Monday, January 28, 2008

Beginning the Commercial and Instructor ratings

For some time, I've been studying materials about becoming an instructor. You have to have a Commercial rating to apply for the Instructor rating, so I've been studying that stuff too. But I did not really have a good idea as to how to proceed until recently. I wrote to several of our instructors asking for advice. And then recently our club's Chief Flight Instructor came up with a program to get several of us going. There are four of us interested in becoming instructors, and only one of them has his Commercial already.

It'll start with a series of four "ground school" sessions, and then she and the other club CFIs will work with us individually, as we work through the self-study materials and develop the required lesson plans and begin practice teaching. She provided a syllabus to guide our self-study and flight practice. This could take 6 to 9 months. I'll write about the process as I go along.

This week's class, the second of four:
  • We heard from a club member who recently achieved his CFIG... the stuff he studied, the stuff he SHOULD have studied, and how the test went.
  • We heard from the local DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner), the only one in the area who conducts Private Pilot Glider, Commercial Pilot Glider, and Instructor tests. He gave us very good insights into what he looks for during the oral and practical tests. He also gave us a lot of information about the paperwork requirements, costs, and ideas about insurance. Beyond that, he had a lot to say about the liability, responsibility and accountability of flight instructors.
I haven't flown since 12/22, due to a variety of other commitments and bad weather. I'm hoping the weather next Sunday will be good so I can fly before the CFI class in the afternoon.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


A few weeks ago I wrote about being surprised by the amount of water in the PW5's wings (spoiler boxes) and empennage. This time it was ice. Some cold nights after a rainy week caused that accumulated water to freeze - hard! It was about 1/4" thick and about two feet long, tightly stuck under the spoiler actuators. It took me quite a bit of work with a sharp tool to break it up and pry it out. Pictured below is about half of the ice from one wing.

Turns out there are drain holes at both ends of the spoiler boxes, and they were plugged with dirt, so the water wouldn't drain out. Something else to check for on every preflight inspection... Maybe this is common in other parts of the country, but it was a surprise to us here in Southern California.