It’s hot and DA is up! Plan to lighten the loads on those hot summer months. We are hitting density altitudes of 8,000ft from a 4,200 field elevation here in the Salt Lake City area. Ouch! Ask your self a few questions; “Do I need to take that? Do I need full tanks? Should I schedule morning flights vs mid day flights?” As the density altitude climbs, our air craft’s performance declines so consider all of the factors of performance and weight before you make a “go” decision.
I said this is just for Flight Instructors so stop reading now Private Pilot person! Just kidding, please do read especially if one day you hope to be teaching in the cockpit.
I recently had the experience here in Utah of dealing with the Department of Consumer Affairs. Now this was not a negative experience by all means but a learning experience for me. I hope to pass on this information to help other instructors/future instructors be prepared.
I am a contracted, independent instructor. That means that flight schools, flying clubs, aircraft owners, etc, hire me to teach in their planes. As an instructor, I take my job seriously and therefore professionally as well. Thus I have a LLC entity as my business structure. I also have things that every instructor should have: a specific business email (not a personal one that all my friends have), a website, blog (optional), a dedicated phone number and a business banking account (it’s much harder to write off pilot supplies when you purchase them via your personal account).
Recently the Utah Department of Consumer Affairs sent me a letter thinking I was a flight school that charge tuition and took up front fees. Keep in mind that as I write this, every state may be different on their regulations. They were pleasant to work with and I simply had to fill out an exempt application stating I was not a Part 141 school that accepted payments in advance for training. Here in Utah we have had some shoddy flight schools file bankruptcy and get sued after accepting tens of thousands of students’ loan money and not providing the training they promised.
So in a nut shell, if you are a current CFI or planning on becoming one, check with your local government to see where you would fall under and if you may need to establish your position in the aviation training community.
So one of the things that helps us keep moving is fuel. Yes I know it’s expensive but it is necessary to keep the engine running and thus, keep us from falling out of the sky. Since I’ve been flying, which is not long in many people’s books (10 years), I’ve seen av gas go from around $2.50 per gallon to over $5 here in Utah. Sometimes we don’t want to top off tanks for a number of reasons; weight limits, performance, we’re too poor, but keep one thing in mind, if you can get an extra gallon or two in the tanks without compromising safety or needed performance, wouldn’t that give you peace of mind? Who cares about your pocket-book, if you’re too cheap to add a few extra gallons, then I’d suggest maybe RC planes as I understand they are cheaper and if you crash them, well you are still alive.
Here is a good article from the NTSB, courtesy of Avemco: http://bit.ly/vefzAx
It emphasizes how important fuel is.
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
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.