My response to Paul on Lancair Talk

Forums: 

This was Paul's original post:

I've heard from multiple sources that people are being told Lancair rates are horrible and pilots over-70 can't get insurance. That is 180-degrees from what we're seeing on the LancairTalk/Wings private forum. If you are working with a broker or know someone working with a broker who is getting scammed like that give a call or email or tell those people there are options. If they can't get training because they aren't using "approved CFIs" then give a call or email or join the private Wings LancairTalk forum.

Brokers like Sky Smith are not giving accurate Lancair information based on what we know at LancairTalk. Brokers like Sky Smith and others are actively using personal client data and circulating it without permission to other brokers and underwriters and that info is used to prevent competitive quotes, engage in illegal age discrimination and to warn other brokers not to give lower, better quotes. In the opinion of LancairTalk brokers like Sky, Gallagher, Ladd, Falcon, Rukavina, Avemco and others are to be avoided for Lancairs. They are not your friends. Remember, Sky is the guy who took a private call from an owner who was asking professional guidance on whether to make a claim or pay himself. He paid himself. Sky transmitted that call as a "no loss claim" to the industry resulting in the cancellation notice of the Lancair owner's policy. That notice came from Falcon who got it from Sky. Even the owner didn't know. This is first hand info from me, Paul Miller who dealt with those bums and the specific client and Lancair. 

Anyone telling you that you must use an "approved" CFI or an approved syllabus or a specific broker is scamming you for the money.

If you're being told 70 is not possible then someone is giving you incomplete data or trying to scam you. Follow the money and you'll see what's going on.

 

My response:

Paul, I hear you. Let's discuss the actual nuts and bolts of the situation.

 

There are historical posts on Marv Kaye, LML, and this forum that show it has never been about costs to take good training.  In fact there have been offers to give those people the training for free and they declined.

 

I had this very question the other day at Oshkosh about the cost of training and I had two answers:

- "So you are not willing to pay for good training which is no more than the cost of filling up your gas tanks for a week long cross country and back?"

- Or let's look at this way: By the time we get started for the day I am talking to you non-stop until we knock it off.  That includes a briefing, preflight walk around, at least 2x2 hour flights, debrief, and if I am staying with you the conversations likely go into the evening.  Figure that cost per hour out.  The average CFI in the USA is making $70 per hour and by the time I log all of this time with you I am likely close or below that rate.  Now, there's no doubt that we are not in it for the money but frankly our cadre of instructors are all highly experienced and most are taking time away from their actual jobs to perform this service. They deliver value for the rates they charge and the earnings offset the cost of taking that time away from their jobs/families.

 

You are absolutely right that any CFI can legally instruct in these planes.  That doesn't mean they are the best choice especially if they are young instructors with low time experience in Lancair aircraft.  The majority of our instructors come from a military background where we flew high performance aircraft day one.  Most of us are also military trained instructors.  You should ask "so how does that make them better than the average small town airport CFI?"  Well, the training in the military is a formal 6 week long school to become a flight instructor where you not only learn safety, standardization, working with various personalities, instructional techniques, telling students that they are not cut out to fly airplanes, etc.  Then you are only allowed to begin with basic instrument flights with students.  Soon you move through advanced instruments, basic flight maneuvers, aerobatics, formation, out of control flight, etc.  Our military jet instructor pilots also likely taught Air Combat Maneuvers, Bombing, tactics, and are graduates of Weapons/Tactics schools, etc. Some of us even ran our own training departments with standardization requirements.  Bottom line our Military guys bring a lot to the table when it comes to flying in these high performance aircraft for GA pilots.  Our GA instructors grew up flying these planes and earned their chops the hard way and we highly value them. They did not do the typical 'time building' to go to the airlines, rather they are professional instructors. They likely have flown more different types of aircraft than most of us ever will.  They also have the advantage of working with a wide diversity of the population, have a much better understanding of the FARs and airspace.  We can certainly learn a lot from them.  It was not easy to become a 'certified' instructor for Lancair aircraft and it should not be as that certification actually holds value.  There are many folks that are turned away until they can meet the minimum requirements.  That being said, we are continually growing the instructor pool to meet the needs as it relates to both geography and airframes. We are in the process of adding two more just since OshKosh.

 

The certified training program has a great history of success by those that have taken the training.  There are a couple of other training programs that differ somewhat but are also very good programs.  I invite anyone to ask questions and make an educated decision before choosing the program you want to take as well an instructor.

 

I can't believe some of the calls I have received where the person is purchasing a LNC4 and mentions that his insurance only requires a 1 hour checkout.  Background example: former F14 driver, test pilot, SWA captain with 30,000+ hours, hasn't really flown small GA aircraft in over ten years.  That's an accident waiting to happen as that guy has all but forgotten what a rudder is as they just don't get that much hands on flying in the airlines. My next guy purchasing an ES that we were ferrying together.  His insurance said he only needed 5 hours and when we climbed up to 10,500 he told me that was the first time he had ever been above 7,000' and he said the ES was really fast (right, the ES is the slowest and most docile plane in the fleet bar none [but we love ours])!!!

 

Yes the main syllabus requires 6 flights.  3 VFR flights that incorporate maneuvers and emergencies and the last three flights are more about instrument procedures with emergencies.  You will leave with a BFR and an IPC.  Why the IPC?  There have been a number of mishaps where the student left the VFR only training and purposely flew IFR and became a statistic.  Another very important facet to all of this is that all of these planes are 'one-offs' and that the airframe-engine-avionics-electrical systems can vary greatly from any of the same type-model plane on the ramp that day.  We instructors have to quickly get up to speed on each individual plane so we can conduct effective training and not create our own real emergency.

 

Sorry for my rant but I will emphatically defend my 'approved instructors' and those who choose to take training. For me personally, I may not be the "budget instructor" that some people want to pay for, but you get value in every nickel you spend. I am 100% dedicated to ensuring that every pilot I train comes out of it confident, competent and ENJOYS flying their machine. It is for the benefit of their friends and family AND the benefit of our Lancair Community which should be drawn together in these forums and not splintered apart.

 

I sincerely hope that you leave this post up for discussion and don't blacklist me for presenting counterpoint as I subscribe to the reasonable man theory and welcome open discussion.

 

Good reply George. Might even

Good reply George. Might even want to bring to light the statistical evidence of approved LOBO training. 

You're right Jeff, I should

You're right Jeff, I should have but I held back.  It was my wife that calmed my response to what it was vs shooting him in the face like I wanted to... But that's why she's my better half.

Thank You, I needed that

Thank You, I needed that writing you just spent your time on. Complacency is a constant battle to fight against, excellence is easily misconstrued. It's tough to become an A+ player when working with a B- coach. I will remember this post   

Thank You, I needed that

Thank You, I needed that writing you just spent your time on. Complacency is a constant battle to fight against, excellence is easily misconstrued. It's tough to become an A+ player when working with a B- coach. I will remember this post   

Thank you for that, George,

Thank you for that, George, and thanks for sharing your POH and many other insights on the forums.  Nice to meet you at Oshkosh. Yes, also love my ES.  Hope to train with you one day.  My LOBO training in April with another LOBO instructor was more informative than any flight training I’ve ever had.  

Happy and safe flying,

Dan

Training with you, George,

Training with you, George, was well worth the time and expense. Invaluable, really. I'll never understand why someone would be willing to pay (entry level) $125,000 for an airplane, while being unwilling to pay a few $1,000 for adequate training in the aforementioned airplane. 

Hey George,

Hey George,

We’ll reasoned response. Calm, factual, and void of name calling and personal attacks. Just the type of response I expect from a class organization that has people of integrity at the helm. 

Thank you,

Ken

Thank you Ken.  I used to do

Thank you Ken.  I used to do the old "Ready-Shoot-Aim" but have learned to let responses 'percolate' overnight and usually revise the following day.  Seems to garner better responses and action.

Excellent post George. You

Excellent post George. You raise the same issues that I have seen and written about for over 20 years in the Lancair world. The vast majority of GA pilots reject (90% by my estimates) training for a variety of reasons. For them GA is a hobby (albeit a very dangerous one) and they don’t see the value in training that one day may save their lives and their loved ones lives. This is true across all of GA. The majority of pilots that come to us do so because of an insurance requirement.  Keep up the great work! 

Hello George,

Hello George,

Thought I'd drop in a response so perhaps you can benefit from an additional perspective.  I decided to respond here as opposed to on LancairTalk forum as you've posted this under the topic of training rather than insurance (as is the topic of the post there) and I think my comments are more relevant to Lancair training.

When I first imagined I might actually find a Lancair I could actually afford ($40k to inform some of the delusional individuals who think the cheapest airplane around is $125k) I started investigating both insurance as well as getting some instruction in flying this specific sexy little beast.  Searching for training I stumbled across LOBO and promptly joined seeking some LOBO approved instructors who could help me out with transition training and some good training in what makes our birds particularly difficult to handle.  What I found was a list of about a half dozen people all located thousands of miles away, most of whom didn't respond to my emails.   Then I found a couple of insurance brokers who had rather high quotes from an underwriter which demanded LOBO certified instructor training prior to any form of coverage.

Later after I have navigated that particularly annoying catch-22 and now actually have and fly my little Lancair I continued to be interested in potentially getting some LOBO specific training under the idea that the community of owners and builders would include CFIs well versed in the particularities of the model which could be beneficial.  So I tried looking up information on the LOBO site, attending the LOBO session at Oshkosh, etc.  What I continue to find makes me less and less interested in the LOBO organization and more and more skeptical of the motives involved in it. 

  • The only information I've been able to obtain from LOBO without a monetary transaction has been promotional information or studies about the necessity of LOBO specific training.
  • The only topic of conversation at the LOBO forum at Oshkosh has been advertizing for expensive LOBO gatherings and presentations on studies about the necessity of LOBO specific training.

Meanwhile from sources such as AOPA, EAA, AirSafetyInstitute, and even unaffiliated random individuals I have been able to attend countless useful and informative presentations and discussions on slip-stall avoidance, safe decision making in flight planning, IMC avoidance, Skew-T chart interpretation and how to avoid icing conditions, Decision fatigue, Improved landing techniques using the Lindburg reference or others.  

If LOBO is truly a non-profit organization working toward improving the safety of pilots flying Lancair model airplanes and in promoting the continued use and development of this beautiful model of aircraft, then here are some of my recommendations on how to stop being perceived as a money grabbing scam.

  • If you've got a training curriculum you think is the absolute bee's knees and should be followed to the letter like a type 141 certification school, Cool.  Promote that training like crazy, ... as a fixed format set of training classes with a published and transparent time and cost schedule.  Better yet have regularly scheduled times and locations for people to sign up every year.  But pushing it as the only option while making it difficult to determine the cost in either time or money really makes it seem more like a scam.
  • Publish more information/training about what makes the Lancair so difficult to fly, or perhaps why that's a faulty perception.  Some specific material for CFIs to consume in order to more safely instruct people looking for transition training.
  • Coordinate a larger CFI contact list so it's easier for people to find local CFIs with experience in Lancair aircraft in their area.  Not everyone wants/needs/has-time-for a multi-week full time school type of training.  It's possible for people to get some benefit from simply flying with a good instructor for an hour or so in order to work through some particular sticky wicket. 
  • Try having the LOBO talk at Oshkosh be about something other than the latest survey on why people should get your training or promoting some expensive vacation gathering.  Maybe talks about actual differences between small and large tail models and how it affects handling characteristics.
  • Promote Lancair pilot meet-n-greet events at Oshkosh which DON'T involve spending money and locking people into an exclusive venue like some shady time-share promotion.
  • Finally: stop pushing this "appeal to authority" logical fallacy.  We are flying EXPERIMENTAL aircraft because the freedom from certification allowed for the development of a faster, more efficient, and more beautiful aircraft which we wanted to fly.  So trying to force some external CERTIFICATION process on the training completely outside of the legal bounds of the FAA which requires LOBO CERTIFIED instructors teaching only LOBO CERTIFIED material is antithetical to the concept of flying experimental.

Hope that helps.  

Bill,

Bill,

Thank you for you comments. As the founder of LOBO and the author of the training program and chief instructor for over twelve years I am probably one of the best folks to address your concerns. LOBO is staffed entirely by volunteers. Folks like George, Bob, Tom, Sandy, Claudette, Mark and others who serve now and have served in the past. The board hosts a dinner event at Airventure with a guest speaker, several free forums at Airventure and a three or four day fly in (this year at Asheville, NC) which rotates around the country to reach the majority of owners. These events consume hundreds of man hours in planning and execution. In addition, LOBO board members respond to inquiries, emails, posts and the like in addition to writing many Lancair related articles. I am not certain how long you have been a Lancair owner but there have been many free forums given by me and other Lancair owners in the past. One thing you must remember is that there are eleven unique Lancair models with varying power plants and panels. You can please some of the people some of the time but not all of them all of the time. Every single time LOBO hosts an event with presentations at least one or more individual complains that they did not get what they were hoping to hear. Sorry but until more owners step up and deliver instead of complain that will not change.

LOBO board members have dramatically helped reduce the Lancair accident rate over the years. We have done that by compiling and analyzing accident data, presenting that to the FAA, NTSB, and Lancair owners. We have participated as a party member to many NTSB investigations of Lancair accidents (I did two fatal investigations last year,  again at my expense).

As to you comments about instructors and training. We have a very select group of instructors. All of them have a professional flying history, have been CFIs for a considerable amount of time and have experience in the Lancair models they instruct in.  They are independent instructors and do not work for LOBO. They have been recruited, vetted, trained and agree to use the LOBO syllabus as written.  They set their own rates and those rates have not changed much since 2008. I realize everyone wants their own Lancair instructor at their home field. I have been asked to designate an owner’s wife (CFI) as a LOBO instructor over the phone so he could have his own private CFI. Another wanted a CFI designated by phone in the middle of South Dakota.  I have had pilots haggle about reducing the amount of training required to complete the syllabus. One pilot admitted he just wanted a training certificate without the flying. Another pilot was discovered to have lied to his insurance company that he completed his LOBO training when he had not. He was cancelled. Another crashed without having his recurrent training completed. Who got these phone calls? — yes, you guessed it and I have a day job.

All of our instructors have full time occupations.. airline pilots, air safety investigators, etc. I do not envision LOBO designating CFIs without the qualifications I mentioned. There were too many fatal accidents involving CFIs who either taught things incorrectly or were not trained or experienced themselves. Unfortunately too few GA pilots take transition and recurrent training. In our fleet less than 5% take transition or recurrent training. Most of that training we complete is due to insurance requirements. In the Cirrus fleet the training completion rate is about 10%. So, if we were to relax our standards, get marginal or unqualified instructors on every street corner, reduce training to a one hour flight review could we increase our quantity of pilots trained to 10% of the fleet? What would the safety results be? Should we go for quantity at any cost or quality? 

The LOBO training syllabus is on our website with various aircraft training manuals for the Evolution, IV series and Legacy. Again, many of  these documents were authored by a volunteer on his own time. 

Your comment about “appeal to authority” is a little unclear. Experimental aircraft do go through a certification process. Our aircraft are certificated under Special Airworthiness rules and Part 91 applies to us as do our operating limitations. LOBO advocates that all Lancair pilots get training from a qualified instructor and a list of them is on the website. Most pilots choose not to get training for one reason or another. Unfortunately, it has turned out badly for some. 
 

There is so much more that LOBO has done for the Lancair and wider Experimental Amateur Built community but I don’t have the time to cover it all here. If you have time look up the Additional Pilot Program advisory circular. That was a LOBO initiative with the FAA. Zero Lancair Phase 1 fatal accidents since it was introduced. 

if you are interested in volunteering and growing the organization we sure could use the assistance. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss any of this further.

Best  regards,

Jeff Edwards, CFI

LOBO founder

314-308-6719

Bill, Thanks for the in-depth

Bill, Thanks for the in-depth thoughts and comments.

I comment on a few of your thoughts.

1.  We are just not the size of many of the more established type specific clubs and with that comes the lack of instructors who have time to generate more relevant safety topics.  However, we are trying to have more speakers at our gatherings and yes those can be expensive to attend.  I do feel that they are worthwhile as there are going to be some diversified topics other than the safety stats.

2.  We are not promoting the "LOBO" training as the only training program out there as there are certainly others and the instructors that teach may be an unknown quantity as we can't wrangle them all in.  However, I will tell you that the LOBO syllabus is the only FAA approved FITS and this had to happen or you would likely be flying your 235 under an SFAR right now.  Like it or not the "Lancair" brand is the worst EAB aircraft out there and you also know that pilots are statistically responsible for over 80% of the accidents out there and I have always submitted that it is likely closer to 90% from my days in the Navy as an Aviation Safety Officer.  I say that because even if it was due to a mechanical issue, the decision making process that follows can make the difference between a good or bad outcome of the event.  We have little ways to capture that.  So how do we prevent that?  Through training where we put pressure on you to make a good decision under duress or as we call it 'brain stem power'.  Ok enough of that, but please take some sort of training from an experienced instructor in your plane and we hope that would be a LOBO instructor.

3.  I agree with LOBO meet and greets.  We ES guys get together at Sun n Fun and I think it would be good to see other series do the same.  Recently, Matt Speare got a group of you 'two-seaters' together for a Fly-In Luncheon and it sounded like fun.  We are slowly moving to try and have regional events but have not figured out how to best accomplish this.  As mentioned, most of LOBO instructors have day jobs or other events happening.  So to your point why don't we have more LOBO instructors?  We believe at LOBO that our instructors should be from the following:  1. Lancair Owner (not always but preferred) 2. Professional Pilot (this lends to good experience in aviation, professionalism, not a junior pilot, and has higher degree of standards/accountability). 3. Been an instructor for a long time (this is significant in that the CFI will have had experience with a lot of personalities and aircraft).  Given those requirements you can see that rules out a lot of the run of the mill and CFIs that are of typical time-building to get to the airlines.  We also insist on those standards to protect you and our organization.  Take a look at what it takes to become a Cirrus instructor?  For one it's $8,000 out of your pocket to pay to go through their course every year!  Also I would submit the cirrus is a far easier plane that yours to fly.

 

4. Please explain your statement on the certification process?  What we are trying to do is to have the insurance companies recognize that if owners take some professional organized training backed by the type club and that makes the fleet safer than hopefully they will keep writing policies for you; doesn't that make sense?  Again, when I hear someone say that they only need a couple of hours of check out from a CFI and go forth I have to wonder what do they expect to happen across the people they insure.

 

5.  I agree with publishing information about why Lancair's are difficult to fly and prone to mishaps by in experienced pilots.  But this might cover it: Small, high aspect ratio wings (less wing to lift more weight), small tails (don't lend well to stall/spin recoveries), little to no dihedral in the wings, and small control surfaces (can't make effective quick movements when slow speed).  On the other IV-PTs and EVO there isn't enough rudder to apply full rudder on takeoff or make a go-around as the engines make too much power; again disciplined training.  So what's the advantage to all of this: a very efficient plane with little induced or parasitic drag at high speeds and high altitudes.

 

6.  Also having a list of instructors as you mentioned in your area to work out some issues.  I agree with that.  Not everything has to have a LOBO instructor if you are not doing a formal syllabus.  While we would prefer you to find a LOBO instructor we recognize that is not always possible.  Perhaps we can consider some mentors where you take a safety pilot and go work on shooting approaches or maybe some landings.  I caution that as it's always easy to get into the mindset of "hey do you mind if I try this...?" and that could lead you or the safety pilot into a situation that exceeds the ability/comfort level of you both.  

 

Ok that's enough for me as I have get on the road today.  Let me know your thoughts on my responses.

 

George

 

Bill,

Bill,

I am not a LOBO Board member or a LOBO certified instructor.  I'm just a lowly LOBO member and a new and happy Lancair pilot.  I went through LOBO training with a LOBO instructor in April.  I did the first flight in my ES with the instructor under the Additional Pilot Program that Jeff mentioned.  I also received training specific to the ES and was able to safely fly the majority of Phase I flight testing hours myself.  I would not have done that were it not for that program.  I understand that one of the LOBO Board members was instrumental in working with the FAA to develop that program, and his time was not compensated.  That person has also helped me numerous times with the only compensation being his happiness in seeing a fellow Lancair pilot solve problems.  Other LOBO members on and off the Board have done the same.  As have members of LancairTalk, where I am also a member.

I did pay expenses and a fee to the LOBO-certified Additional Pilot/Instructor who trained me.  He has a day job more lucrative than offering flight training to Lancair pilots.  Honestly, it kind of boggles my mind to see the word "scam" used for compensating someone who incurs large opportunity costs to help a fellow Lancair enthusiast  become a proficient Lancair pilot.

I attended LOBO landing in Las Vegas and the LOBO dinner in Oshkosh a few weeks ago.  I was happy to see good attendance at these events.  With Lancairs not currently in production, it is natural to be concerned about our future, but the attendance at these events shows that enthusiasm for these great airplanes remains high.  There were several great presentations at the Landing, many of which focused on safety-related issues, all presented by volunteers.  It is not surprising to see the emphasis on safety.  My understanding is that one of the biggest motivations for the creation of LOBO was to improve Lancair safety so we can all have a better Lancair experience, including safer flying and the increased insurability that comes with that.  I agree with the position I've heard from the LOBO Board that in the early 2000s there were too many untrained Lancair drivers having accidents.  I've heard some say that there was a serious risk that the FAA might shut Lancair down.  Without some action to improve Lancair training, Lancair's future didn't look real bright.  LOBO took concrete steps to increase awareness and training to improve safety and keep us flying.  It's certainly not a scam to take concrete steps to preserve what you love.

I am sure that your intentions are similar to mine and most of us -- we want to have a great experience flying these incredible airplanes.  We want information; we want parts; we want a culture of safety in the Lancair Community; we want insurability; we want affordability.   We all want these things.  These things are easier when strong economics drive a brand, but we don't really have that right now, as new Lancairs are not being produced.  Another way these things can happen is when a community of like-minded folks band together and work to achieve common goals.  It seems to me that that's exactly what LOBO is doing.  Of course, suggestions from members of volunteer organizations on better ways to achieve joint goals should always be considered.

Happy and safe flying,

Dan

 

BTW, my penultimate sentence

BTW, my penultimate sentence should have said "that's exactly what LOBO and LancairTalk are doing."  Perhaps that offends some in both organizations, I dunno.  I know that some have raised issues between the organizations, e.g., some in both organizations object to some of what the other is doing.  But we have common interests!  We LOVE flying these incredible airplanes.   For the benefit of all of us flying these incredible airplanes, we should work hard to find a way to get along.  That requires effort from both sides -- it takes two to tango.  I personally have received tremendous benefits from both organizations.  I think we are much stronger together than we are apart.  That's my $0.02.

Note: This is by no means contrary to George's original post, which I think was spot on.  LOBO is a great organization doing lots of great things.  LancairTalk has also done great things for the community.  Words are words; actions define great things.  We share the over-arching common goal of making flying these great airplanes the best experience possible.  Our joint interests are much greater than issues that divide us.  I'll just leave it at that.

Happy and safe flying,

Dan