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Kris Lapinski

My instructor training

2018-12-16
By: Kris Lapinski
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Freedom's Wing's International as a club from very beginning as I remember, was fortunate of having very good, experienced instructors. I joined club in 2003 and always was able to get instructions as well as knowledgeable advises focused on safety. Throughout of all these years I gained experience and decided that I will become instructor myself. Freedom’s Wing’s operates from two locations. Van Sant and Blairstown. Because most of our active instructors leave close to Philadelphia obvious choice to start and continue my training was Vas Sant airport because closer proximity to Philadelphia. Van Sant was the very first airport where I started my glider private pilot training.

To qualify for CFI-G one must become commercial glider pilot first, pass 2 knowledge tests, have a spin training and pass a practical test. Requirements for commercial are: minimum 100 flights as pilot in command and 25 hrs in gliders and to be minimum 18 years old. The later was very easy to meet.  To become commercial pilot, candidate must have private pilot license, pass commercial knowledge test and practical test.

I started my training with Bruce Brown in spring 2017. Bruce from very beginning established the highest standards and we practiced lazy eights and chandelles which are not required in commercial Practical Test Standard but these advance maneuvers help to master “stick and rudder” coordination. I had to stop my flying in summer 2017 because of TFR in New Jersey.  I concentrated on reading Glider Operating Handbook, Bob Wander: Commercial Make Easy, Tomas Knauff: Transition to Gliders. I also use computer preparation: Dauntless Internet prep material to prepare for knowledge test. I passed commercial knowledge test in September 2017. I resumed my training and continued throughout September and October with Gil Frost as instructor. Gil also required much higher standard that these minimums in PTS. We practiced Dutch Rolls and linked turns beside all of these from PTS.

In winter 2017/18 I continued my preparations. Again, Dountles computer prep for Fundamentals of Instructing and CFI-G. Advice of a friend and instructor pilot from Van Sant- Dominik Tomanek was very helpful. He explained me what  I need and what kind of teaching aids I need to collect, to be well prepared. I created my “Tool Box” where I have all knowledge required plus my own strategy how to conduct each of ground and flight lesson of all the lessons from PTS. This kind of material and all reference books and aids will be very helpful in the future training. Bruce also suggested to improve my teaching skills by recording my lessons. I did teach many of my lessons, giving lecture and briefings to my laptop computer and then review these lessons and made improvements. In March 2018 I had no problem to pass my two knowledge tests having 100% score on Fundamentals of Instructing.

Again summer 2018 was similar to 2017 and because of TFR I did not fly much. Both airports are within TFR presidential radius.

I resumed my training in September 2018. I made many flights with Bruce where I was continuously talking, rehearsing, describing what I do and flying the plane. It is much more difficult when one needs to concentrate on talking, choosing the right words and doing at the same time.

In October Bruce gave me a spin training in challenging, windy condition where we encountered waves over Van Sant. This flight is described in the separate post.

Peter Lonstrup our chief instructor flew with me from time to time to check my progress and advised Bruce and Gil that I am ready and should apply for an exam via IACRA and schedule my check rides with Randy Rickert – my designated examiner.

My minimum plan was to pass my commercial exam in 2018 and CFF-G in 2019. These knowledge test results are expiring in 24 months. Following Bruce and Peter advice I scheduled my 2 check rides in 2018. I worried about the weather and approaching winter, that I will not have enough time.

My commercial exam was on October 31. It was nice, sunny day. I had 2 flights during which I demonstrated stalls and steep turns and spot landing on runway 7 at Van Sant. The third flight was interesting. Randy covered my altimeter and asked me to call 200’, 1000’ and 1500’ altitudes. I called 200’ correctly and concentrated to estimate my next call out when Randy surprise me with premature release at 800’. I landed on runway 23 and this landing completed my commercial check ride.

My CFI-G practical exam was scheduled on November 20 but snow made runways at Van Sant unusable. Bruce and I considered to position our second Grob from Wurtsboro to Blairstown to have a plan B in case we need to use paved runway which do not exist in Van Sant. Heavy wind prevented us from doing so. Next day was November 28 and again heavy wind caused to reschedule my exam, this time for Friday November 30.

The forecast for that day indicated light wind but rain in the afternoon. I came earlier to Van Sant and Randy was there already, so I started my ground part in Van Sant office accompanied by dog and 2 local cats. Randy asked me many questions for 3 hr. I was giving him different lessons. He played the role of a student.  I brought 2 bags of reference books, tablets where I stored Advisories Circulars, models of glider and tow plane, board and marker, etc.

After ground part I had to give Randy a lesson of preflight. During that lesson light rain started. Overcast was around 3000’ and visibility was good. During my first flights I was giving Randy a lesson on steep turns and stalls. During the second flight Randy took control at 800’ and played very good role of beginner student where I had to take control when he went to low on boxing the wake. Also, I asked him to make another stall because I was not satisfied with his first one. I had to take controls couple more times, correct the attitude and give him back the controls. Randy liked that. We were too low after the last maneuver and I decided I will land on opposite runway. The last flight I release at 350’ and after 180 degree turn I landed on runway 7. During my first flight the tow pilot indicated that he was getting ice. I was worry that we may terminate our exam without conclusion. The conditions slightly improve and Tom, our tow pilot provided 2 more flight to us.

Randy announced that I passed. I became new FWI instructor. I want to thank Bruce, Gil and Peter for providing instruction. Special thanks to Bruce to be a mentor, his advices and his experience he shared with me made my preparation much easier. Thanks to Randy for being so nice and reschedule my exam 3 times. Also big thanks to Dannie and Bart- owners of Birds of Paradise for providing tow plane and their office where I had my ground part. I also want to thank Tom- my tow pilot for towing during my exam and towing in challenging windy condition when I had my spin lesson with Bruce. Finally, I want thanks Ela for serving as ground crew during my 2 exams and Dominik for his advices and encouragements.

So, in year 2018 I earned a new license. I will do my best to meet all high expectation which were establish by all instructor associated with FWI.

Krzysztof Lapinski

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