We had an AMA “Ask Me Anything” with Tom Hogrefe on Saturday 14th. Lots of great questions and answers!
Tom is a Certified Flight Instructor – Glider, Commercial Glider Pilot and for Infinite Flight he is an ATC Supervisor and Trainer. Here is the some of the questions and answers from the AMA.
Question: How did you get into Infinite Flight?
I can’t remember exactly when I downloaded it first, maybe in 2013 or 2014. I played a little on solo, but Live didn’t really appeal to me and I stopped using it in favor of other apps.
Fast forward to fall 2016, I wanted to find a flight sim app to use a little in my free time. I downloaded Infinite Flight, played around, and bought a month of Live and the C-130J-30. I joined the forum shortly after and loved the community of it all. IFATC was about 6 months later, and it’s been a consistent hobby ever since!
Question: Why did you get a Commercial Glider Pilot License?
So I could get paid! My club offers commercial rides to tourists, normally via volunteers on the weekends. During the summer there’s a paid crew (tow pilot, CFIG, and commercial pilot) there during the week. Getting my commercial glider license not only allowed me to help out and fly rides on weekends, but also to have the coolest summer job I’ll ever have.
Question: What is your scariest gliding experience if you have had one?
I was flying a traffic pattern in a glider, and a tow plane coming in from the opposite pattern didn’t see me. I extended my downwind a little bit to accommodate him, and ended up flying final a bit behind and above him. There aren’t any good landing spots on near where I was flying base, so my only option was to land at the airfield. The realization that I needed to land while dodging a propeller was definitely the most scared I’ve been, but it shows the importance of thinking a few steps ahead. Having a little extra energy and being able to fly a longer pattern helped me a ton.
Question: How do you measure success with the controllers you supervise?
That’s a tough question. Whenever I fly into controlled airspace, I’m not looking for controllers to do exactly what I would do, but rather that they control their airspace, communicate with their airplanes, and avoid conflicts before they can happen. Proactivity is much better than reactivity.
The other metric is how they respond to feedback. It’s not always easy, but taking feedback as an opportunity to grow instead of criticism shows a lot.
Question: What are some traits you see in real world pilots and controllers that are separate themselves from others?
Something that makes a real life pilot, or a pilot/controller in Infinite Flight stand out is a willingness to learn. Just because you have a license or are part of IFATC doesn’t mean you know everything, just that you’re able to do things on your own. There are always new things to learn and challenge yourself with. Know your limits, push them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Question: What do you have to do with tanks?
Back in elementary school, I had a YMCA soccer coach who would cheer me on by yelling “Tom the tank!!!” I always thought it was funny, and just picked it when I started flying here on live!
Question: What have you learned from training Infinite Flight controllers that you could use in training future glider pilots?
How easy it is to communicate the wrong idea. Whether over text here, or sitting behind someone in a glider, its easy to tell someone one thing, and have them understand something completely different.
Before a training session on Infinite Flight, and before flights in real life, I make a point to talk with students and outline, as clearly as possible, what I’m looking for them to do.
Normally I “start” the training session about 15 minutes or a half hour before. Sometimes we’ll have a guided discussion about what our lesson will cover (sequencing early on, maybe intersecting runways later in the process), other times I’ll talk about something completely different (like ATIS).
If we can’t hold a session when one is scheduled, I try to spend that time talking about things like ATIS, runway selection, progressive taxi, etc. with the trainees.
Question: How much overlap do you find between real life and Infinite Flight?
I’d find more if Infinite Flight added gliders!
To be serious, not a ton. My friends and family know I like to play an airplane game, but I don’t go into a ton of specifics with them.
There’s not a lot of overlap between gliding and Infinite Flight either. I like flying the XCub at my home airport because I’m familiar with the area and it gives me a good frame of reference, but that’s it. I can definitely understand how it would be useful for power pilots to scout out routes and practice though!
Thank you to Tom for taking the time to answer all those questions in detail!
If you’d like the opportunity to join in on these AMAs in the future, talk about controlling, flying, or simply learn more, I’d encourage you to join our ATC Education Group Workshop. You can sign up for free, we hand pick those who apply.