Page 6.21 (13,385+)
Instructors Learn, too
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Instructor Notes; Instructor Ideas; ...Instructor Factors; ...Preflight Discussion; ...Instructional Advice From Over Thirty Years Ago; Teaching Precepts; ...Advice to Instructor; ... I am a Professional;...On Instruction; Instruction as I Do It;... Departure Procedure; Post-flight Debriefing; Area Familiarization; ...The Cockpit; ...Introduction to the Radio;...Pilot Errors 50 Years Ago; ... Instruction as an Accident Factor; ...Teaching to a Higher Level; ...A Training Program; ...Major CFI Applicant Problems Areas; ...Gaining Experience; ...Instructional Sequence; Age as a Factor in Instruction, Ouality or Quantity; Abnormal Situation Training; ...Communication Mistakes by Instructors; Providing Experience as Instructional Purpose; A Need to Understand; ...Teaching; CFI Hours; Written Post-Flight CFI Reports; ...Teaching to Be PIC; ...Instructional Accidents; ...Liability after an Accident is LIABILTY;
--Instructors should be taught what constitutes proper instructional conduct and behavior. First, do no harm, raise no fears, instill no faults and kill no desires.
--Instructors should be taught that they bear responsibility over life, as does a medical practitioner.
--An instructor who violates the NAFI code has a problem that needs to be brought to his attention
--Refer your student to some of your former students.
--Instruction should not be based upon time, convenience or cost; rather teach for safety and competence.
www.beapilot.com or 888-beapilot CFI marketing package.
--Airplanes are like horses and women, the lighter the touch the better the performance.
Factors ..................Facility Factors
Appearance and Experience..... Aircraft
Attitude ....................................Who's in charge
Communication skills ................Classrooms
Time in type of aircraft ...............Economics (Cost)
Pre and Post flight briefing......... Willing to counsel
Safety practice ..........................Interactive learning
Simulator availability ..................Policies of promptness
Weather experience ...................Training aids
Pre-flight Discussion :
The maneuvers to be performed
The departure and arrival area/checkpoints
Common errors to be expected and anticipated
How you can measure progress?
When is a 'mistake'?
Instructional Advice from Over 30-years Ago
The performance of any complex activity, such as flying an airplane, requires the learning of highly conditioned responses. Subject matter must be recalled instantly, and procedures must be performed reflexively--without hesitation or dependence on conscious thought. Consequently, good performance in complex activity requires study and practice beyond conscious thought. This study and practice is called 'overlearning', and is accomplished by exercise, drill and repetition.
Instructors can make best use of the time spent in drill and
repetition learning activity by adhering to the following principles:
1. Prescribe practice which is objective and is practical in application. Trimming.
2. Define the specific training objective. For landings the stabilized approach.
3. Determine in preflight discussion that the learner has a thorough understanding (insight) of the problem or task. Control position while taxiing.
4. Emphasize the importance of accuracy and technique, and provide the additional motivation to achieve it. Performing course reversals.
5. Provide guidance, which is neither too controlling, nor too lax, and which permits experiencing what not to do, as well as learning what to do. Radio procedures.
6. Emphasize relationships of parts and tasks. Teach trainees when and how to expect transfer of skills learned in training to good on-the-job performance. Dutch rolls.
7. Prepare the learner for variations, and what to do when variations or changes require modification of procedure. Bring as many realistic variations into the training as time and conditions permit. Left and right patterns in crosswind instruction.
8. Be alert to recognize the problems and needs of individuals. Regulate your methods and temp to the personality and learning pattern of each student.
9. Remember that higher levels of learning (the ability to apply and correlate) will aid the trainee in transferring knowledge and training from one task to another.
10. Attitude flying and precision aircraft control (which requires the understanding, crosscheck, and use of all flight instruments) should be taught from the start of training to facilitate transition to high performance aircraft and instrument flight.
Canadian learning law #7 is called "Law of relationships in which instruction is sequenced from the known to unknown, simple to complex and easy to difficult.
--Really good pilots don't brag about it.
--A good pilot is most apt in a capacity to utilize cockpit resources.
If you expect to teach successfully you must incorporate humor as the leavening to make your points rise properly. Learning is fun in and of itself, a well placed remark or joke will serve as a memory 'tag' to keep the learning point in place. Science and technology will triumph over fear and superstition, God willing.
--Docendo Discimus...We learn by teaching. He who teaches learns twice. When by yourself,
you are the instructor.
--You don't know what you don't know. ..and what you don't know can kill you.
--Much of what you think you know is incorrect. Misplaced assurance causes accidents.
--Together, we must find out why you don't know what you don't know.
--It is practice of the right kind that makes perfect.
--You will never do well if you stop doing better.
--Students never fail, only teachers do. The more I teach the more certain I become| that this is a fundamental aspect of all education.
--A student's performance is not so much a reflection on the student, as it is on the instructor's ability to teach.
--Learning is not a straight line up...let the teacher set the standards of performance.
--Much of learning to fly is to unlearn preconceptions and habits.
--Unlearning is a very necessary and difficult part of learning to fly.
--The way you are first taught and learn a procedure is the way you will react in an emergency. It's important to learn right the first time.
--You learn according to what you bring into the situation.
--Being prepared for a flight saves you money by saving time. Efficiency is not a shortcut.
--Given the choice, make the safe decision. Surviving a mistake is an invitation to do it again. Turn down the invitation.
--If you must make a mistake, make it a new one.
--One problem is a problem, two problems are a hazard; three problems create accidents.
--It's great to be good; even better to be lucky.
--Trusting to luck alone is not conducive to an extended flying career.
--We progress through repeated success; we learn through our mistakes.
--An instructors knowledge is proportional to the mistakes he's made only once.
--My writings use the editorial "he" for convenience not because of any sexism.
--However, left-handers have an advantage, they are in their right mind.
--Good habits deteriorate over time and bad habits take root.
--Accidents happen when you run out of experience.
Self instruction is the garden that raises bad habits.
Our failures teach us. If you want to increase your chances of success, double your efforts.
... almost always. Nothing is always.
--Luck will do for skill, but not consistently.
--One should never underestimate the stimulation of eccentricity in a teacher. It challenges the teacher, too, when occurring in a student.
--The nice thing about a mistake is the pleasure it gives others.
--If you fly long enough the 'answer' is going to be "Carburetor Heat".
--Never underestimate the stimulation of eccentricity.
--You're only young once, but you can be immature forever.
--Every day you fly you set a new record. You have never lived so long before.
--Flying, like life, is full of precluded possibilities. Can't do...won't do... shouldn't do...
--What you know is not as important as what you do with it.
--Legendary Lucille Ball gave this statement that very much applies to flying, "Knowing what you can't do is more important than knowing what you can do."
Advice to Instructor:
According to 61.23 (b) (5) an instructor does not need a medical to instruct qualified and current private pilots, commercial pilots or IFR pilots. However such an instructor cannot serve as a safety pilot in any instance. Such an instructor can give flight reviews if the pilot is still qualified and current. No hood time can be given. No student pilot instruction can be given.
Go down to lost and found and get your memory every time you have a senior moment.
As a teacher, I was not given to meaningless praise or reward. As a flight instructor, I judge the lesson by knowledge applied, improvement observed, and satisfaction achieved. The achievement of normal expectations is viewed as acceptable but not deserving of profuse adulation. Only when my retarded students did beyond the usual were they praised. Praise, thus achieved value by not being a throw-away for everyone. My gifted students were always faced with ever higher expectations. My standards were once compared with an ever extending extension ladder. One of my many weaknesses as a flight instructor is an unwillingness to accept from a pilot or a student less than their highest level of performance. Close is accepted only when accompanied by significant improvement. It is a poor student that does not exceed his teacher. Those who read this material will someday come to regret that they did not make better use of their ability and time. In my old age, I hurry more than ever before to do the mundane. I need to garner more time to do more of value.
The instructor helps you teach yourself to fly. The instructor tries to get inside your head. He wants to recognize your fears and concerns. The instructor is trying to use what you know and don't know to shorten the time and lower the cost of your learning to fly. Good instructors like to teach. They will keep you from getting hurt. You progress as you wander through all the mistakes that every student pilot should make.
Once read, that every advance by mankind has been achieved by laziness. I hate to see students preflighting inefficiently. I believe that flying correctly is the easiest way to fly. Every maneuver can be either easy or hard depending on how 'lazy' the pilot has been in knowing how to make it 'easy'. I cringe when a pilot works too hard at flying. Flying is easy only when it is efficient and I don't mean using an autopilot.
I am a Professional
I am a professional teacher of flying. I was a professional teacher for twenty years before I began teaching flying. I belong to a professional flight instructor's organization and have for as long as it has existed. I attend professional seminars, subscribe to over a dozen different papers and periodicals related to better instruction and safer flying. I spend hours a week in furthering my own professional background. I am not trying to use instruction as a 'stepping-stone' to another career.
Flight instruction is predominantly intellectual as is penmanship. The mechanics of flying are not as important as the development of knowledge, discipline, judgment, and discretion. Everything I do is specific to the student. If a student fails to do well it is my failure; not his. A good instructor will have several ways to explain and teach a specific skill. What works for one instructor and one student at a particular moment is unique to that moment. I have never been able to teach any procedure, basic skill, or idea twice in the same way with the same effectiveness. While I try to become more effective and efficient in time and aircraft use, I can never claim to have done any better just differently.
of instruction and learning is such that it defies being canned or rote except
in the most simple of situations. The teacher never really knows if a
specific word or particular demonstration is truly sensed, learned, retained
or ignored. Repetition, review, demonstration and practice
compound. Still there are students who cannot prove comprehension or
demonstrate satisfactory performance. I have had more success than
failure but that too is just my opinion.
I only give flight instruction in those areas for which I am trained, current, and qualified. I am dedicated to flying and spend most of my time and energy working to improve myself when I am not teaching. My major weakness is a lack of patience for those who do not feel as I do.
I teach flying because I like to. It is not the flying I like so much as the teaching. I love flying but most of all I love to teach others to love flying. I intend to teach the love of flying which only incidentally involves learning to fly. A student can only love flying if it is a source of pleasure and satisfaction.
If, in the process of learning to perform the 'required' maneuvers of flying, the love of flying is suppressed, then there is something wrong with my instruction. I have failed my student and myself if a given flight does not move toward the greater love of flying for us both.
Objective: Plant the seed that grows into the love of flying.
Objective: Make flying performance a source of increased love of flying.
Objective: The result of properly performed flying makes the love of flying intense and more enjoyable.
Objective: Making use of flying to increase our love of other things we do will increase the love of flying.
Objective: Out love of flying increases over time as our performance and result improves.
Love will enable the student to do what needs to be done.
Love will provide the circumstances and means for a student to keep on flying against all obstacles.
Love will keep you from ever feeling that you have enough improvement or time in your flying.
Love IS the objective; flying is the pathway..
Instruction as I Do It
The preflight instructional meeting between student and instructor is the time to augment the learning sought, the orderly progression of thought and procedure, and the communications involved. Every flight should include both a planned emergency of sorts and an unplanned (for the student) emergency. Acceptance of accountability is essential for a successful learning experience.
An instructor is loaded with pearls of wisdom. Good instructors share these pearls at every opportunity and even make opportunities for sharing. A good instructor shows and tells a student how to maintain control by letting the aircraft do as well as it can without his help. Pilots who fly the plane without making use of the aircraft's ability usually fly a pilot induced oscillation route. Flying any airplane is easier and better if the pilot understands how the aircraft engineers designed the inaction of the structure and control authority.
A major factor in learning to fly well lies in learning the range of performance capability possible in the aircraft and matching that relatively wide range to the initial narrow range of performance capability in the student pilot. The preflight presentation must be designed so that the student is introduced to what will be done in light of these ranges.
Airspeeds and changes in them are a good example of the varied and conflicting performance capabilities that exist between planes and student pilots. Aircraft have their speed ranges shown somewhat on the airspeed indicator. The mid-ranges of the indicator are those where the greatest 'safety' seem to exist.
Like a bicycle, once you get going, steering and control seem relatively positive and certain. At the outer limits of the airspeed indicator critical differences in what can go wrong appear. Initial instruction occurs in the middle of the performance range. Then gradually the outer-limits are explored.
With slow-flight as an illustration, an instructor may discuss why slow-flight skills are a necessary part of learning to fly. He may demonstrate slow-flight and recovery. Then talk a student through the process. Slow-flight turns, climbs and descents come later along with the use of flaps. Stalls and minimum controllable soon follow. Where, previously, training existed in the mid-range of aircraft performance and student capability, now we are exploring the outer-limits of both aircraft and student capability.
You can phone ahead to your destination airport and get the ATIS. More and more uncontrolled airports are getting ASOS and AWOS they are phone accessible. Call the FSS and have them make the phone call for you. Pilots will need to become proficient in selecting the 'preferred runway' using wind numbers and pattern directions. You should have an AF/D with the numbers and pattern info.. Knowing what to expect is what makes radio work easy. Don't try to write everything down. Get the essentials on paper and remember what you can of the rest. I suggest that you use the back of your hand to write the ATIS numbers on. Should you be fortunate enough to be left handed it works best. Make a half-inch + sign on your hand and write the essentials in each corner. Wind direction in one corner, wind velocity in the next. Altimeter setting next and then runway in use. At the top write the letter of the ATIS. If you think of the vertical line as your runway, you can draw a / one way or another to show about what crosswind you are expecting.
I insist that my students always copy the ATIS with the engine running. There is nothing like having something costing you money by the minute to focus your attention. Learn to play craps if you need this point proven to you. Take pride in getting it all in one full ATIS transmission. Being able to get it the first time will save you time and money for the rest of your flying life. The best proof of this axiom is learning to gamble. Of interest is the item that smokers lose, on average, eleven percent more than non-smokers when gambling. Poor judgment crosses all activity boundaries. I have never taught a smoker to fly.
Many students constantly feel like there is something they are forgetting to do. The first hours of flying are an overwhelming experience. I always use a tape recorder for my students. They provide the recorder and the tapes and all ground work is recorded as well as all flight time. Students can then play the tape back afterwards and have a better idea of what things went right as well as what still needs work. The digital recorders have expanded the time and versatility of recording your flight lessons. Cost is less since you don't need tapes.
By now you should have noticed that about 90% of all radio procedures are 'canned' ...always the same. The next time you are going to fly between airports, take the time to write out word for word what you are going to say and what you expect to have said to you. Once you do this successfully you have the radio problem licked. I have some examples under CCR on my web site.
Before I take a student up I go over everything we are going to do. In teaching pattern work I draw on paper or using a line of the tarmac as a runway with a pattern around it. At every point of the pattern (walking) say out loud such things as hold heading, airspeed and altitude. Pre-landing--(checklist on a small card Velcroed to the yoke) Abeam the numbers, C.H. - power - trim - airspeed - flaps... and so on. A student will seem to be behind or pressed for time because he is not thinking ahead at least steps in anticipation of what comes next. What you do will soon become so automatic that you become over confident and stop using the checklist. That's the time to be concerned. When you think you think you know how to fly... be twice as careful.
The purpose of this meeting is to assemble all the information into a meaningful and organized memory package. We want the student to understand the safety concepts involved, aircraft performance factors and especially the planning procedures for making a flight. In the course of the presentation and afterwards give the student an opportunity for input and questions.
Interesting that I have just read as the most effective method to communicate at a table is when seated at 90 degrees. I have always preferred this method in giving single student instruction for fifty years. Nice to know an expert agrees with me. It is most likely that if we are seated in a teaching-learning situation we will be seated at 90 degrees.
I am presently teaching a student who flew eight hours out of a Class C airport without being allowed to use the radio. I have no idea as to what the instructor's concept of primacy, or sequential building of radio procedures might be. The student has had to work extra hard to overcome a training deficiency not of his own making. Unlearning and overcoming of difficulties is so many times more difficult for a student than being taught correctly from the beginning. The previous instructor's teaching exacerbated a student problem by ignoring its existence. Radio is a major part of today's flying. Now, several years later, I feel that the next giant step in aviation must be in letting airborne computers 'talk' to both ground and space computers with lights or sounds to speed up the ATC system. The technology exists but the 'system' will resist just as it has resisted all other changes.
Radio, or any other ongoing aspect of flying, cannot be taught in a massive sequence of material. The teaching of a skill must be reduced to multiple bits (less than ten) of sequenced material. Sequenced material can be more readily processed from short term to long term memory. Even then a student must be allowed a time to see the sequence and accept the logic of any order involved. Many years ago I was told that a word must be used 32 times before it can become a part of your useful vocabulary. A given sequence of less than ten items must be utilized nearly ten times before it is capable of useful retention. If a particular sequence cannot be presented to this level, then it must be reinforced with additional sessions even again and again. It is for this reason that learning to fly needs to be concentrated into as little time as feasible. Four or five flights a week can be justified if there is a logical sequence and development in the lessons.
Without being fully aware of its over all significance I have always emphasized reference points during air work flights. I attempt to fly in different directions make different departures and arrivals. Once we begin to fly between airports these previously designated reference points become radio arrival call-up points. Now in the twilight of my career I see that the efficiency and order of my instruction has insured confidence and success in my students. The reinforcement of previous learning has made subsequent lessons more meaningful and successful.
An essential element of all my flight instruction has to do with pilotage. We do not even look at a chart until my students have made a solo flight to the four other nearby airports and back. We have already been there two or three times on dual flights to learn all the reporting points and radio procedures. With this background diversions to airports and 'cow pasture international' are relatively common events. Knowing where you are is a major step in being able to use the radio properly. I want my students to know where the nearest airport is and what it takes to get to the best available runway with altitude available.
I hold my students accountable for learning assigned reading and study material. I expect them to be familiar with applicable student and flight FARs as well as standards of courtesy and performance. I expect my students to participate in the planning and measuring progress of the training program. I also expect the student to be honest with me about his fears, concerns, and any sense of not being prepared.
As the instructor I will attempt to keep the program on track and efficiently organized for the least practical cost. I will be honest with the student as to his abilities and potential. I do believe that when a student fails to learn, I have failed to teach. As an instructor I try to impart to the student what he needs to know to a higher level than will be required in normal operations. I will not deliberately try to impress the student with what I know but I will keep trying to expand the student knowledge base of the area. A pilots becomes unsafe if he does not have a mental reserve sufficient to handle the unexpected.
It is not always easy to communicate effectively. Body language makes a difference. If your attitude, body language, and demeanor radiates confidence, a student is far more likely to be successful. An instructor's selection of words, phrases and even topics are significant in they way what is said will be received by the student. MY problem is that my body is having difficulty moving let alone talking.
Flight instruction and flying cannot just be centered in the middle of the aircraft/student capability. Students need to be exposed to their outer-limits to sensitize them for avoidance. Students need to be made aware that the performance capability of most aircraft greatly exceeds that of the student. The blending of the two capabilities, student and aircraft is what flight instruction is all about. This is a never ending teaching/learning process.
The Departure Procedure.
What effect will the weather have on the flight? The wind direction makes a great difference for flights. Between airports flights but not so much in airwork flights. The presence of clouds and their location as well as altitude are teaching-learning opportunities. Cloud clearance is easy to talk about but the real learning can only take place through actual exposure.
Abnormal conditions are a part of flying and should be a part of the instructional program. Any instructor or FBO that would limit exposure of students to crosswinds of a six-knot maximum, and there are those, is providing disservice instead of service. Weather flying is opportunistic. When a weather learning experience exists, the instructor should make the most of it.
The flight abortion procedure along with its call-outs are a part of every departure. The reasons for aborting are varied from airspeeds, controls, fire, or whatever. The procedure is pre-planned as to call-out, responsibility, and performance sequence.
The immediate pre-takeoff checklist would include mixture, transponder, lights, strobes, trim, flaps seats, belts, and doors. A brief hold at the threshold can always be requested to confirm compass/HI set, and brakes. Use a standardized method to confirm that every necessary step has been completed. Be it flow, or finger-touch is not as important as it being DONE.
The actual takeoff involves confirming an active airspeed indicator, callout of rotation speed, positive climb, gear, and flaps. Post takeoff call-outs should include reaching airport minimums, frequency changes, headings, and altitude restrictions.
Situational awareness is the game when en route. This means eyes outside the cockpit. It also includes area familiarization. The route of flight is covered along with primary visual identifier points. During the flight additional points should be identified as they affect future flights, safety options, and altitude. You must (should) be aware of what you can see ahead and to the sides. Just as importantly you should know what is out of sight below you, to the rear, and beyond the horizon.
Once again the weather conditions function as a flight factor, the abnormal weather, the winds are factored into the flight. Added in, however, are deviations and a different selection of options covering the most routine to the next emergency. These items are all of the preflight briefing. However, when things related to this briefing occur in the flight itself, they are only discussed as part of the debriefing after the flight. This post flight evaluation is to show how effective or ineffective the preflight briefing was in anticipating events. The pilot who is not two planning steps ahead of his present situation is 'behind' the aircraft.
The preflight briefing is designed to help the instructor and student to plan the arrival process as the conclusion of a series of other planned events. The arrival consists of several time spaced sequences. The student must be taught and trained to anticipate the communication requirements of an airport arrival. The distance from the destination is used as a basis in which to plan the descent and do those things that can be done ahead of time. The planning included positioning the aircraft for several different runways. Only communicating with radio or ATIS will make the preferred runway selection. The pilot still has the option to suggest/request another runway. In strong winds do not hesitate to request a taxiway if you feel that is a safer alternative. Been there; done that.
The post-flight debriefing begins as a self-evaluation by both student and instructor as to why certain. operations were less than successful or why some others went well. This final process should emphasize the prevention of similar mistakes in the future and the continuation of those elements that went well. The entire preflight instructional meeting above has an advanced parallel in the crew briefings associated with the airlines.
I tend to be, too, intense in my instruction. I want my students to succeed, save money, and learn quickly. I love flying and teaching it. I have difficulty accepting that others may have other conflicting interests like jobs, vacations, and family. I am constantly narrowing the student's perceptual field to flying or a single aspect of it. Students, on the other hand, fail to see that flying is not just the 'fun' of being in the air. Flying is the homework, preparation, and required knowledge to make the 'fun' safe. The best flight instruction takes place on the ground, it is on the ground that you are exposed to the habit of preparation that makes flying safe. Learn the habit of "What if..." before you ever get into the plane. Murphy's Law exists in flying as in everything else.
The teaching process requires that the performance objective proposed to the student be explained, diagramed, and demonstrated. I demonstrate those objectives that are difficult to explain. I will create situations that are likely to be a part of the students later experience such as all the things that can go wrong during landings. In all maneuvers I will try to give the student the cues to use. Not all are visual. Sound is a very important first cue to changes in airspeed. The element of success in any flight lesson is the best motivation. I try to find some success to tie up the flight package. I avoid relating problems of the lesson as a 'blame'. We learn as much from our mistakes as from our successes.
Before a lesson I have established what to teach and how to teach it. First I decide what ground preparation is required. I will walk and talk the student through the big picture and then go through details of anticipation and those parameters of expected performance. Since we are building, usually, on prior knowledge we must review those aspects preceding every lesson. Without the prerequisites the lesson will be less than satisfactory. Every student's flying career is like a new painting. The lesson plan for a previous student must be adjusted to fit the next. The instructor must find what works and mix and match the learning process to achieve the final result. There are many routes to the same destination; some are more difficult, bumpy, frustrating and expensive but all will get us there if we persevere.
An intensive flight instructional period should not exceed 45 minutes of new material. Any instruction of new material beyond this time will result in deteriorating performance and frustration. However, it is important that a student's endurance be extended. It is little clues that warn the instructor of student fatigue. Failure to clear, pull carburetor heat, or trim correctly are common signs. As an instructor, I point out to the student my detection of fatigue and continue the lesson only to review material while returning to base. Physical fatigue is not as significant as is fatigue brought on by emotional pressures inside the student. The poorest judge of fatigue and the performance impairment occurring is the individual involved.
If the student has not prepared for the lesson, then the lesson should be canceled, changed to a review, or otherwise adapted for best utilization of resources. The student should be told the sequence of maneuvers the instructor plans to follow. New skill elements will be introduced early in the lesson. Review and skill maintenance will be covered as time allows. Any discussion, along with diagrams and walk through, should cover the procedure, control movements, power settings, common errors, and performance standards.
While there may be more than one way to teach a flight skill, some ways may be quicker, more efficient, better, cheaper, or safer. Behind the way I do or teach a given skill is what I have learned from mistakes with numerous students, pilots and instructors. Since the ultimate goal extends beyond a trainer, the student should be taught from the beginning, as though he was in a higher performance aircraft. The instructor who initially takes the easy way to teach is performing a disservice to the student and thus to aviation. I have detected in checkrides such instructional faults as allowing a tight grip on the yoke, not using trim, always making partial flap landings, not verbalizing clearing, and not permitting the student to do the radio communications. I try to concentrate on procedures that are safe to use in the worst of circumstances.
If a particular maneuver is not performed by a student to acceptable levels the instructor should choose the most economic method of correction. Instructional skill is demonstrated where the instructor is able to detect, analyze cause, and provide corrective feedback to the student immediately. Some correction of errors should wait until landing. Perhaps a demonstration by the instructor is required. (My past students have indicated that I may not demonstrate often enough.) Have the student repeat the exercise while the instructor talks through the procedure. Have the student talk through a dry run before doing it again. Every student and maneuver will require a slightly different instructional touch. Rules and requirements will not make you a knowledgeable, safe pilot--instruction will.
If the flying process is tending to overload the student it is best to remove the pressure. The instructor may assume radio and traffic watch or even talk the student through a procedure. Make sure that the student is reducing the work load by correct use of trim for airspeed. Have him talk through each maneuver as an aid to the anticipation required for smoothness. Be aware than much of 'getting behind' in flying has to do with airspeed control. Trim!!
The truism that the way you first learn something stays with you for life applies doubly to flying. The student who is taught procedures in flying that were acceptable or even standard forty years ago may be dangerously unsafe today. The radio techniques of forty years ago are the equivalent of Elizabethan English in today's airspace. The God-like ability of the instructor to perform flying miracles of precision and performance gives a halo to even antiquated instruction. The student, with his flying career ahead, can only proceed oblivious to deficiency of procedure and the hazards created thereby.
A student may begin to feel various pressures to solo. I do not solo a student until he has good command of the basics of flight control, FARs, airspace and communications. I do not teach landings until the basics are near mastery. Only them do we learn about the emergency and special situations that can occur in the landing and takeoff process.
I have instructed at a largely general aviation airport (CCR) with two sets of dual runways. This has been fortunate because the potential complexity of arrivals and departures makes it doubly important that the instructional process prepare the student for this complexity. Any pilot capable of planning arrivals and departures to this airport need not fear any other. My first airport meeting includes a visit (with a tape recorder) to the tower and other facilities. The visit includes introduction to the tower chief and controllers. Since 9/11 these visits are no longer possible.
From the tower I point out the runway directions and numbering system. I make a point of discussing the flight of aircraft in the pattern as to position relative to runway and direction. I show how the differing locations of aircraft as they call up on the radio can show you where to look in reference to your movement and location. Next I point out the two- mile reporting points for each runway as they are used for straight-in or base arrivals. The Concord Airport Class D footprint is a communications required area extending a nonstandard 3.1 nautical miles from the center of the airport up to 2500' AGL. I point out the wind sock and how it can be interpreted as to wind direction and velocity. I make a tour of the ramp to show student how to look at airplanes according to manufacturer and types. When ATC (Air Traffic Control) advises you to look for a certain type aircraft, it is important that you know what it looks like. It is even more important to know where you are. Knowing where you are is the best stress reducer known to flying. Stress focuses the attention and vision. It is the partial reason finding an airport or an airplane is difficult.
In addition to the tower and home facilities I will take my students to a Flight Service Station and a radar facility. But not since 9/11 limitations prevent such visits for safety reasons having nothing to to with student pilot. I prefer to self conduct these trips since FAA personnel often see the facility from a different view. From the visits the student can appreciate and see the logic behind some of the recommended ATC procedures. I see that the student gets a practical tour suited to the flying being done. The visit to facilities removes the mystique of ATC and gives the radio voices reality. If these visits occur early on, it is worthwhile to repeat again when correlating knowledge makes the visit more meaningful.
Regardless of the student's experience I like to begin with a directional orientation exercise. I first ask the student to point to magnetic North. In Northern California a surprising number of flyers still believe the highway sign system which more often than not has signs saying North that is actually West, etc. The fact that Northern California is really West of "Southern" California only adds to the confusion. Any pilot departing South from any major airport in California can expect to be over The Pacific Ocean within 200 miles. After getting the four cardinal headings sorted out, I like to position all the cities around the airport for a distance of fifty miles. Lastly, I point out the directions to nearby airports.
Prior to entering the plane, after the preflight is completed, a complete discussion and analysis of both planned departure and arrival are made. On the first lesson this may consist of only mentioning toward a particular city. As lessons proceed, the coverage becomes more specific and intense as required knowledge for solo flight. I will generally warn the student during our phone conversations as to what to expect and how to prepare. According to the runway, a specific departure request is required to get us where we are going. Choose a specific checkpoint toward which to depart. Have the student locate the checkpoint and figure out the request to be made to the tower. An additional benefit of this instructional process is that the student can use his knowledge of airport checkpoints for traffic awareness. An airplane reporting at the other side of the airport from your departure can virtually be eliminated as a hazard. However your downwind departure may be in conflict with an aircraft reporting two mile base.
During each departure, flight checkpoints along the flight line should be pointed out as to identification, distance, and runway orientation. These points will be incorporated into the radio work for subsequent arrivals. This radio planning for arrivals is best done on the ground prior to departure to be followed by a known arrival.
The area orientation process proceeds gradually with discussion and explanations over many lessons. A complete diagram of the airport is provided the student with most reporting points identified at two, five and ten miles around the airport. A visit to the tower gives the student a better idea of the airport layout. By understanding the ground controller's viewpoint of the airport and the tower's view of the various checkpoints the student will be a safer pilot. The student is expected to visit the tower once for each three-hours of flight time. Taking coffee to the controllers is a plus.
The planned return to the airport requires that the beginning student at least have an idea of which way to go. Later flights require discussion and analysis that covers at least three or four runways with a variety of entries and two-mile reporting points. In my instructional material I incorporate an area diagram covering call up checkpoints as well as an airport diagram giving Class D airspace checkpoints and two-mile reporting points. Intermediate position points are included where practical.
Using the tape recorder I go over all the instruments and controls. I pay particular attention to the markings and divisions on the dials, their degrees of accuracy, reliability, and source of power. I display aircraft papers and manual and recommend future study and perusal. I emphasize positioning of pilot, setting of seats, belts, windows and doors. I introduce positioning of controls and switches. I demonstrate the setting and release of the parking brake. This is information often omitted in checkouts. I will recommend that the parking brake not be used as a normal procedure because of its unreliability. I demonstrate operation of primer, throttle clutch, and fuel shut off valve. I show how the last few inches of rearward yoke movement goes up as well as back. Most of all I introduce the way the radio knobs and switches work. With the Master Switch on I will show how successive counts of 1-2-3-4 will give 10 degrees of additional flap. We will note irregularities on the flap indicator and practice getting the count so that we get 10 degrees every time. This eliminates one additional distraction during the landing process.
I introduce the ATIS frequency, 124.7, the alphabetical sequencing, order of information during the day, and how to use this information. Most important I show how the data may be written for maximum usefulness by entering the data in the four quadrants of a + chart. I give the phone number to use for home use and practice 685-4567. To avoid mixing one ATIS with another it is best to use Post It Stickers with one to every ATIS
I then take the student through what to say to Ground Control and to the Tower. If no headset: I always make the student initially practice what to say while holding the microphone to his lips with his left hand. Held too far from the mouth, the microphone admits engine and propeller noise. It is surprising how difficult some find it to talk into a microphone with their left hand. All ground radio operations with the microphone should be taught and done with the left hand. For flight operations the right hand should be used. It only takes a one time experience with ATC and having the mike in the wrong hand to make this way of training relevant. A yoke switch and headset eliminates the problem but the training technique and skill is still worthwhile. Learn to keep the mike in your hand if only by the cord. Don't start the engine until you have practiced the radio work.
Before you enter the plane you should have noted the active runway, the wind, and the direction you will be departing. By guessing at wind direction and velocity the student can gain ability to second guess the ATIS and interpret windsocks at airports. The preflight consists of a complete tape-recorded walk around from which the student will make a scratch checklist. The 'why' of each item will be discussed with cautionary notes. It usually takes at least five revisions of the checklist before an acceptable one is achieved. Every pilot should develop his personal checklist for each aircraft.
I have made it a practice to make each departure from the airport in a different direction using differing departure procedures. The most complex of these departures is the 270-degree overhead. This 270 departure will allow many cross country trips to be initiated on the course line. Likewise, arrivals are planned to give a variety of checkpoints and pattern entries. This departure/arrival study is followed by a complete oral radio review of what will be said with anticipated response from ATC. The student must be taught how anticipation allows him to PLAN where to say what. Always practice communicating the correct words without pause. The student uses the radio from the very beginning. You must learn to talk airplane.
After you have received the ATIS, you want to position the aircraft so as to be over a well-known geographic point commonly used as a reporting point but at an uncommon altitude. The selection of this point should be far enough away so as to allow you to plan your arrival and prepare what to say on the radio. These points usually allow you to select the best one of the several five-mile points for entry into the ATA. The knowledge of these five mile points and their associated two mile points helps you, the pilot, plan what to say on the radio. This can be studied but will still require actual performance to develop skill. You have done the callup correctly when the tower says, "Approved as requested". You will never stop learning how to make arrivals.
After a couple of flights the student should begin to see how a given two-mile point may serve both as a two-mile final reporting point and as a 45 entry for another runway. Concord, due to its parallel runways, has a relatively complex arrival/departure system. One reporting point may serve as a two-mile base reporting point for different runways. It will take many flights and much instruction to master its multiple options.
I follow the same discussion and analysis for our arrival and departure at neighboring airports. Fortunately, these airports are in different quadrants and vary from having a Class C airspace underlying a Class B airspace to uncontrolled. For years I have made a practice of using these airports for pre-solo landing instruction and practice. This has meant that the student gets the practical experience of departures and arrivals. He develops familiarity with procedures, airports, and landmarks in a 25 mile radius surrounding his home field. I can only guess the comfort such knowledge provides the student on solo cross-country flights.
Aircraft radios are usually divided into two separate parts: Communications and Navigation. For now we will deal only with the COM side. The on/off switch works for both sides. As with most radios, the on/off switch is also the volume control. There is a 'squelch' control that is adjusted to just below the level of hearing a hiss or buzz. Where reception is poor, the squelch would need to be full right. More Initially you will need to know only four frequencies.
ATIS on 124.7,
Concord Ground on 121.9
Concord Tower on 119.7
At this point I show how the frequency range and selection is controlled by the knobs. I suggest that the sequence of frequencies at our home field can be very quickly and efficiently selected by counting the clicks. I explain the used of the squelch control and how a volume selected for taxi may not be sufficient for takeoff.
There are two COM frequency control knobs. The large knob controls the numbers to the left of the decimal point and the small one those to the right. The large knob can be turned completely through the numbers right or left from 118 to 135. Turn right to get larger numbers; left for smaller.
How the numbers appear when turning the small knob will vary but, it is usually from .0 through .95. An additional switch can allow an additional place value that gives up to 720 radio frequencies. The numerical values can be changed continuously in either direction. I would suggest that you practice turning in sequence
from 124.7 to 121.9;
from 121.9 to 119.7
from 124.7 to 119.7
from 119.7 to 121.9
from 121.9 to 121.5
These changes are those used for normal leaving and ending at CCR (Concord) Practice in counting the clicks as you go left or right from one frequency to another. You should do this so that you can reduce the amount of attention (distraction) needed for changing frequencies. Try it; you'll like it. Where an aircraft has dual radios, the operation and understanding of the control panel will be explained.
You should note that the frequencies for both sides Com and Nav, of the radio go from 108.0 to 117.95 on the Nav side and from 118.0 to 135.95 on the Com side. These are the aircraft VHF FM, (Very High Frequency, Frequency Modulation) frequencies, limited to line of sight reception and transmission.
An ADF can be used for reception only on four AM (Amplitude Modulation) radio bands and is not restricted to line of sight. The frequencies are shown in magenta. One of the four bands is the standard commercial broadcast band. The ADF needle will point to the selected station only on the ADF setting. On REC the best reception of music is possible. Military radios use UHF (Ultra High Frequency).
50 Years Ago
In December of 1947 an Air Force study released the following analysis of pilot errors that precipitate accidents. There is no reason to think things have changed since then.
50% of problems are "substitution" errors where the incorrect control is moved
18% are "forgetting" errors in which the pilot forgot to unlock, check or use a control.
18% are "adjustment" errors by operating a control too slowly, rapidly or into the wrong position.
5% are unintentional activation.
6% were "reversal" errors such as moving the control in the wrong direction.
3% are caused by inability to reach a control.
Instruction as an Accident Factor
20.4% of all flying is instructional
14.1 of accidents occur during instruction
84% of go-around accidents are by students.
14.1 of accidents are maintenance related.
15.3 of accidents are fuel related.
Teaching To A Higher Level
Because of the concentrated information that is being loaded on the student in the beginning, I use a tape recorder so that the material is available under less stressful conditions. This allows the student to listen and make notes about unanswered questions or concerns. With the instructional tapes as a guide the student can plan a head for the next lesson. the first thing I usually ask of a student is, "Are there any questions?" I average over thirty minutes of pre-lesson ground instruction before every flight. If a procedure can be walked through, we walk it through.
I use the (old) FAA Instructor's Handbook from page 85 as a lesson plan guide but I have many variations and supplements to the basic requirements simply because I feel that the FAA requires only a minimum and I don't teach to minimum skills. Prepare for the lesson by reference to the syllabus and ;I very much recommend that you call the instructor the night before a lesson to confirm that you have read the related reading material from the FAA texts or equivalent written in a more interesting style.
I have been known to be a difficult taskmaster in setting my performance criteria for students. I admit to some tendency to press students in their accuracy in flying a specific airspeed instead of accepting the POH variable range. I admit that I expect my students and pilots to be proficient in their radio work. We rehearse on the ground and in the air until it meet professional level. I admit that I expect taxiing skills be practiced and developed quickly. I admit that I take a bit longer in soloing my students. However, after my students solo they progress quickly and efficiently in their ability to fly solo between airports of all kinds and complexity. My students use trim for all changes of configuration; they fly hands off and use only two fingers on the yoke.
My students have been exposed to crosswinds up to 18 knots at 90 degrees. They have flown SVFR and marginal VFR. They have landed on a farmers field. They have flown to a weather emergency field and made a surveillance approach using radar assistance. They have made their night landings at least five different airports. My students are proficient at pilotage. They know where they are! My students are, if anything overly proficient, in their ability to follow ATC instructions and to suggest other options. My students are respectful in their care and treatment of the aircraft, courteous in their relations with other pilots and aircraft. My students transition into larger and more complex aircraft with a minimum of time and difficulty because they have learned to fly and control the C-150 or C-172 as though it were a much larger and complex aircraft.
A Training Program
I make a practice of having prospective students come to my home (office), or other suitable place, for a couple of hours to discuss flying. I request that the student arrive on time with a tape recorder. Too much information is covered to be remembered, otherwise. We begin by discussing their needs, requirements, motivation, background and prior experience. Sometimes, the specific future flying plans of the a student requires somewhat different instruction. I advise getting any insurance and appropriate flight medical before beginning training or making any purchases.
A student is not supposed to know very much in the beginning. I will ask many questions as an instructor. It is not my intention to demean the student. I need to find out the student's limits of knowledge. I need to know what you don't know. When I get a wrong answer, it probably means that I asked the wrong question. A major part of teaching is knowing the question to ask that will enable the student to identify the upper limit of his knowledge. The correct question and answer combination leaves the student with a sense of accomplishment. It allows the instructor room for further extension of that knowledge. Questions are a learning/teaching tool.
The study process is just beginning with the completion of traditional ground and flight readings. The initial information package is just the foundation upon which to build. I set up a flight and study program according to the situation as I see it. I explain how the success of any teaching I may do depends on their background. The better the student understands the value and necessity of the study program, the more likely I will find a well-prepared student for each flight.
Thanks to the use of the tape recorder much greater instructional efficiency can be obtained. More time can be spent on the ground both in preparation for the flight and in flight review. The student knows that the information is available for review. The tape recorder in the air gives the student an opportunity to re-fly the exercise. The student will hear directions over the intercom system that he responded to without thinking. Things will be said on the radio tape that never reached his consciousness during the actual flight. It is suggested that the student playback the tapes initially while driving and then during study periods where notes and outlines of information should be compiled on 4 x 6 cards or a computer file. This information can be a valuable review program later. Just because information is on the tape does not mean that the instructor can assume it is understood and capable of being applied.
The best time to begin flying lessons is in the late fall. This is the time of the year when weather will allow development of go/no-go judgment in the student. It also allows the exposure of the student to SVFR (Special Visual Flight Rules) and other adverse weather under the guidance of the instructor. Weather will help determine the spacing of instruction. Cross country flight conditions will provide a desirable mix of winds and weather. Night flight requirements can be met well before midnight. By late spring the student should finish his requirements and complete the flight test just in time for the good weather of summer. The summer is used to develop hours and experience. By winter, selective flying can continue secured by the knowledge acquired the previous year. Too many students give up flying when faced with winter weather unlike any they experienced during a summer of instruction.
In recent years the "total immersion" method of flight instruction has come into vogue as an efficiency/cost saving mechanism. It works, at a cost in experience. A certain amount of seasoning experience that is acquired by extending the instruction over varying weather conditions is lost by such concentration. Compressed training both in ground and flight training makes it possible to produce an educated fool who flies. I would like my students to grow in experience by enjoying flying. As a pilot advances up the flying ladder, he will find that ratings and knowledge are expected but experience is preferred. Experience is an unpleasant teacher since it gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.
Aviation skills are composites of several fundamental elements. The single elements are introduced, learned, and mastered on at a time through practice. Practice of the right kind that is. Each element is then combined with another element. The aggregate of the single elements is harmonized through practice and anticipation until they produce a continuous flow called a maneuver. A maneuver is not mastered as an entirety until the basic elements are mastered and sequenced. The success of a maneuver is based on the performance of each basic element. Any defective element will affect the maneuver and can be the precipitating cause of an accident.
The ideal is any teaching program is a plan that gives maximum positive transfer of a selected learning skill to a progression of tasks with a minimum of interference between skills learned in separate tasks. What this means is that the making of 30-degree banks in basic flight maneuvers in level, climbing, and descent will be applied to the traffic pattern as they are performed with variations in flap configuration. This is a complex process where the instructor and student are seeking consistency, anticipation, and safety awareness.
There are only two types of flight instructors; those who are trying to get out of instructing and those who are trying to stay in instructing. I am trying to remain an instructor because I see a need. The treasure of experience, required of an instructor, can only be built up by operational time. Unfortunately, it is time that causes a reduction in experienced instructors.
Instructors begin to customize of their training program before the first flight. For the individual's motivation, background and time the instructor must have different way to present ground, flight and post flight instruction. The instructor's program should expose the student with the full field of required knowledge, familiarize him with the local situation and lay the groundwork for the next higher phase of training.
The very first flight lesson must have planned objectives both immediate and of longer range. The student must be aware of the immediate and perhaps of the longer range ones as well. The best way to waste the time and money devoted to flying is to not know what is to be accomplished. Every lesson has stated or written objectives and measurable results. A properly integrated flight/ground program will bring the student to the airplane prepared for that lesson, expectant of a partial review and eager to be prepared for the next flight.
I often believe I became a flight instructor to get even. Much of my own instruction was excessively wasteful of time and money. A student is under considerable physical and emotional stress when learning to fly. If cost is contributing to the student's stress, it would be best to stop flying until funds are acquired. Learning to fly is expensive, and no amount of anxiety is going to change the cost. Don't waste time trying to change things that can't be changed. (What, again.) Use of the correct terminology is an essential part of flying. Vocabulary development is a must. An instructor must be a good at making any explanation fit into the student's level of comprehension. The best explanations take place on the ground; the best demonstrations take place in the air.
Flight instruction is a behavior forming and modification process. You are working in an extremely precise and unforgiving profession. Behind every major flight performance there is a multiplicity of small movements and skills required in making a safe result possible. Students learn their attitudes toward flying from the instructor. Attitudes affect behaviors. The teaching of a safe flying attitude is even more important than a high skill level. I will try to remember to always give the "why". If I forget, ask. The reason behind doing a particular act makes the act more meaningful, more likely to be remembered, and more acceptable to the student.
The instructor should have given some idea as to what to expect on the next flight. This information is basic to any preparation required. My students are expected to follow up with a phone call the night before a flight so that in addition to discussion of the planned flight alternatives caused by weather or time can be covered. As a student, you can reduce the stress of a lesson by being prepared. Your first instructor will set your standards of expectations and preparation. The biggest problems will be scheduling. Most of the expense of learning to fly is due to a poor scheduling program.
Prior to every flight I will spend at least 30 minutes discussing the skill building blocks upon which the coming maneuvers will be based. I will walk through, diagram, and 'handee' so that the student understands both the maneuvers and the performance parameters. I will depart up wind if possible to make the flight less costly. I use the climb out to teach skills such as Dutch rolls. I plan the entire lesson so that when completed we will be in position to contact our home base.
We make a sequential listing of the expected radio frequencies we will need. We review the universal frequencies that we should know. According to our experience we will mentally, orally, or write the expected communications to accompany the frequencies.
The night before we will check with the FSS for the forecast that applies to our expected flight time. An hour before leaving home we will make another weather check with the FSS and perhaps even make a phone call to our destination if no weather is available. I help in arrival planning to know the runway in use and wind conditions. You will save far more than the cost of the phone call by being able to make an efficient arrival.
The final flight preparation should be a check with the instructor if you have any unanswered questions. Instructors who enjoy flying respond to the student who is inquisitive and makes available the extra effort and time to learn more. A good student helps the instructor do a good job. Don't wait until you get into the airplane to ask the "What if...," questions.
During the post flight debriefing it is beneficial if the student is able to make a self analysis of how he performed. It is important that the student recognize good, satisfactory, and poor performances. This means that the student must know what the tolerances of acceptability are. It is even more important that the causes be determined. If, for whatever reason, his solo performance is outside these limits he must so advise his instructor and plan for a corrective lesson. Every student flight should have its parameters designed to meet requirements for the flight examination. To fly otherwise is a waste of time and money.
Major CFI Applicant Problems
--Not fitting lesson to student level
-- Too much talking without check on comprehension.
-- Avoiding unknown answers
--Not 'hearing' the student
-- Quitting lesson before needed level of proficiency.
-- Instructor loses control of lesson.
--Incomplete paper work.
Once reasonable proficiency in the four basics and landing procedures has been acquired, it is important that the instructor provide variations such as are likely to occur during student solo flight. I don't believe a student should be soloed until he has experienced, with the instructor, at least light to moderate turbulence, low ceilings, unanticipated wind changes, reduced visibility and unexpected ATC directions. Any of these factors can so disrupt the thought processes and performance of a student as to create a dangerous situation. Instruction should provide the student with at least one exposure to possible events that are common to solo flight.
A proper flight program shows a student what his limitations are. The initial restrictions imposed by instructor endorsements will eventually be replaced by those perceived by the neophyte pilot. The instructor must expose the student to those situations that will give him experience in determining his personal limits. In addition, there are aircraft and regulatory limitations that must be known to the pilot. Personal limitations apply to and are set by all pilots. Aircraft limitations are set by the manufacturer using superior pilots and new planes. The pilot must make allowances for how much he and his aircraft deviate from superior and new. The FARs set limits designed to promote safety, consideration, and efficiency.
Experience is what you think about what has happened. Flying gives you, the pilot, exposure to experiences. Your contemplation of those experiences as recorded in your logbook reveals what you gained from the experience. Another source of experience is learning from others. The sharing of experiences and profiting from them is ingrained in the folklore of flying. Most aviation books and magazines are replete with a sharing of experiences. Start with "Stick and Rudder." Every personal and shared experience should be evaluated for its usefulness. You can never know too much about flying. The best way to learn about flying is to teach it. Teaching a skill makes you understand it.
One essential of the successful program is the frequency of the flight lessons. Anything less than twice a week is too little, anything more than three times a week is going to require near full time ground study. Make a One-half hour of tower visiting time for every three hours of flight. The instructor expects a phone call the evening before the flight to review the flight. Feel free to phone at other times to discuss flying or your concerns. 9/11 has certainly affected flight safety.
The pilot who never (seldom) practices flight in the outer performance ranges of the aircraft is not prepared for the critical flight situation. This would include such speeds as Vx and Vy climbs, short and soft approaches, slow flight, minimum controllable, slips, go-arounds and ground reference. The reserve capacity between requirement and capability decreases with passage of time. It is for this reason that the time interval between student flights should never be more that three or four days at most. Unless you learn from it, whatever you experience while flying will not result in improvement. Don't practice beyond the parameters learned with the instructor. If you want to go beyond these parameters, do it with the instructor.
Every flight decision is a judgment decision. A decision/performance line, extending through 'best,' to better, to good, to bad to worse, to worst exists. There is no one way to perform any flying operation. If the operation, such as slow flight, is achieved, the actual performance is along this line. The instructor teaches performance and decisions along this line and his level of acceptance sets the achievement standards of the student. As flight training progresses, standards are changed and raised and raised again and again. This process must be recognized and accepted by both instructor and student. There is no more an end to this continuum than there is the mathematical "pi".
Research shows that the more experience you have the more quickly you will make critical decisions. Practice making decisions makes the decision-making process more efficient. This ability applies to all aspects of flying. If the pilot is not exposed to situations that require decision-making skill, the skill will not develop. Practical training opportunities must be afforded the student.
By the second flight the student should have previewed the aircraft manual. The manual checklist material must be completely incorporated into that of the student. The next flight's preflight will use the scratch checklist with the instructor reading the items while the student does the checking. The student will make another revision from this tape and use it on the next preflight under the instructor's supervision. On all future flights the student will have the plane pre-flighted and ready at the appointed time. Fuel, oil, and weather status are confirmed to the instructor as well.
The first three flight lessons are designed to acquire competence in the four basic maneuvers, climbs, level, descent, power changes, trim, flaps, stall recognition, and associated turns. I make it a point to combine the basics with radio procedures, area familiarization, knowledge of aerodynamics, emergency procedures, and safety. The next two or three lessons uses ground reference flying to develop those skills required to fly airport patterns according to wind conditions.
With these lessons as the basis we now apply them to takeoff and landings. These are initially practiced as a unified series of maneuvers, including downwind, base, final, go-around, climb, and crosswind. Patterns are practiced with emphasis on power, airspeeds, trim, and flaps to both the left and right. This is done initially at altitude to remove the inhibitions caused by ground proximity. Then it is practiced at a neighboring tower airport with the go-around occurring progressively closer to the ground.
The next four or five flights are planned as landing practice at nearby airports in different directions from the home field. These flights include the procedures of departure, arrival, radio, checkpoint selection, as well as the actual takeoff/landing procedure. During the actual closed pattern the instructor takes all responsibility for communications and traffic watch. This reduction of burden is important to the success of the student.
The landing lessons are then concentrated at the home field. The landing lesson just prior to solo consists of an airport exercise utilizing all runways and common pattern maneuvers. Normally two or perhaps three supervised solo flight follow at the home field. The instructor next flies with the student to and from one of the local fields that have been used previously for landing instruction. On return, the student is allowed to immediately duplicate the flight. This is repeated three or four times to all the local fields with the variety of radio procedures required. The student now has a circular region of 40-50 mile radius in which he would be knowledgeable of the area, airports and appropriate procedures.
About this time there will be a change in the instructional approach. Initially, the instructor will become more strident and demanding in all parameters. Airspeed is now expected within 2 knots, altitude within 25 feet, headings within 5 degrees, power settings right on, trim for hands off, ball centered and banks at 30 degrees. Aircraft control, situational awareness and assertive communications are now the goal of every lesson.
Suddenly there is silence. The instructor just sits there and watches or at most, only points. The instructor expects the student to note and correct mistakes without intervention. It is best when the student talks to himself so that the recorder notes what is transpiring. If deemed necessary, I will take over control, and speak briefly to make a point before again relinquishing control again.
The next two or three flights, other than local student solo training flights, cover proficiency in different types of landings. The first cross-country training flight is an instructor/student prepared, planned, and flown. Everything works perfectly. The next flight is prepared, planned, and flown by the student with the instructor. Creative instruction presents realistic problems where they naturally occur and otherwise. Subsequent to these training flights the student prepared, plans and flies a minimum of ten hours of cross country with one extended flight. About this time the studying required to take the written examination should be completed and the test taken and passed.
When the cross-country requirements have been flown, the proficiency phase begins. All flight maneuvers are reviewed and practiced in dual and solo flights to meet the Practical Test Standard requirements. Preparation is for the oral part of the PTS. This includes knowledge of weather, sectional, aircraft, manual, computer, FARs, navigation, radio, and airspace. The skillful pilot is smooth. Aircraft control is done in anticipation and not reaction. You should know ahead of time what to expect of the airplane, the atmosphere, and yourself.
It is best to learn a new process related to flying, such as aircraft radio procedures, without any similar previous experience. This is especially true if the initial instruction is correctly done. Every individual has background and experience factors related to flying that can either make it easier or more difficult. The instincts of the student may be contradictory and erroneous. The competent instructor must deal with these and more. The incompetent instructor often provides fertilizer. Changing habitual behavior is the single most difficult teaching and learning aspect of instruction. The goal of habitual behavior makes it even more important that the first taught or learned process be correct. In an emergency, a pilot will return to his first learning exposure and react accordingly.
A student, because of the instructor's inability to detect erroneous instincts and perceptions, may retain basic flight deficiencies. This instructional weakness may be fostered by the inherent safety of the modern aircraft. Yet it is this inherent safety of the aircraft that conceals the damage done by inadequate instruction. Even the most docile of aircraft will bite given the opportunity. The problem lies with the instructor who fails to insist on the safest of all procedures compared to the relative safety of the other options. It's not that there is only one way to operate an airplane. However, of the possible options, one way may provide more safety options. Therefore it is necessary for the instructor to be knowledgeable as to the what and why of these options. The instructor is, hopefully, the medium for exposure to both failures and successes. The problems students have are directly related to instructional problems.
The instructor must keep the student advised of what constitutes desirable performance prior to each lesson. After each lesson, the different maneuvers should be discussed individually according to these parameters. Students are ultra sensitive to post flight critiques. Increased smoothness, accuracy, and confidence can measure any progress in a lesson. It is important that the instructor be truthful and not given to false praise. The very nature of flying makes acceptance of anything less than proficiency to the highest attainable level downright dangerous. This is regardless of other time considerations. Total immersion into flying at every moment is the best and least expensive way to learn to fly. Anything else is proportionately less efficient. The search for superior performance begins immediately; the acquisition takes longer.
The instructor should be aware of factors, both within and beyond the instructional domain, that affect the learning and performance of the student. The instructor has an ever increasing responsibility to prepare the student. There is no way the student can be prepared for every eventuality but the good instructor will try. The actual flying of the aircraft becomes a background for the required radio procedures, area orientation, and positioning. Situations must occur or be created that expose the student to the realities of flying. Increased self-confidence must not become over-confidence.
Every student and instructor has frustration levels that are evinced by tangible and intangible evidence. The instructor will anticipate possible areas of frustration and set the parameters to avoid problems until they can be approached with the appropriate skills and knowledge. I try to advise the student that the totally overwhelming amount of information coming at him through the first few lessons will rapidly sort itself out. Much of what we do is repetitive, such as starting the engine. Some skills will take several flights. The Dutch Roll (needed for crosswind landings) requires up to five flights before the first satisfactory series. The first ground reference lesson will be a disaster unless it is presented as an introduction.
The purpose of extending flight times with students, after they start making mistakes, is to build up that reserve performance capacity required to meet future flight requirements. Failure to have such capacity means that on a subsequent flight the student may reach a capability/requirement imbalance. The student pilot can be taught to recognize the progression by having the instructor note mistakes as they first occur during a flight. Pilot error, as though a single cause, is an over simplification of how fatigue, lack of preparation, or pseudo-agnosia (Not knowing what you don't know) affects a given maneuver.
Every lesson will contain review segments where a higher level of performance is the goal. Transitions into configurations are performed more quickly; heading and altitude parameters are closed, and speed tolerances are tighter. Expectations are raised; self doubts reduced; and confidence increased. A good lesson always leaves the student full of anticipation for the next level of proficiency.
Failure to expose a student to a variety of marginal conditions be it weather, turbulence, airports or terrain fails to develop judgmental skills.
Age As A Factor in Instruction
As we age the ability to access skill information slows. Successful flying is directly related to the speed we think and message that these thoughts turn into action. One advantage that age related experience has, is the appearance of skill retention. The aged can anticipate what is required soon enough that old skills appear to be exercised. There is little we can do about becoming older, considering the alternative. However, we are usually able to compensate in other areas so that no appreciable skill loss seems to occur.
Every flying student will on occasion suffer from information overload. Older students recognize this more easily than younger students simply because they have had more exposure in other situations. Stress, fatigue, and maturity will affect just how a student handles overload. Fatigue is a noticeable effect of age in flying. I have found that nutrition can make some degree of compensation. I have found that age does not affect learning if the base of the knowledge is extensive and memory is consistently reinforced. As an older pilot I find that I dont need to press so hard in time and mental energy to organize the needed information.
An instructor can be tuned to pick up signs of student overload. It will begin to show in little things. Moving the trim in the wrong direction is the one I often pick up first. Little mistakes on the radio soon turn into larger problems. Motor skills begin to fail along with and increasingly tight hold on the controls. These flying faults appear sooner in those students who fail to eat prior to flying. Carry water on all flights. Dehydration has critical effects on the thought processes. When overload becomes severe most students withdraw and fail to communicate either their problem or concern to the instructor.
The favorable side effects of age in flying are a more perceptive use of judgment. Good flying decisions make the application of knowledge seem to be more skillful. New skills should be introduced gradually and in segments. Proficiency requirements should be approached in such a way as to reduce stress. Repeated maneuvers are stressful to students and it is best not to repeat failed maneuvers more than once unless the repeat is performed successfully. Reminds me of my 81-year old student of twenty years ago. We never did touch and go's. We always made stop-and-go's.
Quality or Quantity?
I find it difficult to believe otherwise than that the quality for each lesson depends solely upon the dedication and abilities of the instructor. The training must be tailored to the needs and capability of the student. I teach for efficiency in flight planning, professional level radio work, and precise holding of headings, altitudes and airspeeds. Confidence can be built one brick at a time. There will always be something new but much will remain the same. The flying is a given. Radio changes mostly in names. Safety requires active looking and selective listening. Areas change but situational awareness builds point by point.
As instructors we are urged to be accepting of personality differences as merely being different. I feel that when these differences relate to the judgment and consideration the instructor owes in teaching flying a higher standard. I will not teach anyone who smokes. They show poor judgment. I will not teach anyone who shows disrespect to me by being late or to the aircraft by careless treatment.
I will not excuse a student who fails to prepare for a lesson. Failure to prepare places an unfair burden upon me as the instructor. Failure to review prior instruction places an unfair burden as well. A student who knowingly makes my instructional job more difficult is not showing consideration of my time. This is even truer since I do not charge for a major portion of the time.
The very best students to teach are the ones who come with a mental blank slate. Unfortunately there are no such students. Every student I have taught has come with a goodly collection of mental and emotional baggage. It will take considerable time for me to uncover or for the student to reveal the wealth of correct conceptions and the hidden misconceptions held about flying. I will seek to develop a student's trust my methods and intentions. I want a student who will ask questions, I want a student who is curious and willing to challenge me for reasons for what I say. I want a student who is unafraid to challenge my reasons for stressing a specific procedure over any other. I want a student who can laugh at problems, mistakes, and stress situations. I want a student who is pleased when I am pleased. I want a student who tries to make me laugh when he exceeds expectations.
Abnormal Situation Training
We do not want a first spin to be of the accidental kind. We do not want a first encounter with adverse weather to be while solo. A pilot's first SVFR experience should not be after getting rated. Training that avoids turbulence is not likely to give a pilot familiarity and confidence when cockpit things begin to jump. The startle factor of such events are quite likely to cause reactions based upon instinct rather than training. The rule of primacy is apt to be a pilot's worst enemy in a startle situation. The failure of training to provide prior experience into abnormal situations is a failure of the instructional program and instructor. Good judgment and appropriate decision making can only exist through situational exposure. Flight instruction is expected to prepare students to fly into the expected and to avoid the unexpected.
Communications Mistakes by Instructors
1. Making confusing or misleading statements (30% of the time)
2. Instructor misinterpreted communication (16% of the time)
3. Instructor delayed comment to student impacting flight safety.
4. 20% of problems are with aircraft radios or intercoms
5. 50% occur below 1000' AGL near airport
Providing Experience as Instructional Purpose
1. Every lesson should provide memorable experiences
2. A memorable experience is what the student thinks happened.
3. Teach to the student's ability to make things happen and associate happenings
4. Avoid situations that make students watch and wonder what happened
5. The more success you provide the more success that will follow.
6. Provide the experience but follow up with studied interpretation and practical application.
The way a pilot uses an airplane is, or should be, an important part of the instructional program. The instructional plan should be to teach flying, as the student will be flying. Cross-country, night flying, marginal conditions, mountain survival, high winds, and long distance. IFR and equipment use, such as radar, serfic (lightning) interpretation, and circling approaches. The airlines specialize their programs to train their pilots for the conditions and aircraft they will use in the 'real' world. Should general aviation instructors do any less?
A Need to Understand
>Gene, as a student pilot, I like the variety of lessons you outline. However, I say from personal experience that if the student doesn't *understand* in his head the reasons for each part of each maneuver you require, that you are:
1) wasting both his time and yours as well as fuel,
2) introducing unknown material to someone who is already probably at max theoretical knowledge absorption limit. (new phrase 8-) ). In short, you're just confusing them.
3) they may get the muscle memory of the flight actions, but if the understanding doesn't go along with it, you introduce a dangerous situation.
A1Nut is absolutely correct that a student must understand the reasons for every flying exercise. I don't know what gave the impression that the specific lessons I give as the First Landing Lesson, the Radio Exercise and Solo Preparation were ever taught without the student knowing the why for each lesson.
First, I would emphasize that I have tape recorded over eight thousand hours of flight instruction and close to that on the ground prior to every flight. I talk and walk through everything we will do and where we will do it. Not just the maneuver but the radio work as well. My students take the tapes with them. Additionally, most of my students call me in the evening so we can go over the reasons for the lesson and cover any questions they may have before we meet at the aircraft. I never charge for talking. No one could afford me.
Briefly, the 'reason' for the First Landing Lesson consisting of go-arounds has to do with the learning law of primacy. I want my students to use the go-around as their first option for a blotched landing. I do not teach how to salvage a landing to students.
The radio exercise came out of my experiences with first-solo students. My first five solo students had weird things happen. I do that exercise using all the runways and complex ATC instructions because I don't want my students to have problem. They know that after this lesson they will be responsible for all subsequent radio work.
I do not let students practice for solo beyond 30 minutes because it has been my experience that fatigue and tension increases and confidence deteriorates. If the conditions do not allow the solo, I turn it into refining other aspects such as short, soft and slips. My students know when they are ready and so do I.
One last point. I do not count the hours prior to solo. I have a program of my own that is pointing the student to what he is going to need to be an accomplished pilot. My students are dangerously good on the radio. Dangerous because ATC tends to use proficiency on the radio as a measure of pilot experience. I have given my students a fifty mile circle of airports and area where they know where they are and what to do in that area. Cross-country flying is a non-event.
Teaching is purposeful speech that is supposed to impart from one, the teacher, to another, the student. The transmission of knowledge is only a part of the result. More importantly the purpose is the creation of desire to continue the process. Flying is the name of the game and inspiration is the driver. However dedicated and competent the teacher the desired result will not, cannot, and may never occur until the student is ready. Readiness is the prime receptor ingredient that must exist in the student before learning, recognition and retention can occur. Readiness can be created through inspirational teaching. Inspiration motivates, removes doubts and creates success where success should not exist.
The flight instructor must plan each lesson and the total sequence of lessons for a continuity of inspiration based upon successful steps of achievement. More often than not it is the outside influences that present the readiness problem. Finances, personal life, job security, job success, adverse weather, aircraft inspections, scheduling, or health all contributed to the ongoing delays, frustrations, and irritation that constantly interfere with the required readiness and inspiration. The student must be trained to expect that there is little to nothing to be gained by trying to do something about which nothing can be done.
is one such. Have you ever driven for a distance over a very
familiar road and suddenly realize that you have not been aware
of what you did, what you saw, or of the passage of time. It
happens to many people while driving and a very similar sequence
can occur to pilots. This daydreaming can occur on long flights
and requires that the pilot find attention requiring exercises relating to
pilotage, navigation and radio. Be even more cautious when visibility is
indefinite due to haze or smog. Your eyes must be constantly
re-focused on the furthest visible point. Otherwise, your eyes will go
into a default focus that cannot pick up distant aircraft.
CFI Hours (The Question)
I took my intro flight a few days ago and when I asked my prospective CFI how many hours he had, he said over 600 hrs. Is this a lot of hours for a CFI? Does this guy have the experience in your opinion? What is the > determining factor in selecting an instructor? Do hours tell the whole story?
Hours tell zero of the story. Some people could instruct after 20 hours of dual better than their instructor with 10K hours. Some people cannot teach well no matter how many hours they have.
Instructors aren't born, but good instructors are certainly gifted with that undefinable skill of conveying information from person to person. You can see it in the academic classroom; by the time you are a sophomore, you know that "Professor Jones" is to be avoided and "Professor Smith" is the one to take EE-201 from. Jones may have a PhD, and Smith only an MS, but somehow Smith has found a way to make the learning process easier for students.
So is it in flight instruction. Instructors all have the same basic skills, but some have that given gift to be able to convey the information in a manner that you (the student) can assimilate and use without further process. Some are just not so gifted. That's the way of the world.
The chemistry works both ways. Some people I teach like I've known them forever. Some I struggle with and finally suggest that they find another teacher. Not only flying, but my academic college students as well. The good instructor knows when they just aren't getting through to the student and that another instructor may have the key to their understanding.
Find an instructor that you learn from easily and all will be well. I've got 4000+ hours, but I really don't know how well I can teach you until we've spent an hour or two flailing about in a flying machine.
Reports from CFIs
Here's another idea for instructors. Especially those with web knowledge. I have a place on my web page where each of my students can log in and see:
(1) upcoming lessons in PDF format
(2) past lessons and written reviews in PDF format
(3) all their personal information including total-time, endorsements, ratings, etc.
I store all this in an on-line database. Not only does this make for a better learning experience, but it satisfies the FAA's record keeping requirements. If I ever need to retrieve training records for a student I just key in their certificate number and out pops every lesson they ever had with a written review of how they did.
I store info on all students including checkouts, BFRs and
Teaching To Be PIC
--Expose the student to adverse weather conditions that require flight cancellations, SVFR, or local flights.
--Directional control is as important on takeoff as it is on landing. Look back at 300' to detect any drift.
--Power movements are controlled smoothly using the finger as an index marker. You can use the index finger as a marker for specific power additions.
--You must be aware of the present flap position and the required position for what you are about to do. Due to relative winds flaps come up faster than they go down.
--Teach PIC authority to student. ATC is your employee.
--When you allow technology to replace judgment you are on the way to becoming a victim.
--The greatest hazard of technology is complacency. Fly with your eyes out the window.
--Navigational basics of D.R. and pilotage must be taught and constantly practiced.
--It is important to know where other aircraft are moving in relationship to your position and movements. For now the radio and radar help you know.
The two types of instructional accidents with the highest fatality rates: low-level maneuvering flight are 1/3 of fatal accidents and midair collision are 1/6th. . Instructors inadvertently allow a simulated emergency to become real. The rate of instructional accidents continues to decline with fatal accidents being a very small percentage of General Aviation accidents.
after an Accident is LIABILITY
--Duty to act or not act
--A breach of that duty
--A proximate causal relationship between breach and duty
--Damage to the victim
--The best protection is not to have property, money
--Every profession has exposure to liability and the vultures of society.
--Only by avoiding negligence and without assets can you be free from legal assault.
--Any assumption of responsibility leaves you at risk of negligence.
--The concept of justice should not be associated with the application of law.
--To the flight instructor the subcategory of tort law of negligence should be of concern.
--Negligence is the doing or not doing that which is reasonable to prevent injury or damage.
--Expert witnesses to offer opinions
--Logbook entries must be complete, not cryptic
--Instructor self-protects by what student does not what is said.
--‘Expert witness vs finder of fact vs standard of care
--Duty determined by standard practice, FARs, state law or expert opinion
--Expert hired because of presumed testimony
--Legal proximate cause leading to harm
---Damage is a HUGE undecided.
---You can be sued for anything at any time and will be if you have money
Perception is reality
--Logbook entries should be legible and complete sentences
--Your reasonable risk iis o.k. until there is an accident
--Fly and think defensibly
--The purpose of instruction is to keep the student alive until he learns.
Responsibility begets Liability
--Legal responsibilities involve liability risks
--Applicable law does not equal justice.
--The definition of negligence applied determines liability
--Liability must contain duty, a breach of duty and damage
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