Latest News From Michael

Hey folks. Thanks for checking in with me.

Michael Lessard This is my corner to share the latest news about events, important developments, or any other revelations that I might come up with. There is always something exciting brewing in WINGsReality EDU.

This is a great place to put on your "frequent visitors" list to stay abreast of the news! There are a few really cool things that we will be announcing very soon. Be sure to check back shortly!

Regards,

Michael Lessard
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

FAA Fines SkyPan

Are you flying drones professionally and legally with an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems rating? If so, DO NOT read this!

On the other hand, are you flying drones for pay without an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems rating? If so, you might want to read on!

This press release published by the FAA on 17 January 2017.

 

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced a comprehensive settlement agreement with SkyPan International, Inc., of Chicago. The agreement resolves enforcement cases that alleged the company operated unmanned aircraft (UAS) in congested airspace over New York City and Chicago, and violated airspace regulations and aircraft operating rules.

Under the terms of the agreement, SkyPan will pay a $200,000 civil penalty. The company also agrees to pay an additional $150,000 if it violates Federal Aviation Regulations in the next year, and $150,000 more if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

SkyPan also agrees to work with the FAA to release three public service announcements in the next 12 months to support the FAA’s public outreach campaigns that encourage drone operators to learn and comply with UAS regulations.

The agreement settles enforcement cases involving a $1.9 million civil penalty that the FAA proposed against SkyPan International, Inc. of Chicago in October 2015. It is the largest civil penalty the agency has proposed against a UAS operator.

As the aviation community ventures into the integration of unmanned aerial systems into the National Airspace System, there many important insights to think about. If you have read any of my past articles about this topic, you can certainly appreciate the magnitude of this technology as it creates a significant impact on society and mankind throughout the world. There are numerous ways that we can look at this. Yesterday, the FAA published a press release that we should all be paying close attention to, and using as a learning experience. FAA data supports that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of operators flying UAS that may well be exposing themselves to legal consequences. By now, most of us are aware that there are some rules that we must follow if we are going to operate drones.

There are four categories of people who operate drones. The first is those who have no idea that there are indeed rules that we must follow, whether the operations are for business or pleasure. The second is those who know that there are rules, but don’t know where to find the information or don’t understand that it is serious enough to learn about. Thirdly is the group that are very much aware of the rules, but simply choose to turn the blind eye to them, thinking that they don’t apply to them or that they will never be caught. The fourth group is those operators who are true professionals. These are the operators who have earned their FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems rating and are operating safely and legally.

The idea of those of us who are professionals and understand how the National Airspace System works is to get everyone in the first three groups up to speed and in the know. It is crucial that anyone who operates a drone understands and follows all of the rules that are applicable to their aircraft and the particular operation being conducted. That is the only way the we will ever be successful in maintaining the safety and integrity of the National Airspace System that we have built over the past decades. This, by the way, the safest airspace system in the world.

Last November, I participated in a business competition that involved writing a document and presenting it to a panel of judges. In the process, I did some research to find the data needed to support the project. Today, I will share some of that data as it relates to the topic of the aviation community and training metrics. The reason why I am sharing this with you is because it quantifies the need for UAS training, whether for hobby or for commercial operations.

If we look at history, the FAA has registered 320,000 manned aircraft in the U.S. in the entire history of civil aviation. In the last year, the FAA registered over 616,000 drones (unmanned aircraft) to both recreational and commercial operators.

There are about 727,000 people in the U.S. that are currently pilots of manned aircraft. All of those have been exhaustively trained to be safe and knowledgeable pilots. As of November 2016, the FAA had issued less than 9400 remote pilot certificates. That adds up to only about 1.5% of the 616,000 registered drones. It doesn’t take a “drone scientist” to assume the number of uncertified operators who are currently conducting commercial UAS operations. If we tie that thought to the FAA’s press release included above, it is reasonable to assume that none of us can even imagine the potential for FAA enforcement action in the UAS sector. That fine was proposed at $1.9 million and was settled at $200,000. None of us want to defend a citation like that, but it does send a very clear message that a few hundred dollars in training can save an operator hundreds of thousands of dollars in civil penalties.

That brings us to training, and how that magic works. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do. There are quite a few places where you can find training for UAS operators. This is a very new segment of aviation training and it has a long way to go with regards to the scope and quality of the training programs. About 85% of the subject matter tested on the FAA Knowledge Exam for the remote pilot certificate is knowledge that is only gained in private pilot and higher ground schools for manned aircraft in general aviation. The majority of UAS training programs are focused on the UAS specific parts and fall short on the larger general aviation piece. Most refer the student to other sources for the general aviation knowledge components. I recently spoke with one of our students who completed the WINGsReality EDU Private Pilot Ground School a few weeks ago. He mentioned that he had since taken one of the UAS courses as a supplement to his private pilot training with us. After paying for the UAS course, he was able to successfully test out of every module in the UAS course without even looking at the training content. After testing out and completing that course, he received a message stating that he would need additional training in the general aviation topics before he takes the FAA Knowledge Exam. As it turned out, he received all of the training he needed in the WINGsReality EDU Private Pilot Ground School. In recent semesters, we have integrated UAS training into our Private Pilot Ground School. We have done this in a way that doesn’t take away from the training experience of our more traditional airplane students, but helps all students to learn about the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. This is equally as important for pilots of manned aircraft as it is for pilots of unmanned aircraft.

In closing, I want to drive home the message that anyone who is flying drones for any purpose absolutely must possess an adequate level of knowledge to be safe and legal. Both hobbyist and commercial operators are flying in the same National Airspace System and are held legally accountable to know what they are doing! Training is the only way that we can maintain the safety and integrity of our excellent NAS. There are currently 616,000 registered drones, and only about 9,400 certificated remote pilots. That means we have 606,600 drones that are being flown by non-certificated operators. Those 606,000 operators are going to fit in one of the first three categories that I mentioned above. That is a significant problem! That represents a significant liability to the integrity of the NAS, and we all need to work to fix that. The integration of UAS into the NAS is important to everyone. There are more benefits to this that we can even imagine today. In the coming months and years, drones will play an often invisible, but important role to everyone. Drones will save lives and make many things possible that we cannot do today. They are a lot of fun for hobbyists, and highly functional to professionals in all walks of life. With each passing day, they become more commonplace in our lives. We should all embrace this technology and the benefits it will bring to us. But at the same time, we cannot be complacent. We need to be knowledgeable and skilled and operate in the safety culture that has been part of manned aviation for decades. Let’s get these folks trained! Don’t be part of the enforcement statistics found in the press release above. If you are flying drones and have not been trained, please consider taking our Private Pilot Ground School to gain the knowledge that you need to fly safely. Classes start on 26 January 2017, and there is still room available on our Orono Maine campus or as an online distance student. We thank you for being proactive and we certainly hope to see you in class! Click here for more info.

Michael


Debriefing

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Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Live Web-based Private Pilot Ground School – Spring 2017

WINGsReality EDU brings both local and distance students into the live Private Pilot Ground School classroom in person or via the internet! That’s right! Our second blended semester starts on 26 January 2017. Both online and local students can work together in the same classroom in real time!

Our students attend live weekly classes, and continue working throughout the week on assignments, quizzes, mid-term exams, and projects in the WINGsReality EDU LMS-based website. Local and distance students also have opportunities to collaborate on group projects, and report results back to the class. All WINGsReality EDU courses are Learning Management System (LMS) based, so students have access to admissions functions, gradebooks, transcripts, and all other aspects of a fully functional academic institution.

Michael Lessard (CFII/MEI) is an exciting and engaging instructor who shares decades of practical experience and insight. Throughout the course, Michael uses scenario based examples to explain real world flying. He continuously teaches about the aeronautical decision making process, and explains practical strategies to avoid getting into hazardous situations.

The Hangar Hangout is a social network built into the site so students and alumni can communicate, contribute interesting resources, work through challenging academic aspects, or just chat amongst the group. This is an amazing and well attended resource that adds tremendous value to the training experience.

“We very firmly believe that ground and flight training programs are the backbone of aviation safety, and excellent CFIs are the last line of defense in creating the pilots who make up the safest airspace system in the world. This is a charge that we are humbled by and take very seriously. At WINGsReality EDU it is our objective to build on this concept, one pilot at a time.” As such, the nature of this course is highly structured and students are held to very high academic standards.

We are really excited about expanding this program to include distance learning students from across the country and throughout the world. The technology allows distance students to participate in the classroom live and in real time with cam and mic.

Students who should take this course are those who seek FAA private pilot certification, and remote UAS (drone) flyers at either recreational of professional levels. When taking the FAA knowledge exam for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS rating, pilots will be exhaustively tested on subject matter that is typically only taught in aviation ground schools. This course will provide comprehensive learning on those aspects of UAS flying.

We have always encouraged currently certificated pilots who have not been through ground school in the last ten years to come back for a refresher as well. Each semester we are joined by experienced pilots, and they are always amazed at how valuable the experience is at bringing back forgotten knowledge and in learning about the many unnoticed changes that take place every year. We always ask, “If you had to take the FAA Knowledge Exam right now would you be nervous, and how would you do?”


Debriefing


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Moving into our brand new campus in Orono Maine – September 2016

WREDU-TTC

This is a really exciting time for WINGsReality EDU and for all of you! So much going on in the past few weeks. So where do we start? First off, we are in the final phase of moving into our brand new campus in Orono, Maine. That has been a long road with a lot of and planning and work, but we are final here! The first class starts one week from today on 8 September 2016! We really love our new digs, and this is going to create a significant improvement in the learning experience for you! These classrooms will be set up with all of the permanently installed teaching aids and devices, demonstrations, visuals, and more.

Another exciting highlight for you is that we are now broadcasting our classes live in real time on the internet. What does that mean for you? It means that you can now join our classes right in our classrooms live online! Local students in the classroom and distance students online can now share the same space, work together on projects, collaborate on ideas, and participate in aviation ground school courses in a way that has never been possible before! With cameras in the classroom and online students using webcams and mics, all students are joined into a common and very powerful learning space. Students can get to know other students from around the country and the world. Online students can participate in the class as if they were right there. The technology is awesome! We can also boast bandwidth of 1 gigabyte up and down! Now I am not the tech guru of this company but I think that might be about as fast as internet speeds get. You will have to check with Robert to see if that is true! Anyway, it is light years faster that most any bandwidth you have likely experienced anywhere else.

The last thing that I want to talk about today is the new FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems (drone) rule. This is otherwise known as Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. As you know, the NPRM became a final rule in June of 2016. It actually went into effect a few days ago on 29 August. So what does this mean for anyone who is flying unmanned aerial systems (UAS)? Well, there are basically two types of users. The first group is the recreational/hobbyist. These are the folks that are flying drones for fun. Any radio controlled or remotely controlled aircraft are included in this group. The word on the street is that the FAA does not regulate this group or these operations. That is partly true, which might lend one to believe that is also partly false. That part is true! So here is the deal. Congress prohibits the FAA from specifically regulating model aircraft. The operative word being “model” aircraft. There are Federal Aviation Regulations that apply to ALL aircraft. That is where there is some regulation of model aircraft. That is a discussion that is too involved to talk about here. Recreational/model users must comply with model safety codes. The commonly recognized code is the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) model safety code. This code defines a comprehensive list of aircraft and operations requirements that collectively define what is or isn’t a recreational operation. If the aircraft or operation does not comply with all provisions of this code, it is no longer a recreational operation and is subject to Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Beyond that code, there are still provisions in Part 107 and other parts of the FARs that operators should know in order to stay out of hot water with the Feds. Our recreational/model courses are very quick and inexpensive, and will train (or even certify) these operators in the knowledge areas they need to know.

The other group is the commercial operators, or anyone who is using UAS in any way to generate revenue. As of 29 August 2016, those operators must possess an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small Unmanned Aerial Systems rating. Our website has information about how to earn this pilot certificate. It will definitely involve some very specific training. The FAA Knowledge Exam for this certificate is a very challenging and comprehensive exam. About 85% of it will test your knowledge of aviation specific information. This is the type of information that is only taught in aviation ground schools when being trained as a pilot. The remaining 15% of the information is specific to UAS aircraft, safety, and operations. We are still in the process of completing our training course for commercial operators. Beyond that, we highly recommend that anyone who seeks the Remote Pilot Certificate should take a private pilot ground school. This will escalate your knowledge of the aviation specific parts to a level that is much higher than any UAS specific course will teach. Our Commercial UAS is going to be an really awesome course with a very high level of academic achievement, but it’s focus is on the needs of the UAS operator. Our Private Pilot Ground School will take that subject matter to a much higher level and make much more knowledgeable UAS flyers. That is the class that starts on 8 September. You can take it online from your own home or even on your mobile device. We are bearing down hard on the start date so if you are thinking about flying drones for recreational or commercial uses, you should get in and enroll now. Check out the Private Pilot Ground School course for more info. Thanks for listening to me ramble on! Hopefully, I have shared some valuable info with you!

reception

Debriefing

 


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Live Web-based Private Pilot Ground School – Fall 2016

WINGsReality EDU is now bringing distance students into the live Private Pilot Ground School classroom via the internet. That’s right! Starting on 8 September, both online and local students can work together in the same classroom.

Our students attend live weekly classes, and continue working throughout the week on assignments, quizzes, mid-term exams, and projects in the WINGsReality EDU LMS-based website. Local and distance students also have opportunities to collaborate on group projects, and report results back to the class. All WINGsReality EDU courses are Learning Management System (LMS) based, so students have access to admissions functions, gradebooks, transcripts, and all other aspects of a fully functional academic institution.

Michael Lessard (CFII/MEI) is an exciting and engaging instructor who shares decades of practical experience and insight. Throughout the course, Michael uses scenario based examples to explain real world flying. He continuously teaches about the aeronautical decision making process, and explains practical strategies to avoid getting into hazardous situations.

The Hangar Hangout is a social network built into the site so students and alumni can communicate, contribute interesting resources, work through challenging academic aspects, or just chat amongst the group. This is an amazing and well attended resource that adds tremendous value to the training experience.

“We very firmly believe that ground and flight training programs are the backbone of aviation safety, and excellent CFIs are the last line of defense in creating the pilots who make up the safest airspace system in the world. This is a charge that we are humbled by and take very seriously. At WINGsReality EDU it is our objective to build on this concept, one pilot at a time.” As such, the nature of this course is highly structured and students are held to very high academic standards.
We are really excited about expanding this program to include distance learning students from across the country and throughout the world. The technology allows distance students to participate in the classroom live and in real time with cam and mic.

Students who should take this course are those who seek FAA private pilot certification, and remote UAS (drone) flyers at either recreational of professional levels. When taking the FAA knowledge exam for the Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS rating, pilots will be exhaustively tested on subject matter that is typically only taught in aviation ground schools. This course will provide comprehensive learning on those aspects of UAS flying.

We have always encouraged currently certificated pilots who have not been through ground school in the last ten years to come back for a refresher as well. Each semester we are joined by experienced pilots, and they are always amazed at how valuable the experience is at bringing back forgotten knowledge and in learning about the many unnoticed changes that take place every year. We always ask, “If you had to take the FAA Knowledge Exam right now would you be nervous, and how would you do?”

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Putting the Test to the Test

Remote Pilot with a Small UAS Rating added to my airman certificate

On 24 June, I passed my FAA exam to add the Remote Pilot with a Small UAS Rating added to my airman certificate. After spending over a year developing curricula for both recreational and commercial UAS operations, what I observed in the exam was exactly as I expected. The good news is the work that we have done over that time was spot on! This also gives me the opportunity to share with all of you, from the perspective of a certified flight instructor, what this exam is going to be like and help you to prepare for it. This exam is certainly not a “Gimme”.
The new Part 107 of the FARs (Unmanned Aerial Systems) describes two methods to obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate with a Small UAS Rating. One is for people who already have an airman certificate (pilot’s license) other than a student pilot certificate. The other is for people who do not currently hold an airman certificate. Those of us with airman certificates must also have a current flight review. Of course, there are eligibility requirements as well as medical requirements, ID validation, TSA security vetting, etc. for everyone. For this discussion, I am only talking about the exam.

For those without the airman certificate, you will have to pass an FAA knowledge exam that tests your knowledge on a specific list of aviation subject matter. In the manned aviation world, a candidate must have a logbook endorsement from a certified flight instructor (CFI) to qualify to take an FAA knowledge exam. To get the endorsement they must demonstrate to the CFI that they are ready to pass the exam. This is not the case with the UAS knowledge exam. Anyone who has the tenacity to challenge the exam and $150 to throw in the woodstove can just walk in and take the exam. This is not a good idea at all. This exam is comprehensive and highly challenging. The only way you learn this stuff is in the training that pilots take to earn their airman certificates. I envision a large number of people underestimating the magnitude of this exam and taking the woodstove route to earning their Remote Pilot Certificate. These people are going to walk out of that exam with a pink slip and feeling like they just got run over by a 747. You need to train for this exam!

The rest of us who already have an airman certificate other than a student pilot certificate must complete a similar process. The FAA rule (107.63) says that we have to complete a Part 107 initial training course. What it doesn’t say is that course also contains a knowledge exam. The required passing score is 100%. This test is now behind me so I can speak to it and help you out. For the most part, a certificated pilot with some good, fresh knowledge of aviation subject matter can answer most of these questions. There are however, quite a few questions that are very specific to unmanned aircraft operations. These questions cannot be answered correctly without specific UAS training and a good amount of time spent in preparation for the final test in this course. So the moral of the story is even experienced pilots in manned aircraft need to train in order to avoid the woodstove method of obtaining the remote pilot certificate. Even as an active CFI who teaches ground schools several times per year, I would not have passed this exam without studying UAS specific subject matter.

If you want to be successful in obtaining your remote pilot certificate, our recommendation is to take the UAS training that we provide for your success. At WINGsReality EDU, we have been training pilots at all levels from entry level to airline pilots in web based programs for many years. This is our only business, and no one does this better than we do. The same is true for unmanned aerial systems training. We offer programs for both the recreational flyer as well as commercial remote pilots. We offer a certification program for recreational drone flyers that is a highly comprehensive and challenging program. This certification will certainly provide these drone flyers a much higher level of knowledge and insurability that non certified flyers. The Recreational Model/Drone Flying course as well as the Recreational/Model Drone Certification course are available at FlyDroneSafe.com. Our commercial program is still under construction as of this writing, but it will be available at WINGsRealityEDU.com in the near future. These courses are of significant value to anyone operating unmanned aircraft for hobby or profession. In addition to these courses, we recommend (especially for commercial flyers) that you take a private pilot ground school. Students who have taken our private pilot ground school attest to the widespread benefits of that effort. The next course starts on 8 September, and it can be taken as a webinar based course for distance students. Check out WINGsRealityEDU for more information.


Update 1 July 2016

Last night, I received an email from my good friend, Randy.  Randy said, “Well I passed the Part 107 test on faasafety.gov and went on looking to finish the process.  Where is the 8710 form to apply for the UAS rating?”

OK, Randy… and the rest of the world!  Once you pass the test you do still have to fill out an 8710 form, which is the FAA’s Application for an Airman Certificate or Rating.  We normally do this online via IACRA as we have done for several years now.  If you open up the 8710, you will not find a checkbox for a Remote Pilot Certificate or a Small UAS rating.  Although Part 107 is now a final rule, it doesn’t go into effect until August. When it does, the 8710 will be revised and you will be able to apply for the rating.  Your test score is logged with the FAA so that part is done and counts.  The other thing that we will all have to do is find a CFI to validate our ID and pray that we can all pass the TSA background check!  That’s it.  You can watch our sites for updates as they become available.

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Michael’s viewpoint of the FAA Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (Part 107)

FAA Release

June 21, 2016
Contact: Les Dorr or Alison Duquette
Phone: 202-267-3883

The new rules for non-hobbyist small unmanned aircraft (UAS) operations – Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (PDF) – cover a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.


Debriefing

21 June 2016 was a historical day in aviation.  On this day, the Federal Aviation Administration finalized the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems in the National Airspace System.  Although the news blurbs will publish more static messages such as how this will open pathways toward the full integration of UAS into the system, help to introduce new innovations safely, will create job opportunities in aviation, advance critical scientific research, and save lives, I see something of a much larger universe.  For me, the creation and use (not to be confused with the integration) of unmanned aerial systems or drones occupies a significant role in the global, societal evolution of mankind. These devices hold the potential for uses unimaginable to us on this day. These drones will indeed save lives. They will undoubtedly enable scientific breakthroughs and help to pioneer new technologies that we cannot even envision right now.  They will become part of our daily lives, delivering donuts and coffee in the office, replacing traffic watch helicopters, and reporting our news.  It is entirely possible that within our lifetime, we will fly on aircraft where the nose of the aircraft is a window where passengers look at oncoming clouds and beauty of the sky, rather than to house the flight crew and cockpit of the airplane.  The only crew on board will be for passenger security and to serve peanuts and cocktails.  Oh yeah, those can be replaced by on board drones.  So yes, the drone is capable of producing goodwill at magnitudes that will amaze us in the coming months and years.  That is in the hands of the good guys.  In the hands of the bad guys, they will also be capable of unspeakable acts of mass destruction and life and society changing events.  This is a brave new world that we venture into.  Unmanned aerial systems themselves are not new.  What is new is the widespread availability of parts and components, the ease of building high performance custom aircraft, a large crop of students who graduate from high schools with highly developed robotic skill sets, and an ever changing cultural envelope throughout the world.

All of this said, let’s look at the technology.  It is one of the coolest things to happen in recent decades.  A young child can easily make a controllable, flying drone out of a plastic building brick kit.  Only a few years ago, if a seventh grader would have built one of these flying machines for a science fair, it would have blown the doors off the event.  Now, it would just be boring unless it did something that no one had ever thought of. In the coming years, there will be thousands of ideas and uses that no one has ever thought of. These ideas will transcend all of our lives, save some of them, and overall, make our lives better in many ways.  It is the responsibility of all of us to be good stewards of this technology.  In general, the public at large has always viewed pilots of manned aircraft as being responsible people who are highly trained, highly skilled, knowledgeable, and very good at what they do.  Public perception of this sector of aviation is good.  Those of us who fly drones will be challenged to create that same level of public perception.  It won’t be easy to do.  There are already hundreds of thousands of these in use today and that number is growing faster than most any technology before it.  Current stories indicate they are probably not destined for widespread acceptance by those who don’t fly them.  Good public perception is essential to the success of the unmanned aviation community.  Neighbors will shoot perfectly well-intended drones out of the sky just for hearing them buzzing around.  Stupid drone tricks and airspace incursions predicated on ignorance will headline the news, police reports, and FAA facilities.  There is only one line of defense that can ward off a poor public perception.  That is education. Education is paramount to this success.

Yes, this is a historical day in aviation. I liken it to the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and other significant milestones in air progress. They are right, as a result of this new opportunity to fly drones in the National Airspace System, pathways will open toward the full integration of UAS into the system, new innovations will be safer, we will make lots of jobs, lives will be saved, and science will rock. More importantly on this day, visionaries will be born. Pioneers will show the world new uses for unmanned aircraft technology, and that will change the landscape of society forever. That is big. That is really big. That is bigger than any of us can imagine right now. Sleep on that tonight, and dream about what you can do to affect this in a positive way. Today, we are all pioneers. Collectively, we will all shape the future of unmanned aerial systems. Next time you fly, take a selfie from 20 feet above. Post that pic on your wall and know that that is one pioneer who is going to make a difference.


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Pilot License No. 1

The first airman certificate was issued 88 years ago today!


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

17th Annual New England Aviation Safety Expo – 2016

2016-NEASE

Join Michael as he delivers “What a UAS Pilot Needs to Know: Dos and Don’ts” on Saturday, April 2, 2016 at the 17th Annual New England Aviation Safety Expo located at Daniel Webster College 20 University Drive Nashua, NH as this year’s theme is: “Technology and Safety”.

Space is limited so arrive early. Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.


Debriefing

To read more about the New England Aviation Safety EXPO, Class Descriptions Click Here


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Obtaining a Student Pilot Certificate – 2016

The FAA has made some significant changes in the way student pilots will obtain a student pilot certificate. Starting on 1 April 2016, Aviation Medical Examiners will no longer issue student pilot certificates. All student pilots will apply for their certificates using IACRA. The applications will be subject to security vetting by TSA. Upon successful outcome of the security vetting, a student pilot certificate will be issued the Civil Aviation Registry. There are many other details and regulatory changes. For a good briefing, check out these documents that I have prepared to better explain the new process. Please post any questions or discussion on this on the WINGsReality Facebook page so other people can follow and learn from your questions and comments.

2016 Student Pilot Certificate Changes Regulations

In addition to the procedural changes mentioned above, changes have been made to 14 CFR Part 61 and Part 183. Those changes are summarized in this document. If you are a student pilot or plan to be one, or if you are a CFI, you should update yourself on these changes in the regs. Please post any questions or discussion on this on the WINGsReality Facebook page so other people can follow and learn from your questions and comments.

This final rule responds to section 4012 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act and facilitates security vetting by the Transportation Security Administration of student pilot applicants prior to certificate issuance. It requires the FAA to issue improved pilot certificates that are resistant to tampering, altering, or counterfeiting. The new student pilot certificates will be identical to the plastic airman certififcates that are issued to all other pilots.


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Private Pilot Ground School – Spring 2016

The next Private Pilot Ground School starts on Thursday, 28 January 2016 at the University of Maine in Orono, classes will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. If you have not been to ground school for ten years or more, you should seriously think about joining us for a great refresher. It’s fun and exciting, and I promise you will learn a lot! Check out the poster for more info.

Hope to see all of you on the 17th!

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Debriefing

Each time we conduct a Private Pilot Ground School, we poll our students to learn why they are taking the ground school course.  Surprisingly, there are large numbers of students who take the course who have no interest in flying aircraft.  Some of the other reasons are to improve their abilities and skills with flying PC based flight simulators, simply to learn about the different things we learn about in aviation, or to support a spouse or child who is taking the class.  In addition to the dozens of reasons we have heard over the years, we have a first in this class.  We are very pleased to see that three students in this class are taking it specifically to prepare for the FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems Knowledge Exam.  This is really exciting for us, and for everyone who flies drones or UAS.  It shows that the drone community is reaching out for training that is critical to their operations.  These students came to this class unsure if  this is what they really need to prepare for this, and they are indeed correct.  The majority of the FAA knowledge exam covers topics that are highly aviation specific and are only taught to pilots.  We are very much looking forward to having more UAS operators join us in ground school courses in the coming years!  Check out our Facebook page to read more comments by students who are learning about flying unmanned aerial systems.


Back row left to right: Alex Friess, Bradley Gannon, David Gordon, Michael Townsend, Dan McCarthy, Joseph McCarthy Middle row left to right: Nancy Rimm Staples, Michael Lessard, Philip Henry Front row left to right: Evan Lee, Katherine Sfeir, Christopher Lehmann Not in pic: David Cyr, David Walsh, Mathew Curti, Neal Pettegrew, Sarah Tewksbury

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I want to thank all of these students for the opportunity to have worked with them in this last semester. This is a truly awesome group of people! All of them were highly engaged in the learning process and worked together throughout the semester via the Student Forum to help each other along. It was so cool to watch them learn, and to see the friendships that were forged along the way. Many of them are now taking flight instruction and are well on their way to becoming private pilots. As I mentioned before, three of them came to us specifically to gain the knowledge needed to be successful on the FAA Commercial Operator with Small Unmanned Aerial Systems Rating knowledge exam. These three students are amongst the first in the nation to complete this type of training, and they are clearly light years ahead of most candidates for that exam. The FAA knowledge exam is not going to be a “gimme” exam! It is going to be a very comprehensive and challenging exam. It is one that tests the candidate on many topic areas that are only taught to pilots. That said, they made the right decision to take this course, and are sure to be amongst the most prepared candidates for the exam. Thanks again to all of you! You’re the best!

 

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU


Spring 2016 Class Student Testimonials

Private Pilot Ground School – Fall 2015

The next Private Pilot Ground School starts on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at the University of Maine in Orono, classes will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. If you have not been to ground school for ten years or more, you should seriously think about joining us for a great refresher. It’s fun and exciting, and I promise you will learn a lot! Check out the poster for more info.

Hope to see all of you on the 17th!

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Debriefing

 

 

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU


Fall 2015 Class Student Testimonials

Private Pilot Ground School – Spring 2015

The next Private Pilot Ground School starts on Thursday, 22 January 2015 at the University of Maine in Orono. Classes will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm in Room 115 of the Donald P. Corbett building. Last semester we implemented some very cool technology into our ground school program and it was a huge success! Ground school will never be the same! The Fall class is definitely going to be the coolest ground school class we have ever held! And it’s not just for new pilots. If you have not been to ground school for ten years or more, you should seriously think about joining us for a great refresher. It’s fun and exciting, and I promise you will learn a lot! Check out the poster for more info.

Hope to see all of you on the 11th!


Debriefing

 

 

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Congratulations to Mr. George Dunn! George was the recipient of the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. This award is given to pilots who have been flying for 50 or more years. George has been flying for 62 years, so this was quite an honor. It was decided to present the award to him at the 2014 International Seaplane Fly-In in Greenville Maine, amongst hundreds of his friends and family. The ceremony was amazing! Donna Dunn, recipient of the FAA's Wright Brothers Master Pilot Spouse Pin Thank you to Donna for putting up with his flying antics for all of these years. And yes, you got your medal for that on that night as well! Thank you to Jim Dunn for sharing your words with the group as well. Well done, Jim! Especially in light of the fact that you didn’t know you would be up there making that speech only a few minutes earlier! The FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the top honor for a General Aviation pilot. George definitely earned this by sharing his love of flying with hundreds of people over the years. Thanks for all you have done, George!

George Dunn, recipient of the FAA's Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award

Check out the video!

Video Presentation of Award 16:33


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

Private Pilot Ground School – Fall 2014

The next Private Pilot Ground School starts on Thursday, 11 September 2014 at the University of Maine in Orono. Classes will run from 6:30 to 9:00 pm in Room 115 of the Donald P. Corbett building. Last semester we implemented some very cool technology into our ground school program and it was a huge success! Ground school will never be the same! The Fall class is definitely going to be the coolest ground school class we have ever held! And it’s not just for new pilots. If you have not been to ground school for ten years or more, you should seriously think about joining us for a great refresher. It’s fun and exciting, and I promise you will learn a lot! Check out the poster for more info.

Hope to see all of you on the 11th!


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU


Debriefing

Check back once in a while to see any updates I post about this class as it progresses.

Student Testimonials

Fall 2014 Class

WINGs Seminar “Becoming a Snowbird”

Just a reminder for the WINGs Seminar “Becoming a Snowbird” next Wednesday evening, 15 January 2014. Location is in our usual room at the University of Maine in Orono. I have attached a flyer with all of the info.
Thanks,

 

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

WinterFlyingSeminar-2014

Debriefing

This seminar was a lot of fun for everyone. It is amazing, how many things that you can talk about that are specific to winter flying operations. Enough to easily fill a two hour seminar, and I could have gone on and on… We had a great turnout and everyone participated, as usual (I wouldn’t have it any other way!)

The other really cool thing was live streaming the seminar. This was the first time that I have done that. Robert and I have been building the video conferencing system for quite some time. Recently, we practiced a few dry runs using the media projectors and all live elements of the seminar. With Robert in the Atlanta office and me in the Sullivan facility, we live streamed in full video conference, testing all of the functions, whistles, and bells. It was a blast. We got so good at it that when we did the actual WINGs seminar at the university, it went off perfectly without so much as a hiccup! So watch out! This only means that things will get bigger and better now. Like ground schools, WINGs seminars will never be the same. We are hoping to offer seminars as distant learning events with WINGs credit in the very near future! Keep an out here for more info!

Private Pilot Ground School – Spring 2014

Private Pilot Ground School starting on 23 January. We have implemented some very cool technology into our ground school program, and as a result, ground school will never be the same. This is definitely going to be the coolest ground school class we have ever held! It’s not just for new pilots either. If you have not been to ground school for ten years or more, you should seriously think about joining us for a great refresher. It’s fun and exciting, and I promise you will learn a lot!

Hope to see all of you in the next few weeks!


Debriefing

 

ume15

The Spring 2014 Private Pilot Ground School was a huge success! We had 20 students, and it was the first time that we put the web based classroom together. This was the most highly engaged group of students that we have ever seen. The website offered numerous activities and resources that they could take advantage of, and a great way for students to communicate with each other in both personal and forum methods. All assignments, tasks, quizzes, mid term exams, etc., were accessed via the website, and the system automatically managed the grading of all quizzes and exams. Students could view their grade books any time they wanted to, and it was very easy for them to monitor their progress as well as their strengths and weaknesses. A lot more to say about this classroom method, but the proof was in the pudding. 4.0 GPA for the whole class! Learning objectives clearly met! We will certainly use this method for the upcoming Fall 2014 class. That will start on 11 September 2014. Check back for updates on that.


Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU

7th Annual Maine Aviation Forum

It’s hard to believe that the 7th Annual Maine Aviators is upon us. It seems like we just started doing this only a few years ago. The concept for this event is to get all of the organizations involved in the aviation business in Maine together in the same room for a day to collaborate. We talk about what is going on in the industry in general, legislative updates, programs, events, etc. Each of us are given time to speak to the group about things that are going on in our businesses and organizations. Some of us talk about new developments, recently purchased assets, or anything that is of interest to the group. It is so powerful for all of us to be in the same room for a day. It is truly an open forum. None of us are afraid to share our tricks or secrets. I really do think that all of the aviation businesses in Maine fully realize that we have strength in numbers! The more of us we have in the business and t he more successful each of us are, the more powerful we are as an collective industry. The Maine Aviation Forum is often the only way that others would become aware of the resources that each of us have to offer and contribute. Many thanks to Duke Tomlin and everyone else who helps to put this event together. I am so happy to see it grow every year. If you are in the aviation business in Maine, have a flying club, EAA Chapter, law enforcement, non-profit flying group, or are involved in the business in any way, you should join us at the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum on 22 February 2014.

Michael Lessard
CFII, MEI
Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer
WINGsReality EDU