October 12, 2013 11:33:12 PM
William Browning - [email protected]
The small business Les Pogue began in Columbus recently is one most people will never have a need for. The few who do have a need for it, might not seek it out.
What Pogue offers is something for pilots called "upset recovery training." In short, he will fly with pilots into the sky, ease them into tough scenarios like stalls and spins, and teach them how to get out of them safely. Most private pilots have never been confronted with these situations in flight, Pogue said.
"It's not because they are not good pilots, it's that they haven't been trained on it," he said. "And it is a little harrowing."
Military pilots are trained in upset recovery training. So are commercial pilots. But the Federal Aviation Authority does not require people with private pilot's licenses to be versed in it.
"Let's face it," he said. "Less than one percent of the time do things go wrong in an airplane. But the downside is, that's the less than one percent that kills people."
His business is called "Mo's School of Easy Flyin'." (Mo is Pogue's nickname from his Air Force days.) On his business card, it says, "Don't Let Flying Upset You: Recover!"
"That's the sad part," he said. "The vast, vast majority of these things are preventable."
Pogue, 54, is an experienced pilot. He graduated flight school at Columbus Air Force Base in 1984, married a local girl and flew F-16s for more than a decade. He retired from the Air Force in 2001 and got a masters in divinity at a seminary in Phoenix. While in Arizona, he worked as a pilot with Fighter Combat International, a company that offered adventure rides. It also offered upset recover training, and the chief operating officer of Cisco and Bill Gates personal pilot went through the course with Pogue as their guide.
Pogue and his wife moved to Columbus in 2006, and he took a fulltime job at CAFB as a T-6 simulator and ground training instructor. He still holds that position.
A few months ago, he decided to help local pilots with upset recovery. He began speaking to flying organizations around the Golden Triangle. He got his instructor licenses from the FAA. And out of his home, he opened "Mo's School of Easy Flyin'."
The training involves how to handle a plane that stalls. Or ends up in a spin. Or finds itself in what aviation folk call an "unusual attitude," which, for example, could mean turned upside down.
Those are dangerous, nerve-wracking situations for all pilots -- "Every pilot would tell you he has scared himself at least once," Pogue said -- and the key to getting out of them is thinking straight and dealing with nerves.
"I see my purpose as helping them not to enjoy it, as much as I want them to not be afraid of it," he said. "And to know how to get out of it."
He will go up with pilots in their planes and create scenarios -- "but nothing wild," he laughed.
"I get the enjoyment of seeing people learn something they never thought they would learn," he said. "Seeing them enjoy flying, enjoy adventure, is what I get out of it."
Pilots wanting to contact Pogue about upset recovery training can reach him at [email protected]
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.