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Professional Pilots of Tomorrow is a pilot mentoring organization aimed to aid aspiring pilots connect and network with industry leaders. 

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Flightline Blog

Why You Should Definitely Earn a Flight Instructor Certificate

Cameron Shulak

A common fork in the road for many pilots-in-training comes after they finish their Commercial Certificate. From this point, a pilot pursuing a career in aviation theoretically has several options. Assuming someone received a Commercial Certificate with a Single-Engine Rating – which is many pilots’ situation – they could try to jump right into professional flying in a “low-time” opportunity such as aerial mapping, flying skydivers, or banner towing. Another option is to quickly add a Multi-Engine Rating to their newly minted Commercial Certificate and pursue a similarly low-time opportunity with a twin-engine operator doing charter SIC, night cargo, or corporate flying. Lastly, but certainly not least, is the option to keep the training mindset and begin working on a Flight Instructor Certificate.

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When Choosing an Airline Job, Make the Best Choice for YOU

Cameron Shulak

Choosing which airline to fly for is a huge milestone in a pilot’s career. For some, it’s their first job in a jet and a huge stepping stone in what will be a 40+ year career. For others, it’s deciding which company to spend the rest of their career with, rather it be 5 or 30 years. No matter the case, choosing an airline is a monumental decision in a pilot’s lifetime.

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Ace It: Knowing the Standards

Cameron Shulak

     PPOT’s “Ace It” series highlights various tips and advice for helping you succeed in interviews and on checkrides. The series covers everything from common suggestions to lesser-known ideas. If you have some advice you’d like to share with fellow pilots, send an email to cameron.shulak@theppot.org. Appropriate credit is always given for submissions.

     Take a second to imagine that you’re in a class in college, and your professor announces there will be an exam the next time the class meets. However, your professor doesn’t tell you what content will be on the exam, or what materials to study. All you know is the subject of the class, and what you’ve learned so far. That seems like a pretty tough situation, right? Well unfortunately, this is the situation many pilots find themselves in when preparing for a checkride. They know they have to take a checkride, and that it might be for an Instrument Rating or Commercial Certificate, but that’s it. They don’t know what exactly they’re expected to know, and where to find that information.

     Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this problem, and the FAA provides it. Even better, the FAA publishes this information free of charge and keeps it readily accessible on their website. What exactly am I referring to? The Airman Certification Standards (ACS). Formerly known as the Practical Test Standards (PTS), the Airman Certification Standards lay out all of the standards for successfully completing a checkride. The ACS is the new golden book for knowing what to expect on the big day. (Astute fliers might know the ATP and Flight Instructor PTS, plus a few other non-airplane tests, haven’t converted to ACS yet. They’re currently being developed and are on the way.)

     The ACS are a great improvement on the PTS, because now the document is written using more “plain-English” (less like reading the FARs), gives practical and attainable standards, and is constantly being updated and evaluated. Everything a pilot is expected to know, and every maneuver that must be performed, is all found in the ACS. Am I going to have to perform a Steep Turn on my Commercial checkride? If so, what are the standards? What do I need to know about weather for my instrument checkride? All of these questions can be answered by referencing the appropriate ACS.

     As a flight student, make sure your flight instructor introduces the ACS early in your training for a certificate or rating. As a flight instructor, make sure to familiarize your students with the ACS, and constantly reference it during training. Doing so ensures that there are no surprises come checkride day. By the time a pilot is endorsed for their checkride, they should have all of the knowledge specified by the ACS and be able to complete all of the required maneuvers to the standards it specifies. If this is the case, the oral exam and checkride should be a breeze.

     Lastly, in addition to supplying the standards for knowledge and performance, the ACS also gives references of where to find information. Listed by each standard is a reference to a FAA publication that contains a wealth of information on the subject. If you’re feeling deficient in an area, or just want to brush up on a subject, the reference will lead you to the right place. Note, the FAA uses alpha-numeric identifiers to reference their publications. For example, the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge goes by "FAA-H-8083-25B".

     The Airman Certification Standards, along with the FAA textbooks and handbooks, can all be found on the FAA’s website at this link. That being said, if you haven’t already, go take a look at the ACS for the course you’re currently in. If you’re a flight instructor, now is an awesome time to review the ACS to make sure you’re keeping your students up to standards. Staying up to date with FAA publications is a responsibility we hold as certificated pilots, so even if you’re not currently training or instructing, it’s still a good idea to know what the ACS are all about.

Tradewind Aviation Joins PPOT’s Low-Time Networking Program

Cameron Shulak

     Professional Pilots of Tomorrow is excited to announce Tradewind Aviation as the latest addition to the PPOT Low-Time Accelerated Networking Program. The Networking Program allows PPOT mentees who meet specific qualifications the ability to network with airlines who are interested in hiring lower time pilots. Although the program doesn’t guarantee job offers or interviews, it offers a great way to build a relationship with a potential employer. That being said – as we often discuss – successful networking and a good professional presentation can reap a wide range of benefits.

     Tradewind Aviation is ‘headquartered in Oxford Connecticut with operational bases at Westchester County Airport in New York and San Juan International Airport in Puerto Rico, [and] operates both on-demand private charter and scheduled “Shuttle” service throughout the U.S. and Caribbean.’ (www.flytradewind.com) Their diverse network of shuttle operations moves passengers throughout vibrant areas of the Coastal Northeast U.S. and the Caribbean, utilizing their impressive PC-12 aircraft. The PC-12 is an advanced turboprop aircraft manufactured by Pilatus and boasts impressive versatility and reliability. Additionally, Tradewind maintains an active charter operation on the Citation CJ3 for customers seeking the additional convenience and service. The CJ3, manufactured by Cessna, is an industry leading light business jet, great for regional trips or even vacations in the Caribbean.

     Tradewind is an excellent opportunity for pilots seeking to gain valuable experience at a quality airline. The state of the art aircraft provides a chance for pilots to greatly expand their knowledge and experience as aviators. The rigor and dynamic nature of the operation hone pilots’ skills and help them grow as aviators. Tradewind offers advancements opportunities within their operation and offers a wide range of attractive benefits for their employees.

     Depending on their experience and qualifications, pilots may have the opportunity to connect with Tradewind through the Accelerated Networking Program. The program is open to PPOT Mentors and Mentees and is administered by the PPOT Pilot Development Team. Pilots seeking to join Professional Pilots of Tomorrow can find more information here: Who We Are. The application for membership can be found here: Interested Pilots. Once a member, pilots have access to additional details regarding the Low-Time Accelerated Networking Program.

Positive Rate: Developing Your Personal Brand

Professional Pilots of Tomorrow

     PPOT’s “Positive Rate” series focuses on ways to continuously improve our careers as aviators. “Positive Rate” is the callout used by most airline crews to indicate the aircraft is moving in the correct direction and the gear can be raised for flight. As such, the series focuses on ways to ensure our careers are continuously moving in the best direction, or in a ‘positive rate’.

     Take a minute to think about your favorite brand of something. Maybe your favorite airline, aircraft manufacturer, or even a restaurant you visit often. Now, take another minute to think about why this brand is your favorite… For this article, let’s go with the restaurant example. As for why it’s your favorite, you probably came up with some reasons such as the food is good, the service is quick and friendly, and the prices are reasonable. All of these traits make up the restaurant’s brand. Their brand is what people know them for, and it’s what they use to promote themselves to potential customers.

     Now, instead of a restaurant, let’s apply the same thinking to us as professionals. Instead of a restaurant brand, we have a personal brand. Our personal brand is how others view us, just like the restaurant, and it’s also made up of different parts. Some of the parts might be our personality as a professional, our work experience, volunteerism, and accomplishments. All of these parts contribute to how other people view us, especially potential employers. Further, for our personal brand to be complete and attractive, all of the components have to be present and strong. If one is missing, we might not be as desirable to a potential employer as somebody who has the total package. Just like you probably wouldn’t frequent a restaurant that had good food, but terrible service.

     Our goal as professionals is to develop ourselves and our personal brand to a point where we’re viewed very favorably by current and potential employers, as well as our peers. This will heighten our chances of getting the jobs we’re after, improve relationships with our coworkers and superiors, and improve our chances of succeeding in current positions.  Improving personal brand can be accomplished through various means, such as professional development in our field, being recognized for exceptional work or achievements, volunteering and being active outside of our normal jobs, among other things. In future articles, we’ll take a look at how to achieve these goals and specific steps we can take to improve our brand. But for now, we’ll summarize by saying that all of these elements have a great effect on our personal brand.

     Many career development professionals suggest creating a personal brand statement to capture your personal brand and put it into words. Many experts suggest doing so for use on resumes and other materials. However, I think it’s a great exercise for determining who we are professionally, and who we want to be. A vague example of a personal brand statement might be: “Joe Pilot is a professional, skilled, and qualified airline pilot. They volunteer within and outside of their company through different organizations, and constantly have a positive impact on people they help. They are respected by their peers for exceptional interpersonal skills and always going out of their way to get the job done right.” Now, this example might seem vague, and it is. Your brand statement would be much more personal, and contain specific traits, organizations, and skills that you possess as a professional. That example is just a start, a template of sorts.

     To put all of this to practice, try creating a brand statement for yourself. Make one for your current career situation. Then, craft a second brand statement for your ideal version of yourself. This might be several years down the road, and seem a little out of reach, but that’s what we want. We’ll use this to set goals, and in future articles we’ll look at specific ways get there.

Ace It: Always Preparing

Cameron Shulak

     PPOT’s “Ace It” series highlights various tips and advice for helping you succeed in interviews and on checkrides. The series covers everything from common suggestions to lesser-known ideas. If you have some advice you’d like to share with fellow pilots, send an email to cameron.shulak@theppot.org. Appropriate credit is always given for submissions.

     Passing a checkride or major milestone in training is undoubtedly one of the best feelings we experience as pilots. Hard work has finally paid off and we might enjoy the luxury of having several weeks or months until our next checkride or training event. The days or weeks following a checkride are a great time to relax and reset mentally for the next step ahead. However, at some point or another our “vacation” will end and it will be time to begin the next phase of training.

     Beginning a new training course can be both exciting and daunting. The feeling of success is still fresh in the mind from passing the last checkride, but it’s time for the work to begin again to ensure future success. As we begin a new phase in training, it’s important to lay a solid foundation for success. As such, this week’s “Ace It” topic is Always Preparing.

     As a flight student, I was always trying to find ways to identify shortfalls in how I was preparing for checkrides, and improve on them. One of the biggest issues I found was that, especially in complex courses (looking at you, Instrument Rating), I would arrive at checkride time without a solid collection of study guides and notes to use to prepare. Because of this, I constantly spent long hours and late nights leading up to checkrides trying to compile information learned over the course, and create study guides from it. Although this method would eventually get me prepared, it definitely wasn’t pleasant at times.

     From these experiences I eventually realized that I had to solve the issue of making the process easier on myself and retain more of the information in the long-run. The solution: create detailed, insightful study guides throughout the course that would be my primary resource for preparing once it was checkride time. From then on, every time I had a lesson in the aircraft or on the ground, I would take 15 minutes at some point throughout the day to summarize everything I learned in an easy to read, study guide format. I would focus on information I wanted to retain long-term, and topics that would probably be covered on the checkride.

     The difference was night and day. Instead of scrambling to prepare and compile all of the information I needed at the last minute, I always had a go-to guide for reviewing everything I needed to know for the course I was in. Throughout training, I could reference it to continuously brush-up on topics that needed improvement. At checkride time, it was my holy grail for studying all of the information I needed to know for success on the big day.

     All this being said, try it for yourself. Next time you start training for a certificate or rating, try out this method. Or even better, start a study-guide now for the course you’re currently in. It’ll help you stay organized and prepared. Studies have always shown that rewriting information on your own dramatically improves retention of the information, leading to better performance on tests. And better performance on tests and checkrides is exactly our goal.

Introducing Flightline Blog

Professional Pilots of Tomorrow

     Earlier this year, we announced on Facebook that we would begin a variety of Professional Pilots of Tomorrow original content. However, as we continued to develop the idea, we quickly realized that it was a little too big for Facebook. We wanted to bring the best content to the PPOT community, but didn’t want to be bound by the limits of Facebook. After a few weeks of work and deliberation, we’re excited to expand PPOT into a new space. With that being said, today we’re pleased to announce the launch of Flightline Blog.

     Flightline is the beginning of a new era of PPOT original content. Throughout this endeavor, we’re still going to continue to keep everybody up to date with the latest industry news and relevant postings. However, increasingly more of the content you see will be produced by some of PPOT’s accomplished leaders and mentors, written with the PPOT community in mind. We want to help our members grow as aviators, and we believe the consistent stream of original, relevant information we plan to convey will aide in that goal. Now, enough with the formalities, here’s some of the content you can look forward to on Flightline Blog:

Positive Rate ­- PPOT’s “Positive Rate” series focuses on ways to continuously improve our careers as aviators. “Positive Rate” is the callout used by most airline crews to indicate the aircraft is moving in the correct direction and the gear can be raised for flight. As such, the series focuses on ways to ensure our careers are continuously moving in the best direction, or in a ‘positive rate’.

The Ace It Series - “Ace It” highlights various tips and advice for helping you succeed in interviews and on checkrides. The series covers everything from common suggestions to lesser-known ideas. If you have some advice you’d like to share with fellow pilots, send an email to cameron.shulak@theppot.org. Appropriate credit is always given for submissions.

From the Flight Deck - Flightline Blog’s “From the Flight Deck” series features insightful perspectives from experienced industry professionals. The series aims to explore various sides of popular aviation, sometimes in ways you’ve never thought of. If you’d like to see us cover a certain topic, you can reach Flightline Editor Cameron Shulak at cameron.shulak@theppot.org.

PPOT Features – PPOT Features will focus on what makes PPOT the organization it is: our members and the companies we work for. This series will feature our accomplished aviators, outstanding companies in the industry, and other popular figures in aviation.

     The first publications to Flightline will be coming in the next few days, so stay tuned. All of our blog posts will be shared to Facebook, so make sure you’re following us there to always get the latest and greatest. Lastly, Flightline Editor and PPOT mentor Cameron Shulak wants to hear from you. We want your suggestions, comments, and feedback on the blog, and what you’d like to see us write about. As mentioned above, Cameron can be reached at cameron.shulak@theppot.org.

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