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An aviation movie for the rest of us

flying again movie

Flying Again is the creation of Jason Schappert, his wife and business partner, Ashley Schappert, and director, John Ellis. There is a whole long list of other contributors who brought this feature-length movie to fruition, and all of them deserve their time in the sun. I encourage you to read the credits carefully when you see the movie. And yes, I expect you will see it. If you’re lucky, you’ll see it more than once.

Unlike most Hollywood productions that use aviation as a backdrop for political intrigue, romantic liaisons, or blowing up everything in sight, Schappert and his crew have done something truly unique and satisfying. They’ve made a movie that shows exactly how diverse the general aviation marketplace is and successfully exposes our individual weaknesses for what they are — common issues that can be remedied fairly easily.

“If you like airplanes, you need to be watching this movie,” says Schappert.

As one of the leading CFIs publishing educational materials in print, online, and in video format, he knows a thing or two about general aviation and how to teach the material. But this movie isn’t an educational product.

Rather, it’s an inspirational story told from the viewpoint of a wide array of individuals. Some occupy the left seat, others sit on the right.

“The goal is to reach the masses,” says Schappert.

flying again movieIn an effort to do that, he and his team have begun shipping DVD and BluRay copies to supporters who gave the project a financial push with their Kickstarter contributions. The film is available to anyone with a credit card and an Internet connection. Both are priced at $29.97 and are available through the film’s website,

The movie will also be playing in select theaters across the United States at special screenings designed to entice movie-goers into the darkness to see something truly different: A feature length movie that is genuinely inspirational.

Clocking in at something like 84 minutes, the film takes its time to share the story of getting airborne. That’s good, because it allows the filmmakers the freedom to dispel the myth that rusty pilots are crusty old men with thinning hair, shaking hands, and wandering minds.

“Rusty Pilots come in all shapes and sizes,” says Schappert in conversation after a screening of the film at the historic Marion Theater in Ocala, Florida, his company’s base of operation.

Filmed beautifully in locations across the country, including Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, and multiple sites throughout the Florida peninsula, Flying Again is visually appealing in a way most aviation movies miss entirely. Perhaps that’s because these filmmakers actually love to fly. That affection for the subject matter shows in the finished product.

Subjects in the film include men and women, ranging in age from mid-20s well into their retirement years. Some are student pilots who were derailed during training. Some are low-time certificated pilots who simply fell away from aviation because of family or business issues.

“There’s somebody there for everyone to relate to,” Schappert acknowledges.

And he’s right. Each subject gets to share the story of what took them out of the cockpit, as the viewer gets to follow along as they venture back into the air under the wing of some excellent flight instructors.

Jamie on the red carpet for the film's premiere.

Jamie on the red carpet for the film’s premiere.

Speaking of CFIs, this is the first and only film I’ve ever seen that admits out loud that CFIs can get rusty too. That certificate doesn’t impart any special powers to those of us who qualify as CFIs. We can become less than proficient too. And we do. For several years I was in that Rusty Pilot, Rusty CFI category. Don’t be surprised that I admit it here in print. I admit it in the film, too. It’s true.

Yes, I’m in Flying Again, briefly. But I’m such a dim-bulb I didn’t know I was in it until my face came on the screen. Now that’s a surprising way to start a Monday, looking at yourself standing 20 feet tall on a movie screen.

Even knowing that, I have a DVD copy of Flying Again on my desk as I write this. It will go into the library at my flying club later this week, and will be featured at a showing to all who want to come in the early weeks of 2016.

It’s that good. Whether you’re an experienced airline pilot thinking of getting back into VFR flying at the local non-towered airport, or a CFI who hasn’t logged as many hours in flight as you might like, or someone who wants to brush off a long-ago earned but seldom used pilot certificate, or even an interested observer who has dreamed of flying but never made it past the airport gate, there’s something in Flying Again that’s aimed directly at you — as well as a whole lot of material that you’ll find to be thoroughly entertaining and enlightening.

Schappert’s goal is to get the movie seen by as many pairs of eyes as possible. To that end he and his team are willing to get creative.

“I’m open to doing free screenings at EAA Chapters and flying clubs,” he says.

Yet, his ultimate ambitions are somewhat more aspirational.

“I want to be playing in the Air & Space Museum every day at 1 p.m.,” Schappert jokes.

He’s smiling, but I’m not at all sure he really is joking. Nor would I put that goal beyond the reach of him or this film. It should be playing at the Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. It should be playing at your house, too.

Keep an eye on Jason Schappert and the gang at Something’s happening here. And they’re right at the head of the parade, heads held high, voices calling out loud and clear, “Let’s go Flying Again.”

General aviation needs a guy just like Jason. Thankfully, we’ve got him.

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comAn aviation movie for the rest of us

Pictures of the day: Pristine C180

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Ace photographer Star Novak of McFarlane Aviation Products in Baldwin City, Kansas, sent in these photos, noting: “We had the most pristine C180 stop by Vinland Valley Aerodrome (K64) this summer on its way to the American southwest for wintering. The weather was coming in, and we rolled him into a hangar until the storm passed. The C180 is owned by Craig Ehman, a customer of ours from Ontario.”

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Source: http://generalaviationnews.comPictures of the day: Pristine C180

Are pilots lone wolves or domesticated dogs?

I recently read about a study involving dogs in homes, dogs in shelters, and wolves. The researchers rounded up 10 animals from each category and gave them each a puzzle box containing a food reward. The catch was that the box could only be opened with some persistence.

Eight of the 10 wolves successfully opened the box. Only one of the 20 dogs succeeded.

According to the researchers, the wolves spent almost the entire time working the problem. The dogs spent almost none.

It seems funny that this study revealed a remarkable lack of interest in minor canine self-preservation. Dogs are highly intelligent, empathetic and coachable. But have they become lazier than wild animals due to human contact?

Pilots as a group have a reputation for being independent, lone wolves. But after reading several reports to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System like the one below, I wonder: Are we really more like domesticated dogs?

“I was heading to Pennsylvania from Colorado, and I was using my GPS for the airspaces. The GPS wasn’t looking right however, but I didn’t think much about it until I was looking at a runway on my left and right. I was split between Dayton and Wright-Patterson and my GPS wasn’t showing I was in their airspace, so I knew I was committed [to maintaining my present flight path] at that point and the GPS was not functioning properly.

“I quickly got the frequency for Columbus Approach and called them, and they told me that there may have been a problem and they gave me a phone number to call when I landed. I stayed with Flight Following the remainder of the flight, and the GPS started to work when I got to West Virginia and has been working correctly ever since. I called the number I was given and talked to the controller, but he said someone else may call back, but that did not occur. The controller thought that perhaps everything was OK, but I wanted to submit this report.”

I included his narrative verbatim in hopes you might get the same sense I got when reading it. I was reminded of the phrase, “There I was: Fat, dumb and happy.”

This perfectly capable pilot encountered a malfunction with his GPS. His first thought was to ask for help using another electronic device that might also have failed him during that flight. Or in dog-speak, “If I wag my tail, will you do it for me?”

Might minor self-preservation dictate that the pilot go to his sectionals? In the good ol’ days of the 1990s and early 2000s, it might. But, if the NASA reports I read indicate a trend, we have become a community too domesticated by our technology.

One experimental aircraft pilot submitted a report after inadvertently entering Class B airspace. He was flying in the northwest quadrant of KDEN.

“My GPS intermittently went blank. Instead of monitoring my flight path utilizing ground references, I devoted the majority of my attention to troubleshooting and regaining my GPS function.”

In his post-mortem, the pilot vowed to “ensure in the future that I am more aware of my flight path anytime I am near controlled airspace, and for that matter, at all times during flight.”

This pilot forgot that the saying goes, “Aviate, navigate, communicate,” not “Aviate, navigate, wait… what’s going on with this stupid box?”

Technology is awesome. Psychologist Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says life has become more complex, but we hardly ever notice it because technology has simplified its complexity. We now know more with less.

For example, cockpit technology has increased our potential for situational awareness enormously. It also has reduced the complexity of how that information is presented to us. Instead of 10 or more displays, gauges and dials to scan and process, we now can read it all on one display screen. And yet…

“While flying an airplane on a local training flight, I inadvertently entered the Class D airspace to the south of the Abbotsford airport (CYXX). The aircraft I was flying is equipped with a Garmin 500 avionics suite and a Garmin GTN 750 GPS. Both units had current charts installed and are approved for navigation. The Abbotsford Control Tower’s airspace was not depicted on either system.”

Abbotsford Tower had radar contact with the aircraft, so no harm, no foul. Only after making the mandated phone call to Abbotsford Tower and apologizing for the incursion did the pilot learn Canadian airports may not be depicted on Garmin charts, even if said airspace extends into the U.S. They are, however, depicted on printed sectionals.

None of the three pilots above described going to their backup, paper sectionals once their GPS signals became compromised. If they had sectionals, why didn’t they pull them out? Why weren’t they folded on their kneeboards and at the ready in case a situation like the ones described actually occurred?

Some psychologists say it’s because technology hinders the development of knowledge. The more technology advances, the more we are able to outsource, crowdsource and cloudsource the storage and retrieval of information.

Where once someone with a capacious memory ruled the day, now whoever has the most RAM and the fastest connection is king. That means humans today are like most smartphones and tablets — our ability to solve problems depends less on the knowledge we can acquire and retain and more on long battery life and the latest processor.

Could it be that’s what domesticated dogs are doing in that study? They seemed to be outsourcing the problem-solving to their social network, human beings. If we pilots are doing the same thing, then does that mean technology is domesticating us? Are we becoming only as smart as our technology?

Why don’t we use all available technology more smartly? Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic states that the fluid intelligence of human beings — the ability to acquire and process information effectively — has increased substantially in the last 70 years. Based on that information, it should be easy for us pilots to absorb new information and still maintain our proficiency using older, backup resources at our disposal, right?

Wrong. Two things in human nature work against us. First, it’s human nature that if something tends to work, then we expect that it will always work. The more it works, the less inclined we are to rely on backup. We call it “being efficient.” Psychologists might label it “delusion.” Murphy’s Law proves that out daily.

It’s like the flight instructor who deluded himself into believing his handheld GPS would be sufficient for a night cross-country flight with a student, in marginal VFR. Naturally his handheld GPS failed. Its failure was the major factor in a Class C airspace incursion.

In his explanation, the instructor noted that he knew a handheld GPS was less reliable than a panel-mounted one, and he knew he should have used a plane equipped with a panel-mounted GPS. He chose not to use a different aircraft because it would have been inconvenient to switch.

Convenience is the second thing in human nature working against us. Studies show that when presented with visual information or an explanation by an individual, most people would rather have a person explain the information than have to read it themselves.

On my latest flight, I took a colleague on a tour over the Chesapeake Bay. I like to do that, if someone asks. It’s a rare privilege for me, so I try to make it special. Departing the W32 traffic pattern requires precision flying because the DCA-BWI Class B floor begins at 1,500 feet, just above the W32 pattern altitude. I try to be all business until well clear of the airport environment.

My colleague had previous small plane experience, so as soon as the Piper Arrow was cleaned up, I immediately began my tour guide spiel, pointing out the local amusement park to the right, the large shopping mall to the left, the power plant in the distance…

“Arrow 3252, do you wish permission to enter Class Bravo?”

“Negative, Potomac. Why?”

“Because you’re currently in it.” I quickly checked my altimeter and descended.

“Uh, thanks, Potomac. Sorry. Wrong altimeter setting. What have you got there, sir?”


“Roger. I had mine set for 30.08. Correcting now.”

I could blame it on the rush to get airborne. But that would be self-delusion. What I really was correcting for was violating my own rule. I’d let the plane drift up because I hadn’t paid attention to landmarks indicating where the 1,500 foot Class B floor rose to 2,500 foot.

I know that the trusty Garmin 430 provides airspace alerts to warn me when I am encroaching upon restricted airspace laterally. I just assumed it would do the same for me vertically. I was so keen to play tour guide, I’d allowed myself to believe that my GPS would keep me safe.

Which reminds me, this ol’ dog’s gotta go file his own NASA report right now.

Source: http://generalaviationnews.comAre pilots lone wolves or domesticated dogs?