U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


January 1999 




Thought for the month....We're all going down the same road in different directions.

SKIP THE BUMPS?....The flying business is a constantly changing environment. In the last 10 years or so, there's been a significant change in the way people prepare for a career in aviation. The traditional process of getting a commercial certificate and then instructing and flying charter to build time still works. However, more and more pilots are finding that they can get a paying seat by attending professional flight training schools and by-passing the traditional bumpy road.

One of the benefits of becoming a flight instructor is that it will sharpen our technical skills and enlighten us on the human element in flying. It will also increase our understanding of aviation decision making and judgment in a way that nothing else can. Having said that however, there's nothing worse, or more harmful to aviation, than a person who is a CFI, but doesn't want to be there. Not everyone who wants to fly, wants to teach.

Because of technological advances in cockpit design, there are benefits to receiving specialized focused training. Several hundred hours of flight instruction in a logbook are great to have, but they might not provide a lot of insight into glass cockpits and flight management systems. Showing up at an employer's door with an ATP and a type rating would certainly be a benefit. On the other hand, knowing how to program a flight computer probably won't help our piloting skills nearly as much as teaching spins and performance maneuvers.

Some people argue that basic stick and rudder skills are not as important in professional flying as they used to be. It's true that automation in flying has created pilots who are flight system managers more than flight control manipulators. But I would argue that just the reverse is true regarding basic flying skills. As long as all the magic is working, most modern aircraft can do a great job of flying themselves. When something breaks however, high quality flying skills coupled with "been there, done that" experience, is going to save the day. One only needs to look at aviation in emerging countries around the world to verify that fact. Commercial aviation is experiencing its greatest growth in countries that have no indigenous pilot population. There's no general aviation, no flight instructors, no chance to haul checks on dark icy nights - no chance to pay your "dues". As a result, the accident rate in these countries is many times higher than in the USA.

I was fortunate that early in my flying career some experienced aviators took me aside and said; "Lookit' here son. If you plan on any longevity in aviation, you'd better find something to do in addition to jockeying throttles. There's lots of good pilots around, and frankly, you ain't the best!" With that good advice, I became a flight instructor, and also branched off into the safety field. I've tried to pass on that same advice to other fledgling pilots. If you take the time to meet some of the people managing the large training centers, you will probably find out that most of them are flight instructors. Any FAA approved flight school must have a Chief Flight Instructor, properly certificated and meeting certain experience requirements. Likewise, all the airlines have their own training departments and CFI's are a valuable resource when selecting people to teach in them. If you really want to meet the boss and make a good impression on him, where do you suppose that's most likely to happen? Out flying the line - or in the training center when he attends recurrent.

Still, avoiding the bumpy road may be the fast track and the best way to invest your time and money. An important consideration is that a structured school environment is designed to provide the training while avoiding most of the pitfalls, i.e., if you follow the syllabus and don't stray from the narrow path, you probably won't have to learn about FAA enforcement actions first hand. Acquiring experience the "traditional" way will be less costly. You might even make some money-(just kidding)-but you'll be out there doing it. Deep water, no life guard. The only syllabus you'll have is the one you create for yourself. The path won't be narrow, sometimes it won't be visible at all. If you elect to become an active CFI, you'll learn more about flying than you ever thought possible. It won't be the smoothest way but sometimes it's best not to skip the bumps.

ST. LOUIS CFI OF THE YEAR....Each year active flight instructors are recommended for consideration as the Certified Flight Instructor of the Year. This Year's nominee from the St. Louis District Office is Mr. Jim Heinz. Jim is a familiar face at safety seminars and is well known and respected throughout the community. In 1989 and 1990, he volunteered to be chairperson for the airspace committee which dealt with how the Class B Airspace would look in St. Louis. His efforts were acknowledged by both user groups and the FAA. His nomination has been forwarded to Kansas City for consideration as the Central Region CFI of the Year. Best of luck Jim.

Upcoming Events:

Jan. 23
Boeing Building 33.
Super Safety Seminar.
8 AM to 1 PM.

Feb. 12 & 13
IA Renewal Seminar,
Parks College at St Louis University
Programs and exhibits.

Feb. 13
Maintenance Seminar and Exhibit for Pilots and Mechanics.
Programs and exhibits of interest to pilots, owners and maintenance technicians.

Feb. 20 & 21
Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association Flight
Instructor Renewal Clinic.
Parks College at St. Louis University.

Mar. 23
Runway Incursions.
Panorama Lanes, Belleville, IL
Illinois Pilots Association.


Safety Program Manager

1-800-322-8876 x 4835


"May Day"