"ROTOR TIPS" From HAI Heli Expo 2023

Mar 25, 2023

Randy Sharkey:

This is the course that's titled DPE Pet Peeves. If this is not the course that you thought you were going to be in, this would be a good time to leave. For those of you that I paid to come here, see me later.

Good morning. More about me in just a minute. I'd like to first see the makeup of the experience in the room. Let's begin with first, raise your hand if you have at least a student's pilot certificate. Raise your hand and keep them up.

This is like that anniversary dance at weddings. You know where everybody keeps dancing and they say they've been married 35 years. This works on the same way. Keep your hands up. How about those that have at least a private pilot's license? Just a couple hands went down. Commercial pilot's license. Nice. Commercial flight instructors, CFIs. Still impressive. All right, here we go. ATP, airline transport rating.


 The last one, designated pilot examiners. One. Okay, Gerry's here, two. Okay, two. Okay, great. Welcome. This is kind of cool. HAI reached out to me probably about six months ago. They saw a video that Kenny had produced. I want to take this time to introduce at least one, and that's Kenny Keller, the guy behind the scenes. He helped me produce this presentation. He is the creator of Helicopter Online Ground School. Again, HAI saw this video series that he had done and they said, "Hey, can you bring that to HAI?" I said, "I'd love to."

As we got closer to the show, I reached out to Kenny. I said, "Remember that series we did?" I said, "Can we redefine that? Can we tune that up?" He said, "Sure. Yeah." So I wrote the script and Kenny brought out his staff who were all with us here today, including his daughter, Gloria. We redefined it. We're not calling it the DPE Pet Peeves anymore, we're going to call it Rotor Tips.

About myself, here's the 32nd bio. I started flying back in 1981 with most of my time earlier in corporate jets. I eventually started to learning to fly helicopters in 2000 and literally fell in love with rotorcraft. Until recently, I was the director of operations for a company called Sweet Helicopters. They are a part 135 VIP program. We've got three 109 SNPs, three H130s, and a H125. Just recently, we added Air Medical, HAA to our program. Now we do manage the Parkview Hospital Samaritan program. They have two Dolphins. If you saw... If you've been on the show floor and have been to the Leonardo Booth, there was an Augusta 169. That's the Parkview helicopter. That is one that we will be managing very soon.

When I'm not flying helicopters, I'm the airport manager at the Goshen and Municipal Airport. Goshen, Indiana is located up near South Bend. I helped start the FBO there back in 1992. I'm one of the founders of Goshen Air Center. Last year Kenny did this video series. We did redefine it. I did help write the script. One of the actors in there is a friend of ours, Chris Hauser. Chris had worked for us full time. He is now one of our part-time VIPs, and he too was a med pilot over at the South Bend Memorial Med Flight program. When you see Chris, and if you knew Chris, you would understand his personality. I think you're going to enjoy it.

What else do I need? The runtime on this is about 30 minutes. What I did is rather than just list the top 10 things that bothered me as a DPE and for the two DPEs here, I'm anxious to have you watch this and give rest of us your input if there's one that I might have missed, or two that I've might have missed here.

Rather than just name them and bore you guys to death, we decided to make a video. Kenny and his colleagues and I spent about three days, I think it was four hours of video, and everything from some classroom shots. The last hour we took the 109S up. If you could care less about the top 10 rotor tips, I think you might enjoy the flight in the 109S. The aircraft is a 109S. It's 45 Sierra Hotel. I think you'll enjoy it. Without further ado, I'll let Kenny come up here and do his magic

Rotor Tips brought to you by Helicopter Online Ground Schools No Go decision button. When you feel the pressure to fly, but know the right decision is to stay on the ground, hit the hogs No Go and live to fly another day. Helicopterground.com.

Randy Sharkey:

Welcome. I'm Randy Sharkey and we are inside the Sweet Helicopter Hangar, located in Goshen, Indiana. In just a few minutes, we will push the aircraft outside and get started on our journey to successfully passing your next Practical test. Sweet Helicopters is owned and operated by Chuck Surak, who also happens to be a commercial helicopter pilot himself. Sweet Helicopters corporate headquarters and maintenance facility are located in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Today, we are going to produce a video called Rotor Tips. In this video, you will view 10 tips on helping students pass their Rotorcraft Practical test. Last year, Kenny Keller, creator of Helicopter Online Ground School, did a 10 part series on the top 10 pet peeves as a DPE. Now we've taken that series and redefined it into the latest rotor tips. We hope that you find them helpful. If nothing else, I hope you enjoyed the ride in our Agusta 109S.

Kenny has cameras positioned in different places throughout the aircraft to give you some great angles. Now I do have to mention this disclaimer. Today's rotor tips are not mandated by the FAA. They're only to serve as an educational guideline as you prepare to take your Practical Rotor Craft test.

Welcome aboard our Agusta 109S. It is one of three twin engine helicopters here in our Sweet Helicopter VIP fleet. Joining me up front on this flight is no stranger to twin engine helicopters, Kenny Keller. Kenny will be flying along with us. Here eventually, he is going to take the controls and I am going to list our newest top 10 rotor tips for passing your next Practical test.

Our first rotor tip, it doesn't require any studying at all. It should be a given, but unfortunately, for many people it is not. Let's bring it to the forefront. That is first impressions.

It seems like there are acronyms for everything in aviation. Let's pick one for first impressions because it includes three separate subjects that I want to talk about. Let's use OAT. Now for many of you pilots, OAT, it stands for outside air temperature. But for the purpose of this conversation, let's make OAT, oat, stand for this. O is organized, A appearance, and T, timeliness. Check out this video on how not to participate in OAT.

Randy Sharkey:

Organized. In the video, you saw our applicant is clearly not organized. His papers are scattered throughout the video. He has difficulty locating the documents needed to identify himself. That includes the FAA medical and the pilot's license. A, his appearance. Now, wearing a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops is probably just slightly too relaxed, but I'm also not advocating that you need to show up in a three piece suit or a dress. How about somewhere in the middle? I think they call it business casual, which might be appropriate. Maybe khakis and a polo shirt would be ideal. Appearance, that's important.

Lastly on OAT, it's timeliness. Timeliness, it falls under first impressions. My recommendation is to maybe 30 to 60 minutes before the scheduled appointment with the examiner. That way you can take your time and you can relax. You'll get there plenty early and you can get things set up, maybe look around the building that you're meeting. If this is your first time there, you'll want to find out where the coffee pot is and maybe where the restrooms are at. That will just help you be relaxed as well.

Again, we're talking about O-A-T, organized, appearance and timeliness. If you follow those three suggestions, I can almost assure you it will help reduce the stress, or on stress coming up.

Our next rotor tip is know the PTS book inside and out. There are no secrets with this one. The FAA publishes exactly what the applicant should be studying for and what to expect on the check ride. One of my personal pet peeves is when a flight instructor calls me maybe the day before the check ride and will say something like this. "Hey, my student wants to know what areas of operation that he or she should be studying for for tomorrow's check ride."

Mr. Houser:

Yeah, I'm just sitting here. I'm all anxious about the check ride tomorrow. Hey, I was thinking, what am I supposed to study exactly? I don't... I don't... There's so much stuff that we covered, I just didn't know what to look at. PTS, what do you... post-Traumatic something or other? Oh, the Practical test standards. Yeah, I think I got that book. It's a small little book that you... That's the test? Oh yeah, okay. I think I got it. I'll open it up and see. Does it talk about... It covers systems for aircraft and weather and..? All right, what should I wear? Should I... Because I just want to be comfortable. I'm going to be all nervous anyway. I heard that examiner's a real stickler. Yeah, he only passes one out of a hundred or something. All right, cover the Practical test standards and just review systems of the aircraft and weight and balance and all that, right? All right. All right. Practical test standards. I got it. Got it. That's the exam. All right, got it. All right, I appreciate it. Thanks.

Randy Sharkey:

My response is the same every time. It's very simple. Whatever is in the PTS works well for everyone. Additionally, whatever questions that the applicant has missed on the knowledge test will be incorporated into the oral questioning. Now say for example, that the applicant may be missed three questions regarding airspace. There really is a high probability that during the oral questioning portion of the test that we are going to talk about airspace.

What do they need to study for? You don't need to call me and ask. Just make sure that they are aware of the Practical test guide. It's all fair game. What's ever in there is fair game. Now again, we can't ask everything that's in that book because it would take a couple of days to go through it, but there are no surprises. What's ever in the PTS will likely, or areas of it, will show up on the Practical test.

Our next rotor tip is talking about the IACRA login and password, or at least the struggles with the IACRA login and password. I have spent literally countless hours with applicants not knowing how to log in to this government website. It really shouldn't be that difficult. However, you'll be shocked how painful that this step can be for the applicant. What I have found for those that struggle with that login procedure is that the stress level goes up. Anytime the stress level goes up is when we start to lose some of the focus. This note to the instructors, make sure that they know how to log in to IACRA. The purpose of that is that the applicant needs to sign electronically the 8710 form. It is part of the pretest protocols that the applicant has to do on this government website.

Sadly, after three attempts, the website will lock the applicant out. I've had this happen a few times. I'm sure other DPEs will attest to this too. It can delay the test an hour, maybe a couple hours.

Again, this is just a recommendation to make sure that as an instructor you have prepped your student well enough. This one's pretty easy. Just write it down someplace. Write down the login and the password and this will go just so much easier for it.

Our next rotor tip is talking about nerves. Everybody's nervous when they come to check rides. As examiners, we understand that. Undoubtedly, the biggest obstacle is to overcome those nerves on check ride day. Here are just a couple of ideas that have really been successful for me. Arrive early and get everything organized on the table in front of you. If this is an unfamiliar place, take time to walk around and know your surroundings and then go back to the meeting room, sit down and relax. This is not the time for last minute studying. This is the time that you need to do whatever helps you relax.

Now, some people have earbuds with soft music playing before the examiner arrives. Okay, so the examiner is there. Maybe do some small talk with him before the test begins. You can talk about your families, you can talk about aviation. Everybody likes to talk about aviation, so maybe do that. This is also big that I have found that works is don't tell the world of the day of your check ride. In fact, maybe keep it a secret. That way if things don't work out exactly like you had hoped it would, you don't have to go back and tell anybody about it.

 Part of passing a check ride is being able to control your own nerves. 

Keep it a secret. Also, part of the briefing is to let the applicant know that perfection is not the standard. It's what we will tell the applicant. What does that mean? It means that you aren't expected to know every answer that is asked of you. I had an applicant, I think it was this past month that said to me, "Oh man, I can't... I'm drawing a total blank. Can I call a friend?" Well, I can't exactly let you call a friend, but what I can do is have you take time and look at your notes, or go to your book and look it up." And that's okay. We expect that. There are times that it's perfectly fine to go to your notes or go to the book.

What I would encourage you to do is don't try to bluff the examiner because he's going to figure that out pretty quick. Be honest. Just let him know that, oh, you forgot that one. You've talked about it, but you just can't think of it. I'm pretty confident, as long as you're not doing it every couple of minutes, that he'll let you do that.

I have found that those applicants that have gotten off to a good solid start are those applicants that have showed up on time that are organized and competent in their knowledge of their aircraft. Those ones that have prepped hard the day before the check ride, that has always worked out well by following those rules, I believe also will help calm those nerves.

Our next rotor tip is where are all of your endorsements? This one is the responsibility of your flight instructor. It's his or her responsibility to make sure you have all the proper endorsements that have been signed with the correspondent FAR. A good source is the Advisory Circular 6165. It's dated August of 2018, or just simply search FAA piloted endorsements. It's also not a bad idea to tab out the requirements in part 61. This will help the examiner verify that you meet the requirements of 61 109.

Our next rotor tip is talking about a lack of knowledge on the maintenance records. I believe that more time needs to be spent from flight instructors on this topic because logbooks are so valuable that we are finding more flight schools and owners of helicopters are reluctant, maybe hesitant to let those maintenance logbooks leave the building or come out of the safe. But as a result, I've also seen that applicants are really weak in that area.

 "Every time I'd show up for training, the instructor, we would do a little bit of ground and then we would go fly for an hour and a half. I would ask every once in a while and he would just say, "Oh, we'll do it next time." Of course, I'm flying at a flight school. They keep them locked up in their maintenance bay or whatever. It just seems like every time I'd say something, it was always, "Oh, how about we do it next time?" And then... I got to be honest with you. This is the first time I've seen this book."

What I would like to see are instructors to go get the maintenance log books, get them out of the safe, again, take good care of them, and sit down with your students and go through it and make sure they know the difference between what an annual is and what a 100 hour inspection might be. Point out the pedal static inspections. I have found that some flight schools will send along a status sheet. It's typically just a one page document. On that sheet it will show me when the annual was done, that 100 hour was done, maybe the component times. It summarizes everything, but again, it is not a substitute for the maintenance log books themselves. My recommendation on this one to you instructors are to spend more time with your students in the maintenance log books.

Our next rotor tip is to know your aircraft. Some of the best applicants that I've seen over the years are those that are really, really familiar with the rotor craft flight manual, the RFM or the POH, whatever you want to call it. Those applicants that show up in their own aircraft, well, they probably have a slight advantage over someone who is renting from the local flight school. This happens to be one of my least favorite statements from the applicant. That is, well, this is probably the last time I'll be flying this make and model because I'm buying my own helicopter when I get home.

What they really are trying to imply is that they really don't need to be that familiar with the helicopter that they showed up for in the check ride. I want to let the applicants know that this is really incorrect thinking. You should treat that this make and model honestly is the one that's going to get you safely home by yourself if you happen to have flown to the check ride that day. I hear the excuse a lot when they say, "Well, I'm just here long enough to get transitioned into the aircraft. I want to use this helicopter to take a check ride in." I really want them to understand and to know the aircraft. I feel that the emergency procedures in the RFM are very important. I will ask applicants if this specific light illuminates, what does it mean and what is the pilot's corrective action? Because in the event of an actual emergency, you will not have time to refer to the RFM for guidance.

 We're only 500 feet above the ground, we're a thousand feet above the ground. In the event of an engine failure, you won't have time to go grab the RFM and reference it. There are certain portions of the emergency section that I feel that you do need to memorize, and not only to pass the oral portion of the test, but even more importantly, it could save your life. Please, know your aircraft.

Our next rotor tip is, Ugh. The winds are so much stronger than I'm used to. If I had a dime for every time that an applicant blamed the winds as a reason for their poor performance, I would encourage the applicants to fly with their instructors on the windy days and the gusty days. I know it's easy to cancel on those days, but if check ride day happens to be a little windier day, they really can't be using the winds as an excuse for their poor performance.

I've seen that from time to time. As helicopter pilots, we can use the winds to our favor for some of the tasks that are going to be conducted that day. I'll talk to instructors right here. If you feel the winds are really gusty and in a maybe severe, too strong, yeah, it's okay to cancel that. What I'm talking about is don't be afraid to fly on those days where the winds are gusting up over 20 knots because there probably will be a day that your student is going to have to fly in conditions like that. It's important to fly in all types of weather conditions. The winds are much stronger than I'm used to. Keep that in mind instructors, and let's try to fly with the students even on some of the windier days.

Our next rotor tip is, can I use my iPad and piece of paper? My answer is, you bet. However, don't let an electronic device become your worst enemy. An airplane DPE colleague told me that his applicant iPads froze during a simulated ILS approach and the applicant did not have a backup. When the examiner asked him to execute the missed approach procedure, well, guess what? The applicant also froze and that check ride ended soon thereafter.

I also had an applicant that was using his electronic device for a weight and balance calculation, only discover that it was using the incorrect starting numbers for the empty weight. Sadly, he was using the sample numbers that were printed in the RFM and not the actual weight and balance that was printed on the separate weight balance page.

Again, electronic devices are permissible for the Practical test. I encourage them, in fact, because I do feel that they're more accurate when properly utilized. Just make sure that you have a backup plan. Certainly, have a clear understanding on how to do a weight and balance by longhand in the event that you're asked to do it. Can I bring the iPad? Absolutely.

Traffic helicopter 502, we're run the right down one for runway nine, and we'll be number two for the airport.

All right, you're below a hundred knots. Here comes the gear. Three green.  We go to 102% on the RPM landing. Gears down. Three green. RPM switch 102. Radar is off. Never used it. Brakes are off.  You're good to land.

You got the diamond out there. Yep, I got it. Yep, you're good. Checks. Everything's done. Looking good.

Look at you. Mr. Showoff. All right. All the way down. Beautiful.

Our last rotor tip is talking about you just passed the oral. Congratulations. Now it is time to fly. Tell the examiner that you would like to take a small break before flying. Use this time to catch your breath, grab a snack and make sure to stay hydrated. Use your iPad to check the current metar, know the surface winds and go over in your mind how you're going to hover taxi for the takeoff. Know the [inaudible 00:34:05] for the airport and the airspace around you. As you pre-flight the aircraft, make sure to take your time. Have that checklist in your hands at all times and reference it. Do one final walk around before entering the aircraft to confirm that all of the doors are now closed and latched. Use the checklist for your engine start. Again, you'll want to listen to the AWOS or ASOS to verify the winds. Speak clearly on the unicom or the tower frequency. Remember, you can't do anything too slow. Did I mention to use the checklist?

Before placing the checklist down prior to takeoff, do you want last final pre-takeoff check. I had an applicant try to take off with me with the boost pump off and the red light staring right at him. Yes, he had to come back later, but I felt bad for him because he was so nervous and he was carelessly rushing through the checklist that he had overlooked that he had left the pump in the off position. Anyhow, that is the rotor tip that we want to talk about after you've got through your oral portion of the test.

Let's recap the rotor tips. First impressions, remember the acronym OAT, O-A-T, organized, appearance, timeliness. Know your maintenance records. Maybe grab a status sheet to take with you. Know your IACRA login and password. Write it down, whatever it takes to have it with you. Thoroughly know the PTS. Anything in there is fair game for the examiner. Know your aircraft. Memorize the emergency procedures when necessary. Know the limitation section like the back of your hand. Know the different sections in the POH or RFM and what each section represents. Why? On the windy days. Don't be intimidated with stronger winds. Use the winds in your favor.

Make sure that your iPad is charged and ready to go. Do you have the correct weight and balance in your iPad? What is your backup? Paper or another electronic device? Have something to fall back on. Have your instructor confirm and reconfirm the proper endorsements. Too many check rides never get started due to incorrect endorsements. This does add to the stress level if the instructor has to get involved at the last minute to make those corrections.

Calm the nerves. What is relaxing to you? Everyone has a different way of relaxing. Figure it out before check ride day. For heaven's sakes, don't tell everybody the day of your check ride. Be organized. Be early. Be smart. Be confident. Be a safe pilot. One word, checklist, period. Use your checklist. Remember, you can't do anything too slow in the helicopter. I truly hope, in some small way, that this video has helped you. Here's to let success and stay flying..

Live to fly another day. Helicopterground.com.

Randy Sharkey:

That's very kind. Thank you. What I've done is take the collection of subjects and topics that I have found over the last 10 years and basically have presented them to you today. There are probably other ones. There are other tips. There are probably other pet peeves that come to mind. I know Gerry's still here.  Anything that I missed? Gerry's been a DPE now for... Man, since the seventies?



Randy Sharkey:

'78. You've seen a lot more check rights than I have. What else comes to mind for you, Jerry? Did you write anything down that...


Well, I think you pretty much covered it. There's business with the PTS or the ACS, and there's a lot more to flying then what's in the PTS or the ACS. If you use it as a syllabus, you're going to be missing things. Use the flight training handbooks, use your rotor craft flying handbook, and teach about flying. But yes, they should be familiar with the PTS.

It's kind of funny. I work with someone, she has a degree in meteorology. She's been through grade school, high school and college. I was at work, I work as a part-time weather observer, and I was going through the private pilot ACS. I just thought I'd ask her. I said, "You know what this is? It's a final exam. A man's taking his private pilot airplane ride in a few days and I'm preparing this test. Believe it or not, he gets a copy of this." She said, "What? This is the final exam?" I said, "Yes." She was amazed. I said, "Not only does he see it before the test, it's one of the first books he buys when he enrolls in the course."

Think about it. You've never been to a trade school, a vocational school, a high school, a grade school, a college where somebody says, "Here's the final exam," and yet they come in and you ask a question out of the book, maybe airspace, weather. I don't expect you to be a meteorologist, but I expect you to be able to read what the FAA supplies you before a flight. I get the deer in the headlights look, and I'm asking you a question that's right in the book. I'm just dumbfounded by that.

The other thing, you mentioned, iPads. If I ran the FAA, private pilot applicants would not be permitted to use anything but a paper chart, a e6b, and a slide flight computer.

By the way, your E6B is the same as a 10 and a half inch linear slide rule that used to be taught in high schools. I don't know if you guys have even see one, but you can use your E6B to divide up the cost of dinner when you go out with the gang. You just used the pen like you'd used the gallon marker, or the hour marker. It works the same way.

But anyway, the iPad, here's where I found the problem. They use the iPad primarily. They have it on such a nice big scale that they could practically pinpoint trees. But we're going along and they're keeping track and they're doing their root log and everything's going perfectly until I say... Okay, I can give you an emergency and say, "Oh, you just lost your oil pressure." Now he looks out the window and says, I better land right there. I'll give a different kind of an emergency. I'll say, we have a passenger that has chest pains, so we can't land right there. Let's get him to the nearest airport where we can call an ambulance. Well, the nearest airport's not shown because of the scale he has the iPad on, where if he had the sectional out, he just a flash of an eyes, "Oh, let's take him over there."

Well, now he blows up the iPad and his entire time distance, what he's used to looking at saying, this is 10 miles, that's out the window. I say in flight, the majority of the disapprovals are because of this. They all know the movers. It's fun to shoot autos. Let's go out and practice autos. But the academics and things like this don't get practiced enough. What I... If I go on a cross country, I still use a real chart. What I use the iPad for, I'm getting old and I can't see that well, so I use the iPad to blow up the numbers. What's the latest at Midway? I can't read it on the section of... It's a dimly lit. Maybe it's sunset, so I just expand it on the iPad. The iPad is my backup, not my primary.

Randy Sharkey:

Okay, interesting. Yeah.


But I also, the point I'm going to stress, that was all in the back of my mind, but it should be in the front of my mind, is don't tell the world about you check riding.

Randy Sharkey:

Yeah, you're right.


You're putting so much pressure on yourself. I remember a guy's wife drove up with cookies and brownies for the flight school and everything like that, and... We still had the cookies and the brownies. He wasn't a happy camper. He didn't enjoy his as much as we did.

Randy Sharkey:

Well, thank you Jerry. Thanks for your comments. Those are very, very valid. He's been doing this a lot longer than I have, I can tell you that.

Audience member:

Can you get this online?

Randy Sharkey:

Can we get this online is the question, Kenny. Can we get this video online?

Kenny Keller:

We'll get it published once we get back home.

Okay, good. Kenny and his crew played a big role in helping me get this developed and produced. One last thing that I have I want to let you know of and then we can go to questions real quick so I don't forget it. Rotors and Ribs is happening this year at the Goshen Indiana Airport, GSH, Goff Sierra Hotel.

HAI, again, when they called to ask about presenting this, they said, "Hey, can we participate more in Rotors and Ribs in '23?" I said, "Sure." They have gone as far as co-sponsoring the event. It's going to be a two day event. It's going to be on Friday and Saturday, July 7th and 8th of this year. It'll begin Friday afternoon with helicopter fly-ins. We'll have a social hour later that night. We'll have opening remarks. I think Bruce Webb is going to be one of the speakers Friday night. The educational program is on aeronautical decision making.

At about eight o'clock, we will go out to the runway under a tent, or obviously near the runway. We'll have helicopter demonstrations, whether the sky soldiers are going to do some performing, might have some new helicopters there. But at 10 o'clock at night, we're going to have what will be the very first time in this area is a night drone show. I know the Olympics did it. It's really kind of cool. It's 150 drones going up and instead of traditional fireworks, these drones have all these fancy lights on them and they create figures and everything. We'll do that for 12 minutes and then we'll follow up with the 12 minute traditional firework show. That's Friday.

On Saturday, we'll have breakfast in the morning. Four different seminars throughout the morning. We'll break for ribs at noon. At one o'clock, we're working with the Guinness Book of World Records, and we've been in communication with them already. They're looking to send a representative out. The more helicopters I get there, the better chance we have of developing this new category called the most helicopters in a hover flight at one time. I would love to see 45, 50 helicopters there. We'll all go out to a specific space that's designed for you based on the size of the helicopter, and everybody's going to lift at the same time and then all the cameras go. If it's impressing good enough, Guinness has promised me they'd create a new category.

That's part of Rotors and Ribs of 2023, July 7th and 8th, Goshen Indiana, rotorsandribs.com. They'll be more information there. Again, it's co-sponsored by HAI.

All right. Any questions on what we've talked about today, or anything for that matter? We've got 10 minutes. Again, we can use it. We don't have to use it. It's your call.

Hopefully. I know we have a lot of licensed pilots here. You guys know what you're doing if you're already licensed, but hopefully if you're going to take some other ratings, or for your instructors. How many instructors again? A lot. Hopefully some of those tips, instructors, you will find helpful.

Audience member:

What do you feel like people miss on the pre-flight of the aircraft the most before they get in to start flying?

Randy Sharkey:

Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah. Now that's a great question. What I've seen the most missed are the latches. That's why I brought it up as one of the examples. They've got the checklist. They're looking right at it, but again, they're so nervous. The next thing you know, they left the oil door open, or they left one of the side engine compartment doors unlatched. Before I jump in, I'm usually the last one in, I do one last walk around. There have been a few times where I have found where I've had to go latch it for them. I didn't do a disapproval, but I sure made it clear to them. Next time, you better catch it. Yes sir.


Yeah. I've been doing check rides since '78. The FAA did something I consider terribly wrong. On the 3rd of August, 1997, they cut the solo time for private pilot from 20 hours to 10. They cut the Cross Country training time. Those of us that were examining prior to '97 have seen a drop in performance on the private pilot check ride. There are some flight schools that say 10 hours isn't enough. The students put pressure. They say, "I got my 10 hours, let's start working on a sign off. You're just trying to bill more time out of me." No, if they get the 20 hours solo, they'll need less dual. What's cheaper?

Here's the problem. His landing's a little rough. He needs more training. No, he needs more practice. He's safe, but he's not as smooth as he should be. Why? Because he doesn't do it enough. He needs to go out on his own. Maybe it's not an official cross country, but get him to another airport. Maybe it's 20 miles away, maybe it's 10 miles away, but get him used to going to other airports. There are a couple flight schools, both fixed and rotor that I know the students get 18 to 22 hours of solo. It shows on the check ride. Yes, I've seen 10, 11 hours solo do a fine job, so I keep an open mind. But for the most part, this is where nervousness comes in. The guy with 20 hours, the gal with 20 hours is not nearly as nervous on the check ride.

They need the practice. They need the confidence of working things out for themselves. Example, it was at Lakeshore. Students said, "I got my 10 hours, let's work on the sign off." The chief instructor said, "Well, I was talking with your instructor and he thinks you don't have a pilot command attitude." What do you mean? Last cross country, I was 10 miles from Jamesville and I said, I'm 10 miles from Jamesville. Should I call him now? He said yes. I said, Jamesville Tower helicopter 12345 with information, alpha landing in terminal. He said, yes, that was correct. Hey, I got it right. No, you didn't get it right. If you squeezed the mic and did it without looking at him, then you got it right. Then you're showing a pilot command attitude. Even if the instructor just sits there, there's a crutch. There's an aid in the cockpit. In the back of your mind, you know that if you do something wrong, he's going to save you. You need to depend on you.

Randy Sharkey:

It's a good comment, Gerry. Thank you. Thank you very much for that. Yeah, Kenny?

Kenny Keller:

I just want to say that I did my pilot and commercial Gerry Ventrella that just got done speaking over 20 years ago. I was thrilled to see him walk in the expo yesterday. Comes in the afternoon, he gets off from Chicago at 11:30, drove through all the night to get here. I've been teaching for over 20 years, helicopter ground school I've been doing for 11 years. A lot of the key stuff that I push and I teach, I learned from that man right there in two check rides. My failed my private. I took it with the FAA. Didn't go back for six months, studied like a mad man because I didn't want to fail again. Halfway through his oral, which people say they're coming on, and there are because he's sure of it. Halfway through, he stopped me. He goes, "You came in with a pink slip today."

I'm like, yep. He's like, "Well, what happened?" I just said, I was super nervous the day of check ride. He goes, "Well, you're batting a hundred percent. I'm going to call that FAA examiner because we're a tight-knit group and tell him that you came back and now you're just like..." I knew my stuff. That's where it all started and changed what I do today. But my point is, some of the key things that I teach is basics and a lot of the stories are coming from that guy right there. Good stuff. Pay attention to what he had to say.

Randy Sharkey:

I'm just doing the arithmetic in my head. If he was doing check rights in '78, minus 2023, either you're doing check rides hen you were 12 or... Yeah, this is amazing. I'm not going to ask how old you are because my wife tells me that's rude the do, so I'm not going to ask that. But thank you. Thank you for all the years you've been serving.

Kenny Keller:

It's the basics that we learned from a guy like that. That's what I think is important to this day. Fancy stuff, gadgets, technology, it's the basics that we learn as private pilots. That's what's important. People forget those basic things and they say the stuff like Jerry preached. The simple stuff, two-step pickup, hover pre-takeoff checks. People aren't doing these. We hear about it all the time. There's instructors sending people to check rides, their knowledge isn't there, and they're not doing hover pre-takeoff checks. They're not doing good two-steps, slow pickups. It's the basics that I thinks what's important.

Randy Sharkey:

Good stuff. Yeah. We could talk for another hour on that topic, but we are out of time. There are 57 of you here today. What that shows me, there are 57 individuals here that care about safety and promoting safety and teaching safety. I appreciate that. I hope you have a great day. We'll see you.