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