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The Aero Experience is a celebration of Midwest aviation and aerospace achievement. We invite you to join us as we explore the treasures of Midwest aviation through first-hand experiences. Our contributors take turns flying lead, and we are always looking for new destinations. Check in with The Aero Experience frequently to see where we will land today, and then go out and have your own aero experiences!

Blue skies,

Carmelo Turdo, Mark Nankivil and Fred Harl - The Aero Experience Team

Sunday, March 24, 2013

St. Louis CFI of the Year Brings Wealth of Experience to the Next Generation of Aviators

By Carmelo Turdo
Each January, the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association (GSLFIA) holds the Midwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show at the Maryland Heights Centre in St. Louis County. During the weekend event, an awards ceremony is held on Saturday evening to recognize the St. Louis Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) of the Year.  The award recognizes the CFI with five or more years of experience for achieving an outstanding record of training and mentoring student pilots and for influencing fellow CFIs to maintain the highest professional standards.   In a kind of “Tale of Two Students,” The Aero Experience recently accompanied GSLFIA 2013 St. Louis CFI of the Year, Mr. Ken Kellogg, as he prepared to conduct flight instruction with students at two local flight schools.  You will now meet CFI Ken Kellogg, and experience his influence on the next generation of aviators, as seen by a student pilot each from Ideal Aviation and St. Louis Flight Training, both located at St. Louis Downtown Airport (KCPS). 
CFI Ken Kellogg
Ken Kellogg is an experienced CFI who was appreciative, but otherwise unfazed by receiving what may be characterized as a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”  In a genuinely modest fashion, to the point of understatement, Mr. Kellogg surmises that he was recognized essentially for his flying and instructing career.  He doesn’t concern himself with status or statistics – he has had “lots” of students and “Oh, about 12,500 (flight) hours.”  He currently instructs 3-4 hours/week at Ideal Aviation and St. Louis Flight Training, as well as with individuals needing taildragger and instrument training or flight reviews.  Best of all, after a distinguished military and civilian professional flying career, he remains a CFI for a very good reason: he likes it.

As a self-described farm kid from Ohio, Ken Kellogg experienced the quintessential boyhood discovery of aviation.  “My first association with airplanes was a ride at a county fair.  Somehow a friend of mine and I got $5 together each and went for a ride.  That hooked me.”  He later attended Ohio State University in the Army ROTC program.  Following graduation, he taught school for a year, then went on to receive a commission in the U.S. Army in 1955.  At the time, the U.S. Army was building up an aviation branch at the Fort Sill, Oklahoma Artillery School, where young forward artillery spotter 2Lt. Kellogg served, and was looking for volunteer pilots.  He started flight school in January, 1956 and flew actively for 17 of his 30 year military career. 

1950’s era U.S. Army aviation training was generally the reverse of current methods: initial flight instruction began in fixed-wing aircraft and later conversion to helicopters was attained as needed by operational demands.  Ken Kellogg began flight training at Gary Air Force Base in San Marcos, Texas in the Piper L-21 Super Cub, and later went on to fly and give check rides in the DeHavilland Beaver and Otter and the Beechcraft U-8D/F Seminole.  He later went to helicopter conversion flight school and flew the Hiller H23 Raven, Bell H13 Sioux, Sikorsky H19 Chickasaw and the Bell UH-1 “Huey” series during 2 tours in Vietnam.   

Mr. Kellogg continued to develop his civilian flying skills after retiring from the U.S. Army.  He worked for Beechcraft Corporation as a Marketing Representative to federal agencies and the military until 1997.  He came to the metropolitan St. Louis/southwest Illinois area, joined the local group at Flying Dutchman Airport and bought or partnered in several planes.  Kellogg became friends with local aviation legend the Late Rainey Bell: “Rainey was my mentor in that area for years.  He got me involved in the Illinois Pilots Association, and he was one of the principles in getting Aero Estates going just like I was.” It was just a matter of time before he became a CFI in the civilian world of flight in 1994.  “I became an instructor thinking my kids or grand kids or someone would want to learn to fly, but they really didn’t.”  But getting students interested was not too difficult, and Kellogg spent 300-400 hours/year teaching at the Scott AFB Aero Club for nearly 12 years – some students were getting their ratings in preparation for the U.S. Air Force undergraduate pilot training course.  The Scott AFB Aero Club closed in 2012, and from here our story continues to two current flying schools that can now claim to employ the 2013 St. Louis CFI of the Year.

St. Louis Flight Training, Jet Aviation FBO at St. Louis Downtown Airport
Since the demise of the Scott AFB Aero Club, Ken Kellogg has continued to mentor students in the metro St. Louis area, with one of his students from the Aero Club completing his check ride with him at St. Louis Flight Training recently.  Flight school owner Corey Tomczak is delighted to have Kellogg on board.  “Ken is vital to flight training for us and the area.  He is a very flexible instructor, which is crucial in diverse flight training. I always welcome his ideas about flight instruction and flying in general.” 

This new flight school, operating out of the Jet Aviation FBO terminal at St. Louis Downtown Airport, has achieved strong growth over the last nearly 18 months.  Owner Tomczak is justifiably proud: “St. Louis Flight Training opened in October 2011 and has grown from a one plane, one CFI operation to 2 aircraft, about 20 students, and 4 contract CFI's. We provide flexible, affordable flight training and are unofficially partnered with SWIC (Southwestern Illinois College). We currently have about 5 career students working on an Aviation Degree at SWIC while using our planes to complete the flight training.”    
Bob Therina (L) and Ken Kellogg
The Aero Experience recently accompanied CFI Kellogg on the ramp in preparation for a flight lesson with a new student, Bob Therina, in the school’s Cessna 152.  Therina was on his second training flight, his first with CFI Kellogg.  He is in a common demographic for new students - not college kids – but mid-life, 30-40+ year-olds that have more resources to apply to flying.  Obtaining a Private Pilot Certificate can cost $8,500-$10,000, so it is not undertaken lightly.  “It’s something I wanted to do over the years, but didn’t feel that I had the money to do it,” Therina explained.  “I visited Panama City Beach and took helicopter rides, and my wife encouraged me to try it.  I saw there was a course at SWIC and decided to find out about it.  It was just the right time.” 

Therina’s approach to ground school is one of several methods available to new flight students.  He attended the one semester SWIC ground school and then passed the FAA written exam.  “They use the Jeppesen syllabus in a classroom training environment,” he said.  “It takes you through everything you will need to know to start flying.  I enjoyed the course, and thought it was very thorough.  The instructor was very good at presenting a large amount of information in a short time.”  Kellogg echoed those sentiments: “The best way (to complete ground school) is to go to a formal school, like SWIC.”

Kellogg guided his new student through the pre-flight inspection of the school’s Cessna 152. “The Cessna 152 is actually my favorite,” he said.  “I used to really promote it at Scott because it’s less complex.  You have enough to learn as a beginning student, so why complicate it? Once you learn how to fly the airplane, you can always easily transition to a Cessna 172.  One thing we can do as instructors to keep costs down is to stay with the 150 and 152 – let’s keep it simple with basic airplanes, and then transition to larger or glass cockpit aircraft.”

Following the flight and debriefing, student pilot Therina told The Aero Experience that he decided to continue training with CFI Kellogg.  “I thoroughly enjoyed his guidance and teaching.  He gauged my ability and adjusted the flight to include more items, like touch-and-gos.”  There is little doubt that with a little more training, Bob Therina will be one more student-turned-private pilot, and another Midwest Aviation success story for CFI Ken Kellogg.

Ideal Aviation FBO and Flight School, St. Louis Downtown Airport

Ken Kellogg also regularly gives flight instruction at Ideal Aviation on the west ramp also at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  The Aero Experience recently accompanied Kellogg and student pilot/owner of Ideal Aviation, Bill Macon, prior to a training flight in one of Ideal’s Cessna 172 aircraft.  Bill Macon was introduced to Ken Kellogg by Mr. Craig O’Mara, another CFI at Ideal Aviation and a Director of the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association.  Kellogg joined Ideal Aviation to help a student who was having difficulty passing his check ride.  The student, under Ken’s tutelage, went on to become a private pilot. 

Macon himself began flight lessons last summer, and decided to stay with Kellogg to complete his training.  “There is no substitute for experience. In my own training, I was using any available instructor we had.  That caused some redundancy in the training and once Ken got me through the solo, I decided it was time to lock in with one person."  Macon later added, "Ken is a steady hand.  It took me a while to get the timing down on landing flares, and I think it’s with those finer points where a more experienced instructor is helpful.” Macon points out that he is making steady progress.  “I am very close to taking the check ride.  There are a few more requirements – more ‘hood’ time, two more cross-countries, and test standards review.”  As for ground school training, he prefers self-study, using a combination of materials provided by Kellogg and the Sporty’s DVD course. 

Ideal Aviation has been a full-service FBO on the west ramp of St. Louis Downtown Airport since 1983, and currently provides fuel, maintenance, flight training, aircraft rental, and charter services.  Bill Macon acquired the company in 2011, and has since then completely remodeled the facility.  The fleet consists of  three Cessna 172s, 2 regularly used for traffic reporting, and a Symphony 160.  There are 8 CFIs and 4 traffic pilots working part-time, and three full-time A&Ps on staff.
Preparation for the training flight began in the briefing room down the hall from the Ideal Aviation lounge.  The flight would involve VOR training to Troy, IL, and practice with instrument flight and unusual attitude recovery.  “Typically a flight is about an hour,” Kellogg began.  “After that it gets to the point where the student is saturated and can’t learn any more.  One thing I want to emphasize today is unusual attitudes – those can get non-instrument rated pilots into trouble.  They get into a situation where they can’t see, and the first thing you know they are either going into a downward spiral or an upward climb approaching a stall.  There’s a certain way to get out of those situations.  Even if you're instrument rated, if you’re not paying attention, you can think you’re turning (getting the ‘Leans’) but you’re really not.  You should believe your instruments.  You should also train to recognize a failure of the instruments.” 
Macon, in his typical analytical fashion, took out a marker and went to one of the briefing room walls.  Sure enough, the recent renovation of the room included dry-erase boards built into the walls.  He sketched out three concentric circles, and began:  “I always look at three circles of familiarity.  There’s the core of things that are second nature.  The next ring contains things in a gray area where there is need for some retraining, and there is the next level of items we have not done yet.  At some point all three rings become core, and more rings are added later.”  This is also known as the building block method used in flight training.  He added that he was progressing to the edge of the second circle with this flight and heading for the next level prior to making his check ride this summer. 
The pre-flight inspection of the aircraft was completed inside the hangar, a welcome convenience on a chilly March morning.  Bill Macon has enough experience to complete the pre-flight inspection and flight planning process with dispatch, and he and Kellogg proceeded out for the engine run-up and takeoff from St. Louis Downtown Airport.  Upon returning to the airport, Macon performed several touch-and-go’s prior to returning the Cessna 172 to the Ideal Aviation ramp.  Macon reported that the flight objectives were completed successfully, and that under Ken Kellogg’s continued training, he will work to complete training for his Private Pilot Certificate in the coming months.  
And so our "Tale of Two Students" illustrates the impact that St. Louis CFI of the Year Ken Kellogg has had on the development of U.S. Army aviation and on the lives of fledgling student pilots over the last several decades.  The greater St. Louis area is fortunate to have a CFI the caliber of Ken Kellogg chosen as the Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association CFI of the Year.
(Special thanks to Ken Kellogg, St. Louis Flight Training and Ideal Aviation for generously giving their time to The Aero Experience in preparation of this article).

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