Hey Folks, check out my“Flying Carpet” video segment with Warren Morningstar on this week’s September 15th AOPA Live aviation news broadcast, about Arizona flying destinations within range of AOPA’s upcoming Prescott Fly-in.
I had the pleasure of being Bob Meder’s guest on this month’s NAFI Chairman’s Webinar. (National Association of Flight Instructors)
As you’d expect, we spoke primarily on flight training and flight instructor topics, with emphasis on key marketing, motivational, and pricing ideas and insights from my new book, The Savvy Flight Instructor Second Edition.
CFIs and flight school operators should find this material particularly relevant.
So if those topics interest you, please have a listen by clicking below! (Also available as MP3.)
Thanks to Bob and NAFI for inviting me to participate!
You’ve mastered the CFI study materials, passed your toughest-ever oral exam, and can now talk and fly simultaneously from the right seat. You can write lesson plans, enter mysterious logbook endorsements, and explain the details of a lazy eight. That’s all you need to know to flight instruct…or is it?
This book is designed to help with all those “other” flight instructing questions, like how to recruit new flight students and keep them flying, conduct successful intro lessons, and optimize your students’ checkride pass rates.
New in this edition
This new edition adds 20 years of additional knowhow to the networking, pilot training, and customer support concepts that made the original edition required CFI reading, plus lots of important new material you won’t want to miss.
A new dedicated section for aspiring flight instructors explains why and how to become a CFI, and how to get hired.
Instructors at all levels will learn how to sell today’s pilot prospects via online marketing and social media, and how to outsell competing activities beckoning from a finger-touch or mouse-click away.
Seasoned flight instructors and flight school managers will learn how to systematize customer success and satisfaction, price and structure their services to fit today’s markets, and implement flight instructor professionalism.
The “finer points” from industry experts: Learn how today’s flight training innovators promote their services and serve their customers in Heather Baldwin’s case-studies chapter. Discover how flight school owner and marketing guru Dorothy Schick crafts customer service policies to put clients first. Longtime DPE Jason Blair shares insights on checkrides and CFI specialization opportunities. Ever wonder how the big private and collegiate fight academies operate so efficiently? Then don’t miss Ben Eichelberger’s flight training standardization chapter. And no one’s better qualified to project future flight training trends than renowned aviation writer and editor Ian Twombly.
In short, this book shows how to use your instructing activities to surpass student expectations, achieve business success, promote general aviation, and advance your personal flying career all at once. (Peek inside, here.)
Good times not withstanding, Jean and I were more than ready to head home following eight days on the road.
The daylong journey from Aurora, Illinois to Flagstaff, Arizona appeared daunting, however, especially against headwinds. If necessary we’d stay over with our friend Bruce in Santa Fe, just two hours from home.
A country church filled our windshield after takeoff this morning, but how much closer could we get to heaven than these sparkling Sunday skies? Yes, there was weather through Illinois and Missouri, but we dodged it easily enough. Initially we faced a ten-knot headwind. I’ll accept that westbound, anytime! But gradually it grew to twenty knots, and then thirty. Changing altitudes didn’t help. That gave us plenty of time to discuss the week’s travels.
This journey originated two years ago, when Howard Spanogle, long-ago faculty advisor for the Echo high school newspaper where I once served as photography editor, proposed a reunion. At first this seemed overkill—after all there were only a handful of Echo staffers at a given time. However “Mr. S” had been adviser for 26 years, so there’d be many attendees beyond my immediate circle. Jean hesitated to go until my closest Echo friends talked their spouses into attending. After all, who are we these decades later without them?
Flying “East” is a trek, so en route we’d capitalized on the Flying Carpet’s flexibility to visit friends and family.
The circuitous journey had delivered us to four Midwestern states, culminating in yesterday’s reunion…
“For some great sightseeing, cruise low along the Lake Michigan shoreline on your way from Chicago,” my friend Jason Blair had advised before takeoff. However lake-effect showers streamed southward over northern Indiana, dulling the view. For the moment we navigated haze under grey 2,200-foot ceilings.
“We’re a mile below Flagstaff’s airport elevation!” Jean exclaimed, noting the altimeter. That seemed queasily unnatural compared to our normal 8-11,000-foot flight altitudes back home in Northern Arizona’s mountains.
Gradually, however, we found ourselves descending under lowering clouds and virga. I checked weather. While 60 miles away our destination of Allegan, Michigan remained clear, nearby lakeshore stations had suddenly fallen below 1,500 overcast, with Michigan City reporting 900 broken. We deviated eastward toward better weather away from the lake.
Why are we doing this? I thought, eyeing cobalt skies through broken clouds overhead. There were other airplanes down here, and tall radio towers. Rather than steer farther off course to escape the muck, I requested a “pop-up” instrument clearance, which South Bend Approach promptly granted.
In no time we surfed blue skies over snowy clouds, at 5,000 feet. Between them could be glimpsed vivid farm fields and sparkling Lake Michigan beaches. Funny how visibility can sometimes be restricted near the ground, and yet appear crystal-clear from above.
Jean and I now shared excitement about visiting our friend Tyler Allen, a sophomore at Kalamazoo College.
You may remember Tyler from previous columns–he began flight training as a high school student on the Navajo Nation, and we shared many Arizona flying adventures together. Here, finally, was our opportunity to visit him at college…
Departing the four lakes of Madison, Wisconsin, Jean and I steered the Flying Carpet southeastward toward others embedded in our past: Lakes Koshkonong, Delavan, and Geneva.
Beneath our wings flowed a verdant carpet of crops and trees teeming with lakes and rivers. This seemed a watery paradise compared to the stark stone beauty of our adopted Southwest, where the few natural lakes contain only seasonal water and even then might qualify as ponds anywhere else.
Equally refreshing, today’s cobalt heartland skies brimmed with music to our aviators’ ears. In contrast to largely silent radio frequencies near our remote Northern Arizona home, our headsets crackled with radio chatter from airports around the Midwest.
Jean grew up just across the Illinois line from Lake Geneva, and for years we landed at rural Galt Airport (10C) to visit her family. Back then Galt was a narrow, tree-obstructed, rough-around-the-edges strip. But after teetering on the edge of bankruptcy several years ago, the airport turned itself around and blossomed into a thriving aviation community. Seems like every month Galt boasts a hayride, a barbecue, or a flour-sack bombing contest. I knew of this vitality only through the airport newsletter, having last landed there in 2003. Now I was eager to visit the revitalized airport in person. (See “Flying Carpet: Renaissance Field,” November 2013 Flight Training).
Soon Wonder Lake appeared on the horizon, and next to it, Galt Airport. Jean and I recognized the field’s location, but not it’s appearance. The pencil-thin runway we once frequented has long been replaced by a grander one. The hangar that impinged on the west end of the runway is gone; the formerly weedy tiedowns are now paved, and there’s a spit-and-polish about the place visible even from the air.
“There’s Jo!” said Jean as we taxied in. Her twin sister lives just beyond Galt’s traffic pattern on Wonder Lake; we’d phoned ahead just before departing Madison.
One thing that hadn’t changed beyond fresh paint, was Galt’s nostalgic “country control tower” airport office. Now this felt like old times! While Jean and Jo chatted on the ramp-side bench, I ventured inside.
There to welcome me were Facebook friends I’d never before met in person: pilot Greg Kaiser, and his instrument instructor, Mike Nowakowski. Galt’s cheerful ground instructor, Ed Brown, piled us into a golf cart to tour the field…
For those who aren’t familiar, that 1908 sci-fi work is renowned for having presaged modern aerial warfare.
Although the book’s protagonist and his personal story are forgettable (if not downright annoying), Wells is remarkably prescient in predicting the advent of world war, coming 20th-century German and Japanese aggression, and the terror rained down by aerial armadas in World Wars I and II.
And if you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to do battle from dirigibles, or fly a flapping-wing aircraft, here’s your opportunity to find out!
You’ll need to hold your nose through parts of it, but the author’s broader observations and predictions are quite fascinating.
Those who have read it, or choose to, let me know what you think!
The book is available in various print editions, or you can download The War in the Air for Kindle, FREE from amazon.