Eric Tallberg

by Eric Tallberg on July 29, 2019

SAFE #: S0004469

Hometown: Sparks NV, United States

Home Airport: KRNO

Occupation: Software Product Solutions Manager

Education: BA

Pilot Certificates: CFI SEL; Ground Instructor AGI

Airplanes Flying/Flown: Warrior; C-172; C-182; C-152; Bonanza; Pilatus; Gliders

Q & A

What drew you to aviation?: A previous USAF Firefighter who probably took more interest in seeing the planes fly than learning how to douse them started it, but one day I was driving in my previous home town and watched a plane descend into what seemed like the middle of the city. Even though it was a small plane, I had no idea there was an airport where I watched him descend. I found the airport after becoming concerned about that plane, sat at the parking area at the end of the runway and began wondering what it takes to be inside that fence.
Calling a local instructor, I found myself at KASH and had NO IDEA how to get in (a problem with this particular airport is that there is seemingly no real "public entry" or FBO or obvious restaurant and so getting people to come and check things out is unnecessarily confounding). The instructor gave me instructions on going into the gate, suddenly on the taxiway!! I felt like I was going to be taken out by an A-10 at any moment, but simultaneously found it exhilarating.
Finally taking the intro-flight, and with the CFI who "went IFR" for a minute to take me between cloud layers to see the beauty of the sun rays piercing the top layer onto the bottom… I was hooked. I've been a Private Pilot since 2005, Instrument rated, Commercial, and now a CFI. Next up will be CFII and Multi-Engine!

How long have you been involved in aviation education?: I've never stopped since I obtained my license, but in reality, two years ago I passed my Commercial "ride" and knew CFI was next. I've been reading SAFE for the last year and finally committed. I'm actually not technically yet a CFI as I passed the oral exam, but had to discontinue the flight portion, but will be a CFI before the end of August (2019) without a doubt.

What's your favorite part of what you do in aviation education?: My current employer is a software developer and I've been responsible as the Training Manager in the past, to bring folks to be able to use our software to improve their processes. I have an ability to reach almost anyone I've met in some way to present complex material to them and ensure they understand it and can apply it to their work. Loving Aviation now, it's an obvious melding of my "job" and my "hobby" into something that I HOPE to be more than "just a CFI" (hence why I'm here!).

What's your least favorite part of what you do in aviation education?: Explaining some of the wasteful concepts and FAA requirements to someone who clearly won't be a danger to anyone. The guidance of the INTENT of the FAA regulations has been lost a long time and it's tedious to get through some of it. Coming up with ways to improve a pilot's "desire" to be better than what we're forced to be is somewhat of a task instead of something we go through as pilots to ensure safety. Too many "Hold my beer" actions taken by others is the reason for it, and trying to weed out the wicked might be a better use of time.

Do you have a memorable aviation experience you'd like to share?: Too many to list in a single box. I've flown to Toronto's Billy Bishop (from the US), Nova Scotia, to a marathon at Wright Patterson AFB, to my old USAF stomping grounds at KCHS, flown into Triple Tree Aerodrome, Flown in a Bonanza (co-pilot of sorts) into Oshkosh, bought my Warrior (since sold) in Carson City and flew it literally ACROSS the country (meeting all of my Commercial requirements at once) to KASH, and simply taken flights in my local area with people who appreciated the work and dedication it took for me to buy a plane and show them how fun flying can be.

Why did you join SAFE?: When I started my training to become an instructor, I was EXTREMELY worried that I had to memorize WAY too much material to pass the test and searched for ways to study more effectively. Many sites helped, some were useless. I happened to find this site during that search. In reading it and also the blogs that have been sent to my inbox, I feel like I can learn a lot along the way and then eventually contribute. One thought I had was for those who are in training and what I went through and am going through to learn from my mistakes, but also from simply figuring things out that might not have been necessary to "figure out" if I had been told. Things like "you don't need to memorize everything to pass the test" would have been great. I don't blame my instructor. He and I had great conversations about becoming a CFI and he had full confidence that I would and likely assumed that I understood the process as well as he did. Unfortunately, a few other CFI candidates I've spoken with all had the same misunderstanding and I think we (in aviation and specifically aviation education) are unknowingly scaring off potentially GREAT CFIs. Those who are very capable instructors but feel that their "memory skills" are not good enough for this endeavor.
In the end, I feel as though this might be a good organization to learn and hopefully contribute information for others to better understand the idea of aviation instruction/education. I think there's a bit of an unintended interpretation that CFIs are the only way to learn or to instruct (at least legally, I know this is true). Organizations like SAFE, FAAST, AOPA, EAA… all try to help pilots be better pilots and it's a great idea that I hope pilots take better advantage with good information.

What would you like to see change in aviation?: The process of becoming a pilot. It's an antiquated system that is based on a test (almost all pilots have found Sheppard Air at some point after their Private Pilot test), and a practical exam with maneuvers that are not really as relevant as they once were. In my experience in the last 14 years of flying, avionics are more complex, the system in which we fly is complex and yet still very simple once its understood. Why do we fly in the first place? What could go wrong, and how to fix that are DEFINITELY necessary and shouldn't be overlooked (stalls, slow-flight, etc), but there are just no new ways that I know of, that are relevant to today's flying and MORE IMPORTANTLY, to how younger folks are going to learn and not feel outcast.
The process of becoming a pilot is so riddled with "you can't to these 2000 things, but enjoy it all!" that it's any wonder why anyone wants to do this. Obviously the stronger emotion is, "I'll do what I need to do to get that green card and have fun!" and hopefully they continue to find the joy of flying beyond the rigidity of the Federal Aviation Administration. (They put rules in place for a reason, and I get that. Their process for becoming a pilot is unbelievably restrictive instead of instructive!)

Any suggestions on how the above might be accomplished?: This is too broad of a subject and likely underway at some level. However, the pie-in-the-sky idea is that they relinquish the licensure to the NTSB. The FAA can remain the rule-making committee and review process for those who break the rules, but someone else needs to provide the certification process. This would allow instructors to be held to standards (The ACS is a step in the sort-of-right direction, but still focuses too much on regulatory instead of actual safe-but-fun flying).

Any accomplishments in, or noteworthy contributions to aviation and/or aviation education you'd like to mention?: None yet, other than bringing the industry to my inner circle of family and friends and being willing to talk about aviation and to also bring a better understanding to general public people when they are interested. As a (almost) newly minted CFI, I'm hoping to be a bit different in my approach. I'm held to the standards I'm held to, and I appreciate that, but I want to take the failings (not to minimize the excellent instruction I've always had) of my "upbringing" into the aviation world and make things better. In the words of my current CFI, we as instructors build on the shoulders of those who have come before us. Maybe I'm that naive to think I can change the world, but at least I'll try and fail like those who have come before me, but maybe one more step is taken to remove some of the shackles we apply to new pilots a little earlier in the process.

Who are your role models in aviation?: All of my instructors. Some were more successful at some things than others, but all 3 of my "main" CFIs have all brought me to a much higher level. None failed me outright. There were failings, but I've LEARNED from them. These are not negatives, but positives and I know I'll fail some students in some ways.
I enjoy watching the "famous" pilots do their thing, but to me, they have honed their craft to a point that they are paid to entertain. That's not a role model to me. The quiet CFI who can teach me what a Frise type aileron is, but WHY and make it meaningful are more important.

Anything else you'd like to add?: Do you really want more than this?? :)

Thank you for assembling this site. I'm hopeful to become some sort of contributor at some point, but right now, I'm "taking it all in" and hoping to become a good Aviation Ambassador for new pilots. I'd prefer to mentor someone into aviation than instruct them into it.

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