When I think of the FAA, I think of a guy meeting me at the airplane with a ball cap that says “FAA” in big bold yellow letters. He’s there “to help”, but always asks for the license and medical and looks around for anything looking abnormal; rarely does he “help”. I’ve had a few ramp checks in 25 years of flying, and all ended up positively. There’s always something uncomfortable about talking with a guy that can ruin your aviation career with one stroke of the pen. It’s sort of like being pulled over by the police for having one brake light out…you didn’t really know it was out and you are one of the “good guys” that tries to do things right, but when the trooper is approaching your car from behind, a nervous feeling comes over you.
Today, I went into FSDO to see about getting a new flight instructor license. It seems the FAA has come out of the dark ages and decided that military instructor pilots are really instructor pilots and deserved of a civilian flight instructor rating. For 15 years I’ve been an Army Rotary Wing Instructor Pilot, but I’ve never been an FAA Helicopter CFI, even though I’ve got several other flight instructor ratings with the FAA. Well, today all of that was going to change. I made an appointment with a FSDO and hoped that I’d walk out with a new rating.
First, the Aviation Safety Inspector (ASI) that made may appointment bent over backwards in trying to assist me after her schedule got messed up. She brought in another ASI who was a former Army helicopter pilot to help me. He knew exactly what he was talking about and promptly sifted through my information and gathered the documents he needed to prove my military credentials. I was a bit laborious to get the application right, but he was trying to be precise so Oklahoma City didn’t kick back the application. He was a professional and wanted to do it right the first time. He also helped my by noticing that I was an Instrument Flight Examiner in the Army. With this info, he also processed my application for a CFI-Instrument-Helicopter. What a deal! It was a two-for-one day at the FSDO! But, we’re not through yet…
He also noticed that I am a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, and knew that the FAA had reinstated the Sikorsky “S70” Type Rating. So, with a few strokes of the pen, I earned my first FAA Type Rating!
After walking into the lion’s den a little nervous and a little unsure, I walked out with two new CFI Ratings and a new Type Rating. Without a doubt, these guys exemplified good service and professionalism. Visits like this go a long way to changing the FAA’s image of “we’re here to help”. They really did help me, and I am appreciative.