|By Carmelo Turdo|
Elite Aviation hosted the St. Louis area's spring AOPA Rusty Pilots Seminar Saturday morning at their Spirit of St. Louis Airport facility. The three-hour session was expertly presented by John McGonagill, a veteran military pilot, CFI, experimental RV-10 builder and owner, and aviation consultant from Granbury, TX. Over 40 attendees participated in the interactive, scenario-based training designed as a refresher ground school course for inactive pilots. Throughout the session, participants were encouraged to discuss their responses to each situation, and McGonagill provided real-life illustrations from his flying experience to add further realism to the training. The program essentially presents the major aspects of a flight from one general aviation airport to another, reviewing each decision point and recommended action along the way. It is intended that the "rusty pilots" gain confidence with this table-top exercise in preparation to pass the flight review needed to restore themselves to active flying status.
According to AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, there are approximately half a million pilots who have taken time away from flying currency long enough to profit from the Rusty Pilots Seminar in preparation for a flight review and restoration of flight status (provided a medical certificate can still be obtained). The AOPA seminar satisfies the minimum one hour of ground instruction required for the flight review, including instruction on pre-flight, airport operations, radio communications, airspace and charts. The "rusty pilot" and a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) will still have to devise a program for possibly more ground instruction and a minimum of one hour of flight training prior to the flight review.
Following the Rusty Pilots Seminar training, the next step in the process of regaining flight status is to work with a CFI in creating a plan of assessment and instruction that will lead to the successful completion of the flight review. McGonagill characterized this step as a kind of negotiation, with both parties reaching agreement on the amount of training that may be needed. This plan may change according to the comfort level of the pilot or CFI based on the progress made, with either party recommending additional training. The objective is to return a confident and competent pilot back to active flight status.
Elite Aviation, a Cessna Pilot Center, serves as a critical part of that process by providing the area's most comprehensive flight training program. Student pilots, and those pursuing advanced certificates, receive industry-leading standardized flight training in late-model Cessna 172 aircraft (including G1000 cockpit) and a newly-acquired Piper Turbo Saratoga. Training is also provided using Elite RC1 and Redbird Full-Motion MCX programmable flight simulators. Elite Aviation also provides full-service piston aircraft maintenance on site at Spirit of St. Louis Airport.