Today’s Flight Plan
Today we are joined by Dave Pascoe, the Founder of LiveATC.net. LiveATC is a service that allows to you listen to virtually any air traffic control area. This is very helpful for pilots training, and those getting started.
In addition, LiveATC has proven to be a great resource in accident investigations. Air Traffic Controllers have come into the spotlight as everyday, unsung heroes with some of the things that have been captured on LiveATC.
Dave is not only the founder of LiveATC, but a pilot himself. This guy didn’t just build the system, he also flies within the system.
Of course, Dave didn’t do all of this on his own. He was careful to give credit to the wonderful LiveATC.net community for all the hard work they do to expand the stations.
Flight Training News
FAA Withdraws ATD Rule
Dave Pascoe of LiveATC.net
Thanks for joining us on the show, Dave! It was great to hear the startup story of LiveATC, and also about you as an aviator. Throttle On!
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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Cleared for the option, this is AviatorCast episode 57!
Calling all aviators, pilots, flight sim enthusiasts and aviation lovers, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! Join us weekly in our efforts to become better masters of the air through interviews, refreshers, lessons, training topics, simulator set-up, hangar talk, news and more! Buckle up and prepare yourself for this week’s episode of AviatorCast! Preflight complete, fuel on board and flight plan filed. Let’s kick the tires and light the fires! Here’s your humble host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators! You’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. Grass, gravel, water, snow, concrete, asphalt – I dream of those few moments after cutting the power and flaring into that touchdown. It doesn’t matter which surface it is. I dream of those few moments. Flight is a beautiful thing to me. I absolutely love flying; and I’m grateful for every opportunity I get to go up in the air. So welcome to AviatorCast. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about inspirational topics. We get great guests on the show. We talk about news going on in the flight simulation and flight training industry; and we generally just want to be inspired from week to week to continue forward. And along the way we want to learn a few things and a few tips and tricks from different people in the industry.
So, welcome to the show. If this is your first time, we’re grateful to have you here. And we hope that you really enjoy this podcast and you come back week after week. One of the best places to subscribe to this podcast is through iTunes. We also get reviews there and read one every week on the show. Now if you get your review read on the show, you actually get a free AviatorCast t-shirt that I will send to you. So if I read your review on the show, make sure to write me and we’ll hook you up with one of these t-shirts.
So this week, we have a review that comes from Canada. It comes from A2VP and he says, “Five stars. It’s great!” And he kind of drags out the “It,” so obviously enthusiastic there. He says, just like his training packages, “this is a great informative show. Guests are great and so is the quality. The variety makes it great for anyone interested in aviation be it a virtual pilot or an ATP rated airline pilot. Thanks Chris. Keep up the great work.”
Thank you. Thanks for the review, really appreciate it. And I’m glad that I could provide, so there you go.
We do have a great show lined up today. Today we have Dave Pascoe, the founder of LiveATC.net. We’re going to get into hangar talk episode with him. It’s cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at LiveATC, get some history of how it started up, and get to know the founder of LiveATC. So, it’s pretty cool. I mean, this guy is an actual pilot. He flies a lot so, he’s one of us.
We’ll get into that in a few minutes, but first we’re going to get into some news segments for flight simulation news and flight training news. But then we’ll get right into that interview with Dave Pascoe because I know a lot of you are excited about that today.
Now, flight simulation industry news…
Lockheed Martin has updated prepared to version 2.5. There is a long list of improvements to the simulator in addition to a lot of fixes to the simulator. So you can see those fixes if you go to AviatorCast.com. Look at the show notes for this episode, episode 57. And you will see how much improvements these guys make from version to version. So they’re doing a great job. That simulator is moving forward in a positive way.
Next we have Dangerous Approaches, Steam edition which has been released by Dovetail Games. This is their first DLC that they’re adding on to FSX steam edition. This is, I believe, 20 difficult approaches or dangerous approaches from around the world. So if you are into that sort of thing, that’s definitely something to check out.
Another news item- you guys will like this, PMDG has released the 777-200LR and 300er for Prepar3D. The prices are about the same for the Prepar3D version as they were for the FSX version. Now, those prices are just introductory prices. I believe that they expire at the end of March. So you can only get it for this introductory same price as it was for FSX for a limited time. So go check that out.
Now let’s get into the flight training news.
Now, flight training news…
So there’s just one news item in flight training this week, but it is a significant one that you should be aware of. So that is, is that the FAA has withdrawn an ATD rule, a new ATD rule that would essentially for more hours to be logged for a rating. So essentially what this means is that instead of the ten hours that you can log now, this would allow you to log 20 hours in advanced training device. So this would be a very high fidelity simulator like Redbird full-motion, or FMX, or something from Frasca.
So, basically how this process works, from what I understand is that this accelerated rule making basically says, “Okay, this is the rule that we want. We want the 20 hours. We want it to go through. And if it goes through without negative public comments, then that rule will actually be implemented.” But what happened was that there were a few negative comments. Just a couple out of many, were negative. And because there was just one single negative comment, they have to go through the full rule-making process instead of the accelerated rule making process.
So in reading these comments, it was clear to me that people just do not trust flight simulators. And it’s interesting because one of the guys that talked about this, he essentially said with a simulator, you can’t go and you can’t know what it’s like to be scared in icing conditions or in a thunderstorm; and you really can’t get that fright from an emergency situation; and the students just can’t really latch on to the fact that this is real.
Well, I guess my answer to that is, are you flying your students into thunderstorms and instrument conditions anyway? A simulator is a place where you can actually simulate that. In the real world, you cannot simulate that unless you’re actually going into those conditions. So, you know, I’m a huge proponent of simulators. You guys know that. I want to see this rule be implemented because I believe that simulators are such high fidelity today that they are definitely adding to the usefulness for pilots. Now, whether or not that simulator is used for actual hours on your license, I couldn’t maybe care less. The fact is, is that a simulator is absolutely useful for pilot training and we should be using them. That is my opinion. Take it or leave it. That these devices, these advanced training devices today are awesome and they’re doing a great job teaching this generation of pilots how to fly.
Also, I wasn’t going to share this, but a couple of days ago I had a really fun experience. I went across the bay here where I live in Alaska and I did some backcountry training flying into some backcountry strips. And man, was it fun! That is some real flying. Soft fields, short field ops – it was a lot of fun. And I’m still just on this emotional high from being able to go and do that. And it’s a little different in the winter obviously. It’s beautiful here in the summer. It’s very green. And in the winter- it’s not as heavy in the winter here in this part of Alaska as you’d think; but it was definitely still winter. You know, we were landing on a runway with snow and some ice on it. So it was a big challenge. It definitely stretched my skills quite a bit; but it was exciting. And I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
Alright, so that’s it. Let’s get into the interview with Dave Pascoe here. And again, welcome to all of you that are new and excited about listening to this interview with Dave Pascoe. I know that LiveATC.net is very popular. I’ve used it myself. It’s just such a cool service and such a great idea. So here it is, let’s get into it with Dave Pascoe.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, we’re honored to have a very special guest with us today, Dave Pascoe of LiveATC.net. How you doing Dave?
Dave Pascoe: Hey, I’m doing great Chris. How are you?
Chris: Awesome. It’s great to have you on the show. You’ve obviously founded such a great thing that a lot of people have heard of. LiveATC.net. So tell us a little bit of what that is if people are unfamiliar with it.
Dave Pascoe: Sure. Well, thanks for having me Chris. LiveATC.net is really a network of receivers that pick up air traffic control and just pilot communications in just places all over the world. We started out with just a couple of receivers; and we’ve grown to over a 1,000 audio streams. And we stream anything from clearance delivery to ground, tower approach control centers, and all types of other frequencies including guard 121.5, and a whole lot of stuff. We tie that together in our website. We also have some mobile apps that let people listen in iOS, and Windows phone, and Android. And I guess one of the biggest features of LiveATC is that all of these audio streams that come in through the site and the system that you can listen to live, we also record everything that comes through here and we’re able to store that stuff for up to a year. So that’s in a nutshell what LiveATC is all about.
Chris: And because of that, there are many great implications. And I’m sure we’ll get into some of the history of how that has increased aviation safety and what we as pilots have learned from it. That will be very interesting.
The first question I always ask everybody because this goes to the core of who we all are, and that is, how did you fall in love with aviation? So tell us a little bit about that.
Dave Pascoe: That’s a good story but like many people that have fallen in love with aviation, it kind of goes back quite a ways to your childhood. And I remember as a kid growing up in Philadelphia, we use to ride our bikes down to the airport and just kind of cling to the fence and watch the jets go over. It was just sort of mesmerizing.
I used to watch them from my house going down the Delaware River, past Center City, Philadelphia on the river visuals and all that. It was just the most amazing thing especially as a kid. And I never thought aviation would be something that would touch me later, besides being mesmerized with it and thinking it’s really cool. But it did. And it was a good friend who achieved private pilot; and I got exposed to that; and the rest is history. I got my private pilot license in ’01. I got interested in air traffic control shortly after that. And so, LiveATC sort of came in around that timeframe. The two got melded together along with my radio hobby, which I’ve been involved in for quite some time – ham radio.
It started out as a collision of hobbies, if you will.
Chris: Right, right. I think that happens to a lot of people. So, did you become a private pilot later on in life then? What age were you when you got your license?
Dave Pascoe: Yeah, it was later on in life. I was in my late 30s when I started. You know, better late than never. But it was just really cool. Like I said, it was just one of those things that I knew a couple of private pilots when I was in high school; and it just seemed like something so far away. Fortunately, because a friend of mine had gotten a private pilot, at that point I said, “Wow, this is kind of within reach. I can do this.” And then I decided to just go after it. So, the rest is history, I guess.
Chris: So I’m assuming he was one of your aviation mentors. Did you have any other aviation mentors along the way that kind of nudged you to go that direction? Because there’s a large demographic of private pilots that are just like you, you know. They get that age. They get a disposable income; they can afford it. And then they go and finally kind of do it.
What aviation mentors did you have to kind of push you along the way? Or even just tell us more about your friend.
Dave Pascoe: He had gotten his private and you know, he’s just a ham radio friend. He had been a long time pilot; and he would always tell me stories. And it was sort of, I was like that’s cool. But it really didn’t hit home until I realized that I could actually go and start taking lessons and actually do it and kind of get over that hump. Yeah, you need some momentum. I guess kind of listened to him and got tired of hearing the stories. Well, you know, let me go make some of the stories myself and really check this out.
I think what really pushed me over the edge was there was this other guy who I worked with and I won this silent auction for a ride in a small plane. This was around 1995 or so. That was the most amazing thing. It was a little Piper and we went off on the fourth of July. I just couldn’t believe that you can get up and actually, they’d let you fly around and over this.
It’s amazing the freedom that we have here and any other place that allows general aviation. It’s kind of a really amazing thing. So that was another event that kind of pushed me.
Then a few years later, finally the momentum really hit after those events and I just started training in early ’01 and then took my private ride two days before 9/11 believe it or not.
Dave Pascoe: The first time, we were grounded for awhile and then I started building up some hours, and then started right into my instruments training, and that’s where I am now. I’ve been flying for just coming up on 14 years.
Chris: Great, great. Even amongst that, you know, being a private pilot, instrument-rated- I read your profile; you’re very seasoned there as well. I know you’re involved in IMC clubs and things of that nature. So, I love IFR – single engines, single pilot IFR. There’s not any flying that’s much better than that. It’s all a lot of fun.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah it’s all a lot of fun here in New England and I’m sure where you are. You really have to have your instrument reading. And I think it’s important for pilots not only because whether you’re going to be doing a lot of instrument flying or not, it just makes you prepared for stuff that might happen to you. Obviously you get a weather briefing. You shouldn’t go out and fly randomly around and encounter IMC randomly, but to our VFR pilots, still, it’s one of the largest causes of GA accidents.
But anyway, the instrument reading is important because here, you would just get stuck so many times in so many places. We get a lot of IMC here. It is fun. I like it. I like all kinds of flying. I did a little bit of, tiny bit of tailwheel. I only really have a couple of hours. But my old instructor took me up in a Super-D and we did some aerobatics. That was a lot of fun.
I’d like to go back to do a lot more stick and rudder stuff. I do a lot of instrument flying. I’d like to do some [inaudible][16:50] training and really do a lot more stick and rudder stuff and get my tail wound through etc. But the first order of business is, I need to finish up my commercial which I’ve been almost ready to take the check-ride for, for about seven or eight years.
Chris: Oh my gosh.
Dave Pascoe: I just haven’t gotten the motivation to finish up. The only reason I want to do it is to go on and start working on my CFI; but life gets in the way. So, you know, a busy schedule and lots of work and family stuff so it’s kind of hard. But I think this year will be the year. I’ll wrap it up.
Chris: You know you and I are very similar. I’m a private pilot, instrument-rated, and I’m doing the same thing. I’m going to finish up my commercial just because I want to get my CFI pretty much so it’s cool. Obviously there’s all this flying history that you have. Where in the heck did this LiveATC idea come from? Tell us a little bit about the start-up story of LiveATC.
Dave Pascoe: Sure. It’s actually really simple. Like I said earlier, it was kind of a collision of hobbies. And when I got interested in the instrument reading, I had been listening to air traffic control on scanner radios and stuff for years since I was really a teenager. I didn’t really understand what I was listening to. I can understand maybe just a fraction of what I was hearing, even up to just before I started training for my private. And I really wanted to hear what was going on around here. And to do that, you’d really need to hear both sides of the conversation. So, really simply, my brother lives or had a house back then- he still owns it, about six miles away from Logan Airport in Boston. And he let me put in some antenna and some receivers there, and remote it back to my house, which was about 50 miles away, which is out of range to hear the controllers.
So I said, “Well, alright. Now I know how to do this audio streaming stuff and everything, so why keep it to myself? Why not put it out there and let other people listen?” So I registered the domain. I came up with the domain name idea. And then it was just this amazing support from the community. We deploy a lot of equipment to get these feeds on the air, but overwhelmingly, the volunteers who put receivers up, either equipment that we provide or equipment that they provide, are really the heart of this network. And so, that was it. It was just sort of a very organically grown effort. And now it sort of taken off a life of its own; because we’re involved in all kinds of stuff and private streaming systems, and expanding the public network that everybody sees out there, and trying to get much more involved in flight training and pilot education on the communication side.
Chris: Do you mind me asking if this is your full-time job, LiveATC?
Dave Pascoe: I’d like to talk about it as more or less a little more than a half-time job.
Dave Pascoe: You know, half to three quarters.
Dave Pascoe: I do a lot of technology and management consulting; but this is really my passion. So, I try to spend much more time on this, on LiveATC, and growing the network. At this point, we’re really on all continents, just about. We’re in all the places that you can legally be. But we still have quite a bit of work to do to expand and get more frequencies, and get airports that we don’t have; make the ones that we do have more reliable, in terms of up-time and all that. So, it’ll never end. Feeds can come and go; but the growth effort will really never end. It’s just too big.
Chris: Right, exactly. And for those of you listening, by Dave talking about growth, don’t think that this isn’t a huge network. I want you to get on LiveATC.net. Go search for your local airport and just see what’s out there because you’d be really surprised that somewhere locally has air traffic control running pretty much 24/7. So, make sure to go check that out. There’s a lot of feeds on there and it’s super cool to listen to, and also useful for just keeping sharp with communications. Just having that to play in your ear continually is definitely helpful. It can even be your background music if you want to call it that for your study day or your work, or whatever.
Dave Pascoe: A lot of people use it for that, for background music and just to sort of get the rhythm of things. We have air traffic controllers that work half-way across the country that are thinking about transferring across the country to a different facility and they like to listen to see what’s going on there. It’s no substitute for – and I always make a specific point about this, training with your CFI for actually using some of the excellent commercial products that are out there that teach you the right way that you’re supposed to do things.
But what you really need to get along in the real world is a combination of those two things from the training side but also a dose of live ATCs so that you can sort of hear how it’s done at your local place; and you know, you sit there and ask yourself, “Well, isn’t it done the same everywhere?” Well, yes and no. There are local procedures. There are local standard operating procedures and there are just things like, you know, “What’s the calm wind in a runway at a particular airport?”
There are accents to deal with, if you decide to fly into an area that they’re talking real fast. You know, I always like to talk about the New York City metro area.
Dave Pascoe: One of the most outstanding ATC facilities is New York approach. And it’s fast. It’s fast and furious. There’s a lot going on. You’ve got to really be on your game when you fly through there; but they’re just awesome. They really do the job. Combining the theoretical/regulation communications procedures with some of these real-world stuff really gives you a very nice 360 picture of what you’re going to run into in real life.
Chris: Alright, so what are some of the stories that you think of when you think of LiveATC? What are some of the more poignant- I guess they kind of pull these up with recordings right? What are some of the more poignant stories that come to mind? And share one or two, I’m sure there’s a whole long list of them. But what are some that come to the top of your mind as the founder of LiveATC?
Dave Pascoe: Well, you know, one of the unfortunate parts of dealing with all these recorded communications are that attention really gets drawn to accidents, to things, to mistakes that pilots or air traffic controllers make; or somebody getting heated in transmissions, things like that. There are no specific ones that come to mind because there are just so many of them.
Chris: Right. Okay.
Dave Pascoe: I’d rather not go into any particular ones, but I would say the ones that really hit home, especially as a pilot, are the ones where somebody’s called Mayday. And that was captured, one recently that I can talk about was there was a pilot in Florida who departed VFR on a very IFR 700 overcast early evening, and wasn’t actually signed off to fly in this particular aircraft. I come to find that the pilot was a commercial rated pilot 400 or 500 hours, and again wasn’t signed off for this Cessna that this pilot was flying. Got lost, could not find her way around. Just talking to approach control, and they were trying to sort of calm her down and talk her through it; but she was in complete panic and crashed and perished in that flight. And it’s things like that where you sort of hear firsthand a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, a situation where the pilot shouldn’t have even departed. And I think those types of things in general are the most poignant things for me because it’s just so frustrating. And you’ve got to wonder, you know, how a commercially-rated pilot goes wrong like that. Just trying to build time in this case, and it’s just, you know, it’s heartbreaking. These things are very real and it does happen.
Anyway, lots of positive things as well. And I view even these things, you know the accidents, as positive because if that mistake and that incident can save another pilot’s life and a passenger’s life then it’s worth getting it out there at some level, so that it can be used in training.
Chris: And it’s, for a lot of pilots, it’s a glimpse into the cockpit in otherwise situation that we never hear about or learn anything from. What we usually see is just another NTSB incident report that’s come out that says this person has crashed an airplane, and the type, and where, and all that stuff; but this adds a new layer to that and actually takes us into the cockpit a little bit. And you can start to gain a little bit of understanding on why these things happen, the frustration of VFR into IMC, and why that keeps happening. It’s amazing that it hasn’t changed, but yeah, it’s pretty amazing. And that’s what I’d like to draw toward, the sensational staff of LiveATC, sure it’s great. It’s fun to check out when it explodes on Reddit or whatever; but the positive stuff that comes out of these situations. Even if it is a negative situation like that, is what we should all learn from so we don’t repeat that mistake.
Now, is there a particular incidence where, kind of like this last situation, this young woman I’m assuming that you were talking about, is there a situation where air traffic control actually helps someone down. I’m sure there are. I’m sure there’s many like that, but tell us about one of those.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah, there are many like that. One that I think it was us who captured some of the communications, there was one in Florida where there was a King Air pilot who I believe had a heart attack if I recall correctly, and the passenger really had to take over and there was a controller who talked him down. There were many other saves, as we call them, where more increasingly see controllers who have a fuller aviation background, some of them pilots. I would say probably every ATC facility has staff member who’s a pilot or was a pilot, and can really sit down and get down on a discreet frequency with somebody on that type of emergency and help them down even when they have very little to no flying experience. There have been many of those.
If you look at the NATCA, the air traffic controllers association union, the Archie Awards, if you Google Archie Awards, you’ll go read dozens of these stories and it’s just awesome the job they do.
Chris: Yeah. Controllers are, I think LiveATC helps a lot with these, but controllers have largely been an enemy of the pilot for a long time. And something I was actually going to say earlier was, one of the best things you can learn from LiveATC was how to cooperate with air traffic control; because you can help them a lot by counseling your IFR, if it’s VMC and ducking under the air space rather than staying on their frequency, and just learning how you can cooperate with them will make your IFR experience so much better.
But in a lot of ways, going back to my previous point, air traffic control has kind of been a thankless job. A lot of people have kind of felt like air traffic control is in the way of them doing their flying, sort of thing. But more and more, as these stories come out, as we hear these audio tapes and these Archie Awards are becoming more public, these guys are- I wouldn’t go as far as to say heroes, maybe in certain situations they definitely are; but these guys are awesome at what they do.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah they are. And it’s interesting how pilots will generally shy away, if they can avoid generally talking to air traffic control, most pilots- I find this true in seminars when I sort of do these polls, that they will because number one, they’re afraid of getting yelled at; number two, afraid of making mistake. It’s too much trouble. The whole big sky theory is obviously just a myth. We all know that. What’s interesting is that when you look at the relationship between pilot and air traffic controller, it’s kind of an interesting relationship because you know, if you’re on your toes as a pilot and you’re talking to air traffic control, you have to sort of bet that they’re going to screw up. You can’t be complacent and assume that they’re going to- and they’re betting that you’re going to screw up. So it’s kind of this interesting risk relationship.
However the only way to really reduce the chance of an accident, especially in mid-air is to be talking to them. And they do want to be talking to pilots. Every single seminar where a controller is presented, they’ve said that – “We’d rather be talking to you. Even if you’re VFR and we don’t have to talk to you necessarily, unless you’re going through Class C or B airspace, or tower airspace.” We want to have you tagged up on our radar screen, because even if they don’t have a strict responsibility for keeping you separated, it all depends on the situation whether as to whether that’s a requirement or not, they’d rather know where you are, who you are, where you’re going because it makes their job so much easier.
Chris: What’s your belief on VFR flight following?
Dave Pascoe: I believe every pilot should get it. It’s a service that’s provided on a workload permitting basis, but I would say, if you can get it, you should. I mean if you’re going ten miles, and it’s just really desolate kind of airspace, maybe that would be a waste once they tagged you up, but if you’re going out of your local area on any kind of cross-country, I think pilot should get VFR flight following. I’m an absolute believer in it.
Chris: How would you explain VFR flight following to those that haven’t heard about it before? Because I think it’s one of those things in private pilot. We’re not talking about instrument training here. It’s one of those things in private pilot that some people just haven’t even heard of and haven’t even done before. So how would you explain that to someone that hasn’t even heard of it before?
Dave Pascoe: So VFR flight following is a service that ATC provides, again if they have time, to you as a VFR pilot in which they point out other forms of traffic that may or may not impact your flight path. They also provide other services. If you happen to get lost, or you’re having any kind of trouble whatsoever, you’ve already established communication with them. They tag you up on the radar screen. They know your tail number. They know where you are. So you’re sort of all set-up for these set of services. Maybe there’s no traffic for them to call out, you may have trouble finding an airport. You’re going to an unfamiliar place. They can give you vectors to the airport. Again, it’s not IFR service. And again, if they get really busy with IFR traffic, they may terminate you and tell you to squawk 1200. But basically, they give you a discrete beacon code. They tell you to squawk. They may also tell you to iden. That’s all part of the radar identification procedure. And if they can’t provide the service, like I said, they’ll terminate you and you’ll go back to squawking 1200. But it’s a great service and if you can get it where you are- you have an ATC facility, then by all means do it.
Chris: And as a great transition from your private pilot, to building your hours, to getting your instrument ticket. And I’ve always done flight following. It just always felt comfortable to me. One of the reasons is I previously did a lot of simulations. We’re going to talk about a little bit about that with you too. You’ve established that line of communication already and I think that’s the biggest deal, you know. Then you have traffic reports, just to reiterate what you just said. You can call out a forest fire if you see one. I know that was common in the Western states where I was, doing something like that. So, very useful to have; it helps you build that muscle memory I guess, when it actually comes to speaking on the radio. So that really helps.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah, it really does. And you know, it’s just a great service. I know there are many cases where it’s really been helpful to pilot. We’re just lost, quite simply, and it’s really good for that.
Chris: Tell us about your experience with flight simulation and how that’s played into your career as a pilot and your career here in LiveATC.
Dave Pascoe: Well I started out with some early version of Microsoft flight simulator on I think, a DOS computer a buddy of mine at work had. That basically was really no fun. I started with Microsoft flight simulator in maybe around ’02 or something like that on Windows; got reengaged with it and finally figured out that you really needed a yoke and pedals to really make good use of it. You couldn’t fly from a keyboard.
Chris: No, definitely not.
Dave Pascoe: Once I had that major breakthrough, then it was a lot of fun. I quickly got involved in this network called VATSIM, V-A-T-S-I-M, vatsim.net, as a pilot. What VATSIM is, is basically a network where you can install some special software which is free, and you connect to this network. You have to get an ID. And you can fly in the network. There are sort of pretend air traffic controllers that plug in there as well and provide services.
Then I quickly got involved in the ATC side of that sim and got very immersed in the 7110.65 and training, and became a trainer on that network, and got much more involved in the ATC side than the flying side.
But I’ve also been involved with the X-plane. Haven’t used any flight simulator recently on any hope PC, but I’ve done a lot simulation in flight school simulation stuff with PilotEdge and some other networks.
So, I’m a huge fan of simulation of all types. Each particular simulator and piece of software has its place. But I always felt, my bottom line on simulation is as an IFR pilot, I always felt like when I was consistently training and flying approaches in that simulator- and Microsoft flight simulator is perfectly good enough for IFR work; I always felt like I never left the plane. Whenever I went to fly in the real plane, I felt like I had just been flying in the plane and especially with the X-plane, because it really has a much better flight engine.
Chris: I agree.
Dave Pascoe: You know, if you just pick an airplane in X-plane, it really does feel like that plane. And I just love it. I think more pilots need to become aware. Get over the hump of setting-up a simulator because it really doesn’t have to cost so much money. Most people already have a PC sitting around these days likely doing nothing because they’re on their iPhone or iPad. But you know, this is perfect use, and you know I can resurrect, in fact, I’m looking at the PC that I originally built for flight simulation and it’s been off for like five years. But it would still function just fine. I could still use that. It would feel slower than other computers I use but-
Dave Pascoe: I’ve been buying X-plane every year for ever; and I haven’t loaded any of the contemporary versions of X-plane. I’ve got some friends who develop for X-plane and I just love what they do. It’s just a fantastic product.
Chris: Yeah, I totally agree. And that’s one thing that I continually reiterate on the show, is that if you’re going to get into flight simulation to be in it for the long haul; and no offense to your friends, but Microsoft flight simulator is more kind of the gaming side of simulation, where there’s better third-party developers that really build it to platform. However, if you are a private pilot and all you’re going to do is use the simulator- and maybe not, even if just you know, more than a private pilot, but if all you’re going to do is use the simulator to practice, then out of the box, X-plane operates so much better. Like you said, it’s realistic from an aerodynamics perspective and everything else is fantastic as well, right? It’s not like we’re getting into the old simulators with the little dotted lines or whatever for the runways. I mean X-plane is still amazing. And actually, I think it might have been two episodes ago or even maybe even just last episode, where I shared the X-plane; and maybe you can tell us a little bit about this because you probably know about it from a technology standpoint, but the guys that did X-plane, Austin Myer and his team, they used the technology of X-plane to essentially create this drift-down, automatic drift-down procedure app, if you want to call it that for the iPad I think it is. So if you have an engine failure, it will automatically tell you where you need to go, and even create the boxes. Do you know what I’m talking about there?
Dave Pascoe: No, I don’t know about that. I know that they’ve been doing just a ton of work on mobile. One of my friends worked on the Android port of X-plane. And then, they just released an iOS version. I don’t know if this is a plug-in, what you’re talking about is a plug-in to the latest version that they’ve actually released. But they’ve got a pretty significant new release on iOS.
Chris: Right. And this is a real world application in the cockpit that you can use. And obviously, it’s just really interesting where that technology is going and that simulation truly is coming over to real aviation analysis and augmented reality sort of thing, or virtual reality I guess it would be, in this case.
Dave Pascoe: Absolutely.
Chris: So, you know, you do a lot of IFR. That’s kind of where you’re at and your career. You’re also involved in the IMC Club. I find the IMC Club really interesting. I think it’s a compelling idea that’s worth talking about; and we should actually get someone on the show to talk about that in more depth. But tell us about IMC Club, and your involvement in it.
Dave Pascoe: Sure. I mean my only involvement really is as a pilot. I’m a member of the local Nashua, New Hampshire Chapter. And I think we were one of the first. We’re definitely one of the more active ones; but IMC Club is really growing internationally actually. IMC Club is basically a meet-up. It happens monthly typically. And pilots you know, anywhere from ten to 30, 40 people will get together. The agenda is usually around some presentation or analyzing different scenarios. I know with ours, we typically do one scenario where we use the pilot workshops material, and you’re basically put into a situation as a pilot, and you know, there are maybe four or five choices. What would you do in this scenario? And we’d put our hands up for answer A, B, C, or D and then we talk about it. There isn’t always a right answer. There’s some answers that are maybe more right than others, but it just makes for some really lively and interesting discussion. And then other topics that are generally of interest to IFR rated pilots. It’s really fun. It’s a good social meet-up; and it’s a good chance to meet other pilots who are flying at your airport or nearby airports.
Chris: So what aircraft are you flying most these days?
Dave Pascoe: For the last, I don’t know, I guess seven or eight years now, I’ve been flying a Beech Bonanza. It’s an A36. I fly it in a flying club here called the New Hampshire Flying Association. And we also have an aircraft, a Piper Arrow. I’m sorry a Piper Warrior. No, I’m sorry, a Piper Archer, that one of the members owns and leases back to us. And I did my IFR training in a Piper Warrior, so it was kind of fun to kind of get back to that little bit slower aircraft.
The Bonanza is just fantastic as a cross-country machine for IFR. So those are the two aircrafts I fly the most, and I think most of my hours at this point are in the Bonanza.
Chris: Great. We’re in the same camp once again. I think I have about a 100 hours in non-Bonanzas. And so, the rest of my time, like 600 hours is in Bonanzas, both an older V-tail, and a G36. It’s an amazing IFR platform. They’re just incredible how stable they are.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah. We have an Aspen in there. And there’s also an Aspen in the Piper. It just so happened when he bought it, it had it. And we’re using a Garmin 480. And it’s got two-access autopilot. And like I said, it’s just fantastic. Lot of us use Foreflight first of course, charts now. So we quickly made that transition from paper to electronic. And then we have back-up electronic charts on board on a yoke-mounted Garmin with XM weather and all that, which is another topic for especially single pilot, or actually any IFR flying, is having some form of weather on board either through a Stratus or some other type of product where you can have weather on board. The XM weather is a nice product, definitely not cheap but you know it’s critical to have, especially when you have the kind of weather conditions you and I have, which is, you know icing half the year.
So, you know, staying out of that stuff. And in most of our cases, not flying when there’s ice.
Chris: Yeah, I know. It doesn’t help.
Dave Pascoe: I guess that’s one of the nice things about flying GA is that generally, we just
don’t have to go.
Chris: No pressure. Well, as much pressure as we want it to be. And so we are truly in control, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. But as long as you’re on top of it from a mental perspective, then you’re good.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah, like they say, with great power comes great responsibility. So yeah, I think only one time I really got into some icing inadvertently and it was just sort of traced to bordering on light. And this was close to the airport, and we were descending anyway. But totally unexpected, not forecast. Like they say, stuff happens and you just have to be in the situation and be aggressive enough to ask for lower earth if the minimum vectoring altitudes that the controller has in that area are available. But in the end, you’re PIC so you’ve got to look at the surrounding terrain and everything else. Whatever the situation is, do what you need to do.
Chris: I’m going to take a few minutes here and share a story of mine because this kind of brings us back full circle to the air traffic control thing, you know talks about IFR bit, and talks about this icing thing a bit, and it was in a Bonanza. So, I’ll share a little story here. One of my scarier moments as a pilot, maybe you can share a scary moment after a few, if you feel inclined to do so. So when I was in my initial instrument training, I had a guy come in. I’m not going to name his name. But I had a guy come in. He was a Florida pilot. I lived in Utah at the time. He came in and we started to do my instrument training, and it came time to do my long instrument cross-country, which is quite significant and you really do have to go a long way to meet the requirements. So he and I headed North through Idaho. And once we hit the Idaho border, we started to build ice on the Bonanza, 1956 Bonanza, pretty basic as far as its capabilities. It did have a GPS, and actually it wasn’t a two-access autopilot, but it was a one-access for roll.
And we ended up building an inch and three quarters of ice. It was ridiculous. And this is not something I would do myself now knowing better, but I was just this pretty much brand new private pilot, didn’t know any better, was trusting my instructor. And we built a ton of ice on that airplane and really got in a pickle, where we couldn’t descend to burn off the ice. And air traffic control saved our tail. They were working with us constantly and they were just right there. Eventually, obviously we got down and everything turned out okay. I just remember the ice finally getting warm enough to slide off the windshield, and it was just this huge slab of ice that just went flying back. It was absolutely crazy. So, lots of lessons learned there.
But air traffic control is awesome. Bonanzas are great, but they’re not invulnerable. And know what you’re flying into. So definitely, the weather thing, that was really helpful with the G36, and also the turbo in the G36. That was what really made it, was getting above the weather. So it’s definitely helpful to have all those tools available. And, they’re only as good as you are as a pilot, right? I mean those tools don’t make up for a lack in training.
Dave Pascoe: No. No, that’s a really good point. I mean it’s a really great story. Fortunately it came out well.
Dave Pascoe: Having those tools available are really nice, but it’s like anything else. Everything is a system, right? You have to know what that system is capable of, and what the systems on board are capable of. And that also comes with climbing and having any kind of ante- or de-ice system. One of the things that pilots need to keep in mind, is that yeah, you might be able to go up but you still need to come down eventually.
Dave Pascoe: So, what’s around you? How much fuel do you have? Where are you going to come back down? What are the conditions going to be when you come back down? And ATC can definitely help because they’ll have pie reps from the region. It’s good and bad I think, having those things available. I think it’s probably more good. It’s good in the hands of trained pilots, like you. When you’re not sure what those things can do, they could get you sometimes into more trouble than they can help. But it’s all about decision-making, right? And having information available to you, either through ATC or through other on-board systems, like ForeFlight, and doing the right thing. You know, making the right call.
Chris: Definitely. As a result of that experience, and my subsequent experience during that initial instrument training, I ended up failing my check ride by the way, and then just stopped. What I realized was I can’t fly IFR in this airplane in the Rocky Mountains. So there is no point for me to continue because I’m not going to use this instrument ticket. And so, I waited until I had a more capable airplane and more importantly, more experience. And an instructor that flew in my area and really understood. And that changed everything. Just those little adjustments changed everything.
As I mentioned earlier, IFR, single pilot, single engine is some of my favorite flying. I absolutely love it. But it has to be done right. You can’t just box yourself in a corner with a really nice airplane and great ATC, and expect the airplane and ATC to get you out of it.
Dave Pascoe: No. It takes an amazing amount of fortitude and skill, and really checkpointing yourself, really assessing, should I fly? Because it takes all your faculties to do that – single pilot, IFR. Some people just won’t do it. I mean I know airline captains, ATPs who literally, consciously won’t go out on a small plane because they deem it unsafe. And they’re flying in typically a two-pilot jet scenario, passenger jet scenario where you’ve got lots of systems on board. And they may have had a hairy situation where the co-pilot had to take over, or the workload got too heavy. And for that reason, they won’t fly single pilot by far. It’s definitely a risk. There’s no question about it. But it’s one that with the right training and the right equipment, can be executed safely.
Chris: And you get that freedom that you talked about. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day, is that feeling of being your own man if you will, kind of up there challenging the world and going on an adventure. It’s just a wonderful, wonderful feeling. There’s nothing like the freedom of flying.
Dave Pascoe: No, it doesn’t. Nothing compares. Very little compares.
Chris: So we’ve talked about LiveATC. We’ve talked about a lot of the different training aspects. We’ve talked about your training, IMC Club, the addition of flight simulation into that package. I’m going to build a question for you here, and that is: I’m a private pilot, or maybe not even a pilot yet; I’m looking to get into it. I have all these tools that are out there, available to me. What kind of recipe do I have to, not only to become a private pilot, but to do so successfully and safely from day to day?
Dave Pascoe: Good question. So there are, as you pointed out, endless tools out there now- almost so many that it’s kind of a mind-boggling array of, you know, where do I go? There’s obviously your classic training in a flight school. But there’s all these adjunct material in the form of courses that CFIs had developed online. There are Youtube videos. There are a lot of things to learn from, not the least of which are NTSB reports, the NASA ASRS database, the aviation data reporting system, which I would highly suggest to every pilot to go read a lot of those reports. But going back to the fundamental training, focus on the basics. Get a good flight instructor that you’re compatible with. If you’re not compatible with that flight instructor, just change. One of the big things I’ve seen as a recipe for not making a whole lot of progress is somebody working with a CFI who they just weren’t compatible with.
You’re not going to be compatible with everybody. It’s no different than a relationship or a lawyer or doctor you won’t hire.
Chris: It’s almost like a relationship. It’s like picking a girlfriend.
Dave Pascoe: It is.
Chris: It really is. It’s that intense. There has to be some clicking going on, sort of thing.
Dave Pascoe: And I was really fortunate to have a really good stick and rudder pilot for my primary training, and a fantastic all-around pilot for my instrument training. And I just lucked out; but I also saw other people who didn’t. So that’s important. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Get a good CFI. Go to a good, reputable flight school. Make sure that the aircraft that you’re training in are well-maintained. And if you’re uncomfortable about that, just don’t fly there. Simply it’s really that simple.
I’ve advocated some commercial products on here. I don’t have any relationships with any of them, but obviously a lot of people who have gotten a lot of benefit of the written study materials and the videos that are out there, the King courses and things like that. I never used any of the video courses; but I did use a lot of the written study materials that are out there – the Gleim books and all that sort of stuff. But they’re all tools.
I would say also, don’t study for your written exam just to be able to pass the written exam. That’s sort of the typical focus that people have because it’s all about passing. What I would say is really take your time and understand the material. And if you have a good thorough understanding of the material, then you’re not only going to ace your written exam, but you’re also going to ace your oral exam with the examiner. Knowing your stuff from day one, and not just learning it superficially, is really critical. It’s just like that with anything.
Chris: Right. And more importantly, above just passing the test is you’ll be a safer pilot. I mean that’s the point, right?
Dave Pascoe: Absolutely, yeah. There’s no question about it. I mean there are things that I remember learning that I sort of, you know, glossed over. And I passed my check ride. I did great on my written exams. But as I got more experience, I kept coming back to those things. I went through the motions and I could talk about them but until you have to sort of explain it to somebody else, and this is sort of like your prep for your CFI, you get into these scenarios where you get somebody with a less experience than you. You might be talking to them about something, that’s when you really know something, when you have to teach it.
Chris: And that you know really excites me about becoming a CFI you know, is growing in that way and even getting back to the fundamentals. And I think you’re probably in the same way, but in a way, I am an aviation educator for life. That’s what I want to do. It’s always going to be part of who I am. And so that will be kind of a fun thing to pursue.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah, absolutely. And I like teaching just in general. That’s part of the impetus to go after the CFI. But more than that, I love flying. I want general aviation to have a future. And more importantly, I’d like to see this particular aspect that I’m interested in, which is mainly instrument flying and communications to have some best practices and training specifically for that, more see the light of day because one of the things I’ve found- and I’ve talked to CFIs all over the world, you can teach almost anybody to fly an airplane but that communication part, it just scares the heck out of pilots. I’ve even seen a pilot who got totally freaked out by it. He just completely stopped his training and quit. Now there were probably some other extenuating circumstances, but it is stressful.
As somebody who had a lot of experience in radio communications, I came into it, literally I was frightened. When you key that mic, you have to know what you’re going to say. I’m completely comfortable on microphone; and I’ve been communicating on ham radio for years, on Morse code, and Voice, and everything. But I just found myself on the same boat that all pilots find themselves, which is I was scared. I felt like I had two feet in my mouth. I didn’t sometimes know exactly what to say and so I would delay keying the mic because I wanted to say it all perfectly, and all that. It does take practice. You’ve got to immerse yourself in it.
Chris: Got to get over that mic fright.
Dave Pascoe: Yeah.
Chris: Alright. Final words of advice. We’re coming up on our deadline here. What is your advice for young pilots getting into flying, for young guys like yourself that are kind of in that time in their life where they can afford to get their private pilot license and pursue that aviation passion that they’ve always had? What’s your advice for people in that position, kind of on the fence ready to go?
Dave Pascoe: Well, go take an intro flight. Take a familiarization flight. All flight schools will offer a reduced price ride with a CFI. Try it out. See what it feels like. Flying is not cheap. I think that’s an impediment, with gas prices and just the generally high cost of flying. Try to find some ways to work it off. For years, pilots washed airplanes, and pinched in and helped out in an FBO. If you’re really passionate about it, do things like that. Really put all your pennies away and apply to this. There’s a lot of creative things that you can do. Just talk to people around the flight school, and find a mentor, whether it be CFI or some old-timers that hang around that love flying.
So, if you really want to do it, there are ways and there are scholarships and all kinds of other ways to make it more doable. So, anyway, those are a few things that come to mind.
Chris: Right. You just have to after it. Immerse yourself and do all you can to make it happen. Alright, everybody this is a great interview with Dave. Dave you have an awesome product in LiveATC. I know that I’ve listened to it a lot over the years. It’s been a great learning tool for me. I know it continues to be for many other people obviously. You’re the one that sees the growth and you know that for a fact. So, you listeners out there, if you haven’t checked out LiveATC yet, make sure you go check it out. That’s LiveATC. Net. Dave, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us today. We really appreciate your stories and your candor and all the hard work you’re doing with LiveATC. So thanks for joining us.
Dave Pascoe: Thanks for having me Chris. And, just a real quick word of thanks to all the volunteers who also help out. We do a lot, but the volunteers do a lot more. And without them, we wouldn’t have a network. So, thanks a lot. It’s been a lot of fun.
Chris: As usual, it’s a great community here in aviation. Alright. Thanks Dave, appreciate it.
Dave Pascoe: Alright, thank you.
Join us next week for another exciting topic or interview with a great guest. Spread the AviatorCast message. Please review AviatorCast on iTunes or submit an audio question for the show at AviatorCast.com. All iTunes reviews and audio questions that are aired on the show will get an official AviatorCast t-shirt. You can write AviatorCast directly on AviatorCast.com where you can interact with the AviatorCast community or write AviatorCast at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you. For more information on Angle of Attack simulation training videos for FSX, X-Plane and more, go to www.flyaoamedia.com. If you are looking for a professional aviation training video services and other media, inquire at www.angleofattackpro.com. Now, for the final release clearance, back to Chris Palmer.
Chris: A huge thanks goes out to Dave for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. It is really cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at LiveATC.net and learn a lot about the guy that actually created it. So Dave, it’s awesome that you’re a real pilot out there. You’re a single engine warrior and IFR.
And it’s great that you’re using your own tools as well, to increase your training. And that, it is not only something that you use but it’s available for everyone to use. So, thank you for contribution to the community. Again, a fantastic tool. I really appreciate and I know that there are so many out there that do. So, thank you and keep up the great work.
And thank you the listener, for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. Thank you for hanging in there. I hope you enjoyed the interview with Dave. If you’d like to review for AviatorCast on iTunes, that would be really appreciated. That helps others learn about this show so that they can enjoy it as well. If you leave a review or leave an audio question at AviatorCast.com I will send you a free AviatorCast t-shirt to you, wherever you are in the world. That’s a big commitment, but, you know, it’s an exchange here, right? So, it works out pretty well.
A big thanks goes out to the Angle of Attack crew for all they do to make these episodes possible. These guys are awesome in what they do behind the scenes, so that you and I can enjoy these hangar talk episodes, these AviatorCast episodes, every single week.
Join us next week as we speak to Karlene Petitt. She is a female airline pilot of many, many years- very experienced. And she’s an inspiration and just an overall fantastic person. She shares a lot with us about her books that she’s written. And also, getting out there and encouraging pilots and being a mentor, and also finding a mentor. So we get into a great hangar talk episode with her next week.
So that’s it for this episode of AviatorCast. Until next time, throttle on.[/transcript]