Category Archives: Education

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dangers of using a gopro in flight

The Dangers Of Using A GoPro In Flight

Category : Education

Go Pros and other action cameras are fun to use. Recording your flight has many advantages – from catching things you missed, to improving a technique based on re-watching your videos. But is there a darker side to their use?

We decided to dive into some of the dangers of using action cameras during your flight.

Where is your attention?

The first question, which is arguably the biggest issue, is where is your attention in your flight. Now, PRE-flight is even MORE of an issue. Are you more concerned with getting your camera ready than the aircraft? Did you miss checking your oil levels because you were too busy setting up your GoPro?

Yes, that sounds like an extreme but you can be sure that it happens more than one might think.

To add more to this…where is your attention in flight? Are you more concerned with what the camera is seeing or what you are doing to control the aircraft? Sure, it could be really awesome to post that “near miss” experience on your YouTube channel, but if you were paying attention outside the plane like you were supposed to the incident NEVER should have happened.

Relying on your video

Some of our students and pilots use a GoPro to capture their flight for further evaluation. This can be a great way to “arm chair quarterback” your flight. Pulling up the video (and audio if you have that capability) can provide insight into your flying to help you improve. However, much like the first point, if you rely on your past videos for what to do instead of what the aircraft is telling you, you may find yourself in a more dangerous situation than you intended to get into.

Visibility

As any camera person will tell you, placing the camera in the right location is fairly important. However, if your camera is in a place that restricts your ability to “see and avoid” you have created a hazardous situation for yourself and other aircraft in the air.

Placing the camera in an out of the way spot so you have the greatest visibility is the best way to handle this. On the wing or behind you in the cock pit are some great places. These positions provide great shots while ensuring that your visibility as the pilot in command is not compromised.

Showing off for the camera

NTSB files are full of accidents that happened because the pilot was trying to show off their skills and impress their passengers. This becomes even more dangerous when you are trying to show off for the camera so people around the world can see you.

Becoming a YouTube star is only a great idea if your flying is safe. Don’t invite unwanted attention to your flying because you “just wanted to see what it looked like on camera.”

What happens if it falls?

Now that you’ve set up the camera in the right location and ensured that it didn’t interfere with your checklists and safety of flight – it falls. What do you do?

If your answer is to dig around your feet (assuming it was inside) or worry about where it dropped on the ground you may want to check your priorities. Always, always fly the aircraft first. Your video is not worth putting you in more danger. Fly the aircraft. First. Always.

What are some of the dangers that you’ve seen from using a Go Pro in flight? What’s something we missed. We are always happy to get your opinion on the matter. Let us know in the comments.


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What Does It Take To Learn To Fly

Category : Education , guest-posts

The following is a guest post by one of our students who has earned her private pilot’s certificate and continues to fly with us – Bobbie Lind.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was learning to fly. It was challenging, fun, exhilarating, frustrating at times and ultimately the most freeing experience of my life. And that’s just the last flight I took.

Being a pilot has some awesome benefits. Very few of my friends fly so I have the cool factor of being the only pilot in the group. I can get to a place for lunch and back again that would take all day or more in a car. And when the kids bring home their class mascots we take them flying.

For the last 4 years, whenever I talk to someone who is not a pilot I get asked the same question. “What does it take to learn to fly”? Now, you can do a lot of research online to get different variations of answers for this question. You can even read this blog post here on Del Sol’s website.

I’m going to answer this question a little differently. It takes 3 things to learn to fly.

  1. Purpose
  2. Preparation
  3. Participation

Purpose

This is your why. Why do you WANT to learn to fly? What is the driving reason that makes you interested in learning to fly? In my opinion, this is the single most important thing about learning to fly.

Why?

Because it is your motivation – and ultimately, it’s what will keep you going through some of your tougher lessons.

Some pilots want to make a career out of it. Some pilots want to further their business by reducing travel time. Other pilots grew up in aviation following their parents or grandparents around the airport.

Me, I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to break free of the rut and monotony I was in. I wanted freedom and excitement. And I wanted to do something that very few people ever do. So, I called up Del Sol and started my flight training.

Knowing this why for me helped to get me over some of the slumps student pilot’s experience. I was on track to do something cool. Every time I would land the plane during one of our lessons I had a huge smile on my face. And when my friends and coworkers asked how flying was going I had a huge smile on my face. I was constantly reminded of my why. And that kept me motivated to complete my training.

Preparation

There are several things that anyone can do before they call their local flight school. It will significantly help them on their journey to being a pilot. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a great start.

First, understand that learning to fly is an investment. In yourself and in safety. And it’s best not to look for the cheapest deal when you are investing in yourself and your safety. Some operations that have super low prices cut corners and skimp on the quality of your training. Now, not always…but sometimes.

Quality of training and Value are more important that the overall costs. That’s not to say that I would go to the most expensive flight school either. Which school gives you the best instructors? Can the school teach you in a way that you understand? Does the school have planes that give you a solid foundation in flying (and it’s not always the ones with all electronic gadgets and gizmos).

Secondly, there are a few things you can learn – or start learning – before you even take your first flight lesson.

Weather and weather patterns. It is so critical to flying that you can never have too much information about weather and what it means. Understand clouds and what they mean. Understand what the forecast means. You don’t have to get specific into aviation forecasting as you will learn that in your lessons, but a basic understanding of weather and clouds will go a long way in your training.

Airport signage is another thing you can easily find online and start learning. Here is a great PDF put out by AOPA to get you started. Most types of flying have you taking off or landing on an airport. The markings, lighting and basic operations of an airport are critical. And you can test yourself even if you get on an airliner by looking out the window and seeing if you can tell where you are, what the markings mean, and what taxiways and runway you are on.

Participation

The last thing it takes to learn to fly is participation. This is where you really start doing things to learn to fly.

Go and get your 3rd class medical. This is when you visit an Aviation Medical Examiner. This is not your regular family practice doctor, but a doctor who has been certified by the FAA to give Aviation medical exams. You can find a list of them in your area here. If it is your first aviation medical you will get your student pilot certificate with your passed medical paperwork.

Getting your medical and student pilot certificate out of the way first is helpful for a few reasons. If you have any concerns about medications you are taking or your past medical history you can work with the physician to understand what does and does not affect your abilities to fly. It is one way to save money before learning to fly. Let me be clear though, you DO NOT need your medical and student pilot certificate to start learning to fly. You do, however, need them before you can solo the plane.

Call the flight school of your choice and schedule a discovery flight or your first lesson. If the school offers discovery flights take that choice. It is actual flying and gives you a good introduction into what you can expect for additional lessons.

Lastly, be an active participant in your training. Ask questions, keep track of the flying you are doing and be vocal about what you like and what you are struggling with. It will help your instructor to tailor the lessons to you and will make your flight lessons much more enjoyable for you.

There you have it. It only takes 3 things to learn to fly…. Purpose, Preparation, Participation. With those 3 things in mind your future as a pilot should be a bright, safe and exciting one.

If you’re a pilot, how do you answer the question “What does it take to learn to fly”? Do you have any additional insight to potential pilots on what they need to do to learn? Do you have any resources that you point pilots to? Let us know in the comments.


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22 Money-Saving Ways To Keep Flight Training Costs Down

Category : Education

Learning to fly is an investment in yourself. It may be for a future career, it may be to expand your current business or it may be for the pure excitement of freedom and fun. Whatever your reasons, it’s an investment.

Here is a list of 22 different ways to keep your training costs down.

Prepare for each lesson

The more you know about what’s going to happen at your next lesson the more you can affect your training. Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a good meal. Have all the material you need for your flight. It’s amazing how difficult it is to learn when you don’t have the basic needs covered. If you have to repeat a lesson because you were too tired or hungry to focus you can add an exponential amount to your overall training costs.

Study your checklists

Know what procedure is done when. Know what task comes it what order. The more you fumble with your checklists because you don’t know them, the less confidence your instructor may have in your ability to solo. This means more repeat lessons.

keep-flight-training-costs-down

Now, while you should study them, and memorize them if you can, we don’t mean don’t use them. Your memory is not a steel trap. You can forget things, and sometimes it can be a life or death step you missed. So, know your checklists, but use them to be sure you don’t miss a critical step.

Do your homework – study

There is a LOT of information you need to know to learn to fly safely. Most of it is learned on the ground. The more you study your books, the concepts, the maneuvers and the regulations the less time you spend with a flight instructor ‘teaching’ you.

Armchair flying – watch videos, fly in your mind, study your cockpit

“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head” – Jack Nicklaus (Golfer)

Armchair flying, or practice of visualization is a tool that many professional athletes, successful business people and actors use to become better at what they do. It saves them time and money because they can do it over and over and over again in their mind, perfecting as they go.

This isn’t limited to only doing it in your mind, though. Watch videos and learn from other people. Take a picture of your cockpit, put it on a poster board, sit at your desk and simulate flying. The more ways you can learn a concept, the more it solidifies in your very fiber.

Take caution though, as practicing something – even in your mind – is only effective if you practice it the right way. So, learn the fundamentals and learn them properly. Practice makes permanent – perfect practice makes perfect.

Record your flight lesson

Grab your GoPro or your Garmin Virb and an audio cable and record your flights. This will help you relive your flight when you aren’t so overwhelmed with flying the plane. You can see your mistakes and think about how to correct it next time. You can pause your flight and really solidify your sight-picture for a maneuver. You can practice your radio communications while you don’t have to focus on controlling the plane.

Another note of caution on this one as well. DON’T let the recording of your lesson compromise your safety of flight. It is better to not have this feature, than to be so worried about your recording that you forget to fly.

Talk with other pilots

Pilots love to share their stories. And most of them will have a lesson or two to learn. Some of our stories are when we had the smoothest touchdown ever, that one time we dealt with turbulence or even that time we forgot to remove the tail tie down. Regardless of it being a good story or a lesson learned, talking with other pilots can be an amazing way to increase your own confidence.

Also, the more you talk with pilots, the more chances you may have to go up in a plane with another pilot. The more you are around planes and pilots the more you learn. And it only costs you some time and an exercise in listening.

Share flight time

Similar to talking with other pilots and taking the offer to go up in their plane is the ability for you to share flight time with other pilots. If they are instructors they may let you fly the plane. If you find another pilot who isn’t an instructor then you can be their safety pilot. Or you can have the company of another pilot on your flight as you build your confidence.

As always, whether you’re flying the plane or just in the front passenger seat, you are learning.

Spend less time on the ground – fly often, stay current, train consistently

The more you fly, the more you retain. It’s like riding a bike. When you first started out learning to ride you didn’t get on the bike once ride for a bit and then put the bike away for a month and try again. You got on it a little bit every day. And practiced riding. And soon you picked it up.

It’s the same with learning everything, and flying is no exception. The more consistent you are with your lessons and the closer they are to each other, the more you will learn in less time.

Show up – even if the weather is bad

Following our last point, show up to your lessons. Regardless of the weather. You can still have a ground lesson with your instructor. You can talk about the weather and what makes it ‘bad for your flight’. You may even get a chance to fly anyways as the weather may clear up for you.

Use a simulator

If your flight school has one, use the simulator. It costs less than taking a plane up and you can build on your skill. You can even fly it in bad weather! It’s also a great way to get experience flying into an unfamiliar airport. And most importantly, you can work on a specific skill repeatedly without too much wasted time getting set up for your maneuver.

Communicate issues early

A simple way to ensure that you are not wasting money on your flight training is to talk with your instructor. Tell them what’s going well, tell them what you’re worried about. Tell them what you think you need to work on and any problems you may be facing.

If you keep your instructor informed to your struggles they may have new and creative ways to help you overcome them. Need to rearrange your flying schedule…let them know. Need creative ways to reduce your training costs…let them know. Need to build your confidence before a checkride…let them know.

Consider a recreational or sport pilot license

Many pilots only execute a fraction of their private pilot privileges. Most ‘weekend’ pilots could get by with a recreational or sport pilots license. Both licenses allow you to fly and both licenses can be upgraded to a full private pilot license in the future. Check out the regulations and what you can and can’t do with both licenses and see if it’s right for you.

Get a job at the airport

The more time you spend at the airport, the more chances you have of meeting interesting people, seeing interesting planes or picking up on opportunities to learn. If you can totally immerse yourself into aviation you may find other ways to reduce your training costs. And the paycheck doesn’t hurt either.

Reduce the amount of “stuff” you buy

We’ve talked about it before, but there are a lot of gadgets and gizmos out there to help you fly. But they all separate you from your money as well. The latest and greatest pilot jacket may help you look cool but it doesn’t help you fly better or save you any money. Some ‘stuff’ is needed to fly and your flight instructor will be able to tell you what you need and what you don’t.

Apply for scholarships

There are several scholarships out there, and some go un-awarded because no one applies for them. Scholarships are designed by their very nature to help you save money, reducing the cost of learning to fly. Take some of your time to research what scholarships are out there and apply. You never know, you may have a large portion of your flight training paid for.

Choose a flight school or flight instructor with a good reputation

In the world of online reviews, social media and the internet there is no reason to get yourself into a school that has a bad reputation. Do your due diligence and research your school and their instructors. Check out the good reviews and the bad. How the company responds to negative reviews is a great way to know how they may handle any situation you find yourself in.

Take advantage of discounts and freebies

Some schools offer block pricing, where you pay for a chunk of flight time up front but save a little in the long run. Some schools offer special gifts when you sign up for different classes. Or they may offer a free seminar. Take advantage of these. They are designed to help you learn at a reduced rate.

Join the civil air patrol

Again, this falls into the category of immersion into aviation. While you can fly a CAP plane, if you meet the requirements, for a reduced cost there are other aspects of being a member of CAP. Check out their website and talk to some members of the Civil Air Patrol and see how they may be able to help you.

Have a good credit score

Many students have a loan to help them pay for training. Having a good credit score doesn’t directly reduce your training costs but it can reduce the interest rate on your loan. And that can save you big time!

Become an instructor

This is last on our list for a reason. It requires you to have some pretty significant flight training already accomplished. But if you want to get paid to fly and build your flight time while teaching and inspiring future pilots, this isn’t a bad way to go.

There you have it. A nice list of 22 ways to keep your flight training costs down. How many of these have you done? Are there other ideas you’ve tried that we didn’t list? Feel free to let us know about it.


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10 Simple Things Flight Instructors Wished Their Students Knew

Category : Education

Learning to fly is one of the most fun, most exhilarating activities you can do in your lifetime. It is the ultimate freedom as you break free from the grasp of the earth. While your instructor is doing their best to train you in all the aspects of flying there are a few unspoken simple things that most instructors wish you knew before you started flying.

wished flight students knew

Flying with an instructor is real flying.

You are building hours and learning how to be a safe and competent pilot. Just because you have an instructor in the right seat of the airplane doesn’t mean that the flying isn’t “real”. You are at the controls and you gradually increase your responsibilities of flight as your training progresses. Take advantage of the knowledge you have next to you. Don’t think of your training as a means-to-an-end but rather a flight with another skilled aviator.

Somethings just need to be memorized.

Yes, there are some old technologies that are no longer in use. And Yes, there are some things that are easy to look up on the latest technological device. In fact, there are some things that may not make sense to you at all and you think you can get away with “letting those questions go”. Much like anything you’ve ever done in life, some tests are just to test that you know certain things.

There is a difference between knowing something for a test and knowing something because it may save your life. Understanding this difference can be extremely beneficial to your flying career.

Mistakes are the best teachers.

When life is easy you don’t learn as well. Mistakes keep pushing you to improve until you get something right. Analyzing your mistakes after the fact will often show you something you missed. This is what teaches you to be better next time.

If you pulled off the perfect landing, but had no clue how you did it, how can you repeat it? Landing left of centerline is frustrating. But, evaluating your use of rudder and ailerons and trying again making little corrections will get you right where you want to be. The experience will help you grow as a student. It also helps you to recognize those scenarios in the future and correct them before they happen.

Don’t cancel flight lessons.

Your time is valuable. So is the instructor’s. The more consistent you are with your training the easier you will pick up the lesson. The faster you learn, the faster and less expensive your training will be. Make the commitment to learn to fly and stick to your commitments. Extenuating circumstances will happen, but they don’t happen for every lesson. And they don’t happen on a regular basis. The more professional you are in your training, the safer you will be as a pilot.

Show up prepared.

Flying is money. Time is money. The more prepared you are for your flight the less it costs you. If you pay for an instructor’s time while you check the weather, you are increasing your costs. When the instructor must teach you all the nuances of a chapter you should have read before your flight your wallet pays for that. Have your flight plan ready. The longer you take to get in the plane and start flying the longer it will take to complete your license.

Create a checklist for all the things you need to have done before your next flight/lesson. Taking care of those items on your time makes your lessons that much more efficient and your flying that much more fun.

Use the checklist.

Speaking of checklists…use them! They are there to make your life easier; and your flying safer. While learning the sequence of events for a certain period of flight will help to increase your speed and efficiency, don’t forget to check your memory against the checklist. It is sad to see how many accidents happen because a certain step was missed. Rudder gust locks anyone?

Take care of the equipment.

Planes are investments. The better you treat them, the better they fly for you. So, please, be gentle when moving your seat forward or backward. Be smooth on the inputs to the controls. Buckle your seatbelt back up when you are done so it doesn’t get caught in the tracks when the seat is moving.

Your equipment is an investment too! Don’t lose your fuel tester. Ensure your headset chords are carefully wrapped up when you put them away. The equipment you use will treat you right if you take care of it. And it will save you money in the long run because it will last longer.

Supplies – what you need and what you don’t.

There are a few things that all beginning pilots need. There are many things that they don’t. The best, latest and greatest gadget is not required. Neither is the super expensive pilot watch. Or the leather pilot jacket. Keep your initial costs down by getting what your instructors list as required items and save the do-dads for after you get your license.

Be a partner in learning

Your instructors have put a lot of time and effort into creating a path for you to get your license. Based on their knowledge and experience they are working to give you the best chance at success. However, for you to have the ultimate success you should be involved in your learning process. If you don’t understand something, ask a question. If you want to repeat a lesson to get a better understanding of it, talk to your instructor. Their lessons are based on data and best practices. The best way for them to customize your training to suit you is to be interactive with them and talk to them about your training.

Enjoy the view and keep your eyes open

Learning to fly provides the opportunity for you to see the world from a whole new perspective. The view of a pilot is amazing. And if it isn’t, fly somewhere else to change your view. Remember this during your flight training. Don’t forget to look out the window. Your first certificate is for visual flight rules anyways, so don’t get bogged down in staring at the instruments.

Looking outside the plane is more than checking out the scenery. Most collisions are because the pilot was looking inside the plane when they should have been looking outside the plane. Watch for other planes and obstacles while you are flying and stop trying to fix the GPS while you’re moving.

Flying is an amazing experience. These few important things your flight instructors wish you knew will set you off on the right foot. What are your thoughts? Did you learn something the hard way after you started your flight training? Instructors, did we miss any important items you want your students to know? Leave a comment and let’s discuss.


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Benefits of Training At Higher Altitudes

Category : Education

Altitude is one of the most important aspects of any flight. The “height above” a given fixed point is one of many things pilots are required to know. Most of the Continental United States is between seal level, or 0 feet and 3,000 feet above sea level. Few single engine piston pilots will ever have a need to go above 5,000 feet above sea level.

However, there is an entire section of the country that sits at 5,000 feet or higher. What happens if you need to fly in the “mountain time zone” of the country? How does that area effect the performance of your plane? What about you as the pilot, are you affected?

Learning to fly, or training at higher altitudes has some very specific benefits to every pilot.

Greater Mastery of Your Aircraft

Flying your plane at sea level gives you full advantage of all the performance specs the manufacture designed. Flying your plane at altitude comes with a performance hit. Learning to operate your aircraft at the limits of its performance envelope helps to fine tune your abilities.

Understanding Aircraft Performance

Density altitude is not just a question you see on the private pilot exam. It’s a real factor that effects every aircraft flying. In the higher altitude states density altitude effects your climb performance, take off distance, and weight and balance considerations to name a few things. Try flying a Cessna 172 at a field elevation of 5,600 feet and a density altitude of 7,400 feet. What do you think your take off distance to clear a 50-foot obstacle would be?

Learning with a qualified instructor will help you to really understand your aircraft’s performance and how to read those performance charts in your manual.

Step One for Mountainous Flying

While mountainous flying is different from higher altitude flying, the first step is learning to fly at altitude. Leaning your mixture for best performance is a must before you even start taxiing your plane. Many airstrips in the mountains are shorter due to space concerns. You must understand your performance data before you take off for that flight.

Understanding Pilot Performance

Much like your aircraft, you as the pilot are affected by the higher altitude. There is less oxygen to begin with at 5,000 feet so your body will feel those effects. High Altitude sickness can occur in individuals who are not acclimatized to the altitude. The symptoms of high altitude sickness are headaches, nausea, dizziness, slower reaction time and nose bleeds to name a few. Add to that your need to take more breaths because there is less oxygen at 5,000 feet should paint a picture on what performance hits you can take as a pilot.

The Dangers of Hypoxia

Many different articles have been written about hypoxia and the different variations. Here is one from AOPA. With the very real threat of hypoxia at higher altitudes, learning to fly in this environment with a qualified instructor can significantly reduce your risk of becoming another statistic.

Bragging Rights

Almost every pilot we know likes to talk about flying. Where they have flown, what planes they have logged in their log books and special areas they have flown. Add a story or two to your hangar talk and impress your friends with your higher altitude flying experience.

Have you flown at higher altitudes? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments.

Learning to fly in New Mexico is a fun challenge that will make you a better, safer pilot. For more information or to schedule a flight call us at 505-337-3398. Our friendly experienced flight staff are ready to show you the joy of flying at higher altitudes.