Aeronautics - Professional Pilot/Flight Training Student, Specific  

Subject: Flight Training "Fall Break" Update to Students, Employees, and Instructors 

Sent: Friday, October 16, 2020 


Good afternoon,

I hope everyone has been able to enjoy a successful and productive start to their fall 2020 semester.  Believe it or not, midterms are now behind us and we are officially more than half way done with this semester.  We wanted to share some updates with everyone as we move into the closing half of this semester.

Fall Break:

This weekend marks what would have originally been our scheduled Fall Break weekend.  We know this break has been moved to the week of Thanksgiving to mitigate the pandemic, however, it is important to remind everyone the intent of fall break weekend.  Fall break was implemented to allow students, staff, and faculty time to relax from the demands of the fall semester.  This fall semester has been exceptionally demanding.  We continue to produce record flight hours (expanded on later in this email) while being taxed by the unknown impacts of Covid-19.  Although we will still be proceeding with the academics of the fall semester, please remember to take some time for yourself!  Manage your mental well-being and allow some time recharge.  Most importantly, please speak up if you are feeling concerned.

As pilots, it is important to understand the relationship between seeking professional help for anxiety and the impacts that may have on your FAA medical.  Pilots are required to self remove themselves from flying activities while they are seeking counseling or medication from a counseling specialist, psychologist or psychiatrist.  While this could delay the reissuance of future medicals, this does not necessarily mean you will lose the privileges forever.  The point of seeking help is to make yourself better, and you should be able to reinstate your privileges once you are found to be better!  It is healthier to get help today, than deal with anxiety for the rest of your career.  Kent State University offers support to students through the Kent State of Wellness.

For pilots, we recommend at the very least to talk to a family member, a trusted friend, an advisor, or any of the faculty/staff within CAE as an intermediate step before seeking medical counseling.  Just talking to someone could offer considerable improvement in how you feel, and this would not impact your medical.  It is important to understand that self awareness is key to your own success.  If you are feeling stressed, you are not the first person to have these feelings.  Please do not hesitate to use your friends, family, and the members of CAE as a support system.  

If you are interested in more information about this topic and how it relates to pilots, the Aviation Medicine Advisory Service (AMAS) has a well written article available here.

Covid Updates:

It has been nearly 5 months since we reopened, and everyone deserves a round of applause for the success we have experienced in that timeframe.  Students and instructors are doing an excellent job disclosing their symptoms and not reporting to the airport when they are feeling unfit.  While we have had several personnel receive positive results for Covid-19 over the months, to date we have not had a single Covid-19 case linked to multiple people within flight training.  This is a testament not only to our procedures, but our students and instructors upholding those procedures.

With that being said, the next 5 months are a greater challenge than the last 5 months.  If you follow the trends with outbreaks internationally, and then across the US over the last few weeks, there are strong indications and reminders this fight is not over.  Please continue to monitor your symptoms, wear your face covering, wash your hands, clean impacted areas before and after each use, and maintain social distancing.  It is important to continue to limit unnecessary exposures and be mindful of the current situation. 

We would like to thank all of our students and instructors for their understanding during the times they are asked to quarantine.  Unfortunately, this is the new norm for flight training.  It will not always be like this, but it is what we have to do for now.  If you are asked to quarantine, please take advantage of that time and get ahead on ground work associated with flight courses.  We still have the ability to offer remote ground instruction through Blackboard Collaborate.  There are also numerous modules and interactive learning experiences available through the “Resource – Flight Training” section of Blackboard.

There is a rumor floating around out there related to the impact of Covid-19 and your FAA medical that we would like to debunk.  Some are saying that if you test positive for Covid-19, you will never be allowed to hold an FAA medical.  That statement is false.  It is true that anytime you develop an illness or ailment you are not able to exercise the privileges of your medical while you are experiencing those symptoms.  If you hypothetically were to never recover from those symptoms, you would never be able to exercise the privileges of an FAA medical.  So the only way that original statement would be true is if you develop symptoms that you are unable to recover from, and those symptoms disqualify you from your medical.  Based on what we know about Covid-19, that scenario is unlikely.

I do have one additional request moving forward as it relates to Covid-19.  When students or instructors email me disclosing they have developed symptoms, most of the emails end with a statement similar to “I apologize for this and the impacts it may have on flight training.”  While I appreciate your sincerity, those statements have to stop!  We are grateful to you for disclosing your symptoms.  There is absolutely no reason to apologize.  Developing symptoms does not mean you were in the wrong.  It does not mean you made a mistake.  It means you were living during a global pandemic.  If flight training were to temporary shutdown, it is not punishment for one person’s actions.  It would be the result of a developing situation and to allow time for us to create a safer environment for us to continue flight training.  Please continue to practice the Flashes Safe Seven and be mindful of our current circumstances.  As long as we do this, there is never a need to apologize.

Remarkable Achievements:

The first half of the fall semester was blessed with some consistent weather and we definitely capitalized on this.  If you recall, we flew a record number of flight hours in July 2020 with 1,687.4 hours.  This crushed our previous record of 1,509.7 hours.  In the month of September, we flew an astounding 1,686.1 hours!  This is a phenomenal accomplishment when you consider that September is a shorter month, there were multiple days with the runway being closed for the airport lighting project, multiple days with Presidential TFR’s in the area, and pretty lousy weather at the start and end of the month.  This is a very impressive accomplishment.

In the month of October, we have also seen a few individual accomplishments.  In the month of October we had our first private pilot student from the spring 2020 semester earn their private pilot certificate!  Congratulations to Grant Hagler for achieving this accomplishment.  Grant did not solo until July due to the spring Covid closure, but was able to take advantage of summer flying and completed the remainder of his course in only 3 months.  

We also saw our first brand new student from the fall 2020 semester complete their first solo!  Congratulations to Olivia Hannam for achieving this accomplishment!  Olivia soloed on just her 29th day of flight training.  Given the challenges of this semester, this is an astounding feat and deserves recognition.  

We have a C1 student that only has 0.9 of solo time remaining to complete their course in its entirety, we have multiple instrument students that are deep in the second block of the course, there is a C2 student that only has their check ride remaining, and we already have students on their Multi or CFII final check rides.  All of these accomplishments are from students that just registered and began their respective flight courses at the start of the fall 2020 semester.

I know everyone is working hard, but it is great to see tangible accomplishments being made to prove your efforts.  Keep up the great work!

Requests from Maintenance:

A critical part of our success in the recent months can be attributed to our maintenance staff.  Without reliable airplanes, we cannot enjoy these accomplishments.  Please thank Josh and his team when you see them around the airport.  They need to know how appreciative we are of their endless efforts.  In order to better assist their efforts, there are a few areas we need your help with when it comes to maintaining our aircraft.

First, continue to be careful when using the cleaning solution in the airplane.  Remember, the 70% isopropyl alcohol solution is only to be used on the avionics screens.  Some aircraft are seeing wear marks from the alcohol solution being improperly applied (see attached images).  Our goal is to keep our aircraft in pristine conditions for years to come.  So please be mindful when using these cleaning solutions.  

Also, please be mindful of the state of the airplane at the conclusion of your flight lesson.  Your goal should always be to leave the airplane in a better state than when you arrived to it.  Take your time and ensure that all items are accounted for and the aircraft is clean before you leave the aircraft.  This includes removing all trash from the airplane!  We are finding a lot of preflight data cards or weather briefings being left behind in the airplane.  If you leave it behind, it falls on the next crew or sometimes the maintenance staff to clean up afterwards.  Maintenance is already busy enough, so please double check the airplane before leaving.

Finally, we are noticing scratches on the windscreens.  Please do not keep unnecessary items on the glareshield.  Windscreens are very expensive and time consuming to replace.  Headsets, binders, E6Bs, kneeboards, should never be found on the glareshield!  The only items that should be up there are fuel cards or the cleaning checklist.  

We appreciate your efforts with these topics moving forward!

Moving Forward:

The latter half of the fall semester will include the transition to remote instruction for most courses.  We still are anticipating flight to continue under our mitigation plan on a normal operating schedule.  In the month of November, there will be no flight training on Wednesday, November 11 (Veterans Day).  Thanksgiving break will be Monday November 23 through Sunday, November 29.  Flight Training will be offered on Monday through Wednesday of that week on an open reservation schedule (similar to weekends).  Students are not required to meet, but flight training will be available if they choose.  Thursday and Friday will be closed (Thanksgiving holiday).  Saturday and Sunday will be normal weekend operations.  We will offer flight training until the scheduled university-wide holiday closure schedule at the end of the day Wednesday, December 23 and re-open on Monday, January 4, 2021.  

This is obviously subject to change based on national, state, and university guidelines as they relate to Covid-19.  We hope to continue uninterrupted operations, but we understand the possibility of circumstances could warrant a temporary cease in flight operations.  

I know this was a busy email, but it has been a busy semester!  Good luck to everyone in the second half of the fall semester.  We appreciate all of your efforts and look forward to what is ahead.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do no hesitate to reach out to any one of us. 

Take care,

Brian Neff

Director, Flight Training and Operations 

POSTED: Monday, October 19, 2020 - 3:16pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 19, 2020 - 3:22pm