Today’s Flight Plan
At some point along the way, several education departments in the aviation industry decided that learning to fly had to be scary, sad and boring. Well, that’s just not how flying really is. Flying is a joy. So why not have training that matches that joy?
Today we’re honored to have Rod Machado on the program. Rod is long time flight instructor, speaker, and entertainer. He believes in ‘edutainment’, a mix between education and entertainment. This is something we believe in big time here at Angle of Attack, and on AviatorCast.
Join us as we talk to Rod about his insight into flying. What can pilots do to get better stick and rudder skills? Why is flying still the coolest thing around? How can a pilot keep and maintain a lifelong commitment to learning? All these questions and more in this great episode.
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Huge thanks to Rod of joining us! A very enlightening and inspiring conversation. I always find myself learning something from this guy.
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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This is AviatorCast episode 88! Sticking the rudder smooth as butter!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer, regardless of where my skill level is at as a pilot, I’m always looking for ways to improve and progress. Where am I lacking? What haven’t I tried before? What can I do better?
One of the biggest joys of aviation is how much there is to learn. The limits of learning go far beyond the sky and personally, I’m dedicated to a life of learning in aviation. Welcome to this, the 88th episode of AviatorCast, it is my pleasure to welcome you here. This podcast is brought to you by Angle of Attack, a Flight Training Media Production Studio.
If you haven’t been to AviatorCast before let me tell you what it’s all about. AvaiatorCast is obviously a place where we bring a lot of aviation passion and get pretty excited about flying things. First and foremost, that’s all were about is passion and really we’re about a passion for learning continued learning. You heard that in some of my opening statements.
We bring on inspiring aviators and interviewed them and find out about their story or asked them about their knowledge and things that they have to teach us. Again, growing our knowledge, we get inside into the industry and track what the industry is doing, how that affects new pilots, current pilots, and pilots that maybe want to get back into flying so we talked about that too, getting back into flying, reigniting that flame or maybe you’re starting for the first time. We’ll talk about the getting the courage to do that, the steps it takes, all those sort of things to demystify flying because really at the end of the day if you put your work into it and you’re passionate about it, I believe that everyone can become a pilot so long as you’re financially and medically able. Even those things, you don’t really have many excuses because they’re still is a way.
Alright so we have a fantastic episode lined up for you today. I lined up Rod Machado on the podcast today. He is a fantastic speaker and educator in the flight training industry a long time instructor. I just really like his style and he’s a funny cool guy and very intelligent about aviation so I’m happy to have him on the show to ask him some questions for your benefit, for your learning, and for my learning too.
Before we get to that, I always read a review on the podcast from either iTunes or Stitcher or some of the other podcasts avenues out there where you can get this podcast and feel free to subscribe by the way. That’s a great way to make sure that you don’t miss anything so this review comes to us today from Scott Heizer and it comes on Stitcher and I actually know Scott. I met him in Oshkosh. He hadn’t heard about my podcast before, but his friend had loved the podcast.
His friend got a Fly or Die t-shirt himself. He actually got number one. He got the Fly or Die t-shirt and Scott is just now reviewing the show so I’m going to sending him a t-shirt so here’s Heizer’s review. He says, “For pilots, dreamers, and even simulators. I had the pleasure meeting Chris from AviatorCast through my buddy Glen last year at Oshkosh.”
I kind of already mentioned that. “I’ve been listening to this show since. One of the things about Aviation is Aviators usually say, ‘Immerse yourself in aviation.’ And this podcast certainly helps do that. I was literally just working on my experimental RV7 aircraft, which I’m just getting started on. I wasn’t feeling very motivated so I cued up AviatorCast and next thing I know, I’m knocking out portions of my project and an hour went by.
I was right there with experience the Stohl competition in Valdez, Alaska, completely forgetting that only an hour earlier, I was lacking motivation to do much of anything. If you’re reading this review, I can certainly attest that AviatorCast covers a wide range of aviation topics. Come on in and be welcomed to the community-like family.” Summed it up perfectly man. I really appreciate you sending in that review. Totally awesome, I’m going to send you an AviatorCast, a Fly or Die t-shirt it is, something you’d be proud of wearing it doesn’t have AviatorCast all over it.
Just a cool flying shirt that you can wear and Scott, I’m going to send that to you before Oshkosh even so maybe you can wear it at Oshkosh one of those days and I’ll see you there. Really appreciate that, if you guys want a Fly or Die t-shirt as well, feel free to leave a review on iTunes, Stitcher or some other location. If you do leave a review, just write me right away and tell me that you’ve done it, me@AviatorCast.com so I can be aware of who you are. If I ever read your review on the podcast then I’ll make sure to get a shirt sent out to you, really appreciate that. Alright so I’m excited to get into this interview with Rod. He is an awesome guy. I just love the humor that he weaves into his teaching moments, very cool guy so let’s get right into it. Here is Hanger Talk with Rod Machado.
Now a special Hangar Talk Segment.
Alright everyone, we’re honored to have a very special guest with us today. We have Rob Machado with us. How are you doing Rod?
Rod: I’m doing very well, Chris. Very well, thank you.
Chris: It’s an honor to have you on the program. Last year, I was helping my wife with her job down in the harbor here in Alaska. I was helping her clean boats and I was listening to your wonderful books on flying and just having a great time with all the knowledge that you had so if you can for just a moment, please tell the audience what it is you do and what you’re known for if they haven’t heard your name before.
Rod: Chris, pretty much what I do is I’ve been a flight instructor since 1973 and I teach people how to fly and right now, I’m doing a lot more proficiency flights and general familiarization flights and I’ve been writing books for the past 30 years and I’ve written and illustrated personally, I do all of my own writing and all of my own illustrations, but written and illustrated seven aviation books. Six of which are textbooks and textbooks, how to fly books, and useful books that every pilot can find benefit from and audio books and videotapes. I’m currently involved in creating quite a few eLearning type courses, integrated electronic eLearning courses that you know, nowadays people like to be more engaged on their computer. It’s wonderful way to learn so that’s what I’m doing right now and I have about of these interactive courses on my website at RodMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com. They both go to the same place.
Chris: Perfect, so if you can, tell people as little about what sets your training material apart from other people’s training material because what I really like about what you do is you inject a lot of humor in it, but at the same time there’s this deep knowledge involved in the process so share a little bit about maybe the unique things that you do that other people don’t.
Rod: Sure and I’m sorry for coughing there.
Chris: No worries.
Rod: I should take up smoking. I already have the cough. No, I don’t want to do that because the surgeon general once said that smoking was four times worse than they originally thought and they originally thought it would kill you so I mean, that’s bad. I have to stay away from that. Chris what I do in terms of how I teach is I use a process called Edutainment and it’s a way of—it’s a philosophy, it’s nothing new to me of course, but it’s something that I do.
Philosophy of teaching people using humor as essentially behavior modification tool, I learned a long time ago and I went to school and studied psychology for many years. You can learn this just as a practical matter. When teaching round school, especially the accelerated type of ground school, you can—you need to get people’s attention and you can get their attention in one or two ways. You can either make them cry or you can make them laugh and it’s a lot better to make them laugh because they like you more for it versus making them cry with let’s say with drama and tear jerking stories and so on so I guess use humor as a way of reinforcing points, keeping people’s attention and of course the ultimate benefit for me is I just—it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun teaching people, engaging them, and getting them to pay attention to you, but humor is the ultimate behavior reinforcement tool.
I just want to make sure people understand humor is not necessarily telling you jokes and I spent ten years in comedy clubs, not doing standup, but studying the comedians. That’s what I do. I study people and learn the skills that they have and then try to replicate them, to acquire them, and turn them into something useful I can use and that’s one way, telling jokes is one way of getting people’s attention. Being playful with people is another and I’m always very playful on the cockpit when I’m training people. Playful to the, with the intent of helping them acquire behaviors and in a much more fluent and accelerated and that’s an extremely effective thing to do.
You know, when I say playful too, you know I’m—as somebody does something, they put us into a spin, you know, I may say something like an understatement like, “Well that’s not exactly the type of entry I was looking for and decide we’ve got to do something about the Earth spinning underneath us right now so I think I’ll take the controls.” You have to be light of tongue so to speak, but being playful is something that every single person can do because we all have that playful instinct within us, and it’s every—the thing I think a flight instructor’s capable of doing if they just get into that mindset, but remember you never want us to mistake kindness for weakness so playful and yet having standards is extremely important in the flight instructor position.
Chris: I remember you talking about that when I saw you speak and I think it was at that moment when I realized I had to have you on the podcast, not only the way you that you teach and your philosophy on this edutainment if you will, but also the fact that you have those standards and you set those standards so why don’t you talk about those standards a little bit and what you mean by that.
Rod: Sure, I learned to fly, I’m so proud of this. I never really thought about it, but it taunted me about six months ago. I learned to fly in a War Bird. Yes, I learned to fly in a War Bird, a Taylorcraft L-2 and so that’s my one claim to fame at the moment, but I learned to fly in a school and I know you read aviation and the instructors there were all the prime of the—if not, the direct applicators of stick and rudder flying or a World War II stick and rudder flying skills. I learned some fairly good, basic flying skills, and I realized that in World War II of course, if you didn’t have good stick and rudder skills, you simply were unable to survive.
Rod: It was impossible. You had to know to how to fly your machine. That’s why an instructor or a pilot in World War II can jump from a P38 to a D51 or a vice a versa by simply reading the manual and we you know we’d probably have a hard time doing that today, but again, they knew how to fly and apply those principles from one airplane to the next and that’s what I did. When I started flight training in 1973, when I began teaching people to fly starting in 1970, but I began teaching people to fly in 1973, that was something that I thought was extremely important and so I made it a point to understand that students understood the concept of altitude instrument. I’m sorry, altitude VFR flying. You know, altitude plus power equals performance and the concept of flying the wing, which is extremely important and that allowed me to train students in such a way that they were masters of their machine. Today, I’m not so sure that that philosophy of stick and rudder flying is as important to many instructors as it was when I was learning to fly and by that I mean that today, we’re not as much—oh let’s say, stick and rudder oriented as we are interface oriented and by that, I mean that we are in a sense today more interfaced pilots than we are stick and rudder pilots, interfacing meaning that work with the equipment in the airplane to fly the airplane versus the flying the airplane directly. Now not all the time, but just as general statement.
Chris: That’s one of the points I wanted to get to actually pretty quickly was where was the stick and rudder skills maybe when you started as an instructor and where it is now so I really like that idea of the interface pilots. That’s actually the perfect example and I know exactly what you mean when you say that because we’re in the world of glass cockpits now and iPads and things of that nature, which are kind of keeping us heads down and maybe not active with our limbs so what’s the answer to that? How can we get back to those stick and rudder skills as pilots and maybe if you could answer a little bit how can the education community, flight instructors out there help out with that as well?
Rod: Well, number one, I think that to understand stick and rudder flying, you have to go back to the very basics of flight and as I mentioned, that would be altitude plus power equals performance, flying the wing, being able to look at the wing and many flight situations determine the angle of the tap, being able to fly by the seat of your pants. Assuming you wear pants when you fly, I recommend it especially on your check ride. That confidence of feeling the airplane and think ahead of the airplane and that’s something that comes with basic training and it’s something that should be taught of course, in the formative hours of flying. Certainly, if you fly a Tail Dragger, one tends to be a little bit more adept at using his rudder or her rudder as an example and many of the airplanes we have today have a rudder or Aileron coordinations springs or cables, which makes the, well the need for rudder, not quite as great as it once was and other airplanes, but of course in strong cross winds and in conditions where you’re doing some extreme maneuvering, irrespective of the rudder or Aileron interconnections still needing to know how to use Aileron and rudder together in coordination appropriately as well as fly altitude. The answer to your question, how do you get back to that? I’ll give you an example of one having a good stick and rudder syllabus for your students and if anybody goes to my website, RobMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com I have a private pilot syllabus that’s—you can download for free as well as a ground school syllabus for any students that wants to have a map for going through ground school on his or her own or for instructors to teach ground school. You can download those for free and I recommend you do that and the stick and rudder syllabus is something that I use to train my private students and any instructor might consider using to train their private students.
Chris: Perfect, yes, I’m actually looking on your website right now at these—at your training syllabus and the ground school syllabus so that’s a really great resource. We’ll make sure to get those so I was actually listening to your book. It was How to Fly an Airplane and you know I have about 700 hours. I don’t have a great amount of hours, but I kind of thought that I knew a little bit about flying an airplane, but when listening to your book, I found all these little intricate details about the controls and things that I could be doing different and how I could be thinking ahead of the airplane more. Give us some idea—some general exercises or some general ways that interface pilot can go back to the beginning and maybe exercises that you would put them through to get them those stick and rudder skills that maybe they didn’t get in the beginning of their training.
Rod: Great question, Chris. Here’s what I would do first if—I would find an instructor who has a philosophy of stick and rudder altitude baseline and take some training with this individual and there are instructors out there that of course understand these principles. I meet quite a few instructors that understand those principles and emphasize with their students, good stick and rudder flying skills. That would be the first thing. The second thing is and here’s a shameless plug from my book, but my How to Fly an Airplane handbook talks about for example of the many things it talks about in terms of this philosophy.
Making a turning airplane—when you make a turn in an airplane, the questions is how much rudder do you use, entering the turn and once established in the turn. Let’s say—let’s talk about just entering the turn and when you turn to the right or you turn to the left, the Aileron is rolled into the turn by using Aileron of course and the adverse yaw caused by the Aileron that goes down is in instances what yaws the airplane to the outside of the turn. The problem with that is that if you look at the ball, let’s say the ball and the inclinometer, the same ball that—well if I—when I was a student, if they had put cold Vaseline in that inclinometer too—I would have gotten that ball to bang against the side of the case, one side or the other. That’s one way of developing a sense of how to coordinate the controls, but there’s a far better way that should be taught from the very beginning. When you roll into the turn, you use enough rudder to make sure the airplane knows points in the direction you’re turning and that means as you roll into the turn, you apply enough rudder to compensate for the adverse yaw and that means just rolling in the very short period of time that that takes to roll in and establish the bank, a fraction of second.
The nose actually doesn’t move. The airplane just rotates around the longitudinal axis. Now once the turn is established, then you can back off on that rudder, but the roll in is what you’re looking at to apply rudder to make sure the nose at least doesn’t yaw outside direction turn so that’s how much rudder you know how to use. Then once established in the turn, you apply enough rudder to keep the nose pointing along the arc of turn and then you compensate and add the other sense of feel on your posterior, whether you are adding too much rudder or not enough rudder and that’s how you develop that stick and rudder sense of rudder Aileron coordination for a rolling into a turn and the same thing with rolling out of a turn. When you begin to roll out of a turn, you apply Aileron to level the wings and at that particular point as you’re rolling out, the nose actually pivots around some spot straight ahead of the airplane and what the nose shouldn’t do is yaw due to adverse yaw so consequently as you roll out of a turn, you apply enough rudder to keep the nose actually straight as the airplane rolls out. That’s the basic quality I think that a pilot should have. Those qualities, if they’ve mastered stick and rudder skills.
Chris: I think that’s a really good example of what is in your How to Fly an Airplane book because I remember that specific example talking about adverse yaw and using your rudder when you’re initiating a turn and coming out of a turn and I had actually never heard that before and it ended up moving right into my practice. You know, I started to practice that a little bit.
Rod: It’s one way to again that every person can improve their stick and rudder skills. I’ll give you another example, Chris.
Chris: Go ahead.
Rod: You got me so excited talking about this. One of the things I watch for when I’m giving you, buying a part review is if a person understand the concept of minimum effort, maximum performance and by that, I mean in the traffic pattern, flying the airplane generally anywhere, but in the traffic because that tends to be that—let’s say the crucible where one’s stick and—well where one’s—let’s say improper piloting techniques are seen in full display and we’re good stick and rudder skills are quite evident. I watched a pilot—if they’re flying in the traffic pattern, I watch them very carefully and I see how much work they’re doing because if they’re working too hard what that means is, in other words, too hard to fly the airplane. They’re not thinking about where that airplane is going. They’re not able to plot planning scheme to put the airplane exactly where they want on the runway if they even put it on the runway, the one they were aiming at so and the point there is, I’ll give you an example, turning from downwind to base.
Turning from downwind to base, assuming that you own the traffic pattern in this case and there are no other airplanes in the pattern, you turn from downwind to base and let’s say you’re close enough, you pull the power back and when people pull the power back, generally what they’ll do is they’ll kind of establish an altitude, the carburetor heat of course if appropriate. They’ll establish an altitude and then they’ll give it a little bit of trim and they’ll reestablish the altitude for the proper air speed, give it some more trim. A person is a good stick and rudder pilot, doesn’t want to work that hard. That pilot will turn the airplane and once established on base, pitch the airplane for the altitude he or she knows is going to give the airspeed they want or somewhere in the proximate altitude given the air speed they want. Then hit that trim and trim that airplane very quick to keep that airplane right at that altitude. It only takes two or three good twists of the trim to keep the airplane right there and now it’s a done deal. Then if they have to adjust the altitude a little bit, they can do that, but this doesn’t take a long time, it’s something that happens quickly. It’s that concept of altitude plus power equals performance and that allows then once they do that, turning base, turning final, turning from crosswind to downwind, what have you to put the airplane where they want with a minimum effort and therefore, now they’re able to look outside, they’re able to look at the run way and then do what pilots do best and that is think. Think about how they’re going to fly their airplane safely.
Chris: That’s a really good example and it makes me wonder what it would be like to have you in the right seat watching me do that and what I would do and so it almost makes me want to be really honest with myself about what I’m actually doing. I guess kind of as a self-evaluation exercise if someone didn’t have Rob Machado on the right seat, they could even self evaluate with maybe a Go Pro. Film what you’re actually doing and the traffic pattern. Don’t look at the scenery out front the airplane, film what you’re hands are doing and how you’re handling things and that’ll give you an idea of I guess how busy you are. How busy you’re keeping yourself?
Rod: I think that’s actually a great idea because it is hard to self evaluate, mainly because it’s you know, it’s hard to be self reflective when you’re flying an airplane and moving several thousand pounds of sheet metal or plastic through the air and your job is to put it on a runway. You can’t be thinking, what am I doing now or maybe I should be doing this? Well you can be thinking that, but you can’t do it enough to perhaps offer yourself a honest critique or a thorough critique of your behavior. I really like that idea. That’s a good one.
Chris: Do you have any other common problems and solutions that you see that pilots have today, especially these interface pilots that you’re mentioning?
Rod: You bet. I used to call them panel pilots because the pilots, well when they give biennial flight review, what I’ll typically do is bet the person if I haven’t flown this person this before, I’ll be them that they’re not going to look outside enough and that they will get close to traffic and keep in mind, I’m in Southern California and there are a lot of airplanes here.
Chris: Yes, yes.
Rod: Of course, they’ll hey you’re on and I’ll bet them a coke or a soda pop and so what I’ll do is we’ll take off and of course people with movie map displays are typically looking at the movie map display more often than they are looking at the lets say five to seven actual gigantic moving map displays they have in the airplane, which are called windows. I’ll just wait until an airplane is off in the distance and I’ll say, let’s turn right headed 35 zero degrees, they’ll turn. They won’t look and say, “Clear right, clear left” or whichever we return. They’ll turn and then I’ll say, “Ha, looks like I get a coke this afternoon” because we’re pointed right toward another airplane and this happens. I bet it happens eight out of ten times on air you know assuming that the airplane’s nearby.
People won’t look. Looking for traffic, I’ve almost come to the point Chris where I’m wondering whether it’s actually possible now to teach people to look out for traffic given all the goodies in an airplane so it’s a real challenge. That’s one of the things and that’s why called them panel pilots and now with interface pilots, which I think is a more appropriate term people are spending a great deal of time controlling the automation in the airplane and the only saving grace there is something called his TAS and ADSB where you actually do have some traffic monitoring that is providing them with some degree of heads up information regarding traffic, but you know, nothing beats a good old pair of eyeballs quite frankly and I know it works because I spent now 43 years flying in the LA Basin so I have a very good idea to eyeballs do work when it comes to warding traffic. You have to use them.
Chris: What’s your favorite scanning technique that you use. Is it by the book or do you have your own type of technique that you use?
Rod: Yes, it’s calling looking outside. That’s my favorite scanning technique. Actually, I used to know a military technique. Military had the best technique for VFR flying and that is on a 17 second cycle. You spend three seconds inside looking at your panel, looking at whatever you want to look at maybe looking at the Hobbs Meter and making sure it’s not running too fast and the ultimate fear to any pilot is a one way Hobbs Meter as you well know. Out of that 17 seconds cycle then 14 seconds are spent looking outside so three seconds inside, 14 seconds outside and what you’re doing is divvying up the time in that proportion while looking outside and taking chunks of airspace, maybe 20 degrees in scope as you take that chunk, you look at that through that 20 degree span.
Then you look off in the distance, focus, then look at another 20 degree chunk off in the distance and focus and try to do that systematically. I spent a lot of time looking behind me when I’m in an environment that has faster, you know, let’s say I’m training in a Cessna 150, which means you are defacto. The slowest airplane a loft at any one time.
Rod: Of course I’m just kidding, but maybe not and therefore you know, you’re more likely to have somebody over take you and when you look at AOPA’s accident database, you’ll find that 82% of all mid airs that occur typically occur with one airplane overtaking another, a faster one overtaking a smaller one. That’s pretty scary when we think about it so we need to look behind us. How do we do that? Well, if you can’t bend your head to the side and look which I used to be able to do when I was in my early 30s, a little harder to do now so what I do is I just make a turn and look behind me, assuming I don’t have windows back where to look through. I just make a turn and see what’s behind me and that’s a very effective way to do this. Same way military pilots used to do when they checked their six so to speak to see if they were—they an enemy target behind them or enemy pursuer.
Chris: Perfect so as a pilot gets a little more experienced and a little more self confident in their skills what would your recipe be for some humble pie to make sure that that person stay’s in a good mindset to continue to be safe.
Rod: If you’re asking what maneuver I would have them practice if that’s what you’re talking about. Let me give you two things. I’ll give you the psychological aspect and the physical aspect.
Chris: Perfect, yes.
Rod: I can tell how well a pilot flies an airplane by having them do one maneuver and this has never failed me. It works so well. We’ll be in the practice area and then I’ll ask him to give me some slow fly to minimum control blow air speed and that’ll be with a stall warning horn or right audible or visible. You can feel this of course in the airplane’s—the buffeting as the boundary layer begins to separate depending on the airplane of course that you’re flying. In that condition and then I’ll have the make right turns, left turns, climbs and descends and slow fly and if they can do that and keep the airplane coordinated, they are definitely masters of their machine. I would suggest and I say this as a general caution. Have them practice that in a long time go up to art least 3,000 feet and practice it because I’ve seen people take the airplane in slow fly, make a left turn or a right turn and put the airplane right into a spin. That is not uncommon, depending on the airplane of course. Hard to do when it’s air humid and 40, much simpler to do on a Cessna 150 because the different airplane types.
Rod: It’s very very very important to you know, we might even take a flight instructor up with you, but those are the maneuvers that I use as an evaluation tool and that works out really well. As far evaluating somebody psychologically, you get a flight instructor—well something somebody can do psychologically that would enhance their confidence let’s say. One of the best things a person can do is take his or her airplane and go on a cross country flight to some place you—that they have not been. Cross country flying is a tremendously helpful tool for developing what general confidence all over. It’s one of the reason’s why the—let’s say the founding fathers of general aviation that and you know those maybe Orville and Wilbur Wright of course and then all the folks who came after them, all the Jimmy Doolittle and so on.
These folks, you know, were all very smart in their collective wisdom, which I can be seen in the federal aviation regulations and it used to be that we required more solo cross country time for the private pilots certificate that we do now and that was an important thing to do because it built confidence. We don’t require as much now so consequently, a private pilot or any new pilot, even an experienced pilot, if they haven’t been on many cross country flights, it’s just tremendously helpful in terms of giving them confidence to be able to put their airplane at a different airport of their choosing. You know, several hundred miles away and to return to their home base airport and then to solve all of the decisions and make all of the decisions and solve all of their problems that one has to solve on route.
Chris: I totally agree with that and I think that flying gives us this great opportunity to experience something different, but I believe that doing a cross country flight gives us a purpose to fly, a mission, and I’ve always found that in my time as a pilot, I you know, I really, probably have spent more time doing cross country flights on average than I have doing the pattern work like most pilots at my hour range. The experiences and even the things you see I think just give you a lot of purpose to what you’re doing and the adventure of it and I think down to the core of it. That’s why aviation was created in the first place to get somewhere, to go somewhere, to experience something new and to explore the world, I think that’s the heart of what it is so.
Rod: Oh I agree I absolutely agree. Cross country flying in a sense shows you at your best and shows you at your worst and by that I mean when it comes to making decisions if you really haven’t had practice making decisions about oh should I deviate here. Do I have enough fuel to get there and what have you? That is what cross country flying does for you. It gives you a chance to make those decisions. It puts the idea of how you can make those decisions in perspective and keeps them in your mental real house and it also shows you at your best because the moment you land in an airport 200 miles away, you get out and of course you do what I tell my students to do. Get out and claim this land for Spain and if you can stick a big flag in the ground everybody would treat you like royalty when you landed. Okay, maybe not, but the point is that it’s always so you’re just so always fun to do. I don’t know how many airports around here my students now have claimed for Spain, but I think it’s quite a few.
Chris: The you know, there’s a special experience too looking in your log book over time. You know, I just transition my log book from the paper form, putting it into a digital form and the memories that I had on so many of those flights, especially the flights where I was in new territory exploring if you will just—it’s irreplaceable and I can’t imagine having spent that time just in the pattern around my home so.
Rod: Oh that’s.
Chris: I really like that idea.
Rod: That’s very true. It’s interesting. I have yet to you know, I have like what eight or nine log books somewhere around here and I have not done—in fact, I just don’t log my time like I used to anymore.
Chris: Right, yes.
Rod: Except for currency as you’re required to, but the thing with digital log book, I’ve never become a big fan of those and I know my students want digital log books so I say, “Okay, fine.” I tell them to also keep a paper log book. There’s something about going to a paper log book and opening it up and flicking through it, which is typically more difficult to do digitally, but looking, seeing something in your handwriting. Let’s say after your first solo cross country flight and you look at your handwriting and it looks like it’s handwriting within EKG type script added to it because it’s jumping all over the place. Mainly because you’re knees are still knocking against each other and you know, there are subtleties that you can’t get from digital, but you know, I’m old fashioned in that way so call me old fashioned.
Chris: Yes and I think there’s wisdom in keeping both even though you know keeping things in the cloud is technically safe. I don’t really trust that and plus I like having my log book here on display and it you know kind of in that same vain that you mentioned. In the front of my log book, I have a statement and I actually learned this statement from the wonderful movie One Six Wright because the guy talks about this in that movie and it says, “This is a love story, please, please, please return to this address. This person, if you find it.”
Chris: That’s what it’s all about so.
Rod: I think so and you said, “Keeping your log book in the closet” which is great, don’t even need an instrument ready to do that so.
Rod: Sorry, I couldn’t resist. You see that’s the kind of stuff I look for. As soon as you say it, I have to say something back.
Rod: It’s just the instructor I am.
Chris: Yes, good, good so let’s—I want to ask a question for the younger generation if you can answer this one for me. Last night, actually, I had the boy scouts over to my house and we had a big video game party right. These young kids, they have all these options out there, all these entertainment options, can you tell us why aviation is so the coolest thing out there for these kids to do? Why if you’re thinking about getting into aviation, it’s going to be way better than any video game you could ever play or any of those things out there that may be taking their attention away.
Rod: Sure, aviation has consequence. When you fly an airplane, when you’re motoring around and several hundred thousand—two or three thousand pounds of sheet metal within a motor, an engine attached to it. You have to do things right. Now don’t get me wrong. Aviation can be very safe, if I didn’t think that that were the case, I would never get in an airplane again. That’s a fact. I do believe we have control over our destiny and no, I don’t believe fate is the hunter. Nice book title, but in practice we can’t operate that way.
Rod: Aviation is safe, but when a young person gets in an airplane and actually flies an airplane versus flying a video game, what happens is that young person learns something new. Yes, maybe you can learn something flying a video game or playing a video game and shoot down Klingons in and out from their home world, but realistically in an airplane, what you do has consequence and in the back of your mind you know, oh my gosh, “I’m actually flying this large piece of machine around. I’m doing what people do that was unthinkable a 100 years ago—120 years ago and now I’m doing it.” The most important thing is when you learn something new you become something new and that’s what happens.
You become something new, something as a result of your having developed confidence, your having applied your skill, seen the result of that skill and there are many other attribute and derivative attributes that occur from flying an airplane and that is powerful, powerful stuff for a young person. I know that for a fact. I’ve seen the changes that it makes in young people and I can assure you with 100% certainly that the changes this flying an actual airplane makes versus flying let’s say a flight simulator. You never really getting out of your easy chair or your bathrobe, there is no comparison. It breeds a whole new type of personality again when you learn something new, you become something new.
Chris: Those that do decide to get into flying and they are going to be jumping into it, what can expect and what are maybe the three top things they should be looking for. Let me just mention one I want to hear about from you, finding a good instructor, maybe wrapping into that, a good school and how do they apply themselves. I know that you probably will answer that one really well so how did they apply themselves to making sure that they become a fantastic student, not only for a license, but a student for life in aviation.
Rod: Well and if I haven’t said this, you’re asking some great question by the way so.
Chris: Appreciate it.
Rod: Great questions, one of the most important things that anybody can do in learning to fly is to find a good instructor. Without any doubt whatsoever, it is the single most important thing for a person to do. In fact, there’s an old Chinese saying, would you like to hear it regarding instructors?
Rod: Okay, now do you want to hear it in Mandarin or English? Okay, English it is so it’s so much more elegant in Mandarin, but it goes like this, “It is better to look for an instructor for three years than to spend even three minutes with a bad one.” That’s extremely important. How do you find a good instructor? Here’s how you do it. Go to my blog piece at RodMachado.com or BecomeAPilot.com, same site, go to the blog area and look at the article on how to find a good instructor and I list something like around 12 points in there that tell you how to go about doing that.
Requires a little Gumshoe work. You have to check out the person’s reputation, there are certain questions you want to ask absolutely do not want to spend time with a bad instructor and unfortunately, like in many professions, not everyone who has a flight instructor certificate is a good instructor and perhaps, to be fair, maybe not everyone is appropriate and maybe a good instructor—maybe they’re not appropriate for you. That’s what I would recommend and if you find somebody that knows something about stick and rudder flying then that is a absolute must. You want to, you want to try to look for somebody like that. The other things that one can do and that one should do is consider having some good books to study and of course, another shameless plug I happen to have the perfect book, Private Pilot Handbook, which covers all the basics in aviation for the general knowledge and then How to Fly Handbook available in physical form as well as in digital form or audiobook form too. Again, I write these all myself. I do all of the illustrations. I do everything myself. The only thing I don’t do is print it because I can’t fit a Heidelberg Press in my garage and have room for my car so that’s the other thing and also to be fair, there are many good courses that you can take, courses that are written test prep courses that are offered by the John and Martha King ASA Sporty’s, these are all fun courses. You find something that best fits your personality and pursue that means of study. The other too Chris, if you couldn’t—if a student could attend a live ground school where you have an experienced instructor talking to you over let’s see, a nine week period, two nights a week something like that, a live ground school local to your airport then that is an absolute must if you can get in that ground school.
Chris: Perfect. I’m actually looking at these blog articles that you mentioned here. You mentioned something
that I want to ask of you and that is training for the certificate or training for confidence or proficiency and this is something I always wonder of really experienced instructors out there, how they answer this problem because obviously, it gets a little complex with the time that it takes to get a license and obviously, people are very eager to get their license and be able to take up their family. Obviously, money is a motivator, but can you speak to that a little bit. The difference between passing a written or passing a check ride and actually being able to perform those skills and what that takes, do you know what I’m asking there?
Rod: I understand completely what you’re asking.
Rod: Again it’s a very good question. It’s a very insightful question and my response is this, first of all, private pilot certificate and this is important to remember, private pilot certificate is a license to learn. It is not a license that says you learned everything. A private pilot certificate accomplishes one goal and that is to allow you to go out by yourself and carry passengers and be safe enough to acquire additional experience. No, private pilot certificate does not say that you are qualified to fly every airplane and to fly every place in the United States under any type of VMC conditions. It doesn’t state that at all.
That was never what it was intended. It is philosophically impossible to accomplish that let’s say that level of performance after you’ve spent 40 hours or so learning the skills necessary to pass a private pilot practical exam. This is something people forget about so and it’s extremely important so as a private pilot, you’re thinking, okay, I’ve got my private license, this is what I can do. I can go out and learn how to develop skills beyond what I have now. How you do that is this, you take your airplane and you go on a cross country flight. You fly a different airplane. You develop—in other words, you go out and you fly a different airplane. You get checked out in another airplane.
You go to the local aerobatics school and you take aerobatic training and you develop yours and then maybe you go out with an instructor and then you perform or develop some other type of skill such as let’s say emergency landing skills. Yes, you have emergency landing skills already, but what about emergency landing skills such as engine failure on take off. Such as being directly over an airport, having the power fail and spiraling down to that airport and being able to land on that runway, which you could do at certain airports that are not too busy, which means pretty much no airport in southern California, but I’m talking about somewhere out where you don’t have that much traffic. You can do those kind of things. You can always find a way to improve your skill so, but unfortunately Chris and this is a slightly different aspect of that, today there’s a very large movement in the aviation community that wants to essentially raise the let’s—the level of thinking sophistication of the private pilot to the extent that the intent is to train a private pilot to think with—for a lack of a better phrase airline transport pilot skills, skills in terms of decision making risk assessment situation where I sit and what have you. You know what?
You can do that, you can do that if you’re willing to sacrifice obtaining a private license in 40 hours. You can give a private pilot airline transport like thinking skills if you want to spend 1,500 hours with that private pilot in dual and solo flight training. It’s just not realistic to do that. My whole thing with learning, teaching people is one thing. My philosophy and my guiding statement is, “I want the average person to be able to acquire a private pilot certificate at a reasonable cost without having to jump through too many government hoops.” That is extremely important because again, we can over regulate private pilot flight training to fulfill the ideological desires of some people in aviation because they want aviation to be so safe. Yes, I want aviation to be so safe too, but there are ways to make it safe without having and to increase a pilot safety and inspiring them to be safer without having to mandate that they spend more time and more money in private pilot development and training, which eventually means, ultimately means that your average person is going to look at the curriculum for private pilot training, look at the amount of money spent and say, “Ah, there’s no way I can do this.” Go home and fly flights simulator and that’s it.
Chris: I suppose that’s a crux in my question is we—I feel like we have a pretty good system right now where regardless of the school, you go to, meaning if it’s a Rating Mill or if it’s a 141 School, you’re going to get a license at a pretty reasonable hour and from there, it’s a license to learn. Just like you said and I found that in my experience, you know, once I hit private pilot. I started doing a lot of cross country and at that time, I started flying with more experienced instructors, was very blessed to be able to do that and it completely changed my perspective, you know.
Rod: That’s very wise by the way because you ferreted out more experienced instructors after you acquired a private pilot certificate and what you did was you went to this is the best analog for that, you went to graduate school for private pilot training because you found a different instructor and sort of like you became a Rhodes Scholar and apprenticed yourself to this one individual and that’s Rhodes Scholar, not Road Scholar, R-O-A-D. I want to make sure you got that or rodent scholar, I did not say that. You raised your level of awareness that way and that was—that’s brilliant on your part, but again, what we do in aviation is we want to get the private pilot qualified. To think with the highest order thinking skills all up front, which is physically impossible to do without having to have that person spend more time and more money and in essence drive them out of aviation. At least, that’s what I worry about so inspiring private pilots, people who are newly readied to then go on and develop these thinking skills that’s what I like to do. It’s what I do and I like to think I might be effective at that with some of the things I write and my lectures and things like that, but that’s my ambition.
Chris: I certainly think you are so one last question I have for you before we part ways here and that is how does a pilot, any pilot at any level, whether you’re a brand new student pilot or you’re a 10,000 hour pilot. How do we collectively and individually commit ourselves to life long learning, continually learning? What are the steps or even maybe it’s just a psychological mindset that you can tell us about that commits to that for long term. Sure there are only two ways to get smart. At least only two ways that I know of, you have to read a lot of books and ask a lot of questions. I don’t know of any way that works better than that so reading a lot of books means that you find the aviation book that has the answers to your questions.
There are a lot of great aviation books out there. You know, I look back at some of the books I read when I was working—just became a flight instructor, Robert Bucks—Bob Bucks’ book, Weather Flying as an example. Richard Collins had many wonderful books and he shared a lot of insight and wisdom. Wolfgang Langewiesche had Stick and Rudder, which became a classic. Then Richard Bach’s, A Gift of Wings. It has in it probably one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the—on anxiety in flying and it’s called Loops, Voices, and the Fear of Death and it was an amazing book. Then Antoine Saint-Exupery book, Wind, Sand, and Stars is probably one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read and there’s actually a great deal of wisdom in that sort of autobiographical tone of his and it was just so well done and but there are—those are the books I’m talking and there are many many books like that. Another shameless plug if you don’t mind.
Rod: My book Plane Talk, which is one of my—actually, one of my most favorite books and it’s a book that has 100 chapters in it with articles that range from how to think critically, how to learn more efficiently those things are extremely important. That method of learning is extremely important. Read a lot of books, ask a lot of questions and I think the ambition is this. Nobody wants to fly an airplane and worry about hurting themselves or their passengers. You want to fly an airplane knowing that you have the training that allows you to handle the most common things that could happen to you as a pilot. In all the seminars I’ve taught on handling in flight emergency just as an example, I have yet to have somebody give me an emergency that doesn’t have a solution, that is not what we would call classically an act of god. In other words, getting hit by a meteorite on the downwind leg, nothing I can do for that.
Rod: That’ll teach you to hold a heading and that’ll teach you not to have the airplane degaussed so the fact is that there is an answer for everything and that answer is what we call—there’s a reason why get trained. Getting you know example—door pops open in flight. There’s a way to handle that. A gear doesn’t come down, there’s a way to handle that runaway constant speed propeller, there’s a way to handle that. There’s a way—in flight fire, electrically based fire, control malfunction. First of all, these things are all extremely rare, but they sit resonant in the pilots mind sometime and he or she wonders, “Gee, I don’t know what I’d do if that happened.”
Therefore, they feel anxious when they fly. You should never feel anxious when you fly because you should have an answer for the most common problems, but one should fly in a heightened state of awareness, always ready to handle anything that could happen. Sort of like a trained martial artist when he operates or she operates in an environment where she’s not familiar with, you know, a little heightened state of awareness, not uncomfortable, just always prepared like the boy scout motto that you of the boy scouts you had over at your place. By the way, I always have boy scouts over when I need to start a fire. They are great at starting barbecues. Yes, it’s pretty good. Of course, I’d normally end up with that on the barbecue, 5% meat, 95% barbecue fluid so lighter fluid. They’re great at starting fires.
Chris: I’m not sure they’d appreciate that down there, the starting to the smog.
Rod: Definitely not. That’s true, Los Angeles is a great place to be if you’re a muffler.
Chris: Perfect, well I really appreciate you spending time with us today. I’ve always appreciated your wisdom whenever I’ve been able to see you speak and personally I’ve enjoyed your training material too. I knew that my audience would enjoy listening to you and if they hadn’t heard from you before, getting introduced to you so I really appreciate it. I really appreciate your time, Rod.
Rod: Chris, thank you so much and I appreciate what you do too. You do ask very thoughtful good questions. I’ve been on several of yours before and your questions were very well thought out so thank you so much for asking great questions and you do great work too with you radio program, your podcast so I want to wish you continued success with that.
Chris: I appreciate that and we’ll catch up soon, maybe at Oshkosh, we’ll run across each other.
Rod: I look forward to it.
Chris: Right, thanks Rod, take care.
Rod: Thank you.
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For more information on Angle of Attack simulation training videos for FSX, X-Plane and more, go to www.flyaoamedia.com. If you are looking for a professional aviation training video services and other media, inquire at www.angleofattackpro.com. Now, for the final release clearance, back to Chris Palmer.
Chris: Alright so a huge thanks goes out to Rod for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. I was talking to Rod after the show and he was nice enough to actually give you guys a coupon to get onto his store and order some of his books. Now, Rod and I didn’t arrange this ahead of time at all. I didn’t bring him on the show so he could promote himself or anything like that. He’s a great guy.
He’s part of the community, really wants to see the community move forward and be safer and I love his stuff. That’s why I brought him on the show. Now since you guys are listeners, of the podcast. I know that you like listening to material so what I found actually is that I actually don’t sit down and read as much as I should right now, but I found that I could really absorb some good material with some of the other busy work I was doing by just listening to stuff. It’s cool that Rod has his audiobooks with most of his books and I think that’s a really useful tool if you guys are open to that. Otherwise, if you are a book kind of person, obviously, great stuff too and with the audio, you’re missing the great illustrations and things that Rod does so you would certainly get more with the actual book.
I think he does a fantastic job. I definitely recommend his material. If you go on his store, it’s going to be for the next week. This will expire the 27th of May you will type in the code Alaska so that’s where I’m from. That’s where the podcast is recorded from here on C plane court in Homer, Alaska. He is doing that coupon code Alaska, 20% off on all orders. It’s good for one week, expires the 27th of May. Great material, I think you guys will really enjoy it so if you are looking for something, I think that’s a pretty dang good deal and honestly, I’m going to go take advantage of it myself. I do have the How to Fly and Airplane book and really enjoy it, but I think I would enjoy some of the other stuff as well.
Make sure you check out his website, BecomeAPilot.com. Again, huge thanks to Rod. It was a pleasure to have him on the show. I wish we could talk to him for hours. Maybe we’ll have him again some time in the future, but always love talking to an experience educator in the community. Really, really, appreciate it.
Also, big thanks goes out to the Angle of Attack crew for all that they do outside of this podcast to help the company move forward so that you and I can spend time doing things like this often. I’m glad we’re doing the podcast often. It’s a lot of fun for me and thank you the listeners for all you do to make this podcast possible. You know, I know that we have this—a bit of an exchange going here with, “Hey review this show and I’ll send you a t-shirt” but really you know, I really appreciate getting that feedback and knowing that this show is doing something for people. If you guys ever have any ideas, any guests you want to see on the show, send them to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know what is troubling you.
What’s in your way, what kind of blocks you’re maybe having to getting into flying or keeping flying, whatever it is let’s talk about it. Let’s get someone on the show or I’ll address the topic myself and we’ll make sure that we answer some of these things that pertinent to you guys right now, some of these challenges. You know, I just went through a process myself in renting local 172, getting insured, getting checked out, all of those things and I can tell you, it does take a lot of work. It takes a lot of work to call people you don’t know and show up and do these things, these steps that allow you to fly. I can tell you, it’s totally worth it.
You know, this aviation is one of those things where people will help you, but you have to help yourself as well and you have to take those steps. I would love to help you guys out. I’d love to give you some knowledge, some assistance in getting where you need to go, but I really want to see you taking those steps. If there’s anything I can ever do, let me know. Again, email@example.com or you can write me on any of the social networks that we’re on and I’d always love to talk to you guys. Again, really appreciate it. Keep up the good work. Keep pushing forward. Keep reaching for your dreams and try to stay in the air as much as you possibly can so long as you have fuel, okay. Alright so that’s it for this episode of AviatorCast. Until next time, throttle on.
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