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Rod Machado Aviation Blogs!
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Nine First Steps to Becoming a Pilot - Rod Machado

Here is the sequence of steps you should consider in pursuing your private pilot license (it's technically called a "certificate" but we'll call it a license). As you'll see, the most important steps listed below deal with getting your flight training started. I recommend the following steps for your consideration based on my experience as flight instructor and flight counselor since 1973.


'Hey Rod, tomorrow I'm taking my little airplane out to see what it can do. I'll see ya later...'
Those were the last words I ever heard my best friend speak. I never saw him again. The next day, his newly-assembled ultralight airplane disassembled in flight, for reasons suspected but officially unknown.

That tragic event occurred in December of 1984 and my friend's words are still clear. I've run that audio engram over and over, hundreds of times, each time reliving the same feeling I had when he last spoke. The memory provokes a peculiarly unsettling experience - as if my world is about to change and I must act immediately to stop it. I abhor that feeling, but I also respect it.


The Forgotten Mechanic - Rod Machado

Here's today's riddle: Name something that all pilots need and use all the time, often don't know by name, and depend on completely for the safety of every flight. The answer isn't obvious, and neither is this person, who frequently remains totally hidden at your local flying school or airport. Need a clue? How about tools, grease and safety wire? I'm speaking of your local aviation mechanic.

Weber's Law - Rod Machado

If you closed your eyes, held out a cup, and asked someone to gently pour water in it, how much liquid would need to be added before you noticed a change in weight? One drop? Probably not.

It's a Long Way Down, isn't it? - Rod Machado

Psst! Psst! Come here. Come a little bit closer. I've got something I want to ask you, and I don't want anyone else to hear. Are you afraid of heights? It's probably embarrassing to admit it, but if you're like most other pilots, the answer is Yes.

Pilots, Poets and Psychologists - Rod Machado

Mention the word poetry to a pilot and he'll act like he's in a hotel fire. He'll think: get low, get down, get out. Admittedly, even I get the heebie-jeebies at the mere mention of haiku (that's Japanese poetry, not the sound of someone sneezing). But poetry is more than cute rhymes with tinkered words. It's an alternate means of learning some of aviation psychology's most important lessons.

The Prevalence Error - Why We Look But Do Not See - Rod Machado

Recently, I was having a difficult time seeing things that were in plain view. I was even thinking about visiting the Our Lady of Fatima Optometry Center, where their motto is, "If we can't correct your vision, at least you can have one."

Runway Safety Madness - Tonque N' Cheek - Rod Machado

Nobody moves, nobody gets hurt. That's my new strategy for preventing runway incursions. It's a reasonable plan, given that these events have actually increased since the FAA began seriously collecting statistics on the issue. That's right. Despite the implementation of new rules and airport signage, incursions continue to increase year after year (about a 25% increase since 2013). If I were superstitious I might suggest we stop doing things to reduce runway incursions so that their numbers will decrease to some previous level. Unfortunately the "Don't look at it and it will go away" trick probably won't work here.

The Stall Horn Fallacy of Stall Prevention - Rod Machado

News flash! The Mona Lisa's eyebrows are missing. That's right. Gone! Some say they were scrubbed off during an early restoration. I suspect they were vaporized when Leonardo had Mona over for a pre-portrait barbecue and he took excessive liberty with the lighter fluid. While I didn't attend a BBQ, my eyebrows are also missing. At least they appeared to disappear as they rose above my forehead in surprise at the FAA's and ACS committee's dumbing-down of standards for commercial pilot certification.

Be Here Now! - Rod Machado

Over the years, I've seen my grandfather do a number of strange things. One time, while watching football on TV, he sat there yelling at the players. I couldn't help but say, "Grandpa, they can't hear you." He replied, "Oh yeah, that's right, they got their helmets on."

The Middle-Aged Aviator - Rod Machado

Over the years, I've heard many stories about middle-aged pilots (45-65 years) who gave up flying due to a sudden onset of anxiety. Apparently this wasn't induced by any specific aviation trauma nor inspired by the relatively small and perfectly normal decline of reflexes and mental agility experienced by most middle aged pilots. What in the world might spook a 50-ish pilot into abandoning something he obviously once loved to do?

Suburi Training - How to Get the Most Out of a Flight Simulator - Rod Machado

The 1984 movie The Karate Kid revealed a rare pedagogical truth of immense value to flight instructors. The movie centers around Daniel, who volunteers to polish the car and sand the deck of his neighbor Mr. Miyagi (a martial arts master).
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