07 December 2009

A Brand-Spankin' New Certificate

So after months of studying I was ready to go and take two FAA written tests in order to earn the Ground Instrument Instructor rating. The two exams I was prepared to take were 'Instrument Instructor' and 'Ground Instructor.'

One of the challenges that pilots face is to make the most efficient use of any and all money (and time) spent in advancing a career in aviation.

Each time you take an exam it costs you some money, $100 each. So you better be certain that you're taking the right exam at the right time.

On the morning of the day I was to fork over my $200 and take the tests, I was sitting in our office at TailWind Aviation, looking through the Federal Aviation Regulations — aka the FARs — one last time to make sure I really needed to take these exams.

You might wonder, well why didn't I do that before? The answer is that I did. But, you have to understand something about the FARs. And that is that, being written in bureaurocratese, the language in the FARs is somewhat... challenging... and often requires multiple readings to gain clear understanding.

Add to that the fact that there is an awful lot of knowledge overlap in the library of possible exams, presumably to cover the myriad pilot rating situations that arise.

After I don't know how many readings and discussions of the FARs over several weeks, my instructor and I decided on this day that by virtue of the two exams I already passed, 'FOI' (Fundamentals Of Instructing) and 'Instrument Rating Airplane,' I had the necessary qualifications to obtain the rating.

A quick call to the local FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) confirmed that I did indeed have the right stuff.

So now I am officially an FAA-certified Instrument Ground Instructor.

What does it mean?

Well, it means that I can work with students in our AST-300 simulator at TailWind, teaching tasks and habits related to instrument flight and flying in general. The sim is currently configured as a Beechcraft 1900, a twin-engine aircraft often used by regional or commuter carriers.

Being certified, I can sign student logbooks for simulator time, making it all official-like. And that means I can get paid for MY time.

And that's the whole point — a small step toward making a living in aviation.

Now all I have to do is rustle up some students...

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