Frequently Asked Questions for Richard Kaplan, CFII (Owner of Flight Level Aviation)

Full Motion Simulator Training

Advanced Instrument Training

How do your training programs differ from those by other flight schools or by the major simulator schools?

In a nutshell, the key differences are:

  • We provide actual flight training and a full-motion flight simulator (not just a simulator) 
  • We train in actual instrument weather when it is safe to do so (not just hood training) .  Weather-permitting, we can fly either in your airplane or (for single-engine pilots) in our known-ice, spherics/radar-equipped, dual-alternator, 5-gyroscope equipped Cessna P210N.  [Cessna P210N N102KY is available for dual instruction for $150/hour in addition to regular instructor/simulator fees.]
  • I operate a very personalized flight school with instructors who, like myself, have an a passion for practical, safe general aviation cross-country flying
  • We provide significantly more opportunity for hands-on flight or simulator training per day than do the major flight simulator training schools -- up to 10 hours per day of simulator use if desired
  • Ground instruction is done in a personal and customized setting with the instructor and 1 or 2 students and is not based upon predetermined lectures or videotapes
  • At the completion of a training program you can stay for additional days of solo full-motion simulator use  --- this opportunity is unique in the simulator training industry and is an excellent opportunity to master emergency techniques and advanced avionics procedures which you can first practice with me.

Why train with both an airplane and a simulator?  

Each training situation has its own advantages so we can utilize the airplane and the simulator where each one works best.

The AIRPLANE is best for teaching aircraft-specific stick and rudder skills, powerplant management, and airplane-specific emergency procedures.   Of course the airplane is also best for teaching about real-world weather interpretation; there is no simulator as worthwhile as actually shooting an ILS to minimums when the approach lights appear before the runway, and there is no simulator which can teach as effectively as a TKS-equipped airplane about how to  negotiate with ATC regarding in-flight icing.

The SIMULATOR, on the other hand, is useful for generic IFR "worst case" problem-solving scenarios which are applicable to any airplane.  For example, only in the simulator can I fail both the engine and the electrical system at night and only in the simulator can we wind up in IMC with the weather 100 and 1/4 mile for hundreds of miles around (all in good fun of course!).   Instruction in IFR GPS approach procedures can also be done very effectively in the simulator and can even be practiced further by renting solo simulator time.  Some critical systems failures cannot be experienced safely in the airplane, such as runaway electric trim, and some systems failures are hard to create in the airplane, such as static port blockage.  Experiencing these training scenarios in the simulator is of benefit to pilots of any aircraft.  And of course the simulator allows us to very effectively utilize ground time when weather does not permit flight training; this is particularly an advantage for students who set aside 2-3 days to travel from out of state for recurrent training.

So the main point is not to think of the simulator as primarily a "P210 simulator"; actually, it is a Piston Airplane Advanced Avionics and Emergency Procedures Trainer.  The simulator is thus quite useful to any piston airplane IFR pilot.

Is your single-engine training program P210-specific?

Only if you want it to be so.   I also work with students with a variety of single-engine piston airplanes.   Training can be P210-specific by student request since my airplane is a P210 and the motion simulator has a P210 flight model. However, I mostly teach advanced instrument techniques which are applicable to any single-engine instrument pilot. The full-motion simulator is value to any IFR pilot and is of particular value to any pilot who uses a Garmin 430/530, KLN94, or GX50/GX60 GPS in any airplane or who uses a Sandel EHSI in any airplane.   The flight simulator also has a Piper Saratoga flight model which we can use if desired instead of the P210 flight model.  The flight characteristics of the simulator would thus be useful for a variety of  single-engine pilots, especially pilots of the Cessna T210, Cessna 210, Piper Malibu, Piper Saratoga/Lance, Mooney, Bonanza, or other complex or high-performance single-engine airplanes. 

The in-flight P210 training is particularly helpful to allow students to safely gain actual IMC experience; this is valuable training for any IFR pilot no matter what airplane he regularly flies.

What is unique or distinguishing about your P210-specific training program?

Students who work with me have the opportunity to work with a flight instructor who not only has significant instructional experience in the Cessna P210 but who also regularly flies a Cessna P210 on practical cross-country missions which are likely similar to those flown by other P210 owners. You will have the opportunity to extensively do "hangar flying" discussing our prior flying experiences and how to safely achieve our future mission profiles.

Since I am also a physician and aviation medical examiner, I can also review with you important medical considerations regarding flight above FL190 as this pertains to your personal medical history.

Can I review your training syllabus?

Elsewhere on this website you can review the topics taught by Flight Level Aviation as part of a recurrent training program.  Richard offers custom recurrent training for his students since he has found that every IFR pilot has a unique combination of experience, aircraft, avionics, and typical flight mission.  Before training begins, Richard discusses with each student his perceived strength/weaknesses and the areas that student wishes to review or wishes to try for the first time; often this planning process begins by email or by phone before the student arrives for training.  Also Richard observes each student's "standard procedures" early in a training session and selects particular training goals or flight/ground/simulator training scenarios appropriate to that particular student's strengths and weaknesses.

A custom training curriculum is particularly helpful for students who return for annual or twice-annual recurrent training, since future training sessions can focus on different areas depending on changes in a student's airplane or avionics, changes in a student's typical flight missions, or training opportunities which are present due to seasonal weather changes.

Can I complete a BFR (biennial flight review) as part of your training program?

Yes, recurrent training can include a BFR as long as we include at least 1 hour in an airplane (your airplane or Flight Level Aviation's P210 N102KY) as part of your training program.  This is usually not a problem (weather-permitting, of course), since most pilots choose to divide their training time to include both significant time in the airplane and significant time in the simulator.

An Instrument Proficiency Check can be completed entirely in the simulator or entirely in an airplane or in any combination per student preference.

What is unique or distinguishing about your IMC Experience training program?

There are many instrument-rated pilots who have little or no actual IMC time, either because these pilots trained in fair weather locations such as Arizona or Florida or because these pilots obtained an instrument rating in an airplane marginally equipped for actual instrument weather. Also some flight schools and flight instructors have policies against training in actual instrument weather. Some pilots had significant past IMC time but have not flown in weather recently.

The IMC Adventure program is designed to help these students gain the experience, knowledge, and confidence to assess when IMC weather is safely flyable for a given pilot/airplane combination. This program is therefore very appropriate for any single-engine piston IFR pilot, not just P210 pilots.

What season is best for competing the IMC Experience program?

The IMC Experience will vary depending upon the season involved. Actual IMC weather is more likely achievable in a winter program in a known-ice airplane, though severe winter weather could result in cancellation of even a 3-day IMC Adventure schedule. Flyable weather is usually present at least in the morning on most summer days; summer IFR flying is usually more a matter more of weather avoidance than actual IMC exposure.

Generally speaking in the winter we can safely achieve 8-10 IMC hours in a 15-hour program and in the summer we can generally safely achieve 3-4 IMC hours in a 15-hour program. But of course these numbers can vary quite a bit. In the event significant safe IMC weather is not available, we can also be quite productive flying under a hood on actual IFR flight plans gaining experience working "in the system." Regardless of weather, typically students receive 1-2 hours of introductory training under VFR and then all of the remaining training is conducted under an IFR flight plan.

Is advanced instrument training best scheduled as a 1-, 2-, or 3-day program?
This varies depending on a given studentís needs and luck with available IMC weather. The program was designed to be flexible based upon different student needs, schedules, and weather realities. Some students will travel from far and want a 3-day program with the instructor. Other students will work with the instructor one day and solo in the simulator another day. Other students who live closer may travel back several times per year to use the simulator solo. The training options are flexible depending on each studentís needs.

The plane I own or plan to buy has an IFR approach GPS. Can you teach me how to use this?

Yes. I am familiar with most IFR approach GPS systems, including those from Apollo, Trimble, King, Northstar, and Garmin. I am glad to work with students in their own planes which are IFR approach certified. Additionally, the full-motion simulator has actual working units of the Garmin 530, King KLN94, and UPSAT GX50.

Can I obtain high performance and complex aircraft endorsements as part of my training with you?


Can I obtain a high altitude endorsement as part of my training with you?

No. Per FAR 61.31 (g), a high altitude endorsement is required for (and must be obtained in) an aircraft with a service ceiling and maximum operating altitude above 25,000 feet MSL. The maximum operating altitude for the Cessna P210N is 23,000 feet, so a high altitude endorsement is neither required nor attainable in this aircraft.

That said, as a physician, AME, CFII, and pressurized aircraft owner, I can offer extensive ground and flight training regarding the aeronautical and medical factors operating a piston airplane in the lower flight levels up to FL230.  This training would be helpful to pilots of any pressurized single-engine piston airplane, i.e. Cessna P210, Piper Malibu, or Lancair IV-P.

What are your thoughts about TKS known-icing versus boots?

TKS is terrific as a known-icing system; I cannot state my feelings more clearly. The TKS de-icing fluid covers all aerodynamic surfaces and in many cases eliminates the ice; thus when other (booted, known-ice) aircraft are landing with significant residual ice on the airframe, TKS aircraft may well land with no ice at all or minimal ice on the aerodynamic surfaces. The TKS system also has significant redundancy in the form of multiple pumps and alternators; if the critical vacuum pump fails on a booted known-ice system, the airplane becomes unprotected. Finally, there is a notable passive effect whereby the residual TKS fluid on the aircraft provides a significant continuing anti-icing effect for 20-30 minutes even in the event of a complete engine and electrical system failure. These advantages of TKS over boots significantly add to the dispatch reliability of the plane in the winter. Nonetheless, neither boots nor TKS is certified for flight in severe icing or freezing rain, nor is operation in known-icing conditions recommended if the aircraft cannot climb through the icing conditions to non-icing conditions (preferably clear on top). Also operation in ground icing conditions is not recommended.

For more information see (or request a demonstration P210 flight with me).

What days are you available for training and how much notice is required?

Each student is paired either with Richard or with another instructor depending on each student's airplane model and training goals.  Training availability depends on the instructor - some instuctors are available on short notice for half-day training sessions and some require 6-8 weeks notice for multi-day training programs.  We will do our best to accommodate your schedule.   Often earlier training dates are available for students interested in "paired" flight training with another pilot; Richard can often help to suggest a training "partner" with similar aviation interests.


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