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Chapter Has a Technical Counselor or Flight Advisor
By Serena Kamps, Chapter Field Rep I, EAA Lifetime 1011028
August 2021 – The Chapter Recognition Program criteria we’re highlighting this month is probably one of the easiest for your chapter to achieve while also providing tremendous value to your chapter members, especially the aircraft builders in your chapter. All you need to do is have a technical counselor or flight advisor approved by EAA and listed by your chapter. I’ll talk more about how to do that in a minute, but first, what are technical counselors and flight advisors?
Technical counselors are experienced builders who volunteer their time to help members through the build process from start to finish. They provide insight to help builders make the right decisions during construction of their aircraft. A builder can have as many tech counselor visits as they would like during their project. Visits are logged and submitted to EAA. You can keep visit records with your build log as well. Having an experienced set of eyes to look over your work can save time, money, and frustration. The goal of the Technical Counselor program is to help builders present a “zero defect” aircraft at final inspection by the FAA.
Flight advisors are volunteers who have demonstrated expertise in specific areas of flying. They are a great asset to those members who are approaching Phase 1 flight testing of their homebuilt or transitioning to a new type of airplane. A flight advisor helps the pilot conduct a self-evaluation as well as evaluate the flying characteristics of the aircraft. The pilot then uses that evaluation to decide whether he or she is capable of flying that airplane. If not capable, the flight advisor explains where and how he or she can get the proper instruction, or alternatively find someone to make the initial flights.
How does your chapter get a tech counselor or flight advisor? You must have an individual who meets the required criteria for each position, submits an application, and is approved by EAA. The primary qualifications for both are simply experience and willingness to pass that experience along to others. For technical counselors, that experience is typically gained through having built an amateur-built aircraft or ultralight, restored an antique/classic aircraft, or having an A&P certificate with hands-on experience with any amateur-built aircraft, warbird, or vintage aircraft.
For a flight advisor, they must have completed the first flights or test flown three or more aircraft (homebuilt, restoration, or ultralight) and either be a tech counselor with significant flight experience or have significant experience in their requested specialty. For ultralights, they must either be a tech counselor with significant flight experience or have more than 300 hours in ultralights. ATP/CFI or military flight test experience with “showplane” experience also counts.
Tech counselors and flight advisors must complete an application showing their experience along with a recommendation from either the president of the chapter with whom they will be associated or an A&P (for tech counselors) or a CFI (for flight advisors). This application is submitted to EAA for approval. If approved, the applicant will receive a starter packet with a handbook, visit forms, and other materials.
According to our most recent chapter survey, over 30 percent of chapters members said that they joined an EAA chapter to expand their homebuilding skills and knowledge. EAA technical counselors and flight advisors have the tools needed to assist builders in gaining both skills and knowledge. Having this program available to chapter members and even prospective chapter members can be a real asset to your chapter. Besides providing builder assistance, tech counselors and flight advisors also make great candidates to give presentations on specific aircraft building techniques, aircraft building in general, flying new airplanes, or test flying homebuilt aircraft.