FAQ for Pilots
Q. What does it take to become a Pilot Mentor?
A. Ensure that you (and your aircraft) meet the criteria in these 3 critical areas:
Pilot Mentor Requirements:
Valid airman’s certificate.
Flight log showing 250 flight hours total time (minimum).
Current medical certificate.
Qualified and current to carry passengers in the aircraft you plan to use (log).
Proof of current biennial flight review.
Proof of Aircraft Passenger Liability Insurance ($1M combined liability minimum) for the aircraft used (owned, rented, or borrowed).
Safety Requirements- In addition to providing the above documentation, PMs must agree to comply with the following:
Adhere to all applicable Federal Aviation Regulations.
Conduct all STEM Flight missions during daylight hours and in VFR weather conditions.
Complete a Criminal Background Check
Requirements for an Approved STEM Flights Aircraft:
Must have less than 2000 hours since last engine overhaul.
Must have a current Annual/Conditional aircraft inspection.
Must be clean and in safe & fully operational condition.
Q. How does STEM Flights handle liability and insurance?
A. You must carry a minimum of $1M liability insurance for every STEM Flight, which is industry standard for Public Benefit Flying organizations. Additionally, parents and guardians must sign the liability waiver prior to the student being paired with a volunteer pilot. The FAA also has a ruling regarding liability protection (See section 584) for volunteer pilots who fly for the public benefit.
Due to our small operating budget STEM Flights does not provide additional liability insurance for Pilot Mentors. A STEM Flight mission is the same as offering a neighbor or friend to fly with you, we do not offer flight training or charter services.
Q. How do you find students for STEM Flights in my area?
A. We work with local educators, school systems, nonprofit partners, aviation organizations, and marketing initiatives to reach students in your area. Word of mouth referrals are also quite common, and we always invite Pilot Mentors to refer friends and family to our program.
Q. Am I allowed to take the parents/guardians with me during the flight experience?
A. We do not advertise that parents are eligible to participate in the flight experience because we want the mentoring and learning to come straight from the Pilot. However, it is up to the Pilot Mentor on a case by case basis to allow the parents to join the flight. If you are ok with it, we are ok with it. We simply need to have every person in the cockpit sign the Waiver of Liability.
Q. Is there a fee for students? How is STEM Flights funded?
A. The flight experience is FREE for students, thanks to Pilot Mentors who donate time and aircraft costs to our program. STEM Flights is funded through private grant funding and donors. This support provides STEM curriculum development, program management, administrative costs, and national outreach campaigns.
Q. How is STEM Flights different from other aviation experiences for youth?
A. We are very similar to other organizations in the fact that we depend on pilot volunteers to introduce aviation to youth. However, STEM Flights is more than a discovery flight. We ask our students to complete online learning related to STEM careers in aviation before entering the cockpit. We also require a letter of recommendation from a teacher or mentor as to why the student is deserving of this type of experience. The flight becomes a learning laboratory through customized checklists for pilots to use in flight. After the flight, we offer additional resources to pursue STEM and aviation careers. Finally, STEM Flights follows up with the student annually (about 5 years from first experience) to determine the impact that the aviation experience had on his or her career choices. This data will be used to create STEM and aviation educational programs in the future.
Q. Do I have to own an airplane to become a Pilot Mentor?
A. No, Pilot Mentors may rent an aircraft from a flight school or use an approved club owned aircraft. Currently we are developing volunteer opportunities on the ground that pilots can take part in that do not require flying. These programs might be events, online learning, ground school basics, or airport facility tours. If you are a pilot and do not have your own aircraft, contact us to see what type of volunteer opportunities you might be interested in.
Q. Can I volunteer if I am not a Pilot?
A. Currently we are developing volunteer opportunities on the ground that individuals can take part in that do not require flying. These programs might be events, online learning, ground school basics, or airport facility tours. Contact us to see what type of volunteer opportunities you might be interested in.
Q. I’m not a teacher, how will I be able to convey STEM learning concepts in the cockpit?
A. STEM Flights has developed a Pilot and Student Checklist, so you don’t have to come up with learning objectives on your own. For every STEM Mission, our program has pre-designed Learning Objectives that you will go through during the flight experience. These checklist items are suggestions to help you plan your flight, but we want Pilot Mentors to create your own version of a STEM Flight that best highlights the area you are flying. For example, if a student selects “Aerial Mapping and Photography”, you might know of a unique geographical point of interest that best highlights this STEM Mission. The most important contribution you provide to a student is Mentoring. So please share your personal story, discuss your professional career choices, and highlight how aviation has impacted your life.
Q. How much time is required for a STEM Flights Mission with a student?
A. In general, we ask you to set aside 2 hours of time for a STEM Flights Mission. Here is an estimated breakdown of time:
Phone call with parent/guardian and student: 10 - 20 minutes
Preflight and checklist at the airport: 30 minutes
STEM Flight Mission experience (flight time): 45-60 minutes
Debrief and answer questions: 30 minutes.
Q. What is the time investment to become an approved Pilot Mentor?
A. The total time it takes to complete the application, document upload, and training is between 30-45 minutes.
Q. Do you offer fuel reimbursement?
A. Per FAA regulations (part 91.146), we are unable to offer compensation or fuel reimbursement to volunteer pilots.
Q. How and why was STEM Flights created?
Q. I have more questions, how do I contact someone at STEM Flights?
A. You can email Carley, our Director of Development at email@example.com