EAA Pilot Proficiency Center: An Hour In The Sweatbox
It might be a blue bird sky above, but beneath the tent roof just west of Boeing Plaza at Oshkosh, the skies are gray, crosswinds are gusty, and occasionally an aviator even snags a three-wire for an aircraft carrier landing. Like an aviator’s version of a tent revival, the Pilot Proficiency Center stands ready to give pilots a good return to their roots.
For years, many have flocked to the Pilot Proficiency Center for the chance to brush off the rust and exercise a skillset they’ve not used in a while. Pilots sign up for a time slot at the front door, and like waiting for a table at a restaurant, they get a phone notification when it’s time to work their way back for the lesson’s briefing.
The PPC doesn’t teach basic flying skills—this isn’t a first lesson, but anyone who has gone beyond their first solo is welcome. The lessons, conducted in Redbird flight simulators, are hourlong scenarios.
If you want a free lesson, though, it pays to swing by early in the day. “Most slots are usually filled by 9:30 in the morning,” said Karen Kalishek, chair of the National Association of Flight Instructors, who manages the PPC.
The instructors at the PPC are top notch as well. “Most of these instructors have certificate numbers beginning with the number two,” Kalishek said. While they might not all be gray-haired and stooped, the PPC instructors have instructed a broad range of students and are adaptable to all student types.
Lessons are available simulate engine failures, VFR-into-IMC flight, gusty crosswinds, and the chance to try out aircraft carrier landings—and just about everything in between. Packets issued to the pilots have all the necessary charts and documents necessary for the flight. After the briefing, students and instructors file to the sims where they pull on headsets and the fun begins.
The tent revival atmosphere’s days are numbered, though. Obviously, there are only a few days of AirVenture remaining. But beyond that, the PPC’s future is destined for a brick-and-mortar existence as part of the EAA Air Museum’s expansion, which is slated to open at AirVenture 2022. Then, it will become a year-round educational resource as opposed to a week’s flurry of activity at each fly-in.