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Kris Lapinski


My instructor training

By Kris Lapinski, 2018-12-16

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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Wave Soaring

By Kris Lapinski, 2018-10-26
Wave Soaring
To meet all requirements for my instructor check ride I had to receive my spin training.  Thanks to my instructor, Bruce Brown we scheduled this training on Wednesday 10/24/18. It was windy day with gust up to 30 knots. Birds of Paradise management who provides tows was surprised that we still wanted fly in this kind of condition but me and Bruce flew in similar, challenging winds before in Blairstown. We released at 5000' above the clouds and prepared for spin practice. Bruce activated aerobatic area and contacted Allentown and Philadelphia approach for traffic separation. I was surprised that we have a lift above the clouds up to 4 knots. This was wave and it was my first time I soared wave. We climbed to 8900'. We probably would climbed even higher but decided to start practice spins and stalls. After loosing 1000' we have no problem to encounter wave lift again. We flew for 3 hr above the clouds at altitude 6-8k'. Cloud coverage was substantial. 80% of area below was covered, however there were holes big enough that we can descend below clouds having proper separation. Orientation was challenging with such cloud coverage and all fields from this altitude look similar. Most of wave we experienced above lake Nockamixon as our land mark, so we know where to head to return to Van Sant. Of course we need to find a hole in clouds first. I was warm but had concern about my feet at this altitude as I was not prepared for such long flight. It was very interested experience. Lift is much bigger in size than thermals. As long as we stayed stationary to our ground references we were ok. We can also circle in the lift. It was not strong but steady. There was also strong lift below clouds with heavy wind and turbulence. Above clouds there was almost no turbulence. Our approach was bumpy but we kept higher speed 65 knots and move aiming point 300-400' beyond beginning of runway 23. We had a whole field for our self as nobody else was flying. I was concern about roll out after landing with heavy crosswind from the right but we manage to stop on center line of 23.

 Thanks Bruce for the instruction. I experience spins in Grob ( I practiced spins in Poland in 2 different gliders and  in USA in Piper for my CFI before my accident) and wave for the first time. What a fun.

Check pictures. One is Pilot Halo if you zoom in with the shadow of our glider.

Kris Lapinski
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Recovering what was almost lost

By Kris Lapinski, 2017-02-10
Recovering what was almost lost

I started flying long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It was in Poland in 1980. Before my 16 birthday I had my mandatory 3 parachute jumps and my first solo flight in 2 seats polish glider-Bocian. I continued my training and earned my silver badge but situation in my local club after government established military law in Poland to squash democratic movement, forced me to quit flying. In that time in my country training was free because flying clubs were financed by the military. Trainee was accepted only after rigoristic medical exams. As a young man I dreamed to be a fighter pilot but as a older, 19 years old I realized that I do not want to serve in a military which may be used against a democratic movement. Joining a military was a very unpopular among young people then.

I returned to flying in USA in 1995. I earned my single engine private license year later and instrument rating year after. In 1999 during my commercial, CFI and CFII (flight instructor and flight instructor-instrument) training I went to ski in NY state and I had accident and sustained spinal cord injury. Being paralyzed from the waist down I was driving and working already 2 months after my discharge from the hospital. Returning quickly to my daily duties helped me a lot in that most difficult time of my life, however I was a sure that my passion for aviation is over and that, I never return to be a pilot and all my training and ratings were wasted.

2 years later I received a brochure from Mont Sinai hospital with the story about Freedoms Wings International. I live in NY and I was very happy that FWI is close in PA. I decided to give them a call and scheduled my first introductory flight with Chris Bigalke. Soon after I started my training and continued throughout next 2 seasons a on weekly or biweekly basis. Thanks to commitment, time and devotion of my instructor-Gill Frost I earned my glider license. Before I earned my glider rating and encouraged by my progress I traveled to Los Angeles where 2 wheelchair pilots established a power plane training for people with disability-International Wheelchair Aviation. I wanted to see if I can fly power planes with a hand controls. Soon after and back in NY I purchased Piper Archer- 4 seats, single engine airplane, installed a hand control and continued my training. 6 years after my injury I recovered all my pilot ratings and even added one more-glider pilot rating.

I must say that joining Freedoms Wings International was the mile stone for me. It really changed my life. I understood that the fact that I am disabled person is not obstacle to pursuit my dreams. It takes maybe more time and energy but with proper planning, devotion almost any goal can  be achieved.

I continued my training. I learned very exciting ridge flying with my instructors-Bruce Brown and Bob Cook. I participated in almost every FWI event, giving introductory flights to dozens of disable and able persons. With Bruce Brown I still hold (2016) NJ state altitude record in multi place glider category and with Bob Cook NJ state distans record in the same category.

Encouraged by Bruce Brown I participate in FAA Wings program which brings flying and knowledge skills to a higher level. I recommend this program to every pilot. It really makes flying safer.

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