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Attending an FAA FIRC…A Labor of Love!

Posted 4 years 97 days ago ago by Randy Rowles

Every two (2) years, all Flight Instructors are mandated to renew their highly coveted flight instructor certificate. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provides several paths to obtain a renewal, my preferred method is to attend a Flight Instructor Refresher Course or FIRC. 

I guess it would be incorrect to say that I only attend a FIRC when in fact I host and present course material during FIRCs I attend. Additionally, I attend several FIRCs each year. I don’t believe there is any other teaching that I do where I have more enjoyment than when I’m teaching a class to my peers…Flight Instructors! 

To some, the FIRC process is laborious and, in many cases, just plain boring. This is a failure of the presenters, not the FIRC process. 

The FIRC when attended face-to-face is a 16-hour program consisting of a selection of 11 core topics which are clearly prescribed in FAA Advisory Circular 61.83H. The overall intent of a FIRC is provide an opportunity to train-the-trainer on the latest information available, and to refresh the instructor’s knowledge of material relevant to teaching FAA airman applicants. A good FIRC is challenging and enjoyable at the same time.

Our culture, not just in aviation, but in a general sense has become dependent upon electronic media. Due to this fact, many within our industry prefer to take their FIRC courses online through a web-based program. Although this is an FAA approved method to renew a flight instructor certificate, this does not provide an opportunity to engage the presenter and fully interact with each topic. It is this interaction that provides the catalyst for learning to occur!

I love to learn! I love to teach! The ability to attend a face-to-face FIRC has provided both passions that I share an opportunity to grow! My first attendance at a FIRC was at Heliexpo many years ago. Ironically, it was at Heliexpo in Dallas, Texas that I first got an opportunity to teach within that same venue. What a thrilling opportunity to engage up to 130 fellow flight instructors on subject matter related to our singularly shared passion…helicopter flight!

My career as a Flight Instructor has taken me around the globe and provided an opportunity to work for some of the most prestigious helicopter companies within our industry. I continue to be in awe of the technology advancements occurring on an almost daily basis. Each new element within our industry provides me yet another opportunity to teach something new! How? Because that is the intent of the FAA’s FIRC process…to spread the good word of aviation.

I would love to see younger faces in many of the FIRCs I teach. I encourage every flight instructor to attend a face-to-face FIRC. To any flight instructors interested in attending a helicopter-specific FIRC, one is provided at Heliexpo each year.  I am pleased to say that I will be teaching at Heliexpo 2019 FIRC in Atlanta, Georgia. We would love to see you there. 

Remember, “The mediocre instructor tells. The good instructor explains. The superior instructor demonstrates. The great instructor inspires.”

― William Arthur Ward

About the Author:
Randy Rowles has been a FAA pilot examiner for 20 years for all helicopter certificates and ratings. He holds a FAA Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate, NAFI Master Flight Instructor designation, and was the 2013 recipient of the HAI Flight Instructor of the Year Award.  Randy is currently  Director of Training at Epic Helicopters in Ft. Worth, Texas.