Crosswind Concepts' Instructor Corps
Taylor Albrecht, AGI, IGI
Lead Crosswind Instructor
My father introduced me to aviation when I was a kid. Once I quit getting motion sickness, I became infatuated with flying airplanes. Unfortunately I was unable to pursue this love as a career.
After many years of sitting on the side of the runway watching airplanes, I finally achieved a life long dream. I received my Private Pilot Certificate in 2006. I met my mentor-instructor during this time, a gentleman who had many decades of experience flying, from freight in the Northeast to simulators for a major airline. He encouraged me to become involved in a flight simulation business with him. In 2007 I joined him and helped grow that business.
He also encouraged me to pursue my ground instructor certificates and Instrument rating. I achieved all of this in 2007 and found a love and talent for teaching. In 2009 I also received my Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate for airline operations.
I love just about everything having to do with aviation and teaching. I have been blessed with many opportunities to be out at the airport on a daily basis and enjoy the sights and sounds of airplanes. None is better than sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge to students, new and old. I've found a niche with the crosswind simulator and I also teach iPad technology in the cockpit.
Mike Straka, PhD, AGI, IGI
The aviation passion started early for Mike when he watched and photographed the Blue Angels, Bob Hoover and others at airshows in his home town of Reading, Pennsylvania.
Like many in aviation, his early career had nothing to do with flying. Mike has a PhD in physiology from Penn State and was a researcher for the University of Colorado.
He followed his dream and achieved his Pilot Pilot certificate in 2005. He added an Instrument Ground Instructor certificate in 2009. Mike has been very active in aviation for many years, including as Chairman of the Colorado Aviation Business Association(2015) and Colorado General Aviation Alliance (2015).
Mike is passionate about safety and believes his contributions at Crosswind Concepts will make a significant contribution toward decreasing accidents related to improper crosswind technique.
Colin Prenger, CFI-I,
As a kid, Colin’s eyes were always glued to the sky looking at airplanes. He flew his first airplane at the age of 13, and now, he is a full-time Cirrus flight instructor at Independence Aviation. Colin is excited to be a crosswind instructor at Crosswind Concepts because it allows him to help shape safe pilots when the winds aren't blowing straight down the runway.
As a pilot from Arizona, crosswind landings were a foreign concept due to the relatively benign winds Arizona sees year-round. However, Colin has done most of his training here in Denver, and understands the need for proper crosswind technique.
Colin’s favorite part about being a crosswind instructor is seeing his students progress into being confident pilots who can walk away from the lesson knowing they can now safely land the airplane in a strong crosswind.
Paul Dickson, CFI
Many of my students and colleagues have asked me over the years why I have made my “aviation soap box” crosswind approaches and landings. Well, I guess that was because I was once an young, overly confident, low time flight instructor that had an idea of crosswind procedures but never really received the proper instruction (from many instructors) and experience to actually be efficient teaching this “most complicated dance step maneuver” to students. I felt as if I was the blind teaching the blind.
After many lessons where I had the opportunity to teach crosswinds, but didnʼt and elected to do ground school instead, I finally met a old crusty flight instructor who was so good at instructing that he taught me everything that I needed to know within just a few approaches and landings in windy conditions. It was like having a warm blanket put over me on a cold day. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an pilot but as I became an pilot there was this number one real world emergency (crosswinds) and the number one cause of accidents (weather related) in aviation looming over me. This is why I love to teach crosswind approaches and landings, helping other pilots and hopefully giving them an warm blanket.
If you take this basic formula, on an crosswind approach and landing, you are over the runway and landing for only 15-20 seconds. Take the total crosswind landings that you have had and times it by 20 seconds. Thats the amount of crosswind experience you have. Using this formula, most pilots donʼt master this maneuver until they have around 1000 hours of flight time and itʼs achieved by trail and error. Wow!
Once I had mastered the crosswind, I ran into another problem, finding the right conditions to teach crosswinds to my students and taking into consideration, scheduling problems of airplanes, my schedule and my students, it was difficult to take advantage of an situation when it was available. I sometimes had mild panic attacks when my students were close to an checkride and they havenʼt experienced enough crosswinds.
I always wanted a simulator that could realistically simulate crosswind approaches and landings but the technology wasnʼt there until about 5 years ago.
Crosswind Concepts has a crosswind simulator that is very realistic and affordable for every pilot. I now can get on my “soap box” and properly teach not only crosswind procedures, but also situational awareness associated with strong winds/crosswinds in a safe environment. Because the simulator is so specific to crosswinds, I can give a pilot approximately 2 years of experience in a 2 session.