A word from Jack Proctor, 2019 Recipient, David Charles Abramson Memorial Flight Instructor Safety Award

Presenting Jack with the two trophies; ‘DCAM’ & ‘Keeper-Trophy.’

It has been an exceptional honor in my life and my career to be selected as the 2019 Recipient of the David Charles Abramson Memorial Flight Instructor Safety Award. 

Never before in my 36 years as a commercial pilot have I seen such a need for pilots. 

The rapid hiring we are seeing is resulting in lowering experience levels in both the right and left seats of commercial aircraft 

I believe that going forward safe and efficient flight training can be accomplished to meet the needs of the rapidly growing aviation industry with the continued recruitment of talented flight instructors who focus on the principles of: 


In short, the principles that the DCAM Award was founded upon 

As a contribution to the continued strengthening of a CULTURE of safety in the aviation industry, I would like to provide an article below which was written for a Safety Newsletter at Seneca College, where I have worked as a Flight Instructor both full time and part time, beginning in 1984. 


As I was getting ready to depart on a dual flight in a F33 Bonanza with my student, my “spider sense” was telling me to be extra cautious. 

The current TAF for CYPQ read: 

FM 011500 28015G25KT P6SM FEW030 BECMG 0117/0119 29018G28KT BECMG 0122/0124 29012KT 

The METAR that had just been issued read: 

CYPQ 011600Z AUTO 29019G30KT 9SM BKN045 BKN240 15/05 A2994 

My student had just copied the latest AWOS in Dispatch before we walked out the west door of the building closest to where our aircraft was parked. He brought to my attention that the wind was 310/26G34KT (Good job Lloyd!) which with the gust factor was a crosswind component of 26KT on Runway 27. 

Before we started our engine, we discussed some mitigations to be safe given the new threat of the increasing winds. We decided that a call to London FSS to see if the TAF was going to be amended and to get the advice of the Flight Service Specialist regarding the conditions would be a good idea. 

We noticed that a large number of students started walking out to pull aircraft in the hangar. What we didn’t notice was that an unattended C172 that was parked on the far side of the ramp had just been lifted by its right wing, and had its left wing contact the ramp before settling on all three wheels. 

After thinking about this unfortunate incident, thoughts from 34 years of instructing experiences started to race through my mind. I thought I’d put some of these down on paper so that I could be reminded myself of the risks when operating in windy conditions, and perhaps others could benefit also. 

On approach and landing in windy and/or gusty conditions, a pilot should always be prepared to initiate a go-around down to and including touchdown (in compliance with specific procedures for the aircraft type). Risks to assess on final approach include airspeed fluctuations (threat of stall and flap speed exceedance), turbulence (controllability, effectiveness of control inputs) and profile (risk of obstacles on approach if too low, long touchdown point with risk of overrun on landing rollout if too high). Lateral alignment with the runway and directional control are also very important to ensure a safe approach and landing. 

Maximum demonstrated crosswind component, while not an actual limitation, should be assessed with consideration of pilot skill, experience, and currency. 

Approach speed additive should be considered, ensuring landing distance is adequate with the increased speed. Our SOPs state: 

“For approaches in conditions where wind gusts have been reported, Vref will be increased by a factor of one half the reported gust for a maximum additive of 10 knots.” 

Additionally, to aid in controllability during the approach, flare and touchdown, a speed additive and/or partial flaps or flaps up configuration should be considered in strong crosswinds. 

Hearing the stall warning horn prior to touchdown in windy conditions can indicate that airspeed has decayed to the point where controllability may be compromised. Landing in a slightly flatter attitude than normal, with touchdown at a slightly higher speed than normal requires additional skill, but can aid in controllability. I like the phrase “fly it on” rather than allowing to aircraft to settle itself onto the runway in windy/gusty conditions. 

The skill of approaching and landing at higher than normal airspeeds should only be attempted after having proper training by an experienced instructor. 

I have noticed some pilots tend to relax their control inputs after the wheels have contacted the runway after landing. In windy conditions, it is paramount to continue to apply appropriate control inputs during the landing rollout AND taxi in. 

An inherent risk to touching down at a higher than normal airspeed in windy conditions is Wheelbarrowing. This is particularly a risk if control inputs are relaxed prematurely after touchdown. Proper training on recognition of and correction for this condition is extremely important before operating in windy/gusty conditions. 

Brake application promptly after touchdown will reduce the airspeed below flying speed of the wing, and therefore help to prevent a wing lifting after touchdown. Care should be taken not to land with feet on the brake pedals, as this could cause a skid and blown tire. 

As experience is gained operating in more challenging conditions, a new risk creeps in. You can develop complacency thinking “I’ve landed in worse conditions than this before”, or “The guys ahead landed with no problem”. You can also feel compelled to land rather than waiting for conditions to improve or diverting to an alternate airport (in consultation with the Duty Instructor if time permits). 

Your last line of defense when operating in windy/gusty conditions is always the decision to execute a go-around down to and including touchdown if controllability is compromised. This should be a consideration if you are not able to accomplish a touchdown on or close to the runway centreline and within the touchdown zone relative to your aim point on final approach. 

A 20,000+ hour friend of mine who has extensive experience operating all types from PA11s to B777s told me his philosophy when operating in strong winds, and I have come to learn the wisdom in his words: 

“Don’t stop flying it until you’ve got it tied down”. Thanks Randy! 

Jack Proctor 2019 Recipient, David Charles Abramson Memorial Flight Instructor Safety Award 

A Family Affair

In the year 2009, we celebrated the DCAM Award in recognizing an individual HARVEY PENNER, whose passion and gifts to the younger generation of Pilots have created a unique legacy and heritage for the future of aviation in Canada, and who has established a facility capable of maintaining that heritage.

The love of aviation runs deep in his family.

Harv’s Air is a family owned & operated air service with bases in both Steinbach & St. Andrews, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Founder Harv Penner, along with his wife Bettie Penner who is also a Pilot, and their three sons Adam, Gregg & Luke are all involved.

Now training a third generation of Pilots, the tradition of Pilots continue amongst the Penner family, with Adam’s son Dylan, inspired by his Dad, Uncles & Grandpa, sharing the same passion.

Their achievements are remarkable.

Adam, Harv & Luke Penner

Harvey Penner was the recipient in 2009 of the DCAM Flight Instructor Safety Award, followed by his son Adam, being given an ‘Honourable Mention’ in 2015 and in 2017 Luke was the recipient of the prestigious ‘DCAM’ Award.

As a passionate Aviator, and extraordinary Flight Instructor, Harv Penner has dedicated his life to flight training & general aviation. He has logged over 30,000 hours; forty five years of running Harv’s Air, building a highly successful institution, which undertakes flight training, charters and maintenance, is an astounding achievement.

He is found to be an approachable icon, always willing to discuss and share his vast knowledge all of which is attributable to his strong leadership.

Growing up in a family aviation business gave Adam a passion for aviation from a very young age.

A private Pilot licence signed off on his 17th birthday and commercial licence on his 18th birthday.

Harv & Luke Penner

Always looking at ways to do things better and more efficiently Adam designed a website for Harv’s Air in the early 90’s. Another area needing improvement in the flight training world was in the area of ground instruction. He developed an online ground training program initially for private pilots. With a great response from their own students and all across Canada and in many parts of the world more & more courses were developed and made available. Now a student with access to the internet could be working his or her way through their ground studies of virtually any course of flight training at any time or any place. This has changed aviation in Canada. Flight schools and students independently are using courses that Adam has put together.

Luke has had the great fortune of being trained entirely by his father Harv Penner, both in his personal and professional life he has instilled in him a deep sense of ethical purpose.

He designs his training style to make a student more aware of the value of aerobatic knowledge while promoting the value of basic aerobatics. Through years of observing and studying patterns in aviation safety, he strongly believes that having basic aerobatic skills, makes a better rounded, safer pilot.

Stephen Trischuk who is a full time air show performer who currently holds a surface level (unrestricted) Statement of Aerobatic Competency for doing public air shows in addition to a Commercial Pilot License and Multi (IFR) truly believes that Luke is one of the best aerobatic instructors in North America because of his vast teaching experience, pilot skill and the safe and controlled manner in which he conducts all of his training.

Luke finished first in his category at the US National Aerobatic Championships in 2016.

Truly a remarkable family of pilots; sharing their passion, & instilling an attitude of safety by developing procedures and structures to incorporate safety goals into every aspect of training, also developing significant technical support skills in the field of flight instruction, having accomplished noteworthy achievements in enhancing aviation safety through pilot education and the advancement of professional standards, while constantly upgrading an already impressive record.

Removing the Question Mark: Why Aerobatics Could Save Your Life (or just make your day a lot better)

Have you ever watched a horror movie during which you were terrified by a sudden knock at your own front door?  That was exactly how I felt when the corner of my eye saw an unidentified object by my windshield shortly after takeoff. It was a crisp, fall day in northwestern Ontario, Canada. I was flying a Piper Navajo, single pilot, out of a remote First Nations community headed back home to St. Andrews (CYAV), Manitoba on a passenger-carrying charter flight.  I was in a right turn climbing about 500’ when something faintly caught my eye.  As I neared my desired heading, the vague flicker in my eye became clear: I was on a collision course with an enormous bald eagle.  Adrenaline kicked in.

Instantly, a barrage of YouTube bird-strike videos began looping through whichever part of the brain tells you that something horrible is about to happen. It was at that moment that I realized I had less than five seconds before the graceful, winged symbol of American freedom would become catastrophically fused into my wing. I increased the airplane’s bank angle and pitch rate in my climbing turn, now through about 1000’.  My escalated attempts became desperate to break our imminently converging paths. It was clear that if all things stayed equal, I was about to have a terrible day. Suddenly, my experience as an aerobatic pilot activated.  With eyes intensely locked on my feathered adversary, I consciously rolled and pulled the airplane into an eighty-degree banked turn, all the while carefully and safely managing G force, altitude, and angle of attack throughout the parabolic flight path.  

“In aerobatics, there are no unusual attitudes”

Rolling a Navajo to such an extreme bank angle is far from a standard procedure. However, I felt that given my approximately 9000 hours of flying experience in over 50 types of airplanes (a large percentage of those hours spent flying inverted in purpose-built aerobatic machines), this was the safest and surest means of avoiding a collision. A collision with a bird that had roughly a 250 mph closure rate with me! And with that, I cleared the eagle, and returned the airplane to normal flight. Thus ended a terrifying situation which ultimately felt like, well…a non-event.

Looking behind my shoulder to check on my passengers, I was relieved to see them smiling with thumbs pointed up as if they had just ridden a roller coaster.  Feeling thankful that the encounter ended peacefully, I continued home with a slightly elevated heart rate and a feeling of gratitude. Grateful that during the early years of my flying life, my instructor, mentor and father purposefully removed the question mark. He made sure I confidently knew what happens to airplane and pilot while experiencing full-dimension flight throughout the complete flight envelope. In other words, he taught me aerobatics.

“In aerobatics, there are no unusual attitudes”.  This is a common adage that I have used to preface the many aerobatic courses I have taught over the years as a class 1 aerobatic instructor at Harv’s Air in Manitoba.  What I also go on to tell people is that not only will learning aerobatics make you a safer, more purposeful pilot, it is also a tremendous amount of fun.  Over the last twelve years I’ve had the distinguished privilege to have taught pilots of many different backgrounds. From PPL holders to seasoned airline captains and military pilots, I’ve been truly lucky to witness the joy someone feels after completing their first aileron roll or loop in a Citabria. They would then take it further with an inverted flat spin in a Pitts entirely on their own.  These pilots who stretch themselves outside of their comfort zones (whether they decide to pursue more aerobatics in the future or not), virtually always walk away from the experience as more confident, purposeful pilots. They can fully believe in themselves and in the machine. 

This internal drive in me to share the value of aerobatic experience has lead me to a new chapter at Harv’s Air, the flight school at which I am the chief flight instructor of. Starting spring of 2018, we are proud to be the first Canadian flight school to offer dual training in the German-built, unlimited aerobatics capable Extra 300L.  As we did with the Pitts S2B that we operated at Harv’s Air for nearly 20 years, the Extra will serve as an exciting platform for our students to gain invaluable flying skills. All options will be available such as starter, confidence-boosting courses like Emergency Upset and Spin Training to Basic, Advanced and Competition aerobatics.  The Extra is arguably the world’s best certified two-place aerobatic trainer, and I can’t wait to share it with the pilots that we are honored to have walk through the doors of our schools.  

American aviator Len Morgan said, “An airplane might disappoint any pilot, but it’ll never surprise a good one.”  I truly encourage every pilot to find an aerobatic instructor (you’re always welcome at Harv’s Air!), get out there, and fully explore the flight envelope. Remove the question mark and experience some of the most fun flying that there is to be had!


by Harvey Penner, President, Harv’s Air Pilot Training, Steinbach, Manitoba, AB.

Most experienced pilots have had the unsettling experience of seeing an aircraft in close proximity to their aircraft. Unannounced and unaware until the pilots see the conflict, and either resolve the conflict or perhaps the conflict resolves itself. Certainly it raises your heart rate and you make a renewed vow to be more vigilant. Being able to read the registration on the other aircraft or worse yet seeing what type of headset the pilot was wearing are all signs that this was way too close. 

How did they get so close and can this be avoided? What follows are some observations I have made in flight training and on charter flights;

1) While performing training exercises students are taught to perform safety checks prior to each maneuver. We use the acronym CALL check. When using this it is essential that when this check is completed that the exercise be completed right after. You may have cleared the area but how long is that good for? You are moving and another aircraft moving toward you could easily be closing at 3 miles per minute or more. Since spotting an aircraft at a distance of more than 3 miles is unlikely your clearing turns and lookout are not valid more than 30 to 60 seconds.

2) Pilots taught these safety checks often do them more out of a sense of duty than need. They become less than effective when they are stressed from the standpoint of “you must do this on the flight test because the examiner is looking for this”

3) The lookout needs to be appropriate to the maneuver you are doing. Looking around prior to a steep turn could require a different lookout than doing a spin.

4) The acronym CALL stands for cockpit or cabin, altitude, location and lookout. When you think of it, is this not something you are/must be aware of at all times? It is true that when doing some of the training exercises the attitudes of the plane will be a bit more unusual therefore requiring a bit more vigilance but overall you need to do a continuous “CALL” check thru out your flight.

5) ATC does a great job of pointing out conflicts of traffic but in no way does this relieve the pilot of doing their own lookouts to confirm no conflict. In a control zone I occasionally see pilots making turns in the circuit without checking for traffic. “The controller has said I am number one therefore I don’t have to look” is not ok.

6) I regularly fly in Northern Manitoba and North Western Ontario. VFR or IFR the enroute frequency 126.7 is monitored. At the heights that I fly all this airspace is uncontrolled.  Pilots are generally good at advising position and intent. It is common though for these calls to be made quickly and for some very routinely. You hear one of these calls and determine that this traffic could effect you. So you reply with your own position and flight path only to hear nothing coming back. I have had this happen numerous times where I had to make several calls before the potential conflicting aircraft would acknowledge. Perhaps a sense of complacency has developed where even though you make the call you don’t really listen for a reply

Technology is available for us to see other traffic electronically, certainly not wide spread in light general aviation aircraft yet it will become more common in the future. But this does not change our responsibility to look effectively.

So is see and be seen enough? I believe it is but only if we are actively looking and aware at all times.

Successful launch of the Hamilton aEro electric aircraft made for aerobatics


Yesterday the public flight of the first electric aircraft made for aerobatics took place in Raron, Switzerland. Air Zermatt pilot Thomas Pfammatter and aerobatic paragliding champion Dominique Steffen, the project founders, together with Sylvain Dolla and Nicolas Ivanoff presented this fascinating project to Swiss and International press and aviation fans.

Spectators first witnessed a flight in a fuel-powered plane by Nicolas Ivanoff, Hamilton’s brand ambassador, and then compared noise levels with the remarkably silent Hamilton aEro electric plane. Nicolas, who tested the electric aircraft earlier in the week, felt very lucky to experience this new way of flying and looks forward to the development of his sport.

Sharing common values such as being innovative and ahead of its time, it was only natural for Hamilton to be associated to this exceptional and unique project in the aviation world and become the pioneer of electric planes. In his speech to the guests Sylvain Dolla, CEO of Hamilton, focused on the human aspect. “When Thomas and Dominique told us about their project, we immediately felt how passionate and competent they were, and we are convinced that this Hamilton aEro electric plane will make aerobatics accessible to a larger and younger public”.

Hamilton & the world of aviation

Hamilton’s rich ongoing ties with aviation date back to 1918 when the brand was the official timekeeper for U.S. airmail flights between Washington and New York. In 1926 Admiral Richard E. Byrd used a Hamilton watch during his historical flight over the North Pole. In the 30’s, Hamilton was the official watch of TWA, Eastern, United and Northwest airlines, and the accuracy of their timepieces made them popular amongst pilots up to this day. The brand also has strong military ties, achieving a US Army “E Award” for manufacturing excellence during World War II, and was “essential to successful naval and air operations” according to Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Staff to Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher after the United States won the battle for Leyte Gulf.

Today the brand is still strongly involved with the flying world, and equips many squadrons around the world such as the SnowBirds in Canada, South Korea’s 123rd Squadron, or the Patrulla Aspa in Spain, among others. Thanks to its long-term collaboration with Air Zermatt, a transport and rescue helicopter unit in the Swiss Alps, Hamilton joined forces to develop the limited edition Khaki Flight Timer and Khaki Takeoff pilot watches. Moreover, the brand’s ambassador for over ten years, Nicolas Ivanoff, is an aerobatic pilot participating in many air competitions like the Red Bull Air Races Championship and international air shows.

Electric plane

Selecting the best components currently available, the project partners teamed up to build the first Swiss electric plane capable of performing an aerobatic program. The Silence Aircraft Twister, combining excellent aerodynamics with low weight, is associated with Siemens’ most efficient electric engine to develop a fuel-free and CO2 neutral aerobatic airplane.

In addition, the direct operating cost is about a fifth of a regular modern aerobatic plane, making it also an affordable new way to fly for the younger generation of athletes wanting to start the amazing journey of looping in the sky. Electric planes represent the future of aviation, not only from an environmentally friendly perspective, but also on a sound pollution level. This break-through innovation opens the possibilities of sustainable aerobatics and passenger flights for a clean future.


Thomas Sandrin
Brand Manager HAMILTON


The value of this Award has enabled an outstanding list of Flight Instructors to assist their organizations be industry leaders.
The Award has created awareness among Instructors, Students and Pilots of the absolute importance of instruction in Canada’s aviation industry.  It has and continues to create pride in the work Instructors do, and raises awareness of best practices.
The Award has brought a focus to excellence in flight instruction, as the names of Canada’s exceptional Flight Instructors, engraved on the prestigious trophy attest. 
Others have acknowledged that the Award raises the goal levels for Instructors and students alike and engenders the values of Airmanship, Leadership and Aviation Safety.

“The DCAM Award, through David’s story, creates awareness among Instructors, Students, and all Aviators of how important Instructors are in Canada’s aviation industry.  It creates pride in Instructors for the work they do and raises awareness of best practices.  This in turn leads to increased professionalism and ultimately better quality training.  An increased awareness in quality, in turn leads to greater safety.”

“The Award continues to raise awareness within the aviation community of the hazards and risks we face each and every day as an Instructor.”
This comment makes me reflect on what I have been told over and over in these applications that there is no such thing as a perfect flight – only a safe flight.  Core to flight instruction is the need to plan a flight and plan to mitigate foreseeable risk as well as preparedness to meet the unforeseen and act to avoid it.  No flight is undertaken without risk.  Today’s generation of Flight Instructor recognizes the need to identify, plan for, manage and mitigate risk.

“The DCAM  Award is a part of the overall commitment from within the aviation community to highlight particular efforts to improve aviation safety.”

“It is an honour to be nominated for this important  Award in David’s memory.  Thank you for recognizing the work of professional Flight Instructors in promoting aviation safety.”

“I feel an Award to advance flight safety through recognition of flight instructor safety is long deserved and I am happy that it is in place today.”

“This Award is a benefit not only to the recipient, but to all those that apply.  Through the application process individuals are given a chance to examine their approach to teaching, safety, and what is important to them as Flight Instructors.  Self-reflection is a valuable tool for future improvement in each of us.”

“Benefits of the Award is the promotion of safety and excellence in the aviation world.” “These concepts can be communicated and taught in other countries throughout the world, particularly to many developing countries.”

These are just a few comments received from some nominees.

Aviation safety is neither a science nor is it an art;  it combines both and is greater than the sum of the two individual components.  Like flight it has no limit or boundary.  It has elements which can be taught academically but beyond that it is an ethos and culture which must be imbued and soaked up by each and every pilot – a process without end.

Flight training is the grass roots of aviation, with the industry greatly depending on the ability of flight training schools; their Flight Instructors providing a vital key in having a safe and skilled Pilot, while also fostering a spirit of learning.
The best safety device in any aircraft is a well trained Pilot.

Flight instruction can and must only exist within a universe which has flight safety embedded at its core, touching and focussing everything and everyone within its flight path from regulator to rookie pilot.

Flight instruction is more than a simple 360-degree process – it is multi-dimensional touching all aspects of flight and all those whose constituency lies in the aviation community.  It can and must be flexible in delivering a message tailored to the learning needs of the trainee but totally flexible in the constancy and consistency of the skills to be imparted.

That can only be good news for trainees everywhere and for the scope of today’s legacy which our Flight Instructor community hand on to the following generation.
As I am acutely aware, the Flight Instructor is fully responsible for his or her trainee both now and once qualified as a Pilot.  This responsibility extends, morally at least to the passengers who board a Pilot’s aircraft and to the communities he or she overflies.

We see the challenges paradoxes and opportunities that this present generation of flight instructors face; these can be summarized as:

  1. Significant numbers of new highly trained flight instructors will need to be recruited and retained within the flight instruction industry.
  2. Training needs to comprehensively reflect the advances in flight technology.
  3. As it becomes a rarely used skill, the highest standards of airmanship need to be taught and maintained to ensure that technology sits in harmony alongside airmanship.
  4. One challenge never changes; Flight instruction needs to focus increasingly on the highest standards of Training, Leadership and Aviation safety.

I believe that the DCAM makes a difference for good and can continue to do so with the ongoing backing of its Sponsors and with the added contribution of new sponsors – all of whose flight instructional air safety aims dovetail and resonate with the Award.

To maintain it and the standards of excellence it promotes it must become a sustainable entity.  Further Sponsorship will enable the Award to grow, and to indentify best practices throughout the industry.

Potential Sponsors are invited to contact janeabramson@videotron.ca


Aviation safety should be, and must be at the forefront of every action of every individual involved in aviation whether  they  be Administrator or Legislator, Pilot or Mechanic, Instructor or Trainee.

Jane Abramson
Co-founder & National Administrator

CONTENT COPYRIGHT:  The David Charles Abramson Memorial (DCAM)Award Jane Abramson


2ND June, 2016

The DCAM was founded in 2003 by Jane & Rikki Abramson, in memory of our son David whose exceptional potential and professionalism as a Flight Instructor are the inspiration behind this annual Award and to promote higher standards in aviation safety and training, while recognizing exceptional Instructors in Canada, who are truly the “Teachers of Flight.”      
We remember that David gave his life to save another.  In that selfless moment he created an enduring legacy for flight instruction safety which is given substance through this Award.  His legacy is as powerful today as when we founded the Award and which, I pray, will endure long into the future.

To preserve the historical record of the Award the recipient’s name is engraved on the trophy and entered in the official logbook both of which are on permanent display at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa.   
We thank the museum for their custodianship and providing us the trophy for our presentations.

As a national Award, the DCAM through its promotion of flight safety has brought much recognition and awareness to the industry.     
Formal recognition of excellence in flight safety within the flight training industry ensures a safety consciousness that, like the Award itself, will be passed on for many years to come.       
Providing a forum for conscientious Flight Instructors to be recognized for noteworthy accomplishments in enhancing aviation safety, improved pilot training and the advancement of professional standards has contributed to the constantly upgrading of an already impressive record.    Since its foundation in 2003 the Award has travelled coast to coast to be presented annually at ATAC’S AGM.  We thank Air Transport Association of Canada for generously providing this forum.  
Over the years we have seen some remarkable achievements; please visit  www.dcamaward.com to read about them.           

What can we do collectively as flight instruction professionals to improve flight safety? And most importantly, what can I do today?  What best standards can I achieve?        
These questions are at the core to the DCAM Award.

What does it take to win the prestigious DCAMAWARD?
As the list of past, and present recipients can attest to, qualities of the winner are an enquiring and innovative nature, a strong work ethic, a clear passion and enthusiasm for aviation and aviation safety, airmanship and leadership.  A learning/teaching balance, a listening communicator, giving ‘it’ away to give ‘it’ back and humility.  

It’s about sharing the messages of airmanship and safety.    
The quality and scale of the applications over the years indicates that there has been a progressive and major shift in safety appreciation and awareness since the inception of the DCAM Award.  The ethos of flight instruction has clearly moved from a perhaps somewhat simplistic foundation of its early years to a more embracing and comprehensive model today.    
It honours the DCAM Award to believe, as prior recipients clearly do, that the Award has been a fundamental stimulus in the evolution and upward shift in flight instructor safety since the first Award in 2003.

We have noted a migration towards seniority in the Award winners. This, of itself, has created seeming paradoxes and challenges for the Award Selection Committee. These challenges have also given us pause to think about the present form and shape of our Award and how it best matches our wonderful industry. Our industry is organic, dynamic, and ever changing.

Tomorrow’s future will rest with today’s young Pilots and Flight Instructors whose potential has been developed by their Seniors – but the future is theirs as it was David’s.

Our challenge with the mix of applications is to validly evaluate youth potential with senior experience, to balance both ends of the training spectrum without diminishing or discounting either – we believe we have met this challenge and succeeded in our considerations.

We have been reminded in recent times how dangerous and cruel aviation can be. It demands perfection from trainee and Instructor alike, which is why the DCAM Award seeks to recognize the best of the best.

The best of the best are not only defined by mere technical skill and merit. We must also be Leaders who are not afraid to raise themselves above all others in the most public way. At its root we must remember that each and every passenger who entrusts us with their care is our responsibility – without limit of time.

The leadership of which I speak cannot be taught. It must be learned and embraced by each and every member of our Instructor family as they seek the best of the best.

The DCAM, I feel, now stands as part of Canada’s aviation firmament, and is truly David’s legacy. It will remain so and become stronger as long as Flight Instructors value it and permit their skills and achievements to be measured alongside their peers – to be measured as professionals, as teachers and as leaders dedicated to safety in our skies.

Our grateful thanks to our Sponsors and Supporters:

The opportunity to make this Award within the context of this annual forum is afforded me by Air Transport Association of Canada; special thanks to John McKenna & Wayne Gouveia. I wish to acknowledge their gift of this time and location.

The DCAM Award exists increasingly through the corporate generosity of its Sponsors; specifically I want to thank: Air Canada, ATAC, CAAC, Essential Turbines, Flight Safety Canada, Hamilton Watches, Seneca College, Sennheiser Canada, Wings Magazine & Helicopters Magazine.

Thank you also to our Supporters: AQTA, Canada Aviation & Space Museum, Ottawa, Canadian Forces Snowbirds, CBBA, COPA, Skies Magazine, Transport Canada, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. Mr. Edmund McGinty, Retired Aviation/Aerospace Executive, Mr. Stephen Schettini, Webmaster, Anne Serratrice, Translator for the DCAM logbook entries, Ms. Val Tait, Mr. Adam Wright, Pilot, Air Transat. To all the Flight Training Units who have submitted nominations throughout the years & to Aviation Solutions.

Special thanks to our hard working members of the DCAM Selection Committee.

Nominations can be made throughout the year, prior to the deadline of 14th September. All information is listed on the website: WWW.DCAMAWARD.COM



2015 DCAM recipient, Women in Aviation

Catherine Lynn Press
CEO, Chinook Helicopters.com
Entrepreneur, Flight Instructor, Airline Transport Pilot, Canada and the U.S.
As the first female flight instructor in Canada, Cathy Press is CEO of ChinookHelicopters.com, a flight training school based out of Abbotsford, British Columbia, which has become a national leader (with 25% of the market) in training some of the best helicopter pilots in Canada and around the world.

In fact, as someone who started flying at the tender age of 11 and did her first solo flight at 16, Cathy has a long history of persevering toward big challenges and goals in her extraordinary aeronautical career.

Cathy took over Chinook Helicopters from her father in 1997 and has grown the business from three to 13 helicopters (3 Bell 206s, 4 R44s and 6 Bell 47s), along with three original-design flight-training devices that are customized to the needs of their customers.

Chinook offers every training course available from private, commercial, night, mountain, instrument flight rules, instructor and airline transport. Heralded as the “Harvard of Training Programs” and renowned for their world-class instructors, Chinook Helicopters attracts trainees from all across the country and from Switzerland, Egypt, China, Thailand, Australia, the UK, France, Denmark and Russia.   


“I want to again express my sincere appreciation for being selected as a recipient of the DCAM award this past November. It is fantastic to have an award such as the DCAM that recognizes flight instructors who have a passion for teaching new pilots.

I inherited my passion for aviation from my father who had owned a float- plane charter service flying up and down the rugged B.C coastline, and then started Chinook Helicopters in 1983 when I was 13 years old.  I had started flying at age 11 and I will never forget my first solo flight at age 16. It was thrilling when I suddenly realized, hey I am up here at the controls all alone!

I had always enjoyed challenges and  soon after started competing for the different aviation licences — private, commercial pilot and helicopter licences, as well as the equivalent flight and helicopter instructor licences. Of course, I knew that aviation had always attracted some adventurous women but was still surprised to learn that I was one of only six women in the country to fly helicopters at that time and the first female flight instructor in Canada.

When I took over the family business in 1997, I was once again one of very few women running an aviation company, but as I have grown it, it was often to other business women that I often turned to for advice and support.  That’s because I truly believe we are our own biggest advocates. Female business leaders empowered by other successful female professionals are operating their own enterprises successfully, while at the same time actively helping to promote and empower other rising business women. This impacts not just each other but our families and communities as well.

I have been blessed with so much support from female leaders from all different sectors who have encouraged, supported and introduced me to other leaders, many of whom have positively influenced the business decisions I make. Now I look forward to helping and encourage other women on their way up in business, especially in aviation”!


Value in Yourself and Your Work

by Michael Schuster, Principal Consultant, Aviation Solutions

Instructing isn’t a real job, it’s just a stepping stone.” Have I got your blood boiling yet?  Mine is just writing the statement.

We can go on at length as to why statements like this exist; in fact it’s a popular topic at our instructor courses.  But in this blog entry, I would like to look at what we instructors, as a group, keep doing to build stereotypes like this – and how we can start repairing this image right away.

The first step is to admit that yes, many people use flight instructing as a step in their career; many others do not.  Many people also use bush flying, charter, medevac, corporate, and regional airline flying as a stepping stone or “time building” as well.  Why is instructing pointed out as a “step” more often than those areas of flying?  I believe that a lot of the time, we do it to ourselves.

Part of our job is to provide career guidance to students and explain to prospective students how the industry works; when they walk in the door asking how much money it will cost and how many years it will it take until they are flying a B787?  As instructors, we need to make things simple on a daily basis to do our jobs well (simple to complex, known to unknown, etc.).  But I believe that we are over simplifying the industry in an effort to explain it to our customers.  Figure 1 shows a chart I came across recently on an otherwise very nice flight school website.


Figure 1 – Less than ideal.

Here’s my problem with this chart (that many of us use a version of): It very clearly makes the student feel that as an instructor you don’t care about them.  You are here to build time and move on; flying time logged is more important than the quality of your instruction.  It also doesn’t take the time to address many other areas of flying in this country such as corporate aviation.  It also indicates that if you are an instructor, you can’t jump to another stream (ie an Air Taxi).  And finally, it shows everyone ending up at the same place when it’s all said and done (the day your ATPL is issued of course).


The first thing we need to tell a student who asks about a career in aviation is that they need to put the image of airline pilot aside for a moment. Yes, that is what they are probably most familiar with and so they initially perceive that as their career goal.  But instead of saying how to get there, why not point out all of the other areas of aviation – less than 25% of CPL and ATPL holders in this country work in what the public considers an “airline job”.  That means 75% of us have found other places we really enjoy.  

For some, they like teaching, others enjoy living in the Muskokas and a medevac job makes sense for them; others love the travel and lifestyle of corporate.  What’s important is to let the student know how many opportunities are out there and that it IS possible to move around into different types of flying. Keeping in mind that these days airline flying involves short layovers, much lower pay than the boom of the jet age, and other factors that make it less attractive than it once was.  Many other areas of aviation are worth considering and they really do compete if you stick with them long enough.  

Ultimately, if someone wants an airline career after they learn about aviation it certainly is possible!  But I would suggest you explain it like I have in Figure 2.  You can see that this version of the chart indicates instructing as a specialty since it requires additional training.  You could compare the centre stream to a general practice physician, while instructing and float flying require additional training to become specialists.  By making some small changes, instructing is now shown as a choice that was made, requiring additional expertise, and leading to a very rewarding career!  You can also see how a float rating or instructor rating opens up more doors as your career progresses.

Figure 2 - Accurate and fair

Figure 2 – Accurate and fair

By showing your pilot prospects in less simplistic terms how the industry works, we can remove a negative stereotype that we have been propagating ourselves!  Over time I believe this can show students we are not there to “use them” and that instructing is a valuable and important job in the aviation sector (which it is!) and instructors will find that they have earned more respect.  Of course, individual conduct is a factor, but that is a whole other topic for a future blog entry.  In the meantime, consider how you explain your profession to both potential and current students.  Be sure that you aren’t setting yourself up to lose respect before you’ve even started teaching.


Michael Schuster is an ATP Class 1 Instructor and authorized Flight Instructor Refresher Course provider.  For more information visit www.aviationsolutions.net/instructor.php or email mjs@aviationsolutions.net.

Unstable Approaches

Kathy-FoxThe 2014 Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Watchlist highlights those issues posing the greatest risk to the safety of Canada’s transportation system. One of these issues is the risk of approach-and-landing accidents. In Canada, from 2009 to 2013, Canadian-registered aircraft were involved in an average of 150 approach-and-landing accidents every year.

Pilots learn early on in their training that a key contributing factor to a successful landing is a stable approach. An approach is considered stable when the following criteria are met[1] at a certain height above the ground (typically 500 ft. when VFR and 1000 ft. when IFR):

•    The aircraft is on the correct flight path;
•    Only small changes in heading/pitch are necessary to maintain the correct flight path;
•    The aircraft is operated at the correct approach speed for the aircraft weight and environmental conditions, within an acceptable tolerance range;
•    The aircraft is in the correct landing configuration;
•    Sink rate is appropriate for the aircraft type and no greater than 1000 feet/minute;
•    Power setting is appropriate for the aircraft configuration and is not below the minimum power for the approach as defined by the aircraft operating manual; and
•    All briefings and checklists have been conducted.

The TSB has conducted a number of investigations where continuation of an unstable approach to a landing has led to landing short, tail strikes or runway excursions. “Too high, too steep and too fast” is a recurring theme. Research[2] indicates that 3.5% to 4% of all approaches are unstable. Of these, 97% are continued to a landing, with only 3% resulting in a go-around. The TSB has recommended that Transport Canada require CARs Subpart 705 operators to monitor and reduce the incidence of unstable approaches that continue to a landing. More research is required to determine why pilots continue an unstable approach, in spite of formal company stabilized approach criteria and non-punitive go-around policies.

When student pilots are learning to land, it is not unusual for them to deviate from what would be considered a “stable approach.” Often though, the flight instructor has to determine how far to let the student go – whether they should be taught how to salvage the approach and landing (to improve skills and confidence) versus going around and flying another approach? In a recent TSB blog posted by Mike Cunningham, a senior air accident investigator, he said: “… frequently in the interest of time, money, and in weather conditions we consider manageable, we often allow student pilots to salvage the approach. Or even worse, we might occasionally take control of the aircraft in an attempt to show them just how the experienced guys do it.” Does teaching them that they (or you) can salvage the approach and still land safely (often with a small, slow-moving aircraft on a relatively long, dry runway) potentially create a mindset that leads them to avoid doing a go-around? If they go on to fly commercial aircraft in a more challenging environment, will that mindset continue?

As a flight instructor, I believe that early and regular reinforcement of the basics (e.g., attitude flying; descending turns at assigned airspeeds and rates of descent) will help develop student pilots’ skills which will serve them well as they learn to conduct stable approaches and safe landings. But when the approach isn’t going as planned – let’s make sure that we also emphasize good pilot decision making with respect to unstable approaches and the safety benefits of a well-executed go-around.

[1] Adapted from Flight Safety Foundation – Approach and Landing Accident Reduction Toolkit
[2] Flight Safety Foundation, “Failure to Mitigate,” AeroSafety World (February 2013)


KATHY-FOX-2014 Author
Kathy Fox
Chair / Office of the Chair
Transportation Safety Board of Canada / Government of Canada



by Harvey Penner, President, Harv’s Air Pilot Training, Steinbach, Manitoba, Alberta.

 dcam-blog-preflightA very common scenario at many flight schools everywhere. The instructor and student have just completed their pre flight briefing and the instructor says this “Go out and check Cessna FABC, and I will be right out” This might be even more common during the cold Canadian winter when most instructors don’t want to stand around outside any longer than necessary.

So what is typical is that the new student pilot has been taught the preflight, has been monitored by his or her instructor the first few times,(maybe just 4 or 5 times) and now they are on their own. The instructor hops in with the student and off they go. Is the plane airworthy? Is it possible that because of inexperience the preflight inspection has missed something? Most instructors have experienced missing fuel caps, unsecured oil caps and oil inspection doors, and in some cases even more serious errors. At the very least there is embarrassment, at worst it is a safety concern. When the pre flight inspections are largely  unmonitored the next scenario occurs as the student pilot is approaching flight test standards. During the preflight inspection the instructor follows the student around during the preflight and when it is completed there are typcially some questions about the aircraft. What is this antenna for, where is the ground service plug, how many fuel drains are there? Frequently some of the answers show limited knowledge.

The instructor now emphasizes during the de brief how the student must improve in these areas. Of course these things were likely all mentioned back in the early days of training but have since been forgotten, or at the very least become a bit foggy. If the instructor had monitored the student more closely during their training and had gone out to watch the preflight from time to time and then asked some of these same questions there is every reason to believe that they would have retained more of the information and also less likely to make errors during the preflight. A common comment during the actual flight test is for the student to say “my instructor told me just the other day what that antenna is but now I can’t remember” It probably was not reviewed during training.

In review, let’s be involved in the pre-flight inspection more often. Our safety and the safety of the student depends on it.

Instructor Refresher Courses Improve Flight Safety… and Renew your Rating

by Michael Schuster, Principal Consultant, Aviation Solutions

 As of June 2010, there were over 3,000 Canadian flight instructor ratings in force1. As with instrument ratings and pilot proficiency checks (PPCs), the instructor rating is not valid forever and must be renewed. The flight instructor rating is based on a class system ranging from Class 4 to Class 1, with additional privileges granted to each successive class as instructors gain more experience and additional qualifications.

Many instructors elect to renew their ratings by undergoing a flight test, but there are, in fact, several different options for renewing an instructor rating. According to CAR 421.66, one way to renew an instructor rating is to attend a Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC). Many instructors are unfamiliar with, or reluctant to use, this method of renewal, so let’s take a look at what a FIRC is.

The FIRC originally began in 1951 as a Transport Canada (TC) initiative. Over the years, the program underwent several changes until its conclusion in 2007. TC then granted the flight training industry authority to conduct its own courses under General Aviation Advisory Circular (GAAC) 421-001.

As the GAAC points out, “The safety of flying in Canada depends on the competence of the pilots and the system that supports them. The competence of pilots depends in turn on the quality of the training system that produces them.”2

The instructor community needs to ask the following question: how well do we continue to develop instructors after their initial training? In many cases, a licensed pilot completes the instructor rating with one or  two Class 1 instructors and often works at the same location once rated. This means limited exposure for many flight instructors. In other words, after a year or two of teaching, the rate of acquiring new knowledge and improving instructional skill plateaus; any gaps in knowledge or bad habits that have developed may remain uncorrected for years.

In addition to renewing an instructor rating, the FIRC is an outstanding avenue for professional development, which addresses the above issues. FIRCs bring together instructors from all over the country, with course sizes ranging from six to thirty participants. Throughout the course, every instructor benefits from learning the techniques, ideas, safety systems and operational considerations that are brought by others. The varied backgrounds and experience levels of those in attendance contribute to a sharing of knowledge, and the development of a support network amongst instructors. Instructors can then take what they’ve learned back to their own Flight Training Units (FTU) to share with colleagues and improve operations.

The theme of best practices is central to the content that is prepared for the refresher courses. Attendees have a chance to participate in lectures, small and large group discussions and exercises, role-playing, scenario analysis, and preparing their own presentations. The courses are quite interactive and not designed to be a one-way flow of information.


Instructors practicing good pre-flight briefing techniques during a role-playing exercise.

Course material focuses on new skills and knowledge. For instance, many instructors have been asked by an aircraft owner to teach them IFR on their private aircraft, only to find out that the aircraft is equipped with an integrated flight deck or “glass cockpit”. The instructor may have never been given any guidance during initial training on how to “teach glass”. As the National Transportation Safety Board has stated, “single engine aircraft with glass have no better overall safety record than traditional aircraft, but do have a higher fatal accident rate”3. The goal of the refresher course is to review to a certain extent, but more so to give instructors new knowledge and skills.

The FIRC modules are led by experienced flight instructors, pilot examiners and industry experts. For instance, during presentations on airspace/ADS-B/RNAV, NAV CANADA may send a controller to participate, TC may provide a presenter to discuss the implementation of SMS at FTUs, and so on.

Every course has its own unique set of topics and more information is available from the course providers’ websites. Some common topics include: instructor supervision, operational control, flight-testing weak areas, and scenario-based training. The theme through all of the modules is how instructors can not only improve the quality of their work, but also the level of safety—for their students, themselves, and for the aviation industry as a whole. Applicable real-world content is integrated throughout, to keep the lessons both relevant and current.

The topic of Human Factors, for example, may look at the training of English as a Second Language students. What are the statistics surrounding their safety record? What practices have been shown to improve safety in this environment? What instructional techniques are most effective? Though these topics may sound daunting at first, the courses are designed for all levels of instructors, including Class 4. The courses are also ideal for instructors not actively working in the field who wish to retain their ratings, by keeping up-to-date on the latest changes, trends and innovations in flight training.

TC has laid out comprehensive guidelines for becoming an authorized FIRC provider. Like all other operators, their documents and training programs are reviewed and courses are audited. There are presently several approved course providers running courses throughout the country.4

Flight instruction is an important part of the aviation industry and flight instructors are professionals who should be constantly improving. Instead of simply displaying your current abilities during a flight test, strive to improve your knowledge and skills. The next time you have a renewal coming up, you may want to consider attending one of these professional development courses. They are one of the best ways to advance both the quality and level of safety in Canadian flight training.

Michael Schuster is an ATP Class 1 Instructor and authorized FIRC course provider. For more information visit www.aviationsolutions.net/instructor.php or email mjs@aviationsolutions.net. —Ed

1 www.tc.gc.ca/eng/civilaviation/standards/general-personnel-stats-stats-2300.htm
2 General Aviation Advisory Circular 421-001, June 2010
3 Aviation International News, April 2010
4 www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/general/flttrain/irc/menu.htm

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