The EAA Pilot Proficiency Center is returning to AirVenture this year, and Plane & Pilot is proud to announce our support of the effort, which is a real no-brainer. The Center will take center stage at the EAA crossroads just west of the big showcase square. This year, the center will feature more sims, more square footage, more instructors and a broader mission than ever before, all as part of a master plan to help more pilots than ever before make more progress on staying on top of their flying proficiency.
As many of you know, I’ve personally been a proud supporter of the effort since Hartzell president Joe Brown announced the first installation four years ago. At the time, it wasn’t the Proficiency Center in name, and there wasn’t a sim to be found anywhere. That first center was the result of Brown’s growing passion for the work of the IMC Club, now a part of EAA, a startup organization at the time that was essentially a regular social gathering of pilots in locations around the world that met and talked about the complexities and joys of flying by gauges.
Like Brown, I’d taken a keen interest in the work of the group, founded by CFII Radek Wyrzykowski. It gave pilots a forum to talk about a subject that was more complex than they had tools to deal with, and the support of the group reminded them that, one, there’s a lot to the pursuit of IFR proficiency and, two, you can’t learn unless you ask questions. I worked at the unnamed center, parked anonymously by the flight line that year, participating in discussions and answering questions when I could. At every session, the crowd was peppered with IFR aficionados, so there were answers galore.
The success of the effort was clear, and over the next few years, the center picked up steam, first becoming the IFR Proficiency Center and then, last year, the Pilot Proficiency Center, sponsored officially by EAA. By year two, Brown had forged a partnership with the folks at Redbird Flight (then known as Redbird Flight Simulations). The missions synced so spectacularly well it was one of those matches made…well, you know the expression. Redbird’s sims not only were great learning tools, but they had the huge advantage of being able to fly the sim pilot on complicated scenarios, so the IFR flight essentially would be a guided lesson of discovery. That the discovery process often involved rapidly changing weather or changes in arrival should surprise no one.
Along the way, other partners were recruited/volunteered/pushed their way in. Jeppesen was a prime player from year one, enlisting its experts to spread the word with its spectacularly popular Tech Talks and weather chats, and the terrific instructors from CFI organizations NAFI and SAFE (presented in alphabetical order) volunteered to help pilots get the lay of the LAN. There have been live controllers courtesy of PilotEdge and huge ongoing financial support from Jeppesen, EAA, Hartzell and Redbird (without any of whom none of this could happen).
By last year, the IFR Proficiency Center had been renamed the Pilot Proficiency Center, as EAA sponsored the outreach to more pilots in more ways, with Redbird leading the charge with its advanced platforms with scenarios that would challenge the best of us.
Details on the EAA Pilot Proficiency Center are still emerging, but expect the best experience ever there. There’s no cost to pilots of any experience level who show up to participate in any of the events or to try their hand at a scenario or two. And the benefits, after they spend an hour or two there, will be crystal clear. Improved proficiency, and we all know what that means.
See you there!