Discounted flying

Discounted flying

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of local ads in my area for “cheap” flight time and low-cost CFI time. I realize that there are a lot of aircraft owners who want their planes to fly as well as a lot of flight instructors who are desperate for flight time. The one thing that keeps popping in my head when I see low-cost rentals is this: How do you afford to keep good maintenance on that thing if you are renting it so cheap?

I’m not saying that the plane is going to quit on you or fall apart because it’s $20hr less than the flight schools down the runway but I do know, and pay attention to this next line because maybe you weren’t aware of this as a pilot, that if something goes wrong in an airplane you can’t pull over on the side of the road. So for my money and the people I love, I think I’ll rent a well maintained aircraft. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for a maintenance log.

Now comes in the CFI that is offering deeply discounted hourly rates. In my area, the going rate is $45-$55hr for a CFI. One thing that’s clear is that flight instructors are specialists, a CFII or MEI specializes even more! So let’s compare this to doctors, do general practitioners make less or more than, let’s say, a heart surgeon? No, of course not! So therefore I could see a CFI billing $45hr vs. a CFII/MEI billing $55hr. But not $20hr!

If you are a CFI reading this, do yourself a favor and don’t undervalue yourself! Charge the going rate but not half. For one thing you have a skill like not other and people should pay for it. On the other hand, are you really going to give that student 100% of your effort if you just took a “charity” job because you need to hurry and build hours for your resume? Don’t rip off your student’s with lack of your effort when they deserve more. If you are so desperate for time, then just give it away for free. You’ll get your hours faster, on to the airlines faster, making more money faster and you won’t make yourself a disgruntled employee because your only covering your gas to the airport and back.

If you are a student looking for “cheap” CFI time, good luck! You will, in most cases get what you pay for which is not what you deserve. Interview a few CFI’s and compare rates. Remember, would you rather pay for a “discounted” surgeon or buck up and get a good one! “But why would I pay you $45hr when I can get 2.25hrs CFI time for the same price from this guy who only charges $20?”  Dude! Because I don’t sell garbage! I have no problem telling a prospective student that we don’t discount our rates because we don’t discount the quality of our instruction. Yes I’ve lost a few prospects that way, but I’ve also got some very happy students as well.

You can find some good deals out there, you just have to look. For instance, we run a buy two hours of CFI time get one free at time of service. This is something we target towards BFR or PIC students as we know that we are encouraging safety and pilot activity by keeping them flying safe and proficient. This is not a buy 20hrs and get 10 free as I’ve had several calls on that one as well. As a CFI, charge a reasonable rate and provide quality instruction to your students. As a renter, if the deal looks to good, do your homework and find out why that aircraft is so cheap to rent, it could be that it’s been used as a bird’s nest for far too long under those shade hangers! No one said aviation was inexpensive and everyone should know better.

Hot Weather and Performance

Hot Weather and Performance


AOPA recently blasted out a good article on hot oil. Most of us are out flying this time of year and it’s down right hot. Not only are we uncomfortable in those old, non air conditioned aircraft, but so is our aircraft. During these summer months and depending on the time of day, where you are in the country and the field elevation your taking off from, your aircraft can work hard, very hard and very hot. Oil is the life blood of our engines and it is critical that you inspect in during pre-flight. Low oil pressure and high temps = potentially dangerous operating situations. Would you continue to drive your car with low oil and the temp gauge creeping up? Remember, you can’t “pull over” in the plane if the engine overheats.

What is your climb angle? A higher airspeed/lower angle of climb will help for a cooler engine but sacrifice rate of climb. Check your EGT, and adjust mixture if need be to keep a cooler operating temperature. A lean mixture will run your engine hot while a rich mixture will help cool the engine. Something you may need to know if you see your temperature increasing during flight.

Another option is to consult your mechanic to see if they can suggest appropriate oil for your particular plane. Some oils will provide better protection in hot operating environments. It is a time of year to be vigilant (as always) during the pre-flight inspection and ensure you have proper levels of oil. Be aware of your climb angle and fuel mixture so can adjust as necessary to fly a cooler and happier plane.




Wind Shear

Wind Shear

This is the time of year here in Utah and many places across the country we see convective activity. From afternoon thunderstorms, hot days and high humidity; we as pilots must be more vigilant about turbulence, down drafts, up drafts, side drafts (j/k), micro bursts, etc. You get the picture. Basically what could seem to be a calm pleasant flight can pose risks to small and large aircraft in the form of wind shear.

Wind shear is typically associated with micro bursts and is especially dangerous in the vicinity of the airport where aircraft are departing and landing. There are a few things we can look for as pilots that could warn us to micro bursts and wind shear:

  • Virga
  • Heavy precipitation
  • Rain showers
  • Blowing dust or swirls of dust
  • Temp/dew point spread between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Moderate to greater turbulence


A go around should be executed or appropriate recovery procedures for your aircraft if you notice the following:

  • +/- 15knots IAS
  • +/- 5 degree pitch attitude
  • +/- 500 fpm VSI
  • Unusual throttle position for an extended period of time (approach)
  • +/- 1 dot glideslope displacement (approach)


The best defense against wind shear and micro bursts is to avoid it. Learn to recognize the signs so you may fly clear of any danger. Remember that it could take up to 30 minutes for some micro bursts to dissipate, but better to circle or fly to your alternative than make the next NTSB report.


Intermountain Flight Services 801-560-7872

Aviation Weather Resources and Web Links

Here is just a good all around source of web links courtesy of Jeppesen CFI refresher course. Thanks to those guys over there and the AOPA Air Safety Institute!


The National Weather Service (NWS) site has official forecast products including graphic weather products, SIGMETs, and NOTAMs.

NWS’s Aviation Weather Center is becoming an increasingly important source of preflight weather information for pilots. Through this FAA-sanctioned site, you can obtain reports, forecasts, charts, including nearly real-time NEXRAD radar, and all weather information for a standard briefing.

Intellicast offers a number of graphic weather products, including advanced radar data from various sites.

Unisys provides an archive of graphical weather products on its weather site, which are helpful in identifying trends and historical weather patterns.

The Weather Channel is one location to obtain recent radar data for a particular region, as well as general forecast information.

NOAA posts a site with information from wind profiling systems across the nation.

The Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS), sponsored by the National Weather Service, provides graphics depicting winds, turbulence, PIREPs, and other aviation weather data.

The National Weather Association is a good site to obtain educational materials relevant to weather.

Other Resources

AOPA gives access to certain Jeppesen weather services for its members.

Jeppesen provides weather services to pilots and flight departments on a fee-for-service basis

Source: Jeppesen CFI Renewal Online-Weather for Pilots

Training with a Glass Cockpit

I recently had the pleasure of flying with another CFI, CFII, MEI who was telling me of a student needing a bi-annual flight review. This particular student was eager to do his review in a plane equipped with a Garmin G1000 (for you non-pilots, just Google it). Well unfortunately, the trainer was only equipped with a Garmin 430 avionics package and a Sandel HSI. The  $15,000+ avionics package was not cool enough compared to the $30,000+ G1000. Needless to say, he completed his flight review with out the G1000, did fine and insisted that next time he would find a plane for them with the G1000 package to fly.

The CFII and spoke about students wanting to train in technically advanced aircraft and had a discussion as to what type of student it would benefit and hinder.  Technically advanced aircraft or TAA basically means you have three things at a minimum:

  1. Moving map display
  2. Auto Pilot
  3. IFR certified GPS
A great publication by AOPA can be found here on TAA:
Looking at the cost for a Private Pilot Student, a TAA with an all glass cockpit would most likely not make sense financially as you would be able to get your private pilot rating and then spend 3+ hours training in a TAA with an instructor to familiarize yourself with the systems afterwards for less, especially in planes with G1000’s, which can cost upwards of an extra $50hr. You would save money to put toward more personal flying or an instrument rating. Of course if rich dad/grandpa is paying and they insist then you better not disappoint.
For the instrument pilot, my thought was similar to the private pilot scenario. You can still get a nice avionics package such as the Sandel HSI and a Garmin moving map GPS that’s IFR certified for much less than renting one with a glass cockpit. Although this plane would most likely be a TAA assuming the auto pilot, it would be a much cheaper TAA. Again after the certificate has been earned, getting caught up in an all glass cockpit would not take much.
Commercial pilot? Go do it in a 152 or Cherokee, it’s just the private pilot standards at a higher level.
So, should you train at all with a glass cockpit? I think you absolutely should, but don’t make it your primary trainer for a rating unless you are trying to break the bank. I think technology is our friend and if it makes us safer and better pilots without distracting us in the cockpit, then I’m all for it. Just remember that it is technology to make us safer. If you want to fly with your head down in the cockpit playing around with the avionics, don’t spend $150+ an hour, go buy or borrow the simulator and do it at home on your computer or tv. It’s safer and a cheaper way to familiarize your self with these systems.