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Training & Education Committee

AOPA has a very strong, corporate membership, many of whom are involved in flight training.  In addition to this many of the pilot members are current flight instructors, chief flying instructors and examiners.  Until the inception of JAR, leading now to the EASA regulation, AOPA oversaw the appointment of PPL flight examiners and most of the syllabus that pilots train to was written and produced by AOPA.  The Training Committee is responsible for all matters that revolve around training and flight safety.  The committee itself comprises some of the UK's most experienced instructors and examiners, bringing with them great depth of experience and knowledge.

When it comes to new regulation and legislation this is paramount in combating unnecessary regulation and also ensuring that new regulations are fit for purpose challenging changes that add nothing and lead to an escalation in overall cost as well.

The committee meets four times a year and reports to the Executive.

Over the years the Training Committee has developed for AOPA a number of training modules that extend pilot experience and safety.  These include:  The AOPA Aerobatics Course at three levels developed in conjunction with the British Aerobatic Association, the AOPA Radio Navigation Course and the AOPA Flying Companion Course.

Additionally, as it is now a statutory requirement that instructors attend a flight instructor refresher seminar every other renewal, the AOPA Training Committee is the UK's major provider of these courses and offers discounts to instructor members.

The Training Committee has been working with the Members' Working Group on the AOPA Mentoring Scheme aimed at enabling people to develop their flying skills with other pilots without the expense or requirement of a full flying instructor.  The Committee also produced the criteria and syllabus for the AOPA Wings Scheme, again designed to encourage pilots to extend their experience levels.

The Training Committee was also a prime mover in developing the NPPL and IMC ratings, produces the original concept document and syllabus for the licence and continues to offer advice in this respect.

All Instructor members also benefit from the free 'first aid' legal advice available through AOPA in the event of an incident.

Ian Marshall is a vastly experienced Pilot, Instructor and all round thoroughly decent chap. He has just taken the Chair of the AOPA Training Committee, so we spoke to him about his love of flying and what he hopes to achieve in his new role.

Ian has more than 17,000 hours of Air Transport, Flight Training, Air Taxi, Freight, and Aerial Work in his logbook. He has pioneered twin-engine aerial advertising, contract flying for the military, been an instructor since 1981, been named AOPA instructor of the year and even worked as a stunt double for a Hollywood actress when piloting an aircraft in a film scene.

“I’ve had huge fun in my flying career, I’ve been an instructor sine 1981 and I worked for the airlines for 25 years,” he said when he spoke to AOPA Magazine.

His varied career so far, has included writing the book on twin-engine aerial advertising, literally. “My colleague and I wrote all the documentation to get the CAA’s approval to use multi-engine banner towing in the UK, so it could be flown over London,” explained Marshall. “We did everything by the book to be approved. It was huge fun, there was no training available for this, so we went down to Britten-Norman on the Isle of Wight. We put a banner up (the only one available was in Russian) and strung it across the airfield, then used a sky hook to pick it up. We sorted the technique out pretty quickly. I can only imagine what the residents of the Isle of Wight thought seeing this banner written in Russian being towed around the skies.”

He has also had fun working in the TV and film industry. “I was Jessica Lange’s stunt double once. I was wearing a fetching little day dress over the top of my clothes,” he said.

The film was Sweet Dreams, where Lange was playing the part of Patsy Cline. The film included a scene involving Cline’s death in an aircraft accident. “It was a huge operation with two film crews, three helicopters and two fixedwing aircraft,” explained Marshall. “And we were up in Snowden crashing into the side of a mountain for two weeks,

it was a lot of fun. Luckily there are no photos in the UK of me in drag, I’ve got a reputation to keep!”

One thing is clear, Marshall is a pilot’s pilot and relishes all forms of flying. “I’ve been flying for the best part of 40 years and I’m not bored of it yet.

"I enjoy flying all aircraft, I adore gliding, but it doesn’t adore me. I’ve flown so many aircraft and appreciate it all from the love of sport flying, or a long hop to Le Touquet for some lunch, but if my Euro Millions came in there would be a DC-3 parked at White Waltham.”

These days, Ian mainly works as an airline training consultant around the world. He was asked to become Chair of the Training Committee recently, but already knows what he wants to achieve…

Role as Training Chair

“We need a new start in the training and instruction world. There are two sides to training; we have trainees and trainers, the Training Committee should represent both aspects. The point

of the training committee is that you have some of the most experienced instructors in the land (I don’t count myself in that list) and we have all this expertise, but we’re slightly disconnected. If someone is having a problem with their training somewhere there should be a place for them to come to for wisdom.”

“I want to have all the AOPA members feeling that they can refer any training matter to the Training Committee for a resolution, but on the other hand, the Training Committee should lead with information on the best way of teaching. We need to work with the CAA to get us back to the point where we’re the natural point of reference for matters on training. And literally get that interface between our membership and the Training Committee. We need to come out with materials that people can use; I would also like to increase the membership of the committee so we have a wider representative of the AOPA membership.”

“We really want to enthuse the entire thing and turn it into a dynamic force across the land that members will find useful when they’re getting their licences and their ratings. From airline training all the way down.”

“A lot of stuff we are taught when we become an instructor comes from a military background. Now this is absolutely fine for the military because potential pilots are screened within an inch of their lives before they commence their training. But our basic audience, those that want to learn to fly, are self-elected, if they have the money, they’re in. So it’s not as clear-cut as exercise one to 19 in a select order, and people’s learning skills differ widely. The instructors role is to be able to take the basic material and convert it into a method and terminology that people can pick up and understand, and it’s not always that easy. From the instruction point of view, Flight Instructors come out of their training and they’ve got the technical knowledge but learning the instructing technique can be difficult and they’ve got nobody to get mentoring from. They should be able to come to us for help. Instructing is one thing, but dealing with the customer is another. The wide variety of trainees can range from the switched-on techno kid to the 50-60 year old that has always wanted to fly, they could have the patience, but not the knowledge to pick up on what you’re talking about. There’s also the social dynamic of someone in their 20s teaching someone in their 60s, how would they handle that situation?”

“We’ve never really addressed this in the instruction community before and it’s always been a ‘go along and work it out for yourself ‘ attitude. We should start to leverage that collective knowledge for the greater good.”

WORDS: DavidRawlings IMAGES: IanMarshall/Nigel Ish

Training Committee Terms of Reference

  1. The Training Committee will seek to further the aims and objectives of AOPA UK and IAOPA.
  2. It will concern itself with instructional standards and other matters relating to flight instruction.
  3. It will endeavour to remain abreast of developments regarding instructors and instructional standards that are being discussed outside AOPA and make recommendations to, and aim to influence thinking within, the CAA and EASA.
  4. It will develop and update flight training syllabuses and products for the benefit of flight training in the UK and organise flight instructor refresher seminars.
  5. The Committee will report to the AOPA Executive Committee and provide advice and opinions on matters relating to flight training.
  6. Membership is by invitation from the Chairman or AOPA Chief Executive.
  7. Meetings will take place about four times a year.
  8. At least half the membership shall consist of currently practising flight instructors.
  9. A member who misses four consecutive meetings without reasonable cause shall become a Corresponding Member, at the discretion of the Chairman.
  10. A Corresponding Member will continue to receive Minutes of meetings but the Agenda and next meeting date and venue will not be sent in advance.
  11. The Chairman will write to thank a member for his/her service to the Committee following cessation of membership or corresponding membership.
  12. Publicising the work and findings of the Committee in the AOPA Magazine and, where appropriate, farther afield.

The list of regular members is provided below:



Ian Marshall

Chairman AOPA Training Committee

George Capon

Seawing Flying Club, Southend Flying Club, PPL IMC SEP MEP Examiner, FAA CFI and CFII, Officer Commanding 614 Volunteer Gliding Squadron MDPGA Wethersfield, Airline Pilot flying A340 and A330.

David Cockburn

Royal Institute of Navigation and CFI RAF Waddington Flying Club

Carol Cooper

Head of Training and CFI, Andrewsfield Aviation

George Done

Chairman AOPA UK

Matt Lane

Head of Training, RAF Brize Norton Flying Club. Deputy CFI, 637 VGS, RAF Little Rissington

Chris Martin

Retired CFI & Examiner, still instructing after 32 years at Exeter

John Pett

Flight Instructor Refresher Seminar Coordinator, AOPA UK Board Member

Dorothy Pooley

Head of Training, Pooleys Flying Instructor School

Martin Robinson

CEO AOPA UK, Senior Vice President IAOPA Europe

Chris Royle

CRI, West London Aero Club, AOPA UK Board Member

David Scouller

Head of Training, Western Air (Thruxton) Ltd

Nick Wilcock

AOPA UK Board Member, Chairman NPPL P & SC, IAOPA Europe representative EASA Part-FCL Partnership Group

David Taudevin

Aviation software consultant and Flying Instructor specialising in historic aircraft, advanced handling and ab-initio flying training.

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