SAFE Strategies

August 2023

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David St George, Barry Knuttila, speaker at the SAFE Dinner, and John and Martha King.

Join SAFE's New

CFI "Social Wall!"

Keep Current On CFI&Pilot World Challenges

If you set SAFE's "social wall" as your home page, you'll have a front-row seat to the multitude of daily CFI-world changes and CFI resources on the SAFE site.

SAFE's social wall links to current CFI news and fresh SAFE member resources. It's a treasure trove of high-level CFI training information and opinion. It also offers a limited set of public CFI resources for non-SAFE CFIs.

Spoiler alert for non-members: a $45 SAFE membership can save you as much as $120 on your ForeFlight yearly subscription. Not just once, but annually.

"Do the math," said SAFE Executive Director David St George. "We're thankful that ForeFlight recognizes the importance of CFIs. They know that safety really does pay."

SAFE was Everywhere @OSH!

Thank you all for making this our best AirVenture ever. King Schools CEO Barry Knuttila spoke to a packed venue at the SAFE dinner Thursday night. Despite the heat, many SAFE members gave educational seminars at the Pilot Proficiency Center. Michael Phillips and Ken WIttekiend ran the educational program at the PPC.

We met a lot of old friends and welcomed a bunch of new, energetic members at the show. SAFE membership surpassed the 5,000 mark early this year. Thank you for your support, and let's continue to push for meaningful reform in flight training and increased instructor professionalism.

Photos by Larry Baum (Aerostar driver).

Latest Updates for

"Real World" CFI Professionals


Professional flight instructors know it's more than endless trips around the pattern inculcating aviation knowledge in pilot novices. These latest SAFE blog entries are written by SAFE members, many of whom are working DPEs who daily see the results of CFI's best (or worst) efforts. The SAFE blog is a rich resource for CFIs striving to learn.

New CFIs Not Yet Educators (CFI-PRO™)

Techniques taught to pass the initial CFI practical exam are harmful to real education. Effective flight schools must often re-program new instructors to make them effective aviation educators. How this came about and what to do about it.

Lack Of Slip/Skid/Spin Knowledge is Contributing to LOC-I accident rate

Lack of understanding of aerodynamics shown by applicants on FAA practical tests is staggering, DPEs say. Some call it "almost criminal." Yet exactly those forces are producing a Loss of Control Inflight (LOC-I) accident rate making it easily the #1 casual factor for fatal accidents. It's a fixable problem.

Accepting Responsibility For Your Errors Is A Critical Component

Taking responsibility right from the start creates a more productive learning environment; no excuses, just 'honest errors.'

How To Teach Situational Awareness

Teaching situational awareness can be tough. Some CFIs claim it is inborn and thus not teachable, but the SA phrase appears 101 times in the Private ACS. Situational Awareness is a higher-level Meta-Skill.

What The FAA Missed In CFI NPRM

The recently proposed NPRM creating a permanent CFI certificate was good, but missed many opportunities to inspire and motivate our talented CFI pool. With some simple modifications, CFI renewal could again be a powerful tool to recognize and build the professionalism of our aviation educators.

SAFE K-12 Education Grant Helps 6th Graders Experience Aviation At HSV Space Camp

Learn More About SAFE's SAFE K-12 Grants

Sixth-grade science class students from Acorn Elementary in Mena AR last fall traveled to Huntsville AL for the Pathfinder Space Camp at the US Space and Rocket Center. The expedition was financed, in part, by the SAFE $500 K-12 grant teacher. The awards are to encourage classroom teachers in K-12 settings to incorporate aviation-themed lessons in their normal curriculum.

SAFE awards four such $500 grants per year, two for elementary teachers and two for high school teachers. All grants come from individual SAFE members who believe in both education and young people. The grants encourage K-12 classroom teachers to incorporate aviation-themed lessons into their normal curriculum. 

The students were divided into teams where they studied galaxies, solar systems and competed with rockets. They learned the history of mission control and about the future Artemis project to send Americans back to the moon. And hopefully, they picked up the aviation bug. 

Meet Your Newest SAFE Board Member

This is a first in a series of introductions to SAFE Board of Directors members. SAFE's mission is to raise CFI professionalism.

Dorothy Schick of Hobby Field in Oregon is the newest Board member, elected in June. Like the other 8 Board members, her term is three years and she is limited to two terms. One-third of the 9-member Board is up for election each year, which helps members keep control of the organization.

Dorothy's career has included promoting aviation education, safety, and the professional flight instruction career path. In 1994 she established a Part 61 flight school where in addition to being the CFI, she was also “Chief Enhancer.” Besides ensuring integrity, trust, and safe operations, she created innovative training products and programs.

She holds an FAA CFI and has given 4,692 hours of dual, often in a tailwheel. When asked her favorite aircraft for instruction, she says, "Any Aeronca Champ." Her priorities as a SAFE representative include ensuring a supply of long-time CFIs, and encouraging flight schools to use a standardized CFI-initial training syllabus. She also supports removing PSI's status as sole vendor for FAA written tests.

She is also a published author, with flight training business articles for AOPA's Flight Training magazine. She has been an FAA Safety Counselor since 2003, a FAASTeam representative since 2007 and a technology board chair for Lane Community College.

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SAFE Quick Takes
For Professional CFIs

Careers, Heavy Iron and CFI

  • CFI employment stable and flight schools still feeling healthy, a June survey by Flight School Business found more than 60% of schools expect to grow; 8% to add locations. About 10% see no change.

New Tools, Apps, Info

And Opportunities For CFIs

  • New MOSAIC LSA rule removes 1,320 pound weight limit on LSA, increase Vs0 to 54K from current 45 and allow retractable gear and controllable pitch props. The new speed limit is 250K, up from 120K.

  • PHAK just released. SAFE Strategies informed members last month the revised edition was coming.

  • New SAFE Toolkit App is free for both Android and Mac users; includes endorsements, test codes, ACS/PTS/FAR/AIM, N-number lookups, FAA Wings decoder and more.

  • Free AOPA You Can Fly guides for students and CFIs available; each is a collection of flight training best practices, advice, and information from students, CFIs, and flight schools.

  • VIRGA, the pirep app, is available for both Android and Apple for showing learners how easy and important it is to get in the habit of providing pireps of real-time weather.

GA, CFI General Interest

  • FLYING Mag buys AVweb, Aviation Consumer, Aviation Safety, IFR Magazine and Kitplanes. Last year, FLYING bought Plane and Pilot Magazine and an LSA site.

FAA, FCC, Other Government

Updates Of Interest To CFIs

  • The Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act was passed unanimously in the House of Representatives in mid-June. Sadly, several key GA-friendly provisions were stripped during markup in the Senate, including one that would require airports to provide parking at a reasonable fee, rather than paying the rapacious fees some FBOs demand. NATA was the chief opponent of this provision. At press time, the bill is still stalled in the Senate; FAA budget expires Sept 30.

Other provisions affecting GA also left on the cutting room floor included:

  • A ban on 100LL, although an amendment offered late last month could assist in converting airports to unleaded avgas.
  • Privatizing ATC.
  • Changing noise regulations.

  • Mike Whitaker, COO at Supernal nominated to lead FAA. He is a private pilot and was the agency's deputy chief from 2013 to 2016 helping modernize ATC.
SAFE Sponsors
These GA-related companies support SAFE and its mission to improve professionalism in aviation education. Please patronize them when choosing a product or service. Click on the logo to go to that company's web site.
SAFE Sponsors

"The Master Instructor accreditation singles out the best the right seat has to offer."
FAA Administrator Jane Garvey

Master Instructor Achievements

The Master Instructor designation is a national FAA-recognized professional accreditation and parallels other professionals' continuing education regimens to increase their professionalism. The Master's designation must be renewed biennially and significantly surpasses FAA requirements for renewing the candidate's flight instructor certificate. Of the 122,000 flight instructors in the US, fewer than 800 have earned the Master Instructor designation, Most are SAFE members.

Mike "Cuckoo" Kloch, MCFI-A

Mike "Cuckoo" Kloch of Bend OR has received his second accreditation as a Master Instructor-Aerobatic. Mike is a CFII/MEI and Oregon’s only Master Instructor,. He is a former Marine Corps F/A-18 pilot who served a combat tour flying over Iraq. After attending Aviation Safety Officer School at the Naval Postgraduate School, he served as a Director of Safety and Standardization for a Marine Air Group.

He is now a contract test pilot/instructor for Epic aircraft, Elite Pilot Services and others, and is Chief pilot and CEO of Specialized Aero Works (SAW) in Bend. He teaches UPRT, aerobatics, tailwheel and more in SAW’s Super Decathlon. He holds commercial and instrument helicopter ratings and a type rating in the CM-170 Fouga Magister. Mike volunteers as an FAASTeam Representative and is co-creator of the Central Oregon Aviation Safety Team.

Jeffrey Gill, MCFI

Jeffrey Gill of Spring TX was designated a Master CFI last month. This is his initial certification.

With a career spanning over 30 years, Jeff's aviation passion was ignited at age 8 flying with his pilot mother. Teaching at United Flight Systems in Spring, Jeff is committed to growing aspiring aviators. His teaching techniques have evolved in sync with technological advancements and changing industry standards while tailoring his methods to each individual’s learning needs. Dedication and adaptability have earned Jeff a well-deserved reputation as a highly effective and respected flight instructor, culminating in his recognition as Master Instructor.

Thomas Sando, MAE

Thomas Sando of Williston ND has received his first accreditation as a Master Aviation Educator. He is one of only four active MAEs in the U.S..

His designation recognizes his commitment to excellence as a teacher at Williston High School, where he has been teaching for 5 years while using the AOPA STEM curriculum. A pilot since 2013, Thomas became a CFI in August 2022. He holds a degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University in Aviation Business Administration with a minor in Airport Management. He is also a flight instructor for Overland Aviation at Williston Basin International Airport. “Sharing my love for aviation is my passion, watching students put in the hard work,” he says. “It never gets old hearing the excitement of a student after their first intro flight or when your students become your peers and you can relate to them as only fellow aviators can,” he says. Thomas lives in Williston with his family and their two doodle dogs, Pilot and Boeing.

Col. Bob Mitchell, MCFI-A

Col. Bob Mitchell (U.S. Army, Ret.) of Enterprise AL has received his first accreditation as a Master Flight Instructor-Aerobatic.

Bob has been an active CFI for 36 years and has flown over 9000 flight hours, including 500 combat flight hours. An experienced military and civilian flight instructor, he currently works for CAE as an Advanced Instructor Pilot (Upset Prevention and Recovery Training) in support of the U.S. Army Fixed-Wing Flight Training Program in Dothan, Alabama.

He also owns and operates StrikeHawk Aviation, a flight school in Enterprise. His his various aviation volunteering activities include EAA Young Eagles program and the Troy University Air Force ROTC. 

SAFE is a 501(c)(3) educational, not-for-profit professional organization building aviation educator excellence and aviation safety. Our more than 4,500 members include many of the best-known, best-credentialed and most experienced CFIs as well as many FAA Designated Pilot Examiners.