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Instructors Learn Much More
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Items; ...CFI PTS ...Flight Checklist for Instructor; Flight checklist for Student; Evaluating a Partially Trained Student; ...Accentuating the Positive; FAA Instructional Format; Teaching the FAA Way; Planned Instruction; Effective Instruction; Instructional Safety; Wearing Thin Pants; On Motivation; When a Pilot Dies; Joys of Flying: Designing Lessons; The Competence of Incompetence; Knowing Know; Training Attitudes; Military Instruction; CFI Abuses of Student Time; One CFI +One CFI = Problems; Time for First Solo; Teaching Airplane English; ...On Speaking Airplane English; ...My Question: How to Respond; Good Instruction; My Solos Take Longer; Instructional Frustration; Viva la Difference; CFI Items; Unhappy Students; Weather Minimums Lesson 11-9-03; ...Advice to New Ground Instructor; ...
Real pilots respect piloting ability and skill regardless of gender.
Woflgang Langewiesche said, "Flying is done largely with the imagination."
Make black and white image of aircraft and place it on dash so that it reflects on windshield. You now have a 'heads-up' display.
If the moisture is snow, descend since the warmer air is below.
If the moisture is ice, climb since the warm air is above you.
When striving to get the best glide distance from your airplane, remember that making the mistake of going faster is better than going slower. In a headwind add 1/2 the headwind to the best glide to get the best penetration. For tail winds just fly Vg.
CFI applicants must exhibit instructional knowledge of task elements through descriptions, explanations, simulations and common errors.
Flight Checklist for the Instructor
1. Preview the flight before getting into the plane.
2. Tape record everything.
3. Stay off the controls
4. Know and teach all the checkpoints
5. Teach only pilotage until cross-country time.
6. Know the specialists at tower, Approach, and FSS
7. Don't let student set standards of performance
8. Make flying as efficient and economical as possible.
9. It is the satisfaction of success that makes flying fun.
10. Teach 'trim' from flight # one.
11. Teach the 'Dutch roll from flight # 2
12. No surprises but expect the unexpected.
13. Fly upwind while doing airwork.
14. Make every departure and arrival different
15. Don't answer a question when you don't know the answer.
16. Be HONEST in your student evaluations
17. Teach delay as an always expected factor in flying.
18. Teach multiple options for every situation.
19. Teach hands-off and rudder flying
20. Introduce turbulence gradually
21. Gradually work on cockpit organization
22. Teach radio from lesson # 1
23. The learning law of primacy, rules.
24. If a planned lesson is not possible, have an alternative.
25. Review tomorrow's lesson the night before with student.
26. A part of all ground preparation of a flight SHOULD include a review of the checklists to be used throughout the flight.
Flight Checklist for the Student
1. Stay off the brakes; stay on the line.
2. Two fingers on the yoke even when using radio.
3. Practice changing frequencies
4. Practice aloud your communications before using radio.
5. Learn the area and reference points
6. Accept fact that learning to fly is expensive.
7. Let instructor set performance standards.
8. Make opportunities to visit ATC facilities.
9. Read and then study the POH. Take notes.
10. Trim is the cruise control of flight.
11. It will take five sessions to learn the Dutch roll.
12. Taxiing is the last thing you learn to do right.
13. A properly trimmed aircraft will fly better without you.
14. Even the best plan may not work as planned.
15. Unlearning is the form of learning most likely to fail.
16. Arrive knowing what to expect from a prepared lesson.
Evaluating a Partially Trained Student
The situation for the new instructor is to separate the wheat from the chaff. Every student has both weak and strong areas of performance. It is most unlikely that these areas will coincide with those of the instructor's teaching skills. This means that every student can expect to get some benefit from a different instructor even if it consists of improved perception as to what constitutes better instruction. The problem for the new instructor is not to raise stress fractures in the learning process.
There is no 'one' way to do most every procedure in flying. Classic of this is pitch vs power. Most of flying is a collection of compromises just as is the teaching of flying. The student must be allowed to get far enough into a 'failure' situation to recognize it. The instructor must not intervene too soon nor must intervention be too late. Intervention is an art of decision making by the instructor. Too soon, the student does not learn the lesson. Too late, the instructor had failed to teach the lesson. Often it is best to let the student determine his own level of tolerance. I do believe that some students have learned to judge the landing flare by sensing the body language of the instructor.
Accentuating the Positive
A motivated student is a joy to teach. Nothing motivates like a sense of success and achievement. Were I able to find just what it is that gives positive motivation I would bottle and sell it. A student's success is my success. In school the enjoyment of a particular subject is usually directly associated with feelings and attitudes toward the teacher. A flying student is already motivated to the subject but the kind of instruction can quickly erase or add to this original motivation.
The flight instructor will add to the motivation by making certain that the student knows what to expect from a lesson. Surprises in flight instruction create stress, concern, and insecurity. Some students need more 'hand-holding' than others do. This is not bad of itself if the instruction is directed to making the student independent and self-assured down the line. The idea is not to give the student a succession of 'fish'; rather, the intent must be to teach the student how to 'fish'. We are training the student toward independence of planning and flying the plan.
FAA Instructional Format
FAA instruction is based on early 1900 educational theory and practice. Most learning is visual but requires repetition and reinforcement for adequate retention. Only 8% of what you hear is retained unless it is accompanied by various kinds of repetitive exercises. Reading aloud is a common way of aural learning. More effective aural learning can be achieved by having student record information in his own words. Tactile learning can be helped by using the fingers to trace over material to be learned. Physical examples of instruments are best supplied to tactile learners.
Teaching the FAA Way
I have never seen the 60-14 textbook. I assume it is the revised Flight Instructor Handbook. I once made a complete summary of the old edition and became more and more frustrated in its pedantic presentations and terminology. As may be implied, the FAA preaches all the developmental theories and resorts to catechization and rote learning.
I must tell a 'war' story to explain how I got into teaching. I was taking aircraft radio at Truax Field, Madison Wisconsin during mid 1943. The better your grades the longer you got to stay in tech schools. The alternative was to become a B-17 machine gunner. Your 60-14 would call it motivation. I was fresh out of high school but found that I had acquired ability to regurgitate material back to my fellow students when we returned to the barracks. "He who teaches, learns twice." I took a good-sized group with me to Boca Raton, Florida for Radar training because of our collective good grades. I did the same teaching at Boca Raton and took nearly every course they had while continuing to help/teach my buddies.
Fifty radar men were sent to India to join the newly activated 58th (B-29) Bomb Wing. When Saipan and Tinian were captured, we all went by plane or ship to the Pacific. I was almost immediately assigned to the Wing Training School to teach LORAN. Two months later I was given the job of assembling and operating the training program for the Supersonic Trainer. This was a bombing simulator that made it possible to see on a radar scope a very realistic radar picture as it would actually appear when in combat over Japan. In setting up target flights for the simulator I had to learn how to use the E-6-B and plotter. Twenty-five years later this experience gave me a leg-up in learning to fly. I have never liked to use the 'formal' lesson plan. Never used them when teaching children. I always prepared myself with the subject matter along with an ample supply of peripheral/related information, stories, and life applications.
Spent two hours with Lisa today doing ground school. We both had a great time. Lesson consisted of covering topics from the POH such as systems, weight and balance, emergencies, and aircraft performance. Using her own life experiences I was able to give her unforgettable examples of how Va works, how wings lift, how fuel gets out of the carburetor and some others I forget. We found that the POH was really deficient in giving a practical engine fire checklist. We found that it is useless to plan precise times and routes when winds are never as forecast. I showed her how best to learn to diagram the systems of the aircraft. She left enthused and even considering a flying career. As good as it gets.
You are going to learn the teaching of flying by making many mistakes. You are going to give students both good and bad habits, techniques, lessons and memories. An educational critic of my lesson with Lisa could, rightfully, say it was unorganized and disjointed. It was. Still before the material in the POH could be properly covered, I had to make sure that she had the required background. 60-14 would agree but you would choke on the vocabulary needed to make the point. It's called readiness.
I was told early on in teaching that it would take seven years to acquire teaching competence. If teaching had two years in a row as bad as the first year, there would be no teachers. Shortly after my 'college revolt' about wasting my time they began to put student teachers into the classrooms from the very beginning. That and the elimination of school administrators from the California Teachers Association are my two life-time achievements. Unintended consequences make these a dubious claim to fame.
If you read of my IFR logging experience where I sat in back while a CFI candidate gave instruction to a pilot, you are likely to find that such a procedure is very unusual. CFI preparation has no 'plan' for doing as I did. The candidate had no idea, by admission, of where to begin teaching the lesson. Candidate chose to watch as I demonstrated how I take a student through the entire flight on the ground along with headings, altitudes, radio frequencies, what to say/when to say it, and a run-through using the actual radios. Once on the flight, candidate did well. There is very little in the CFI program that will actually provide the very much needed practical teaching experience by the candidate. The problem lies in the process and entrenched administration of the FAA not the potential instructors.
An honest to goodness FAA CFI program to produce would require an admission that the programs of the past have been wrong and misdirected. If the precepts of 60-14 are to be a part of the program, then book learning alone will not suffice. I question that there is any innate teaching ability, teaching sensitivity can be taught, acquired, and passed on. A 60-14 program could provide a 3-person curriculum such as I practiced on the above flight. As many of you know I have always taught with tape recorders on during preflight ground school and flight. Maybe, all instruction should be video taped. An instructor should not be required to learn 'the hard way' as to how far into a problem situation to go before taking over.
The above was in response to "Bob Furtaw" <email@example.com
The military is a leading exponent of programmed instruction. Under such a program every thing in the future is based upon the building blocks of the past. There are no surprises or unexpected events. Every lesson is preceded by a flight briefing that covers in detail such things as required checklists, radio frequencies, departure, route, and retune procedures and maneuvers to be performed.
For airwork or landings there should be selected variations that require differences in technique and airspeed. Your plan should include parameters for heading and altitude. Any en-route requirements should include ETA and airport comparisons for checkpoints as well as total time en-route.
How well you fly is very much dependent on your knowledge of the aircraft systems. Any system failure will have a system crosscheck that you can use to evaluate separate the degree of difficulty that exists. By knowing how the system works, you can make the safe decision. Knowing the systems, of necessity, includes knowing the speed and performance limitations for every configuration. Every pilot must know what malfunction will ground an aircraft.
There is risk in every flight. It is up to the pilot to assess the risk that exists when any aspect of weather, aircraft or pilot affects the margin of allowable error. Your decision not to fly exists up to the point of takeoff. Even the prepared pilot can be blind sided by the unexpected event. Of all the things that are covered in the POH and the FARs there are still far more waiting on the sidelines to surprise you.
First of four elements is identification of the objectives not the creation of them as would the FAA have you believe.
The second of the four elements is teaching to these objectives. The process is to use task analysis of the required performance. Each major task is dissected into initial knowledge, basic skills and the combination and organization of these is formulated as a progression to the objective.
It is important that all knowledge and basics be presented as relevant to the final objective. We have task, one of several, that must be introduced, practiced and mastered. Tasks in combination can take a student from ground reference, into patterns, to go-arounds and to landings. Each task must be recognized as relevant by the student. Every instructor must be honest in feeding back his judgment of the performance status of the student. The student's knowledge of the objective will enable him to know the truth of your feedback. When synergy occurs between the instructor and student, the student is ready to prove mastery by flying solo.
--Brief your students for the coming lesson
--For their next lesson at the end of each lesson
--Over the phone the night before any lesson
--Before getting into the airplane
--Avoid discussing problems while the engine is running
--Do not distract student during preflight (Unless directed to having student tell you to shut up.)
--Do not 'chatter' during taxi
The Flight Lesson
--Advise student that at least one unexpected event will occur every lesson.
--Always flies up wind if remaining in airport vicinity. Minimizes time getting home.
--Use a number of different departures and planned arrivals with changes for every lesson.
--Use departure climb-out as an opportunity to teach trim and Dutch rolls.
--Present as many 'airspace' situations as you can on every flight.
--Introduce stalls gently. After introduction do stalls as a series. Use distractions.
--Double up in three-place aircraft with two students where possible.
--You set the standards of performance, not the student. Raise standards as appropriate.
--Teach taxiing from lesson one.
--Teach radio from lesson one.
--Airport and area from lesson one.
--Teach use of the throttle and mixture from lesson one.
--Keep fuel record from lesson one.
--Solo cross-countries might be flown at 55% power.
When teaching the safest possible flight operations you can show a student how poor decisions doing the same maneuvers could be proportionately more dangerous. I do this almost without thinking about it in my home flight arena. In a low visibility situation today I chose to get all the radar help I could by getting an IFR clearance for practice work in the vicinity of a VOR. With the next student we did vertical-S airspeed practice. I had the student depart by requesting a climb in pattern to above a cloud layer before flying to the VOR. We then tracked upwind on a radial that I knew would be relatively safe and then tracked crosswind for a period before returning downwind on another radial over an under cast that was most likely to be avoided. The fact that we never saw an airplane doesn't mean anything for certain but it was a nice flight. I began instruction in 1968 and I lay some credit to the fact that instructional accidents have fallen nearly every year up to the present. At least I have not contributed to the accident rate.
Wearing Thin Pants
In many respects flying an airplane is much like riding a horse. A horse goes where its head points, so does an airplane in coordinated flight. A rider feels the horse and dressage riders give the horse directions in the ring with just pressures and feel the correct movements via pressures and sight. So can an airplane be flown by feeling pressures. Airplane feel is inside your body much like horse feel is each push and pull is mutually sensed. You feel airplane and horse movements in your hands, feet, chest and stomach, and muscles. Airplanes and horses feed back feel that tells of performance.
The most subtle of sensations are fed back and forth you to the airplane and the airplane to you through the transfer of centrifugal and centripetal energy. Some parts of you and the airplane sense inertial effects before others but they are always there and your sensitivity can be learned and increased. There is an associated danger in flying by feel. Feel must be supported by visual reference or bad things happen to you and your flying. Any time your sensations are in conflict, you must go visually to your instruments. You only have a few moments in which to do this. You are overcoming very powerful instinctive forces and extreme mental concentration is required continuously Any lapse of continuity will result in loss of aircraft control.
You can become sensitized to your body pressures by performing specific maneuvers that affect specific areas of the body. Once such place is to each side of your seat cushion that presses on your thighs. By paying attention to these pressure point and performing a series of turns, climbs and dives without using the rudder you will become aware of pressure differences. By doing the same series, while moving the rudder side to side and keeping the wings stabilized you can develop a sense for when the ball is centered.
Once you have gone through the extremes of sensation due to a misplaced rudder, you should practice. You know that you step on the ball when it moves to the right, you should also step on the ball when you feel pressure to your right. You apply rudder until your 'seat' tells you the ball is centered. Check the ball to see if it is centered. By using a safety pilot and closing your eyes except to check the ball you can become quite skillful even in thick pants.
Students will only learn if they want to. Contrary to commonly held parent's opinion, children are not inherently resistant to instruction. All student failures can be directly attributable to teacher failure. Given the right motivation learning will take place. The instructional problem is to make the learning take place in the right direction. For, whatever reason, much student motivation tends to be in the wrong direction. I found that teaching gambling was always easier than teaching good behavior.
Learning is keyed to motivation. Threats will work to a degree, but soon wear out. Margaret Meade, the great anthropologist once told me that we should pay children to go to school, with the pay scale based on achievement. Many student pilots of a younger age are motivated into learning to fly because of the promise of future compensation. Older students are trying to recover the dreams of their youth. regardless, a student pilot must be motivated to overcome the sure to come failures, plateaus, and frustrations that are a part of learning to fly.
Every flying success serves as a motivator. It is essential that the instructor provide in each lesson a series of achievable goals that challenge and satisfy the motivational needs of the student. Nothing is as defeating to a student as false praise. The instructor must be creative in finding motivators. One of my most satisfying experiences as a public school teacher was when I was able to motivate an entire class to excel in spelling lessons just by correcting the papers during class and pretending that I really enjoyed making red check marks on missed words. Surprising how hard the kids would work to keep me from enjoying correcting spelling. Do whatever it takes to motivate.
When a Pilot Dies
Two of my pilots have died in airplane crashes. One, I had advised to quit and I thought that he had. Three years later, after his death, I found that he had gone to a friend of mine to finish up his instruction only to kill himself flying home after passing his flight test. The other tried to follow a car along a dirt road filled with family members while flying at low altitude. Stall; spin only a week after passing the flight test. Took a son down with him. I have never been the same.
My question has always been, "What was my responsibility?" I know I failed as a teacher at some point in their past. I have spent considerable time since these events wondering what I could have, should have, done and said. I am much more willing to talk about the student who stole a club plane, took a bottle of whiskey and proceeded to circle at altitude over the S.F. Bay area while drinking until unconscious. He passed out. The aircraft was so well trimmed that it flew him all the way across the Sierras and eventually crashed into the Nevada desert. Plane totaled but student was not injured. Student had not flown with me for over four months but club felt that I had been at least partially responsible. Club nearly went under since they only had one plane. Responsibility? Accountability? If I only knew.
On the other hand, I have taught students who went on to become airline pilots, military pilots, commercial pilots but most have flown for years as private pilots. I have never counted how many successes and failures I have had. We lose touch all too easily in today's world. Now, on the internet I have touched the lives of more pilots than ever. Hardly a week goes by but that some internet friend writes to thank me for the influence what I have written has had on their lives. Responsibility? Accountability? If I only knew.
On the internet I can no longer know ahead of time that the student who has read my material has used it as a jumping-off point for higher ratings and certificates. I can no longer take advantage of my in-cockpit opportunities to learn more from my student than they learn from me.
Joys of Flying
Getting through your checkride successfully gives rise to a sense of elation and achievement that can only be described in superlatives. Just how it is described will vary but the glow lingers, lives and grows. The more you fly the more entrenched will become the satisfaction.
The better you fly and get the kind of performance you want from the airplane, the more deeply you will sense the pleasures of flying. Having control over a beautiful piece of machinery by making it obey you gives you a kind of self-confidence and personal assurance that changes your voice, your walk, and way of dealing with people. Self-assurance can be used to great advantage or to self-destruction. It is one of the most powerful assets we can have. Only with experience can you learn to guide and control the power being able to fly creates. The danger lies in that the better you 'think' you fly the more careful you should be.
Over confidence is waiting in the wings to slap you down. Just ask the pilot who has had a minor accident as to how he has been brought up short and concerned as to just how capable he is. I have a friend who had such an accident several years ago. He flies but has not flown solo since. As I just told a student today, "Mistakes are always waiting out there to teach you a lesson." No matter how good you are, there are situations out there just waiting to take a bite out of the unwary.
Every pilot who flies and survives long enough is going to have phases of his flying life pass by during which he progresses from one experience plateau into another. This may be by way of ratings or hours but no matter how accomplished the 'Passages' come one after another for those who continue to fly. The ability to fly and the changes flying has made in you will be there as long as you live.
Giving flying lessons is much like building a tissue and balsa flying model of an airplane of your own design. The plane must be of your own design because the raw material of the student is going to require unique approaches and adaptation to situations and abilities.
At the present time, I am instructing a unique such flight program. I have a student who is the most well read and prepared I have ever taught. Yet my lessons seldom achieve the proficiency level I expect or seek. My student has an airsickness problem. It comes and goes and gets better the more frequency we fly. However, due to the flu season we have not flown frequently. Progress has been slow and erratic. At one point we did not fly for three weeks. The review flight ended in less than half an hour due to illness.
The student senses the lack of progress, as I do. I press because the student early on set time and economic limits for the lessons. I bypass those maneuvers that seem to cause illness but are so basic that weaknesses shine through. It is obvious that avoidance is not the answer. It is apparent that certain skills must be acquired to reasonable proficiency and absence of stress before they can be blended into the instructional program.
A previous student told me that his tendency toward illness was caused by an unexpressed fear of crashing. Once the fear faded so did the sickness. It is difficult to surmise the problem of my present student. It is almost as though we must start over to reduce the stresses that once existed in previously learned material. The presence of independent skills in flying are very few I cannot right now even think of one. Prerequisite or subordinate skills dominate the learning to fly program. This particular student gets ill doing ground reference. The latest review flight consisted of little more than left and right level turns before illness struck. I have not
been able to organize lesson sequences that will hold together long enough for connection to another sequence.
Under a normal progression we would have gone through the four basics, slow flight and stalls, radio procedures, airport departures and arrivals, and proceeded into landing preliminaries of go-around and patterns. We have not been able to fly often enough or long enough the link the required skills together. The relevance of basic skills is so obvious as not to require explanation or demonstration.
Each of these areas has prerequisites that once met, must be maintained. Because of the superior preparation done by this student in utilizing study materials, I have tried to keep my student well. The result has been vacancies in his skills and procedures. The student has suffered because I failed to tie the required skills into sequences that would produce success. A lesson learned.
The Competence of Incompetence
With the advent of a new study as to what constitutes competence there is a new fear by the self-assured that they may be among the many incompetent pilots in the world. You and I have every reason to be worried that we are among the incompetents and unknowingly so. Competency is not so much a matter of mind as it is of demonstration.
The fact is that pilots who perform poorly are supremely confident of their performance being within acceptable parameters. These poor performers are likely to have more confidence about their abilities and performance than will the truly competent. Pilots, individually and collectively, do not know what they don't know.
Since ignorance is bliss, pilots proceed through their flying careers blissfully self-assured and unaware that incompetence is exposed to a greater extent by the inability to recognize its existence. Incompetence is a double whammy on the pilot who makes mistakes of performance and judgment and is unable to recognize the problem. This recognition limitation is often discovered when the pilot is extended beyond the point of a successful outcome. The opportunity to be extended and surviving is not always offered or available. When the opportunity is survivable we have had an experience, when it isn't survivable we were' dumb'.
The pilot who has this deficiency in self-analysis will continue with poor performance and judgment until running out of viable options. The pilot will go to great lengths to explain how all that happens in a particular event has nothing to do with his competence or judgment. The level a pilot has reached in ability to self-evaluate is directly related to his ability to reason, use language and see what is funny about life. Pilots, who are unable to reason, speak, and laugh are likely to overestimate and distort their abilities and performance.
Competent pilots are more likely to underestimate their competence. Competent pilots tend to believe that other pilots are likewise competent just because they are pilots. The judging of other pilots flight performance is likely to make the competent pilot feel unchanged about himself. The same judging by the incompetent pilot will likely raise his opinion of himself. Incompetents are unable to evaluate the displayed incompetence of others.
Training in reasoning can improve an incompetent's self-evaluation by reducing the exaggeration of self-perception. The better you know what you know the better you realize how much you don't know. Overconfidence is a common characteristic of the incompetent. They will consistently rate themselves as "above average" on a wide rage of flying abilities. The more difficult the task the more likely is the incompetent to give himself a high rating.
Fortunately, in flying, an awareness of one's own inabilities is inevitable. Poor landings are always a return to reality for both competent and incompetent pilots. Poor judgment will eventually expose the incompetent's incompetence, often with most tragic results. For every incompetent removed from the gene pool, there is always another under training.
Where's the Problem?
When an instructor becomes upset over a student's performance, the student could well consider that the problem lies with the instructor. An instructor may become impatient because the flight is his fourth of the day and he can't accept poor performance from this student of procedures he has already taught three times today. Happens.
The instructor is projecting his past teaching to the present and has failed to recognize that his analysis has nothing to do with reality. Instructional fatigue will make it likely that no adjustment of teaching technique will occur. The CFI has already backed off with previous students and is now unable to make the adjustment again because he has mixed up the students and the lesson in his mind..
An instructor who shows impatience or anger with a student has a problem, not the student. Just yesterday I had such a problem. The student began well and flew through two full approaches with a light touch. He actually flew the first departure with rudder alone. On the second missed approach ATC had him turn early. This single change triggered stress so that by the time we were on the third approach he was using a full fist on the yoke. Initially, I did not recognize this as his fatigue coming into play. When I did recognize the problem my approach to making corrections and advice completely changed.
He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, is a fool -- shun him.
He who knows not and knows he knows not, is simple -- teach him.
He who knows and knows not that he knows, is asleep -- wake him.
He who knows and knows he knows, is wise -- follow him but carefully for
He doesn't know what he doesn't know.
Nor do you know what you don't know.
A casual approach to flying can be hazardous. Flying requires considerable planning and rethinking of the options as the flight progresses. The mindset of the pilot must be ahead of the airplane. When your situation but two options and you make your choice, it is no longer an option. It is a last resort.
The pilot must be prepared to accept things about which he can do nothing. Aircraft performance limits must be accepted as the limits. You must have weather limits, the FARs set minimums. Minimums are not always safe minimums. Your emergency, be it aircraft or weather, must be featured in your training and again in your reviews.
Instruction that does not expose the student to real weather situations that compromise the continuance of flight is not adequate. The student must be exposed to the difficulties, taught the knowledge and procedures required and given an opportunity to see how the process can be carried to a safe and satisfactory conclusion.
Every adverse situation is a learning opportunity. The student needs the opportunity to make the go/no go decision. Then the instructor has an opportunity to turn the situation two different ways. Stay on the ground and show the student how his decision was the right one or takeoff and show how the decision to go was either right or wrong as weather develops. The making of mistakes is an important part of learning to fly. While I do not teach the salvaging of landings because I emphasize to go-around, I do want a student leaving me to know how to make the safe choices when it comes to unexpected weather. I have a still standing offer to every student I have taught. I will come and pick him up should he decide to wait out the weather.
The actual exposure will give the student skill, understanding and experience those goes beyond quoting an FAR. The knowledge is initially acquired on the ground; it is the flying that makes the knowledge memorable.
Instruction that uses the stair-step approach is predicated on the absence of surprises. A military preflight can take hours. In my own program I seldom take less than 30 minutes and early on the discussion and planning may take over an hour. I go through what we will do in detail, not just the flying but the checklists to be used, the radio procedure for both departure and return. The student who knows what is coming and what to expect is under far less stress than the one who gets strapped into the seat while heading into the unknown.
Each preflight should include some small advancement in systems operation. Perhaps just a moments review or remark as to what the student should look for and be aware of can be sufficient. Over time such contributions will develop judgment and awareness of possible malfunctions. Knowing what problems can ground an aircraft is essential knowledge. One of the least covered areas of advanced instruction is exploring the outer limits of aircraft performance and configuration. An hour spent in precision flight as to heading, altitude and airspeed can restore confidence. Steep turns won't hurt either if precise heading and altitude recoveries are included.
CFI Abuses of Student Time
This problem is usually one of teaching style and respect
1. Coming to lesson unprepared
2. Failure to prep the student for the lesson
3. Yelling and verbal abuse
4. Use of student's flying time
5. Not letting student fly and make mistakes
6. Scaring student
7. Failing to give consideration to student opinions and concerns
Transcript of failed CFI employment check ride.
My fortune cookie 7/24/98
"To teach is to learn twice."
Do not rely upon everything in print about aviation. Some writers are doers and some are talkers. Watch out for the talkers.
One CFI + One CFI = Problems
One several occasions I have flown with both experienced and inexperienced CFI for a number of reasons. In practically every instance peculiar things have happened. The CFI not flying is not competent in his unusual secondary situation. The preflight is made with the master on. A clearance is copied wrong and read back even more incorrect. The taxi route is not as cleared by ATC. Radio frequencies were mis-set. Charts mis-read with intersections mis-named. A CFI not instructing makes a poor second in command.
When two equally qualified CFI fly together there must be an understanding of shared responsibility. CFI flying is in charge of the immediate while the CFI not flying is in charge of all required anticipation. The CFI not flying will observe, evaluate, advise, anticipate, direct, assist and counsel. Failure to perform by the CFI not flying will be a distraction, hindrance, a fount of frustration and a hazard. The CFI not flying is the servant of the CFI flying.
The right seat is not a seat in waiting for the left seat. Rather, it is a seat of shared duties, mutual respect, exemplary performance of duty, and obedience to command. The CFI not flying must be free to express concerns and doubts. The value of the CFI not flying must not be under estimated or under valued.
His values are:
Superior anticipation of needed information.
Planning for the required anticipation above.
Watching outside and inside for what to seek and avoid.
Knowledge of aircraft, route, FARs, and all beyond just requirements.
Willingness to share and assist without any withholding for the greater good.
Time for First Solo
This method to safely soloing a student puts the burden on the student. It is not the way I do it but it is worth considering. The instructor expects the student to say when he is ready. An addendum to this technique is for the instructor to then require the student to taxi out for one more takeoff and landing. The idea is to see how the student now performs knowing that the next time he will be alone. By performing well the student acquires a very necessary bit of extra confidence.
Another technique is the ex-military in which the instructor starts out screaming from the get go a continuous stream of threats to fail. At the last moment the CFI demands a full stop to as to escape from certain death. The CFI gets out while saying that you'll do all right. Apparently, the idea is to make you fly under pressure that is supposed to develop the necessary confidence for a successful solo flight.
Teaching Airplane English
I am in the process of 're-treading' two pilots who have radio problems. They are both experienced complex-high performance pilots but they have never been exposed to the latest ATC radio expectations.
It is so much easier to teach people correctly in the first place. These pilots have about 50 years of flying between them and now must learn to 'talk' Y2K airplane. One has not flown in ten years and the other has English as a second language and has avoided use of the radio for his entire flying career.
The pilot who has not flown in ten years has excellent procedures for that period. He flew a cabin class twin. The problem is that he has these procedures so ingrained that, under pressure, he reverts back to 'his' way. The new runway incursion procedures seem strange to him. He has bought a C-210 and I'm trying to bring him up to date on procedures before he begins his checkout in several weeks. His flying is good in basics but airport patterns need some rust removed.
My friend who has trouble with English is different but similar. I go over the expected procedure even to the extent of having him write it out. When it works, it works well. If ATC changes a wording or adds a twist he's in trouble.
Yesterday, I took him to Oakland and back using TRACON. We made a full stop and went over the procedure for a return to Concord. It went reasonably well. We made a low approach at CCR and headed back to OAK without using TRACON. He had some difficulty responding to a traffic 'point-out' and convincing OAK that we wanted to do a low-approach with on-course CCR. He landed at CCR very pleased with what he had learned. I was pleased, too,
On Speaking Airplane English
Poor proficiency in English, the international language of aviation, contributed to major accidents that cost the lives of over 1,100 passengers and crew between 1976 and 2000. Misunderstandings are also a factor in many close calls and runway incursions. To address the problem, ICAO has written new requirements for controllers and pilots involved in international operations, mandating for the first time that pilots must pass a test to demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency. The new rules take effect in 2008. Native speakers of English also must try harder to be understood. To reduce the risk of misunderstandings in the international environment, pilots need to study strategies such as avoiding the use of idioms, colloquialisms and jargon, and speak slowly and clearly,
How to Respond?
Dear Mr. Whitt:
I stumbled upon your website yesterday, Monday, 12/14 at approximately 11:00 a.m. Printed it . . . the whole thing. It is now 10:15 p.m. Tuesday night and with the exception of a few hours sleep, I have not stopped reading. Sounds excessive huh? Well I'm learning to fly. I live in Los Angeles and you have no idea how I wish I lived closer to CCR, Concord, so I could learn from you. A while back a good friend of mine sprung the news on me over a Saturday morning cup of coffee that he had started taking flying lessons, in fact had one scheduled later that day, and asked if I wanted to take a ride down to the airport to check it out. When he finally convinced me he wasn't joking my response was (excuse the language) "you've gotta be out of your f---ing mind." You see I was a solid ground contact guy - no heights - no planes - thanks anyway I'll stay down here. But he was my friend and wanted company for the ride so I went . . .my log book now contains 260+ hours, a private pilot's license, primary aerobatic training, and stops at the 48th hour of demanding, vaguely understood, and significantly disillusioned instrument training.
I don't like cynical people Mr. Whitt and hope I do not sound like one, but this journey has been long. Throughout I have searched for one person possessed of the skill and love for this deeply compelling art that I am trying to learn and make part of my life. With the brief exception of some damn good aerobatic training what I have found are instructors who wouldn't notice a checklist unless you clipped it to their cool looking sunglasses, don't care that you forgot to hit the timer at the OM on an ILS, and who's idea of event anticipation and positional awareness is "Well in the real world of IFR you're almost always on vectors." "Well thanks alot asshole, but what do I do when the guy down in the TRACON, who because he's human, allows his mind to wander to an ex-wife, or a mortgage, or loses the vacuum tube that runs his scope, or a circuit blows in this 26 year old rental? What do I do if I buy into your bullshit and tell myself I can fly this gig and one of the above described scenarios occurs when I have someone I love, with all their faith and trust sitting next to me?"
All right, I'll stop with the rant because I know its getting dramatic, it's getting late here (12:30 a.m.), and I'm sure you get the point. Maybe they have just forgotten how important those small life preserving training details are that, If they were lucky, someone once taught them. Maybe the one thing their teacher forgot to mention was the value and strength of character conveyed by continuing to pass it along.
What I've learned through all my "paper studying" is that you can look at all the charts, diagrams, and geometric symbology that is available to the aviation student until your eyes go numb. It is at best, a pale, soft, infant-like first step on the road to the total visceral, motor neural emersion that is the real world of IFR flying, and if you're ever gonna "get it" you will need either nerves of steel and a lot of luck to survive trial and error in an unforgiving environment, or a great teacher. Probably both. The point I'll finally get around to making Mr. Whitt is that you have made an impact on me. Your writing is spare, to the point, devoid of bullshit, and relentless in its transference of what you call the "law of primacy." Your deep exposure, skill and respect in dealing with the real thing is evident. I have never met you, but I believe you are an amazing teacher and artist.
When I was a kid I read a book which for some reason I still remember. It was about the early years of professional baseball, when the guys who played the game gave all they had. It was called "Baseball When The Grass Was Real." You remind me of it.
P.S. When I complete the instrument rating I will continue on to CFI/II. You are the role model.
Knowledge and ability to explain
Ability to demonstrate
ABILITY TO ANALYZE
What the student in doing
Where the student is looking
A good lesson gives the student something new and reinforces something previously taught or learned. You do not 'hit' a student with the sense that he is 'wrong', far better to suggest a change or reference material to be studied.
Failure to fly frequently means that forgetting will become an important part of the learning problem. Far better is the total immersion into flying since it leaves no room for procrastination.
My Solos Take Longer
The first five students I taught had 'things' happen during their first or second solo. I changed my program so that a student would not get into the unknown.
I did my landing practice between airports. Four of them, Rio Vista (uncontrolled), Napa, Livermore, and Oakland. This way the students learned how to go in and out of our home airport (Concord) from several directions along with all the radio procedures and checkpoints.
Prior to solo I would do a radio exercise at Concord that involved ATC giving instructions that involved using all the runways (8) along with short approaches, 360s on downwind, 270 enter on base, sidestep to a parallel, simulated ATC radio failure (watch for lights), land long, make 180 on the runway and takeoff in the other direction. Oh yes, go-arounds and downwind landings.
Then I worked on actual solo for 1/2 hour at the home field. I wanted three landings and a go-around in that time period. I would have the logbooks and licenses ready to go except for signing. I would be dropped off at the tower and be available should anything go wrong. Nothing ever has. If the first 1/2 hour was unsatisfactory I would not solo student but would work on deficiencies.
Solo consisted of two touch and goes and a full stop. Second solo would be immediately after a dual from Concord to Napa. ATC would be expecting the student to make a full stop and taxi back with on course Concord. Third solo would be done the same way to Livermore, fourth to Rio Vista and fifth to Oakland.
Yes, this usually put my students up around twenty hours. But they learned the area, they knew what to say and how to say it on the radio. There are 32 normal arrivals into Concord and over seventy different departures available. We didn't do them all but my students could do most of them.
Over the years, the controllers have been able to distinguish my students from others simply by the competence they showed on their radio call-up and ability to adjust to ATC instructions. It is not the hours to solo that count. It is what you do with those hours that make the difference.
Instructional Frustration (Opinion)
I must admit, I am somewhat discouraged with primary flight instruction. Students that don't prepare for the lesson, don't do their homework, fail to show up, whine about the cost, fail to take responsibility, etc. There are some who just want you to open their skull and pour in years of knowledge and experience without themselves lifting a finger. It didn't take me long to experience long waits for a scheduled student and then to be stood up. It's one thing at 2:00 pm on a Tuesday, but quite another at 6:00 am on Sunday morning.
Some of these problems could be caused by the modern training environment:
flight schools which promise that it's easy "just stick the CD-ROM in the computer and "boom" the ground school is over and promises the same that they will be a pilot in 40 hours. When I tell students that they can expect to spend 65-75 hours in the plane and 200 to 300 hundred hours studying - they look at me like I'm from outerspace.
I too have experienced all of the frustrations you have mentioned. I have experieced it in thirty years of teaching flying and in another thirty years of teaching public school. I pride myself in successful teaching where others have failed. I was a teacher of retarded children who found that previous instructional damage was the major cause of difficulty. The same has been true of my teaching of flying. The inability to apply themselves to the required study by flying students is a reflection of their previous school experience.
As flight instructors we must rebuild attitudes and habits. We must motivate because we have, in flying, one of the greatest achievements of mankind. One of the things we, as instructors, must instill in our students is an acceptance of a life that is filled with delay and frustration. Flying is that way, be it weather, maintenance, scheduling or otherwise. Learning to fly is a maturation of the student to accept that which cannot be changed and to change the changeable.
Viva la Difference
Where male and female students are similar:
--Individual differences of greater importance.
--Learning differences more related to background
Where male characteristic dominates
--More likely to fake-it through a problem
--More likely to concentrate on situation
--More likely to be rough and abrupt with controls
--More likely to show-off and take risks.
Where female characteristic dominates
--More likely to admit having difficulty
--Less likely to make correlative assumptions
--Less likely to have negative transference
--More likely to be prepared for lesson
--More likely to follow instructions
--More likely to be light and smooth with controls.
--Characteristically more cautious.
--Feelings easily hurt and confidence destroyed.
--Emotional sensitivity to unintended slights
--Requires examples from their experience 'bank'.
--Use the Aviation Instructor's Handbook as a checklist
--Keep comprehensive training records in more than two words item
--Teach students to ask the right questions.
--Instructors are there to help students learn.
--Why students forget maneuver distinctions: forgetting, repression, disuse
--Students are selective in remembering what they want to remember
--ADM means Aeronautical Decision Making
--CFI PTS 300 pages based on 30 sources and 234 objectives
--Instructors set standards
--You don't need to know everything, just know where to find it.
--CFI must know the arrangement, order and index of every FAR Parts 61, 91, 43, 67 and more
--Instructional focus should be on modifying the pilot's behavior be it instinctive or taught incorrectly.
--Instructional criticism is limited to specifying what existed and how much and which way to maneuver
--CFI must know how the different parts of the FARs are formatted.
--You are your instructor when solo.
--Flying is mostly head and very little hand.
--Major cause of students giving up after first ride is the instructor.
--Incorrect control use is a learning opportunity.
--Every poor CFI is the product of a poor CFI
--The greatest reward of being a CFI is in the success of your students.
--The evaluation by student and instructor of a lesson may be completely different
Student and I were the only local flight besides a Citabria leaving and returning from aerobatics and a light jet departing during a flight for over an hour. Excellent beginning, student had plane ready with all the paper work when I arrived. We sat in the plane while I discussed all the aspects of carburetor icing and use of heat. Visibility was 4 with 700 scattered and below 2000 overcast. I had warned student night before about
the effect having no horizon would have on his flying.
Selected and requested the shorter runway as I usually do with students. Student faced a conflict between the local agency pattern requirements and maintaining VFR. Advised that we would remain legal VFR by avoiding clouds and maintaining visibility.
Defined a cloud for student, more exactly I defined what is not a cloud. If you can see through it, it is not a cloud. We had to turn early and low on upwind to avoid clouds.
Student experienced his first flying difficulty by over-banking beyond the 30-degrees I specify for pattern work. Better practice in low visibility is to hold shallower bank for a longer time vs the alternative of a steeper bank. How can you tell when you are too close to a cloud? Easy, if it moves you are too close. We continually had to change altitude or direction to get into where we could see better in the direction we were flying.. Student continually experienced varying degrees of disorientation by not referencing where to look for the runway with the heading indicator.
the first landing was a perfect 'Greaser'. The kind where we landed smoothly while literally flying on to the runway. My comment to the student was that it was a terrible landing and that I was looking for a stall-warner and 'thump' to show that the aircraft was through flying on subsequent efforts. Even though the wind shifted and the crosswind direction changed most of the landings were 'thumps'. Student is ready for solo.
On one takeoff the
airspeed indicator froze at 100 knots. In my pre-flight presentation I
had emphasized carburetor problems and solutions without mentioning pitot
problems or heat. Time or a on the spot lesson. I turned on the
pitot heat and nothing happened.
Pitot heat is a preventative not a quick cure of an existing situation. We flew the entire pattern and made the landing with 100kts indicated. By listening to the engine, airflow and the feel of the controls, the student was able to make a completely controlled descent to a full stall landing. A very important exercise that I usually perform using a post-it over the airspeed indicator where I can watch the speed but the student cannot.
Due to student disorientation in the variable visibility we were quite high on final several times. I used these opportunities to smooth out his go-arounds, slips and use of lower airspeeds to increase the rate of descent. On one such maneuver, the Citabria called in as was told to report a two-mile final. Time for another lesson. I quired the student as to whether the next pattern presented an additional problem. Student mentioned the clouds, visibility, crosswind etc. but did not recognize an aircraft reporting two mile final could be conflicting traffic for his pattern. Sure enough while we were on downwind the Citabria reported and was cleared to land. We were told to advise when it was in sight. We never saw it. but he saw our strobes and reported us in sight.
In the meantime the student was so distracted while looking for the Citrabria that he lost a couple of hundred feet on downwind, not just once but three times regardless of my reminders and corrections, We were nearly two miles past the numbers before turning base and had descended below 800' without seeing the Citrabria. It was a perfect distraction lesson for the student. The next landing was a short approach to a full-stop so show the advantages of staying in tight when weather makes keeping the airport in sight a problem
The student had fun and
I felt I had taught a good lesson.
Collected Advice to New Ground-School Instructor
Taught adult education in local schools for years. Write to your state aviation office for state materials such as a state only aeronautical chart. Many have airport information and places to fly. I did such to all the states on an x-country and got 37 pounds of material.
Your local FSDO has many different booklets and safety materials. There is a specialist that will come and make presentations to your classes. Look for people, such as myself, who enjoy speaking to wantabe pilots. My speech consists of material related to: "It takes more than luck to become an old pilot" Give it to EAA, local organizations and 99's. Well received. I could write it up if you wish.
Give your people my web address and others. Take them through DUATS process. Don't shoot all your ammunition early on. Keep the best stuff for near the end when they think they know enough not to show up. Always give a preview of next lessono they know what they will miss if they don't come.
When you give out a 'hand-out, go over it to make sure they know what to remember and read. Suggest you have everyone bring tape recorders so they can play back specific parts of your presentations.
I use recorders digital and tape even while flying. The required info is on my web site. No engine noise, only radio and intercom. Great learning aid. $10 you could make and sell cords to students. I give away. Have class
session on how to make. patch cords. I usually make 4 at a time.
I was a ground instructor before becoming a flight instructor by popular request of my ground school students. If you get a special state credential you may be excused from taking FAA 'idiotic' how to teach test.
You cant write to different manufacturers of aircraft and instruments for posters. I still have some from 40 years ago. You can buy instrument panels etc. Bet Garmin has some give away materials as would Sirrus Design.
Well, I've never taught one, yet, but from attending one, I have two tips for you.
One, don't just read aloud from some book. Discuss the material.
Two, have a plan in case the lesson ends up going by quickly. Nothing says "unprepared" like letting your class go home after using less than half the allotted time. (We used two hour blocks, BTW.)
I've been teaching an instrument ground school as well as helping teach several private pilot ground schools. We do 1 night per week, 3 hours, 12
--Assign homework to keep the students involved between classes. For the instrument GS, I'll then ask a student to teach part of last weeks lesson to the rest of the class, or I'll ask them questions to ensure they've done the
homework and actually learned something.
--Insist that they preview next weeks lesson and bring some questions about it to class next week.
--Ask enough questions to keep them thinking, make them work for the answers before giving them the answer. Just don't make it frustrating for them.
--Always have a list of articles and books that explain each subject in different manners. If you pick only one source for your class, it won't "click" with every student, so have a back up version for those students. Also either avail your personal library or recommend additional books for those few special students that really want to dive in with both feet and learn all they can.
--Jepp has some good slides and power point slides, especially on gyros and instruments. Better yet would be to find an A&P with some old instruments with cut outs.
--Rod Machado has a CD of slides also, but I like Jepps better. A mix of both works the best I think, I can only handle so much of Rod's humor, and some of his slides beat certain subjects to death.
--Remember that for private pilot students most of the information is new to them, you'll need to make sure you teach it correctly and offer opportunities for them to review.
--Have them use some kind of computer testing software that allows them to test themselves on the FAA questions for each subject individually. Assign a homework test session with the software after each class.
--During class time, once your introduction or lecture is over, assign several test questions to groups of students to work together on. They will help each other figure out the problems. Then go over each problem to make sure they understand it completely.
--Computer simulation programs for VOR and ADF situational awareness work great. Also try the "TO/FROM" diagram or overlay for test prep. We have a VOR on the field, so we'll put the students in the airplanes right on the ground and show them TO/FROM and the theory of radials.
--The subject that repeatedly shows the largest difference in student knowledge for private pilots is usually engines and systems. Some people have more mechanical experience and ability than others, so be prepared to
teach to their level.
--For cross country planning, first use local sectionals and local airports for your "flights". Then transfer what they learn to the FAA test questions. Be prepared for them to be totally baffled by the E6B. Chances are that they've never used anything like an E6B before.
--Make it interesting. After you introduce the material, teach them why that particular subject is important and why they need to know it. Use real life examples. Use articles, stories, videos, books, websites and anything else you can to keep their interest up. Be very careful and observant to any "student drift off" and pull them back in using what ever it takes.
--Keep in mind that the students will catch on quick to some subjects, and others will be like pulling teeth. Weather is usually one that can go either way. Often, you can take all of the FAA test questions on a single subject and type up a narrative, using each test question and it's answer, putting them in a sensible order. This helps teach the material while making them familiar with the FAA "lingo".
--VFR Cloud clearance & visibility tip: Standard is 32 1/5. Write it down and you'll see 3 miles visibility, 2000 feet horizontally, 1000 feet above, and 500 ft below. Once they learn it, they will remember it forever.
--Airspace: Relate airspace to the highway/road system. Bigger roads for bigger faster vehicles, faster vehicles = more regulations and requirements. Interstate highway = Class B, on ramps even have "no pedestrians or bicycles allowed" signs, State highways= Class C, not as much traffic or smaller traffic, County roads = Class D, less traffic than Class C, not as many cops.... town roads = Class E, mostly paved but not much traffic.... dirt roads = Class G, nobody's watching
--Tour a FSS if you can before you start teaching weather or a tower before you start teaching airspace, if you have one near by. Ask a corporate pilot on the field for a ride in a corporate jet. Make it interesting. Make it real. Teach beyond the test. Make them want to come back next week.
Jim Burns III firstname.lastname@example.org
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