Chief Flying Instructor's Page

Charting a New Course for Langley Flying School

It is my pleasure to be back in operations with Langley Flying School, and I wanted to take the opportunity to express to Rob Wickins my gratitude and appreciation for his service as Chief Flying Instructor. 

With all the changes that have occurred in the last year—centered on the effort to transition from Piper Cherokees to Cessna 172s and 152s—it has been a challenge for all.  It was originally planned that the Cherokees would be retired in a co-ordinated fashion as the new Cessnas came on line, but of course the smooth transition did not occur, resulting in less operational aircraft at a time when the demand for training by our students was increasing.  This was very unfortunate for all concerned.  We have learned our lesson and are plotting a new direction for the school.

Our top priority to expand our fleet for student and instructor access.  We shall endeavor to return as many of the Piper Cherokees to services as quickly as possible, and are currently consulting with our contracted AMOs (Transport Canada approved Aircraft Maintenance Organizations) for the best possible course of action in this regard.  Secondly, we shall continue to expand our fleet of Cessna 152s and Cessna 172s, with two additional newly-acquired Cessna 172s at their final phases of transitions to commercial maintenance standards, and active plans to acquire a further two additional Cessnas prior to February, 2020—an a Cessna 172, and a Cessna 152.

We are additionally moving to our new facilities on the ground floor of Langley Airport's newly constructed Terminal Building, providing us with the long-needed opportunity for expansion in ground and air training operations.  As many know, we have resided at the Airport's Hangar 4B since we began operations in 1994, but for some time the limitations of this hangar limited and constrained our services and growth.

Additionally, we have launched a preorganization and rationalization program with respect to our contracted aircraft maintenance service-providers at Langley Airport, seeking to reduce the grounding time for maintenance work through a contract system based on specialization.

For those of students who have been frustrated by our circumstances during the last few months, we apologize profoundly for the extreme inconvenience you have experienced in the last few months.  As I alluded to earlier, we have learned our lesson.  To are current students—and to our new students of 2020—we renew our commitment to efficient and effective pilot flight training operations.  Above all, our priority is safety, but we are steadfast committed to the knowledge that flight training is an enjoyable experience—yes, learning to fly is fun!

What do we do on rain days?  Hit the books!

Yes, the winter months are upon us.  We have rotated the booking sheet to maximize student access to usable booking slots, and while the training hours have become reduced owing to shorter days, we are entering the winter with three newly operational training aircraft that will allow more students to take advantage of flying days.  What to do in the winter months?  Be strategic and review the public weather forecast regularly so as to plan you booking slots ahead and commercial pilot students should take advantage for shared aircraft booking with their classmates.  Remember that even local flying presents lots of training opportunity for circuit work, low-level navigation exercises, and airport tours and of course, remember . . . the landing is the thing! Practice.  Your Flight Instructor can give you ideas for landing variations suited to your level of flying experience.

More importantly, for students in a hurry to cross their finish lines, this is the season to hit the books and to do so effectively!  As I said to the current Commercial Pilot Groundschool class, it is great to spend time with the books, but for heaven’s sake, do it effectively and efficiently. Here are some links to websites on study skills that will ensure you're not just spinning your wheels:

  1. Education Corner
  2. Study Skills (Wikipedia)

It is one thing to dedicate the time, it is a shame is all that time is ineffective.  Attack your upcoming exams!  Don't sit!  That flight deck is waiting for you!  (By the way, when I was a student, I studied best in restaurants, especially the airport restaurant!  If I were a young student pilot these days, though, I think I would probably hang at a fancy coffee place.)

Watch for Increased Carb Icing

One of the great safety risks this time of year is of course Carb Icing.  The temperature/dewpoint spreads run close on a daily basis, so everyone—especially the young’un pilots—has to be aware that a power loss response must be lead with the carburettor heat.  The risk is that some may respond to the increased roughness/power-loss that characterizes icing conditions with the often-fatal reaction of immediately turning off the carb heat!  Wrong!  Turn the carb heat on and leave it on!  Keep ye faith!  Take the time to apply carb heat frequently so as to learn how the engine responds in varied atmospheric conditions—this is good training. 

Here are some good links to carb icing training:

  1. Carb Ice, It Can Happen Quickly
  2. Transport Canada's Weather to Fly: Carburetor Icing
  3. How It Works Carburetor / Carburetor Icing

Beware of Rushed Airport Operations

As Flight Instructors, we are always on the look-out for safety hazard that could impact training operations.  One of the great challenges we have faced over the last summer was what many are called “rushed” or “hurry-up” airport operations, where the frenzied pace of takeoffs and landings became the “new normal”.  We know the challenges faced by Langley Tower controller having to manage a 3NM-radius airport, often full of training pilots, and we also appreciate that controllers aren’t necessary aware of the hazard faced by training crew operating off a 2000’ strip of tarmac.  Based on our experiences over the summer months, here are some of the rules which we consider best practice for our students' safe training at Langley Airport in the new fast-paced operational environment:

  1. Always request a back-track on Runway 19 and 25 departures—plan for a rejected takeoff when every foot of braking distance will be critical.
  2. Never accept a restricted-distance landing clearance—2000’ of tarmac provides adequate safety margins for abnormal occurrences—anything less does not.
  3. Never respond to a controller exit instruction while still engaged in braking action to slow the aircraft on roll-out—the controllers know safe braking is your priority.
  4. Never attempt to comply with a controller instruction to exit “without delay” of “no delay” when the safe control of the aircraft is in doubt—controllers understand that the safe taxiing of an aircraft is not like driving a sports car.
  5. Never accept a "direct-to-the-threshold" clearance where such a clearance could jeopardize the stabilized configuration of the subsequent final approach.

When the pace of operations heats up, everyone just has to keep cool and work as a team, controllers and pilots!

Okay, I leave this section with two ATC quotes:

My favorite:

O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic
is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."

United 239: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've
got the little Fokker in sight."

For students:

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While
attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What
was your last known position?"

Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."

Feel free to email me with your comments and suggestions, and of course my office is always open.

As always,

Fly Safe!

David Parry,
Chief Flying Instructor