Karen Michelle Schrader

by Karen Schrader on January 26, 2020

SAFE #: S0004110

Hometown: Brooksville FL, United States

Home Airport: KISM

Pilot Certificates: Commercial ASEL Instrument. Currently working on CFII.

Airplanes Flying/Flown: C172, AA5B, Warrior, Piper Arrow 201R.

Q & A

What drew you to aviation?: Lived near an airfield when I was young. Knew right away I needed to be someone who could fly an airplane.

How long have you been involved in aviation education?: Tried during the 80s' and 90s. Left it for another career in computer technology with better pay and benefits in 1993. Returned to flying just this year (2019) and hoping to return to instructing after getting my CFII which we reactivate my lapsed CFIA. Currently enrolled at a flight academy working toward my CFII and plan to pursue Multi engine and MEI right afterward.

What's your favorite part of what you do in aviation education?: It wasn't aviation related but I knew I was a good teacher and a leader by seeing the smiles of accomplishment from my students. I worked with high school students facilitating a support group from 2012 to 2018. We had 55 students in our support group by the 3rd year. The counselor who oversaw this volunteer program told me that normally there are no more than 8-10 in a support group. Grades and graduation rates went up, absenteeism went down, self harm went down. The counselor was so excited she had to report it to the school board how well the program was working. I had students invite me and my wife to attend their graduations. Just a year or so before they planned to drop out of school and had no parental support at home. Shouting from the stands when their names were read let them know I was there for them. Meeting them afterward in their cap and gowns diplomas in hand is a gift and memory I will hold always. I still hear from several from time to time how they are doing in college and other career paths. I hope to see that same excitement in my pilot applicants

What's your least favorite part of what you do in aviation education?: It will be feeling that I am not reaching them with the knowledge they need to succeed as a pilot. I will monitor my own teaching skills and methods by using other instructors to fly with my students who may struggle to grasp a skill. I might not be proficient enough in my own skills to relay the information they need. Perhaps just to get them over the hump using another CFI would help them progress and they could return to me for finish up. If they continually struggle and another CFI gets them through then I need to brush up my own skills. My goal isn't how many I can teach to fly, it is how many I actually help accomplish their goal to become a good pilot whether I am the one who instructs them or guide them to someone who can. Using other mentors/ instructors as a monitor of my own skills to see where I need o brush up or finding out if its a students lack of ability will help me accomplish that. I do not want to waste their time or money needlessly.

Do you have a memorable aviation experience you'd like to share?: Every higher rating I achieved was memorable for me because as a child I was told on numerous occasions that I wouldn't amount to anything in life. Each rating I thumbed my nose at those memories.

Why did you join SAFE?: Looking for mentorship to become a better pilot and institutor.

What would you like to see change in aviation?: I'd like to see it made EASIER to obtain ratings but with limitations in place for their use until skills are enhanced rather than make it more difficult to obtain one.

What I also see is a massive need for mandatory classes teaching glass panels. It should be a required separate part of the curriculum not a learn as you go. Flight instructors should be provided by their flight schools with training from Garmin and the other vendors on their equipment so they could effectively teach others.

Any suggestions on how the above might be accomplished?: Returning after a 30 year lapse in flying and having to brush up my own IFR skills has been a real challenge for me. Several times I have wondered if I made the right choice to return to flying and teaching.

How do we get there? An IFR rating that restricts actually flying in IMC until a certain amount of REAL flight hours and distance is flown flying a filed IFR flight, cross country and at multiple fields would allow someone to get IFR rated with limitations. After those hours are met filing and flying a filed an IFR flight plan in VFR conditions the limitations could be removed for actual IMC flight only by an instructor sign off after showing the flight log showing the hours and distance had been met and then fying a cross country IFR check ride flight in actual IMC or VFR without guidance from the instructor. The instructor would let the pilot demonstrate their skill or lack of and sign off or not.

I am stunned at the amount of information an Instrument applicant needs to demonstrate today just to obtain an Instrument rating. And even armed with all of that required knowledge they need barely ANY actual flight in IMC to get the rating.

I know 30 years ago it was probably way to lax to obtain an Instrument rating and likely the reason why I am struggling now with my CFII training but frustrating an applicant to the point they question their career choice is just not right. There needs to be a better path to earning an Instrument rating not an all or nothing approach as it is now.

As for the automation portion, Instructors should be provided with vendor training on the proper and efficient use of glass panels, auto pilots and GPS. I spent most of my initial time in my CFII trying to figure out how to use the G1000. My instructor had no actual training himself so he couldn't teach me. He knew the basics. He said to chair fly and purchase a simulator software. I am sorry, a simulator software on an IPAD is NOT learning how to use a glass panel effectively. Its great for software writers but not teaching or learning.

Glass panel vendors should be required to provide training once per month in a different city covering every area of the country and flight school operators required to send their instructors. They would attend and obtain certification in proficiency so they could teach new pilot applicants. Any upgrades or changes to the panels should also require an update session to maintain certification just as a CFI or pilot does every 24 calendar months.

Any accomplishments in, or noteworthy contributions to aviation and/or aviation education you'd like to mention?: Nothing noteworthy just yet.

Who are your role models in aviation?: The CFI who provided my flight review to get current flying again. He was compassionate and patient with me getting current after 30 years of inactivity. I hope to be as compassionate and patient with my new pilot applicant students.

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