How to Read A METAR

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I’ve found that my page, How to Read a Sectional has been pretty popular. I’m not surprised since it was something I struggled with at points in my training. While, I’m working on one for high altitude charts for instrument (and dispatch) students, I have added a new page.  I’ve now added How to Read a METAR to my pages! My friend, Emily (yay! shout out!), was the one who did suggest it since she isn’t a student pilot but would love know how to read them.

As a student pilot, I knew how to get the information I needed from METAR and TAFs, but there were still things I didn’t understand in them. When I got my dispatch certificate I learned a lot more about these and now I feel much more confident that I’m not skipping over something or don’t understand it in the remarks section. Who really understands SLP? I know I didn’t!

Check out the page and let me know what you think! If you have any suggestions for other pages please comment, I’d love to know what other students struggle with in their training!

Aircraft Dispatch Instructor!

I’ve really been immersing myself at work. I want to get to the point where I don’t constantly have to ask my co-workers questions. They understand and know I’m new, but I want to learn quickly. This specific career makes it difficult to learn everything quickly because there is such a variety of ways things can go wrong and being prepared to handle those different scenarios takes work and time. Doing customs paperwork also takes time, but that is my next big challenge.

This past week has been busy. In 10 days, I’ve worked 9 of them. It’s the transition from my training schedule to my actual work schedule which caused my days off to vanish. I’m finally on my “weekend” though. Do I just lounge at home and enjoy working a job that gives me lots of days off? Of course not. Besides the left over tasks from moving (like going to the DMV, ew), I headed out to the school I received my dispatch license to say hi. I had actually said hi on my only day off last week, but they wanted me to come back today.

Why? Because I’m going to be one of their instructors now! Yay! I’m going to specifically teach flight planning. I’m beyond excited. It’ll keep me up with my flight planning and all the Part 121 regulations that I could get rusty in while working Part 135. It works with my schedule and they don’t want me to sacrifice time there to teach with them, which is great. I’ll start with their next class in October, which gives me some time to plan my lessons and what I’m going to say.

It’s interesting how life works out for you. When I was in flight training and thinking of the idea of becoming a flight instructor full time, I was kind of hell bent on that idea. After soul-searching and discussion with friends and family, I realize that may not be the best route for me. Now, I’m still getting to work in aviation in something I love and even better, I get to teach it too! It ended up working out really well. I couldn’t have hoped for better. Keep an eye out for new stuff popping up. I plan on writing more about instrument charts and airspace before I start teaching!

Cessna Chick or Lear Lady?

IMG_6818No, I’m not actually changing my name. Maybe if I was piloting a Lear, that’d be a different story. But I got to go on a maintenance flight on one of our jets, a Lear 60. I fell in love with it! It is one cool airplane!

At my company, they like to send employees on flights in the jets so we can better understand what our pilots and customers are experiencing on a daily basis. It is required for dispatchers in Part 121, but not in Part 135, so I’m very glad my company still likes to do it. I had found a great flight just around the area and went to my boss to ask if that was an appropriate flight to get my initial familiarization flight on. He agreed and said it was  good catch, and sent me and the other new guy on the flight.

IMG_6837We ended up having a full house with two crew scheduling people and two people from another department on board, oh and a mechanic. It can seat 7 and we had 7. I know in a Cessna Citation CJ 2 that would be a bit of an issue. It’s similar to a Cessna 172, you can have all the passenger but not enough fuel or enough fuel but a butt in all the seats. Lear 60, we could fit everyone and the fuel we needed. It probably wasn’t full though, it was just an hour flight.

There were some delays, not sure why. But my co-worker and I sat at the nice FBO waiting, I was quite fine with that. Finally we got under way after a quick taxi to the runway. Oh man, can these tiny jets climb! It was crazy how high we got by the end of the runway. I loved it! I’m used to my 152 climbing maybe at a 1000 fpm, if I’m lucky  or an airliner with a bunch of baggage and people. We got up to FL380 probably in 15 minutes, that’s higher than a 737-300 can go!

PIMG_6839eople started checking out the front and talking to the pilots. I couldn’t wait to go up there. I asked them a lot about the airplane. It’s service ceiling is FL510, but I asked if it could really ge t up there. Of course not. The high 40s is where it stops normally. I was also interested in what I could do to help them out more and was glad to have a good interaction with them.

The rest of the flight I enjoyed in back. Again, I’ve sat in the some Citations and my head would almost hit the ceiling sitting down. Not this one! It was very comfy. I can see why people would pay $7,000 to fly in the back of one of these. Though, I think being in the front would be way better.

photo-4The Lear 60 is amazing, but they have TINY wheels, which makes them impractical for us. If loaded heavily, they barely land on 5,000ft of runway. If the runway is wet, that’s not possible. The tires get hot too and have a tendency to blow up. I’ve learned every private jet seems to have a downside. These planes are in maintenance a lot because of their issue.

We landed back at the airport. It was great flying over where I live and getting to see the things I (somewhat) recognize now. I got the lay of the land a bit better, but I just really enjoyed my first experience in a private jet. We can ride on empty legs and you bet I’ll be taking advantage of that again in the future!

I’m really enjoying my new job and starting to get the hang of it. More updates to come!

Which Part Are You Flying Under?

I finished off my first week on the job! Finally by Friday I was feeling somewhat useful, but I have a lot more training and on the job learning to go. I passed my operation control exam and can authorize trips, which I’ve yet to do, but will feel great when I do.

The biggest thing I’ve been learning this week is how different corporate aviation is from airlines and from general aviation. Obviously, I knew there were differences. It’s just discovering what those differences are.

The company I work for does operate under Part 91 and Part 135. We never operate under Part 121 – that’s the airlines and some cargo companies. What are the differences?

Part 91

This is what you operate under when you fly just for fun. It’s what we operate under when ferrying our flights from airport to airport without any passengers. It’s just the pilots and it’s a lot less restrictive than Part 135. There’s no rest rules for the pilots, there’s technically no minimums (we have company minimums) so they can take off in zero visibility, again, we have company minimums so our pilots can’t do that. Also, when we are flying the owner of the aircraft around, depending what they want, we can operate that flight under Part 91. Some chose to keep it Part 135 for the higher safety standards, but it’s their choice and what’s in their contract.

Part 135

The majority of our flying is under this Part. It’s for non-scheduled charter flights. Meaning, someone who wants to fly somewhere, gives us a call and we do it around their schedule. Our pilots have a minimum rest time, a maximum duty and flight time per day/month/quarter/year. We have to adhere to it, unless out of our control, which can be used in weather. Another trick is if the last flight of the day is Part 91, then they can go over 14 hours as well. Part 135 wasn’t hit with year with the more restrictive rest rules (Part 117) like the airlines were. Both Part 121 and Part 135 do adhere to Part 119, which brought Part 135 up to more restrictive safety measures. We, as a company, always hold operational control over these flights.

Part 121

Considered the most restrictive Part to operate under, and that’s the airlines. Some cargo operate under Supplemental Part 121. They have all the complicated FARs and lots of requirements to meet for the FAA. Their companies have to be much more structured and broken down than Part 135 carriers, because most likely they can be a lot bigger.

10066Now, my job is a requirement under Part 121. All airlines must have sufficient aircraft dispatchers for the amount of flights they operate. My license isn’t required for the job I have at a Part 135, and more is added to it, and some is taken away (hopefully that is changing for me). My company prefers to hire people with their dispatch licenses or get them licensed because it’s just safer.

This was just a quick overview. There are tons of differences and lots of FARs that apply to each. I’ve spent my fair time with my nose stuck in the FAR/AIM FC, and it’s worth doing some studying straight from there if you’re ever interested in working for an airline or charter company in any capacity. Maybe one day I’ll break it down further, if people would appreciate that.

I’ve recently got to sit in the cockpit and cabin of a few of our private jets! I definitely avgeeked out. I’ll be sharing more about those jets later!

Career in Aviation

I’m happy to announce that I have successfully switch careers and now am working in aviation! I worked extremely hard and with a bit of good timing within two weeks after my checkride I got hired!

It’s been a whirlwind of a two weeks since I was hired since I had to move halfway across the country and be ready to start. Luckily, in a way, being unemployed help so I could focus on what I needed to do for the move. But first, the process of getting hired.

I applied to 2-3 jobs every day, I wasn’t picky and didn’t have a right to be with no aviation work experience. An airline (Part 121) or corporate charter (Part 135) I applied. While technically, Part 135 doesn’t require a dispatcher, most have licensed dispatchers as flight followers. The day I applied to one company, I got an email to do a phone interview! I was excited but extremely nervous. Was it going to be technical or just a regular job interview? It was in the city I did my dispatch school, so I emailed the president of the school and my instructor. They put me in contact with someone who works at the company. I arranged to call him and get all the information I could. We talked for a bit and he gave me more insight, the next day I had my phone interview. Within 15 minutes it was done and two days later I was flying out to their headquarters to interview. It felt nice to be positive spaced somewhere, instead of non-rev!

photo-3I was on a tight schedule with my flights and only had an hour for my interview. I met with the head of Flight Control and we talked for 50 minutes. Nothing technical, just matching my past experience to what the job required. I asked him my questions. We talked so long I didn’t have time to do my HR interview, so we had to schedule that over the phone. It was killing me I had to wait over the weekend. I just wanted to know! Monday morning I did my interview and by the end of day Monday I got my job offer!

Now, I was a bit nervous. I decided to go with a Part 135 job instead of a Part 121 job. While I think airline experience would be great right now, this job offered a much higher salary and relocation assistance. I can save up for a year or two and decide to be poor and work for a regional before going to a major. Or hopefully skip regionals? A girl can dream.

The next two weeks were crazy. I tried to find an apartment without seeing it. Jake had to work and couldn’t help, but had enough time off when we actually moved, so I was grateful for that. Thursday we left NYC for a 13 hour drive without an apartment for sure. That was nerve wracking. I also was forced to drive the 16′ truck through Manhattan while he drove our new car because I couldn’t drive stick shift.

We made it! Everything is set up and it’s great, such a difference from NYC! Today I had my first day on the job. It wasn’t the best day to start because of Tropical Storm Bertha causing lots of problems. I sat reading a manual most of the day, but I’m excited for the rest of the week and learning more about the job! I can’t believe I made this career change so quickly and am so thankful!

The best advice I can give for those looking for jobs in aviation is what I did:

1. Get your resume/cover letter professionally done

I had no idea how to make a dispatcher resume. I knew I needed someone with more experience than me and also make me look desirable even with my lack of experience.

2. Apply everywhere! (Really, everywhere!)

I applied to every job sounding like a dispatcher. I used,, and went to every regional website career section every day.

3. Network, network, network

You cannot underestimate the importance of networking. You want to “do it on your own”? That’s silly, everyone needs help and if you can get it, go for it! There’s no shame in that at all.

Those were the things that helped me the most. I’m so excited to be working in aviation and get to avgeek out every day! Now, just to save up some money and go flying again!

Challenges of Flight

I’m a big fan of being a part of the pilot community online, whether it’s reading blogs, forums, following pilots on Instagram and Facebook, or par-taking in groups on Facebook. It’s a lot of exposure to aviation on a daily basis. Recently, it’s been working against me in a way. I see many pilots getting to fly often, gain new ratings, or just have adventures. I want the same for my flying, but it’s not in my best interest financially and career-wise right now, and that’s a hard thing to cope with when seeing these things all day every day on social media.

In a moment of passion, I’d most likely drop everything, take out a loan and fly until I have all the ratings I want (which will probably never end). But what good does that do to my future? Pretty much nothing, it hurts me in the end. I could do that, get myself in debt, have fun for a year, and then be struggling the rest of my life to repay my debt and barely fly.

PatienceQuoteIt’s been said in my blog before, and for someone who is pretty impatient, it is in my best interest to remind myself again: life is a marathon. You can’t sprint the entire way, but have to conserve your energy to make a fantastic finish. Flying is also a marathon. Jake imparted some knowledge on my recently when I said how much I’d love to earn more ratings at this moment in time. He told me the first 300 hours of flying are the most fun, why rush them? You won’t get to experience that type of learning and experimentation again after those hours. They’re not something to waste and hurry. He wish he could do it again and take more time. Find the perfect airplane to get his complex in, instead of settling for the Piper Arrow his school had. Maybe go the route a friend went and found an airplane that got him his complex, tailwheel, and high performance endorsements all at once. He doesn’t remember what airplane his friend found, but I want to know because that sounds like an awesome airplane!

I know for many of us, especially me, it’s a struggle to wait for what you want. I have to keep telling myself: doing it right will make it more enjoyable than doing it in a hurry. While I intend tWorkonPatienceo make aviation my career, I do not want to be a pilot for a career. Even as a career, most pilots I know, say it isn’t worth getting into debt for it. That’s probably the best advice for aspiring pilots: don’t get into debt for flying. Jake routinely flies with captains who are still at a regional airline in their 40s and have lots of flying debt. It’s an unstable and unpredictable career. You can say you’ll be different, but you don’t know how the industry will change in a heartbeat. I’ve seen it first hand with Jake’s career, and he has absolutely no power over it. Well, the only power he has is to be responsible and be ready financially for anything. He’s now instilling that within me.

Every one has hurdles in their training, most commonly a learning plateau or money issues. It’s through hard work and patience we can overcome those hurdles. It’s hard not to get discouraged like I have been recently, but looking to the future and focusing on what you can do in the present helps.

I do feel stuck on the saving up money part since I’m currently waiting to see if I’ll be moving across the country, but I can focus on reading the instrument books I have. Even though it now seems like it’ll be awhile before I can formally start training, I can always save that knowledge and be prepared for it. It will also help me as a dispatcher, so win-win.

It may be the littlest things that can satisfy you until the future, but you can always find something.

6 Tips for Student Pilots

Flight training is such an exciting time! The fact is you’re learning to fly an airplane that sometimes you get caught up in the passion and emotions that come with that and forget to take a more calculated approach into your training. There are a few things I would have changed about my training if I had the chance, but I was also lucky to have an outside source to help me take a more focused approach to my learning. Here are a few things I thin every new student pilot should be prepared to do:

1. Do interview or do a discovery flight with different flight instructors

This is the piece of advice I really did wish I listened to when I first began. Maybe I wouldn’t have taken so long to solo or gone through three instructors. It is important to find the right person to teach you to fly. Flying isn’t an easy task, but it becomes easier when you have someone suited to your specific learning style.

2. Chair flying is the best!

It’s expensive up there with the engine running. You don’t want to be stumbling around at the controls with a maneuver you learned last lesson. During the time between lessons take a few minutes to review the movements associated with each maneuver. Pretend to pull the power to idle, turn on the carb heat, add in some right rudder, etc. It helps, I swear!

3. Don’t put off the written

My CFI said he wanted me to take my written right around my solo XC, and I listened to him and took it less than a week after my first solo XC. I’ve seen others put it off and it has delayed their check ride, listen to when your CFI thinks you should take your written and be prepared!

4. Study, study, study!

You’ve got your chair flying studying, but you need book studying to be prepared for your written and oral. Don’t think you can cram for it either, it’s also just no wise because you SHOULD want to learn the required knowledge. It’ll help you be a good pilot. If you just want to coast through and not really learn then maybe being a pilot isn’t for you. A good pilot is always learning!

5. Make sure you know your plan

Always make sure you know what your next lessons will be about so you can prepare! Around my cross countries I really got into this and if I forgot to ask or my CFI forgot to tell me at the end of a lesson, you can bet I texted him before my next lesson so I could be prepared. It made sure I didn’t waste time in the airplane or at the airport when I could prepare at home.

6. The internet is a great resource

There are tons of websites, YouTube videos, and podcasts to help you out. I do suggest to take some with a grain of salt or double check, but it’s a starting place. I used Sporty’s Study Buddy (for free!) to study for my written. I downloaded UND’s podcasts to go over basic maneuvers better. AOPA is a great resource and I enjoy’s videos. There is tons of information out there if you want to use it.

What are your tips for new student pilots? What did you learn through your training you wish you knew at the start?