Editor’s Note: The author’s long aviation career has included stints as a flight instructor, line pilot and chief pilot, during which he accumulated considerable time flying everything from the F-4 Phantom and C-5 Galaxy to Gulfstreams, Globals and every model of Falcon Jet. Periodically, when matters of pilotage and aerodynamics become subjects of debate, he likes to step back, don a figurative mortarboard and conduct an open, interactive class to examine the subject. And so another session begins.

I recently received a note from Steve Koeppel, a Gold Seal Flight Instructor, asking me to review a video with which he took issue. By way of background, Gold Seals are men and women who not only flight instruct but also have the Ground Instructor Certificates that allow them to give their students academic instruction as they progress toward their various ratings. To earn such a designation, the instructor must teach a minimum of 10 students annually and of all those instructed, 80% must attain the next highest level of accreditation as a pilot. I always have been impressed with the work these folks accomplish. In my opinion, the Gold Seals constitute the FAA’s “Teachers of the Year.”


The video in question is a production of NASA’s Cleveland research center, which conducted a tailplane icing investigation at the FAA’s request.

While the video dates back to the 1990s and was completed before the Lewis center was renamed in honor of Sen. John Glenn, I have found no more recent material to update the recommendations and procedures that it establishes for pilots who find themselves in conditions severe enough to ice up the horizontal tailplane of their aircraft.