R-MA Pilot outgrows Cessna

Lt. Michael “G-Bird” McElroy, USAF,  was awarded with the FAA Private Pilot Certification on January, 17th! Pictured is the handshake from the examiner for completion of a successful "Practical Test, Private Pilot Airplane Single-Engine Land” in FAA-speak.

Lt. McElroy began flight training early September, and passed his FAA checkride on his first attempt before his biceps outgrew the Cessna and before the Air Force finally figures out that he’s not supposed to be in high school anymore. 

The Lt. completed about 73 hours of dual (instructor in the airplane) training with me and 11 hours of solo flight. His dedication to flight training was exemplified by undertaking 80+ hours of ground instruction including time spent in our Ground School class. Lt. McElroy was a great mentor to several of our ground school students as he worked on his own studies. Mid-December, he scored an impressive 90% on the FAA knowledge test consisting of 60 tough questions and lasting 2.5 hours.

McElroy still had to review additional material because the checkride begins with a 3-hour oral exam with the Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE), who represents the FAA. The examiner told me the Lt. did an outstanding job demonstrating his knowledge planning a flight route, interpreting weather information, and addressing all safety, navigation, and aircraft performance issues. He was especially impressed with his “big picture” weather knowledge, use of weather information, and ability assessing local conditions (which were changing rapidly today). The student pilot must advise the examiner on all aspects of the planned flight and make the determination if the weather (wind speed and direction, cloud ceilings, precipitation, hazards) will meet FAA regulations for the checkride to be conducted. The examiner will show up if the student gives the go ahead, but they will also fail the student for making the wrong call and suggesting a flight in marginal conditions. This intentionally challenges the student's knowledge and commitment to flight safety faced with the compelling motivation to get the checkride done.

A new twist was added to our Flight Dept. program last year for those students who will be attempting military flight training in the future. Last Spring, James Miranda, a Falcon who is now at the Air Force Academy, was the first to attempt the higher-intensity, procedure-laden training. The past several months Lt. McElroy was instrumental in helping to refine the procedures and produce additional materials. I can’t thank him enough for his positive attitude, follow-through on assignments, and appreciate his feedback as we “de-briefed” following each ground and flight training session as to what most helped him learn. 

We wish Lt. McElroy the very best as he takes-off under full power with the “engine gauges in the green and the airspeed alive" accomplishing his USAF flight training! May your after-burners be lit, Lieutenant!

Marc E. Kramer, CFI-A, AGI, IGI
Flight and Ground School Instructor

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