I took my flight instructor practical test on a blustery, overcast fall day in 1990. After a lengthy oral interrogation and a lumpy flight, my FAA inspector made out a temporary certificate and handed it to me, saying, “Now you are going to really learn about flying.”
Notably so in this column, which we launched in December 2001.
Shortly after becoming an instructor I caught wind through the aviation grapevine that Ramsbotham had retired.
Now it’s my turn to bow out as I retire from AOPA. I will hand off the privilege that has been mine for 20 years of offering weekly words about flight training to some fine authors, world-class aviation education pros of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, starting the first week of 2022.
Training Tips began as one of many creative brainstorms of an AOPA editor, Mike Collins, who as many readers know died of COVID-19 in February. The column debuted just months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when aviation was just getting back on its feet and Collins sensed the time was right to refocus on resiliency and resolve.
We envisioned Training Tips running for a year, maybe two. But it broke through those timeframes, and more, until Collins finally said, “Heck, let’s just go with it, Dan, if you’re game.”
I was game. The idea has always been to take a flight training topic, set it in the real world of piloting, and air it out as a brief three-minute read—whether teaching trainees of a past era how to use “match lines” to carry a course line over from one side of a navigation chart to another, or now introducing digital weather or NextGen, or tackling a tricky knowledge-test question.
There’s no shortage of low-hanging fruit for topics—and readers’ suggestions, questions, and shared stories ensure that the harvest continues.
Readers’ feedback taught me that for many student pilots, the drive to learn to fly represents much more than the simple but magnificent goal of flying an aircraft. It becomes a metaphor for acing adversity, building confidence, and making life-changing choices.
In that spirit, the project will continue in the New Year.