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Thirteen More Training Articles
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Things that Make a Better Pilot;
Airplane Pilots Sit on the Left Side;...Student
and Instructor Samples; ...Spins
are a Stall Fear Cure;....Pattern
Spins; ...The Value of a Failure;
the Joys of Practice; ...The Joy
of Practice; ... Looking
Made of Little Things;
Need Not Be Expensive;
The Economics of
Emotions; ...Altitude; ...
Training Program Features
I make a practice of having prospective students come to my home (office) for a couple of hours to discuss flying. I request that a student arrive on time with a tape recorder. Few people today are being taught that being late for an appointment is a sign of disrespect. Too much information is covered to be remembered, otherwise. We begin by discussing their needs, motivation, prior experience, requirements, and background. 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 expected to know much in the beginning. Often a little bit of knowledge can make the situation more difficult. As an instructor, I will ask many questions. 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.
I am now (2004) using a digital recorder to record all ground and flight instruction. This allows me to play the voice back on my computer while I take notes to see what I think I taught. I ask the student to do the same so we can compare what he thought he learned with what I thought I taught. Interesting results.
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
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.
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, smoothness, anticipation, and safety awareness.
Instructors begin to customize of their training program before the first flight. For the individual's motivation, background and time the instructor must invent 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 but familiarize him with the local situation. 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. 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.
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 valuable experience, required of an instructor, can only be built up by operational time. Unfortunately, it is time that causes a reduction in experienced instructors.
Little Things That Make a Better Pilot
Opening both doors to the aircraft. Drain the left wing sump and put cup and oil rag on seat so that it will be available when you get to the other side. You don't need to carry them all around the aircraft.
Don't pour the gasoline in one spot on the tarmac. By giving it a flip downwind it will evaporate in seconds.
Note setting of trim wheel and then trim tab. Discuss the effect that the trim setting could have had on the resulting landing. For a C-172 the trim setting tells a great deal about the aircraft loading during the last landing.
Avoid being all ready to start the airplane, only to find that the key cannot be retrieved from the front pocket without getting out of the plane. Put key on floor in front of seat.
Preset seat and block into position to protect against unexpected seat movement.
Carry your pre-flight checklist hanging from the bottom on a necklace. It allows you to have both hand free and is readily available just by looking down.
Break oil cap loose with left hand but remove with your right. If you clean off oil between thumb and forefinger of the left hand you can wash oil off when you pull engine sump strainer. Propeller makes nice place to hang dip-stick while adding oil. Be careful.
Discover the reality of P-factor by noting the horizontal propeller blade angles as tail is lowered to the ground. It makes clear the different control inputs required for left and right climbing turns.
Rolling the tires 30-40 inches is a required procedure in preflight. Bald is beautiful only on flight instructors. At what point is a tire unsafe for flight? Get tires across cable, if any, to reduce initial rolling power required to taxi.
Use overflow tube to demonstrate the wastefulness of having full fuel tanks in an airplane that is going to sit in the sun. Present real time airborne vs. POH figures.
Starting and taxiing
Verbalize all clearing as well as a swivel neck on the ground and in the air. The life you save may be your own.
Make all yoke movements using one finger and the thumb. If you need more than two fingers you're doing something wrong. Remember, the yoke moves both back and up.
Make learning to taxi a priority. Begin by explaining/knowing how rudder/nose gear geometry is configured. No brakes except for sharp turns and stopping. Make some 360s to headings then add yoke positions 90 degrees at a time. The first clue to a competent pilot is the way he taxies
Control check uses 'thumbs up'. Thumb always points to up-aileron. Turn head to check that other aileron is down before reversing control.
Teach/make throttle control movements with forefinger as a measure. From 800 rpm to 1700 rpm is one fingernail length. Practice until you can do it every time without looking. Learn the sound and feel of every power setting.
It is not enough to clear final going from the runup area to the runway. Turn enough to protect yourself from an aircraft on close-in base.
When taxiing on a runway, always taxi far to one side. This makes the runway still useable by and aircraft having an emergency.
Takeoff and Climb
Except for x-winds, get the nose wheel off the ground and let the airplane fly itself off the runway. Don't force a takeoff. Note the nose attitude that gets you airborne at 60 knots will just touch the end of the runway. Pre-plan heading to be used for any x-wind runway alignment and options selected for engine failure on takeoff.
Look back at runway above 300' to confirm that you are aligned and not drifting over adjacent runway. Make ten-degree cut away from adjacent runways at the departure end of the runway.
Trim for hands-off climb, not within the range of speeds given in the POH, but on an exact Va speed. Practice holding that speed while moving the trim through its full range of movement. Lock your elbow against the door panel to do this. If you ever fly with some out-of-trim yoke pressure a distraction will create a problem.
Use climb-out as practice time for Dutch rolls. It helps you clear the flight path and gives x-wind skills you will need for landing.
Always make your first airwork turn to the left. Any following traffic should be passing to your right. Fly at altitudes other than even thousands or five-hundreds when within 3000' of the ground. Select your area to be clear of common air routes and airways.
Practice left/right climbing turns only at 30 degree bank. Take feet off rudder during entry and while in left climbing turns. Note that ball stays centered. P-factor. Practice using the right rudder to come out of a left turn with very little aileron. Practice making right climbing turns using right rudder for your entry. Note that at 30 degrees of right bank your yoke is held as though in a left turn. To level wings from a right climbing turn relax on the right rudder and use the aileron.
While the initial standard may be lower, you should perform all maneuvers toward a student goal of 5-5-50. This means within five degrees of heading, five knots of airspeed and fifty feet of altitude. Pilots 2-2-20
Level aircraft using wingtip and horizon then hold nose in position while trimming. Don't reduce power until you have reached level cruise speed. Let go of yoke and watch the nose. Any rise or fall of the nose is indicative of improper
trim setting. Position nose again and re-trim until nose holds level flight. Put hands up by windshield. Nose should go down. Place hands overhead behind you. Nose should go up. Only way to fly.
Put aircraft into 30 degree bank and trim nose-up half a turn. Let go yoke and use rudder to keep angle of bank. Aircraft should be able to maintain altitude and bank without your touching yoke. Left or right no difference. This ability is designed into the aircraft. Aircraft will attempt to level itself at less than 30- degrees of bank. Aircraft will attempt to roll on over at more than 30 degrees of bank. Knowing the how to use the inherent stability of the aircraft makes flying safer. Practice.
Work on 30 degree banks with 90 degree turns continuously alternating from left to right. Always clear when the wing is above the horizon. Lead recovery by 15 degrees and try to get bank reversals to occur on selected headings.
Work on leaning procedure every time you level off. It should be done at any level flight altitude. Make use of mixture as common as use of carburetor heat. Just don't get the two crossed up.
Make going to slow-flight a matter of time. Learn to have the aircraft transition from level cruise to hands-off slow-flight in a matter of seconds. Any such transition can be done in half the normal time you usually take with practice.
Time how long it takes you. Now, work to cut it in half. Works.
Apply flaps without looking at flap indicator. Use 3-4 count for every ten degrees of extension. Air loads speed up retraction so use different count. Practice milking up flaps on ground before doing so in the air.
At altitude, make opportunities to fly minimum controllable. The true test of flying skill is finding your own lower speed limits and knowing what it takes to maneuver when there.
Why Airplane Pilots Sit on the Left Side
Does not explain why students land on the left side. Students land on the left side
because they fail to add right rudder as they raise the nose in the round-out and flare. (Finally recognized in 2001 while flying a Beech Skipper.)
Behind many of the things we do in flying lies a long history. This often dates well before flying. Have you ever wondered why left patterns are standard? Before airplanes and cars, men rode horses. Most people are right handed. As a matter of good practice weapons were carried on the right side and kept available to the right hand.
Since it was always desirable to keep the right hand and weapon available, horses were mounted from the left side using the left hand for lift by pulling on the saddle horn. To keep the right hand free from attack on the narrow roads of England they rode on the left side of the track. This forced brigands to cross an open space. This also kept the right hand available for for attack or defense against oncoming travelers. I have not yet found the logic for why the Americans drive on the right side.
By happenstance, the military cavalry was the least dogmatic of the services in all countries. When the military adopted the airplane, the cavalry was the natural choice for pilot selection. The cavalry looked upon the airplane as another
mode of transportation like the horse. Best to be mounted from the left as by habit. Early cavalrymen nee' pilots were even required to wear spurs while flying. Did I really say the least dogmatic of the services?
You will need to search old film very hard to see an old time aircraft being mounted from the right by the pilot. I have never seen such. In fact, most passengers mounted from the left. When aircraft were designed for side by side seating, the pilot in command (captain) sat on the left. The preferred pattern direction was left because that gave the pilot better visibility. By convention the standard traffic pattern is now to the left.
Student and Instructor Samples
The nature of certainty
In my careers as a school teacher and flight instructor I have discerned some student classifications that appear universal. There are students who make things happen; there are students who watch things happen; and, there are students who wonder what happened.
Flying is not a good place for the last category student. To the extent that a student is not self-prepared or tutored into a lesson or maneuver it will be a constant state of wonderment. It is a fortunate student who has sufficient
awareness to recognize his state of wonderment as a requirement for a series of questions. The wondering student needs to study learn and question his way out of that wondering state. This can best be done by having comprehensive study materials and a question/answer forum such as recreation.aviation.student on the internet. Just studying for the test is NOT the way to go.
In some flight situation there is value in watching, but only if you are knowing what to watch. In making turns, you are watching the horizon and the nose relationship. In fact, most maneuvers require that you watch what is happening to the nose in relation to the horizon. The sooner these relationships are imprinted in your visual perception the better. Keeping it there is the next step of the watching process. The ingrained desire to 'see' below the nose must be overcome if the 'watching' student expects to benefit when he moves into the 'makes things happen' phase.
The best phase of learning and instruction in flying is the process of making things happen. This 'making' includes mistakes. The opportunity to make your own mistakes is of major importance. The opportunity to do something correctly is nice but the making of a mistake is a learning experience of unequaled value. Recognition of a mistake is part of the learning experience. A spiral descent is an example as is a wing drop during a stall. The process of making things happen either correctly or incorrectly is not totally up to the student. The instructor creates situations as learning experiences. Distractions for example. The instructor who allows a student to perpetuate an unsafe procedure is incompetent at least in that area.
There are teacher (instructors) who from even limited experience seem to be all-knowing about all things. There is considerably more to instructing than just being able to fly the plane through a particular maneuver. The 'watching'
student will partially benefit but the instructions must include where to look and for what. If this where to look and for what was not included in the pre-lesson overview then it occurs in the cockpit. The cockpit is a relatively poor place to provide instruction. The poorest examples of such instruction I have noted over the years is when the instructor accepts and perpetuates a student's perception of safety when it is less than the optimum. An example is when a recent private pilot flew me four miles from takeoff before reaching 1000' AGL. She wanted to see where she was going. All turns were at 15 degree banks or less so she could see under the wing better. (C-150) We only made one flight. She went with an instructor who accepted her way of doing things. Not the first time for me nor
Poor instruction is perpetuated but so is good instruction. The normal tendency is for the instructor to teach the way he was taught. I once knew a flight instructor who perpetuated three 'generations' of flight instructors whose students consistently failed to flare to keep the nose wheel from making initial contact. Numerous collapsed nose struts and propeller strikes were the result of this one 'old-timer'. The students loved these instructors because they could always
see the runway on landing. The maintenance shops always recommended these instructors. The more the teacher (instructor) knows the less certain he is that there is only one 'correct' (profitable) solution for any performance.
Advice can be right, wrong, conditional, dangerous, incomplete, misleading, universal, or limited in scope and application. Giving dangerous advice, even with a disclaimer is quite hazardous when the recipient has no way to discriminate or associate the advice in a meaningful context. Giving wrong advice can lead to fatal results when associated with flying. If in the giving of advice, you must include a disclaimer of any sort, it is better to refrain or at least to pose it as a question.
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.
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.
If you are a student who has a death-grip on the yoke, you are working too hard. You will fly better by learning to trim and let go. Most any airplane can be flown quite well without touching the yoke. Use the rudder. A well trimmed plane can be made to climb or descend slightly, just by nodding the head. try it. I used to call trim the power steering of flight. I was corrected in r.a.s. into calling it cruise control. Knowing what to do and when to do it allows the lightness on the controls that makes flying easy. Even talking on the radio can be made easy. To talk effectively, you must know where you are or will be when you plan to talk. You will give your altitude as an additional warning to other aircraft. You will rehearse to eliminate unnecessary verbiage and eliminate pauses and punctuation. All the rest is 'canned', in the same informational sequence for every ATC situation. Additional information by the pilot beyond the minimum shows the extent to which the assertive pilot is in command. You must know enough to protect yourself from ATC mistakes.
Do you think that many people of this type of ability stick out the 'failing to achieve' that must come to them with flight training? That makes me wonder about your '250 feet per mile, ROC' student. First, I am worried that this girl could ever have been certified (to fly, that is!). Secondly, I wonder if there is not a method that you have found in your years teaching, to show people who think they are doing OK, that there is a better or safer way? Did this person present a rational argument for what she was doing? I assume if "seeing where she was going" was it, that SHOULDN'T be too difficult to talk her out of, on the ground, even!?!? Or would she just not accept information from you? that WOULD be a problem, for all pilots, not only you as the instructor.
"Pupils don't fail, instructors do."
--As for poor instruction being perpetuated, I have seen the same thing happen.....to the point where I lost a friend, and he took a student with him while trying to perform an aerobatic show for his visiting parents. My question though, relates to the story of yours, and to the second "type 3" student I mentioned earlier. She was on her first solo cross-country, she got 'kinda' lost and upon her return to the field, (a 2000' strip) made a particularly bad landing and porpoised the nose-wheel into a "STAR". She quit flying that day. Do people not lose confidence, maybe to the point of quitting, when they continually screw something up? When people become more experienced, theirs skills more finely tuned....do they not understand from the A&P's bills, if nothing else that they are messing up?
or is this a type 3 that wouldn't realize?
"Another instructor problem".
--You also mention the exchange of advice/ information, particularly in a forum such as rec. aviation.student. I have made several posts in the group (not many as my time is very limited) in response to questions/ comments posed by others. On one occasion, it turned out that I had given information that had actually been superseded. Now, I always give the best advice I can, if that is what is asked for. I say that it is 'advice' or 'my opinion' as in the recent debate I had with several people from the group on the subject of 'prop-stopped' forced landings to the ground. I still believe that this practice holds far too much "unnecessary risk" and would never teach that to a student pilot.
That is not to say that, with the circumstances the other person gave, I would not try it, but I have never felt the need or had the will to try it, as yet. If I give 'information' as was the case I mentioned earlier, then I say that's what it is and include no disclaimer. My question here would be, is it not better that I posted a response to be corrected by somebody with more recent information, than to ignore the subject? If I had not posted, *I* would not know any better,"
"Would not a personal response rather than a posting avoid the problem?"
--I am not a student pilot, but will always be a student. I learned something, too! That brings me quite neatly to the one thing you said that I must disagree with. "It is a poor student that does not exceed his teacher." I have an 'old' friend who is the most experienced all-round pilot I have ever met (or even heard about), and I used to enjoy sitting around 'hangar flying' during my CFI prep. One of the things we agreed on was that the day you fly and do not learn something about flying, you should quit. In short, the same applies, the day I learn nothing will be the day I die. That is why I have to say, Gene, I think more appropriately, I believe it would be a poor instructor that allows his student to surpass, or exceed him.
"The comment is a tongue-in-cheek statement with enough truth in it to defend. The highest level of learning is to benefit from the mistakes of those who have gone before. The increased safety of flying is a statement to the fact that today's students and pilots are better."
--I agree whole-heartedly with your views on praise and over-praising. The extending ladder is a nice way to look at it! Unfortunately, I think that one of my own major faults is laziness. I agree that doing things 'right' is the easiest way, but I personally, find myself doing only what needs to be done to achieve a particular standard as opposed to doing everything to my best ability, all the time. This particularly aggravates me about myself, yet I still do not change,
I think out of laziness????
"Old age is still another excuse for laziness."
--To add to your last paragraph about 'ease of doing right', for example, talking on the radio. Obviously one must know what to say and when to say it, this we can teach. What we cannot teach, unfortunately, is the confidence one
gains from 'getting it right'. In my experience, this confidence has helped me improve in other areas even more than continual input from another would have. What does this mean????? ;0)
"The educational law of primacy rules."
Spins are a Stall-Fear Cure
SPINS WERE A ONE TIME THING IN 1914
An unheralded aviation pioneer is, British scientist, F. A. Lindemann. "The Prof", as he was known, led a very checkered scientific and social career from early WWI through WWII. He was an "idea man" and advisor to Churchill for thirty years. He was a social butterfly and a boastful scientific gadfly in the opinion of more capable scientists. However, his place in history could well lie in aviation and you never heard of him?
Born of German/American parents, he spoke heavily accented mumbled English. He knew all the "right" British nobility and used their influence to gain both position and prestige. In 1914 he attempted, but failed because of eyesight, to join the Royal Flying Corps. He then used influence to join the scientific staff of the Royal Aircraft Factory.
In 1914 the "spin" was the most dreaded unintentional flight occurrence which resulted in accidents. More to be feared than the more frequent landing accidents. At least, landing accidents could be explained. Once an aircraft was in a spin there was no way out of it. The spin turns would increase in speed until the ultimate crash. All flight instructors warned, "Get into a spin; get killed". Lindemann initiated a study of the instrument readings and pilot procedures that seemed to cause the stall/spins occurring during turns.
A letter to his father said, "Nobody can make out quite what happened." Lindemann could find no apparent pattern as to when a stall or a resulting spin might occur. A British naval pilot was said to have recovered from a spin. If not known if Lindemann used this event to develop an explanation, a theory, about spins. While never publishing his study results, Lindemann gave many oral accounts of his findings.
The spin frequently occurred when the aircraft stalled in other than an absolutely level condition. If one wing dropped any effort to raise it would cause the other wing to flip over uncontrollably. Even at high speeds, a tight turn might cause one wing to flip over and cause a spin. Without any flight skills, Lindemann had worked out in theory the probable forces which caused and existed in a spin. He also figured out, in theory, the control movements required to counteract these forces.
His study showed that any instinctive response would not work. The rudder must beheld fully against the spin while the nose was kept pointed toward the ground. You could not pull back on the stick until the spin stopped and flying speed was gained. His theory also seemed to indicate that during the recovery the wings of the plane could be pulled off. The way Lindemann used to test his theories was somewhat akin to a medical researcher doing a self inoculation for a deadly disease.
He insisted that further study to prove the theory required that scientists fly. He worked through and around the bureaucracy, used influence, memorized the eye chart for his "blind" eye and learned to fly "poorly". One 1914 flight of uncertain date justifies Lindemann's place in history. One Fall day, he discussed his theories on spin recovery and the planned experiment with observers at Farnborough Aerodrome. He would be using a B.E.2 aircraft of most uncertain flight characteristics. The fragile airframe was held together by a maze of wires and struts that maximized a power off vertical speed of about 90 mph. He told them he would deliberately do a stall spin. He certainly must have said his good-byes. He departed and climbed for many minutes. Far below, the observers saw him reach what must have been the B.E 2's service ceiling of 14,000 feet. They saw the spin well before they heard the cessation of engine noise.
Lindemann now began to test his theory. He pulled the power, slowed the plane and entered into a stall. He held the stall until the left wing dipped and the right wing flipped up for the spin entry. A deliberate entry into a maneuver from which no one had previously recovered and few had survived. A maximum test of accountability and courage.
Lindemann held the spin, intentionally or otherwise, until it was fully established and then he initiated his unique recovery. A planned application of control forces never before applied. He put in full opposite rudder. Nothing happened. He waited. Still nothing happened. He applied forward control pressure. He had already fallen thousands of feet with no control effect discernible. Was his theory going to fail at this critical moment? But the rudder was starting to have an effect. The spin was slowing and finally stopped. From the vertical, but without the spin Lindemann now had to complete a recovery. Survival demanded that the pull out would not remove the wings from the fuselage. Slowly, carefully the nose rose and as it rose the aircraft slowed thus easing the stress on its components. The first intentional spin and recovery. All that and survival. Enough?
One such experiment and proof would have satisfied most people, but not Lindemann. He climbed back up to altitude and did the spin and recovery in the other direction. A theory twice applied and proven to be a life saver. From that day on, a pilot's education has not been deemed complete without spin training. (Except, of course, in the U.S. by the FAA).
The British had a military secret. It combined two of the very best qualities of military combat. Deception and survival. A British pilot, when out-numbered or fearing for his life, could deliberately enter a spin. To the enemy such a maneuver was not survivable. The Germans would circle and wait for the inevitable crash of their 'kill'.
Imagine their chagrin, when the British plane would level out close to the ground and scoot to safety. Indeed, the spin was often used in WWI as a deliberate escape maneuver. I wasn't long before the Germans discovered the deception and began to follow spinning planes all the way to the ground. It is not known how the Germans gained the secret of spin recovery. Pilots are known to brag about their flying exploits while talking flying with other pilots.
Most great aircraft flights recorded in aviation history are about distances, speeds and kills. Why not a special "save" category for Lindemann along with Immelman? But again, wouldn't your entering his name into your memory and applying his theory and practice to your own "Lindemann" spin recovery be sufficient.
An aside: In WWII Lindemann served as Churchhill's scientific advisor. He stood alone against all other British scientists in his contention that the greater military potential lay in infra-red than in radar. He lost the contest in WWII and radar saved Britain. In 1990, Lindeman was partially vindicated. Desert Storm would not have been possible without infra-red. A little known man of his time and ahead of his time.
The main reason the FAA no longer requires spin training is because the base to final turn is too low to make a spin recovery. The cure is in learning to do ground reference. In ground reference you learn to adjust your ground track to the wind conditions.
The hazard of the base to final turn occurs when the wind is blowing across the runway in a direction that makes you have a tail wind on base. Drawing it out is the best way to see what occurs.
If the pilot fails to adjust the downwind leg wider for this crosswind and flies a normal pattern he is getting into trouble. Most pilots do not realize the amount of information they get from their peripheral vision. A pilot who has not flown a wider downwind then makes a normal turn to base 30 degrees and 70 knots is ripe for trouble. While in the turn to base, the peripheral vision gives the sense of a significant increase in ground speed due to the tail wind. The pilot raises the nose to slow up. This can greatly reduce the airspeed say as much as 20 knots.
Now, because of the closer downwind pattern, the tail wind has made the base leg significantly shorter in time. Fearing that he/she may overshoot the runway (worse if parallel runways) the base to final turn is made with greater bank. This turn is often made with excess rudder to get the nose around more quickly.
The triple combination of a relatively slow airspeed, steep bank, and excess rudder is all it takes to initiate a spin. Again, the root solution lies in referencing your downwind ground track far enough from the runway to allow a longer
base leg with more time to lead the turn to final.
The Value of a Failure
I was prompted to write the following by the ras group. I will include it in my web site. Failure is the negative side of success. The very important lessons of disappointment and failure while learning to fly need not be destructive of one's ego and desire. The climate of aviation-life focuses on success and achievement.
We are fortunate to have a -rec.aviaiton student- news group that spends considerable time on productive analysis of past failures. The group contains recounts of personal obstacles, disappointments and potholes in their training and
In my opinion, the way you learn to fly the airways toward becoming a pilot is just as important getting there. Failure is an important teacher. Taking the easy way will not build the pilot character needed to overcome obstacles. The 'no trim' Cessna way of learning to fly is a case in point. The lessons learned in overcoming obstacles are those best remembered. The conquering of numerous failures as we all have done in learning landings is an attitude and character builder. Failures contain their own destruction by offering us opportunities. We do not need to avoid the making of a mistake so much as we do to avoid making the same mistake over again.
Flying lessons are expensive. Those who read the advice offered in -rec.aviation student- are finding that one way to learn best how to overcome expensive difficulties is from the sharing of experiences. I have recently read as many as
ten or twelve different opinions offered a student about overcoming a problem. I disagreed with a good number of those opinions. I refrained from entering the fray because I am becoming more accepting of giving the student other optional routes to try. As I learned when I failed that CFI employment checkride, there is a way to fly without using trim.
In flying, it is too expensive to learn your skills by making every possible mistake for yourself. This is the longest and hardest path to learn. You can overcome the paralyzing effects of a failure by turning the existing uncertainty into an opportunity. Learning to fly is not a very long straight line of progress. There are pauses, regressions, and sidesteps. Do not enter into flying with the expectation that you will not experience failure. You will!
There are very few risk free decisions in learning to fly. Along with every risk is an opportunity. Learning to fly is a massive life-style change. You are positioning yourself to be vulnerable to the performance of mistakes. Participation in -rec.aviation.student- will help you accept and understand how others have dealt with their vulnerability. Knowing that others have experienced failure will make you more accepting of your own mistakes.
By maintaining your desire and interest you will embrace and appreciate the learning opportunities ahead. Working through mistakes while learning to fly makes what you achieve acquire more value. You will learn to look beyond past bad experiences but even more you will look for things to learn from this dark side. Thus, your failures give you the character qualities that let you function through and beyond them. As I recently told a young man who had just lost his girlfriend, "Look at it as an opportunity." He did.
What the airlines call transition training, General aviation calls a checkout. It is unfortunate that all the lesson learned by the airlines and the military in training pilots to fly different aircraft has not carried over into G.A. What is involved
is using previous basic skills of flying in one type of aircraft, a trainer, and fitting those skills and habits into a different aircraft.
The transition of habits and skills from one aircraft to another is not as straight forward as it might seem. To some degree it is similar to transferring your driving skills from one car to another of different manufacture, size, and performance. You are going to need to blend existing habits into a new and somewhat different sequence. You are going to need to learn the sounds, the controls and aircraft sensitivity. Some planes are quicker than others; not necessarily faster just more sensitive and slicker. How much you anticipate what comes next will require a change in perception, timing. and even personality.
It has always been my objective in transitional training to train my pilots to utilize the best performance capabilities of the aircraft. I cannot accept a pilot who habitually slows a Bonanza to C-172 speeds for airport arrivals. This is a
tragic waste of performance capability. The basic proficiency level acquired in a trainer will no longer satisfy the needs of the next level aircraft. Not only do things happen faster, they happen differently. The acceleration time from climb to cruise changes. The number of cockpit adjustments change for each configuration change. You have more things to do and less time to do it in.
When you first see a new aircraft type you have enhanced expectations and apprehensions. Initially, your confidence level will need readjustment. What you know and what you think you know are going to be recycled into a new
learning curve. You must enter into a transition with the expectation that the making of mistakes. Initially, you will make mistakes but with frequency of practice your ability to anticipate will improve and eliminate them. How well
you perform IS related to your basic training and the skills acquired.
The pilot who's basic training included the entire gamut from throttle control, taxi skill, yoke finger touch, radio use, situational awareness, and care of the aircraft is going to transition sooner and better. All of these factors will need further refinement and development to best fit into the requirements of the new aircraft.
How well you fly a new aircraft will depend upon your existing level of training and skill, your level of information retention and how well you reactivate prior instruction. Under stress every pilot can be expected to revert back to first learned techniques. Ideally, there will be sufficient similarity between what you are doing and are expected to do that there will be no conflict of old habits and new training. One should complement the other. Otherwise, considerable unlearning and relearning conflict will exist. The best course, although not always the most practical, is to make a clean break from the old to the new. This will minimize any reversion back to old habits. Experience is not always an advantage.
The first ten hours in type are the most hazardous. It has always been my desire to have my pilots get those first ten hours as quickly and possible. Good checkout/transitional training will expose the trainee to a full gamut of airports,
winds, and terrain. The rudimentary 'one flight checkout' will not suffice in today's complex aviation environment. Poor checkouts cause aircraft damage and potentially accidents. Instructors should be accountable for those they 'checkout'.
Acquiring the Joys of Practice
The human brain is a bio-computer that has a variety of learning and memory processes. The biology of the brain in data recognition and recall present a very close similarity to computer activity. The new science of computer learning
has found more effective ways of learning, improving and mastering complex activities such as flying. Even the old pilot can benefit by acquiring new and effective ways to fly. We can all improve our practice activities in such a way
to learn better and fly more efficiently while learning. If you have ever watched the aerobatic pilots walk and turn with arms as wings as they rehearse, visualize and practice their routine you will understand what I mean.
Before you go out to practice do some light aerobics that will get the juices flowing. Walk briskly through the maneuvers you are about to perform. The small muscles of the body need warming up just as much as do the large ones. I suggest that you talk to every old pilot that you can. Ask them what they would have done differently to assure their physical well being.
Some of the more difficult flight maneuvers that become repetitious or boring should be limited to ten minute sessions or four repeats. To do otherwise puts the practice into the realm where the student's subconscious will be activated
into resistance. The more disturbing the maneuver the more limited should be the practice time. I limit beginning Dutch roll practice to about two minutes during climbout. Usually, by five such sessions the Dutch roll falls into place.
Effective flying practice or study is going to be seriously affected if you are tired, upset, distracted or angry. Studies have shown that you lose 30% of your reasoning ability when suffering from any of these. Flying is too expensive to
fly under these conditions. Time spent studying is mostly wasted. Find something else to do. Don't even fly. Find something to do that will bring the negative condition(s) under control. Cut the session in half if there is no alternative. Five minutes per activity and then a break.
The physical and emotional well being of the practicing pilot is of greater importance than the condition of the aircraft and weather. Pilot ability to make safe judgmental decisions determines the successful outcome of a maneuver. The
effects of distractions in study or flying practice are easily amplified by emotional and physical conditions. An angry or depressed pilot is not going to perform well. Being upset lowers your intelligence level. Behavior becomes emotional rather than rational. Don't fly if you have something else on your mind.
Education, or more accurately the application of learning theory, has shown that the two brain hemispheres have distinct functions in our lives. The left brain side would have everything in an orderly row, without emotion, the source of logic, and broad knowledge. This is where we do our reading, rehearsing, and repetitive exercises. On the other side, the right side, we have our feelings, our intuition, our creativity and spontaneity. We use the right side as our memory bank and source of originality.
Flying is primarily a left brain situation. Maneuvers, and basic skills are primarily referenced by what we see. Effective practice doing any complex skill requires that we have brief periods of alternation between the brain halves. While the doing of a maneuver is left brain, the preparation and analysis is a right brain thing. Doing this alleviates fatigue and will dramatically improve learning. Properly organized, alternating the brain sides will increase enjoyment, comprehension,
and performance. There will be less time for boredom or wasted time.
You should always prepare for your flight at home and still again before you get into the cockpit. Inside the cockpit you should brief aloud, by walking through or drawing the more difficult maneuvers or operations that you expect to perform. IFR activities are done for courses, altitudes, radios, radio communications procedures and sequences as they supposed to occur. Highlight the charts if applicable.
When you fly a maneuver it is assumed that memorization has a part in how you do it. Memorization has to do with the way you use the yoke, apply power, and watch the instruments. One way to heighten your sensitivity to a maneuver is to do it with your eyes closed. (With a safety pilot, of course)
Closing your eyes increases the acuteness of your hearing, sensitizes your touch and you have given your right brain hemisphere dominance. By shutting down the major left brain visual information source the right brain compensates by improving the other senses. When you want to improve your overall visualization of a maneuver close your eyes and you will hear and feel more than you believe possible. What you see during a maneuver is of major importance but there are other senses waiting in the wings.
Alternating the activity between the right/left brain allows you to shift intensity and review several times during a flight lesson. It is expected that you will repeat a specific activity up to three times during a session but then break off to another activity. Repeat these changes as planned for the most efficient use of allotted time. Should time run short, cover everything planned only for less time. Pick up the missed time at the next flight.
It will help both your studying and flying if you find out if your body temperature is highest at a particular time of the day. This high temperature period of about four hours is the best time for you to study and fly. Your learning and remembering will be twice as effective during these times as during other periods. It can be just as useful to learn when your temperature is lowest.
Every training flight must be balanced between flying and practice and right brain or left brain activities. The entire ground/flight session should comprehensively include the following:
1. Briefing of the session for a minimum of 10 minutes for the right brain.
2. A walk-through for 20 minutes of headings, altitudes, and changes for the left brain.
3. A departure to the practice area and getting into position for the right brain.
4. Begin the practice of flight maneuvers for 20 minutes for the left brain.
5. Take a break and do flight maneuvers for 10 minutes for the right brain.
6. Hit the intense practice again for 10 minutes for the left brain.
7. Head for home for 10 minutes of right-brain review of skills.
Every pilot preparing for a checkride knows that there is a marked difference in stress, preparation and attitude from other lessons. A form of stage fright or other sensitivity related stress will affect your approach to a checkride. The underlying situation is you become more concerned with what the DE thinks of you as opposed to what he may think of your flying. Fact is, the DE is looking at your flying and how you use your flying skills to solve the situations that arise. The pilot is the agent but the DE is observing the outcome. The pilot is communicating to the DE via performance. However, you will do much better in your performance emotionally and technically if you do what you do to your own satisfaction. The better you please yourself the better will the DE be pleased. By using creative imagery during the weeks of practice before the checkride you can simulate flight situations you can expect to come during the ride. Don't waste time 'flying' that should be spent practicing. Arrange to fly with pilots who simulate DE behavior.
When you go on a flight to practice you should have available a 'Practice Checklist'. Any session not covering these questions falls short of being a desirable practice.
1. I want to be smooth and patient on maneuver entry.
2. I have timed the elements of a maneuver in sequence?
3. I am established on heading and altitude for my maneuver entry?
4. I have really briefed the steps in the maneuver?
5. I have arranged my practice to vary right and left brain elements?
6. I have briefed the most difficult elements of each maneuver?
7. The flight lesson is a balance between flying review and concentrated practice?
8. No maneuver series should be over 20 minutes.
9. The practice part of the lesson IS going to be enjoyable?
10. I have written down my attainable flight parameters?
11. I have sorted out the parts that need more work than others?
12. I have visualized and walked through what I am going to do?
13. I have reviewed any mental or emotional blocks?
14. I AM going to enjoy the flight lesson practice anyway?
A serious flying student must be able to allocate a study time and situation that is removed from distraction and interference. You cannot study with TV or radio on no matter what you may think. Study space temperature should be on the cool side with fresh air flowing.
The Joy of Practice
All of our lives we have been told to practice. This tome presumes to show how to practice. Though teaching has not changed much in thousands of years, just recently we have found ways to learn faster, easier and more permanently
than in the past 100 years. The brain is the model for the computer. We can impart humanity into our computers by knowing how the brain functions. Computer scientists, educators and others have been using recent studies on the
brain for new ideas for improving learning. Our bio-computer works like any other computer. The more we know about how human learning takes place, the better we can organize our flying sessions. Flying sessions usually consist,
to a considerable extent of practice or practicing.
This subject of how to practice cuts across all styles of flying, levels of experience and ability, as well as age, sex and race. Practice requires careful planning to make use of the new and effective ways to improve your chances of success and professional opportunities in today's world of flying, regardless of the type of flying you do. Already our world is seeing the results of some of this new wave of young, precocious flyers, performing way beyond their years.
As an older pilot who is also a teacher the new technology has proven that you can teach old dogs new tricks. If the older pilot is willing to adapt the new to change the old then remarkable progress is possible. Many newer discoveries regarding aging and the brain have also been replacing past presumptions that the old are incapable. As an older instructor I find that my services are much in demand. The airlines are finding that the age 60 ceiling is becoming a blockage of the smooth transferal of flying knowledge. We have a generation of new pilots who have not been seasoned well nor acquainted with the tradition of practice as it has existed in the past history of aviation.
Practice has almost never been considered as an essential learning/teaching element of one's flying education. Yet, if a student does not get the opportunity, for whatever reason, to practice in the most efficient and effective manner he
will fail. One of the primary keys to flying success is knowing how to practice. Curiously, there are few books on the subject of practice. Most failures are blamed upon time, finances, circumstances or you name it. Fortunately today,
as a by result of extensive brain research, we have acquired new knowledge on memory, motivation, concentration, memory, muscle memory, and other subjects related to successful practice and practicing techniques.
As a professional, constantly searching for new and better ways to improve my own flying skills, as well as improving my teaching abilities, I soon discovered that I and my students knew very little about how to practice. Until now, those
of us who are successful in teaching flying have intuitively or accidentally stumbled into good practice habits. Those who failed to do so, in spite of their innate sensory skills or conscious motivation to succeed, eventually quit or failed
to reach their true potential.
I soon learned that teaching myself and my students how to practice had become the number one priority. In fact, one could go so far as to say that unless a pilot learns not only how to practice, but to actually love practicing, their odds of success in this business are minimal. The best pilots get so enthused with practicing that they constantly misname it by calling it 'flying'
To the true aviator, practicing is like a cook seeking to perfect a new recipe in his kitchen. The best pilot is driven far beyond the norm in seeking a new level breakthrough that propels him to a new and higher level of performance.
Even after flying the Atlantic, Lindbergh was not satisfied and went on to other significant accomplishments. Jimmy Doolittle was a driving force in the development of the ILS and 100-octane fuel. The best current example of an
achieving practitioner of practice is Tiger Woods. He still practices hours a day with his coach even as the greatest golfer in history. With his standards, he should be seeing a little progress. Wood's practice regimen has turned golf into a new and higher level for all players.
The pilot who is to do well must not think of getting into the airplane as 'going flying'. Rather it must be thought of as practicing. You may now say you love flying, more correctly you should say you love practicing. Practice should be
the first commandment of flight training. Practice is usually associated scholastic punishment and painful memories, particularly as a child. My memory is of writing as a punishment; your similar memory exists. To be a good pilot you must learn to look forward to practicing. Practicing flying must become an indispensable part of your life.
Name any famous pilot of the past and read some of his writings. Ask what it was that caused him to devote his life to flying. His most likely answer will be that he discovered that a day of not flying it actually affected his physical well being. It was called flying but today we have every reason to believe it was not flying but practice. He missed the practice that was needed to drive him to the flying perfection that always seemed to escape. If you, as a pilot, are finding a mental or emotional resistance to practice and unable to determine why. It may well be because of practice being used as punishment or in some way associated with former unpleasantness. You may find yourself resisting the act of practicing and not knowing why. This is natural. The unconscious mind in us all tries to protect us
from past unpleasant experiences by suppressing them and will go to great lengths to do so.
Studies have proven that the unconscious mind has no sense of time. When I take a nap in a dark room I have no idea of how long I have slept. If you repeat an action in flying that is associated with earlier unpleasant flying experience; you will call up the feelings associated with those previous unpleasant experiences. You may consciously want to practice a stall, but you may be fighting unconscious resistance due to previous unpleasant experiences associated with practicing other stalls. The most difficult part of learning to fly remains unlearning early unpleasant experiences. The student needs to be an active and honest participant in locating, isolating, analyzing and replacing these unconscious perceptions. There are instructional techniques that allow us to do that today.
An instructor can apply the following for immediate results in improved flying practice techniques. The instructor should set up the lesson to learn and practice in short, but highly concentrated periods of no longer than fifteen minutes at a
time. Then take a short break (10 to 15 minutes). Fly to another practice point, takeoff or put on the hood or do some lazy-eights just for fun. Then return to your practice exercise. Recent studies reveal that the average adult concentration span is less than the time required for three holding patterns or twelve minutes. Pushing an intensive lesson past this time is counter-productive to long-term learning and results in subconscious resistance to learning. There will be a dramatic drop in concentration after any extension of this time especially if the exercise is all-new.
In the case of extremely difficult flying maneuvers or boring, repetitious exercises like holding patterns, cut it to ten minutes. By limiting the time, you slide through the subconscious negative sensations that create resistance to learning. The intent is to make this otherwise boring, dull, depressing flying activity incapable of activating resistance to further study. Known painful or resistant practice exercises like steep turns or stalls should be restricted to five consecutive minutes, no more. Those five painful minutes can be repeated at intervals, two to three times a flight.
Don't expect to fly well when emotionally or physically stressed, or when you are distracted by personal or other concerns. By keeping your intense practice sequences to five minutes or less you reduce the probability of lasting subconscious negative resistance. When you find your concentration wandering, let the instructor know, ask for a for a minute or two break doing recreational flying of your own choice. Take deep breaths when you fell the stress and
fatigue building. It is important that you build your skill endurance time beyond that of your practice sessions. Review,in your mind, previous flying triumphs and exciting flight experiences that have been augmented by prior practice. Just
as you love flying, you should love practice.
I have flown several twelve hour cross-country flights and found that fuel stops must be used to stimulate circulation in the active body areas through massage and stretching exercises. Never return to the aircraft without getting your blood circulating. Most pilots will feel a lack of muscle tone before the internal organs begin to fail. The older you are the more important the exercises become.
A lack of proper circulation in the area of the lower body can make getting into the aircraft and up to the fuel tanks difficult. The whole body needs to be exercised and the tendons need to be loosened by stretching exercises. Although the muscles and tendons used in flying an airplane or using the radios are smaller, they are still subject to the problems professional athletes' face. Failure to build physical warm-ups into the beginning of your daily practice routine could shorten your flying career.
Today, many students, instructors, DEs, and those that fly other aircraft types, have had their professional careers cut short because of heart, hearing, and other physiological conditions. In most instances, these physiological, career-ending problems could have been avoided. Every young pilot should make a point to discuss with an older pilot who has lost his medical about what he would have done differently if only he had known.
One of the most significant discoveries about the new learning has been that the hemispheres of the brain function and affect flying differently. The left hemisphere (which controls the right side of the body) organizes thoughts in a line, unemotionally, logically and inclusively. This is the hemisphere we rely on most when flying or reading a map, or doing repetitive drills and/or training exercises. The right hemisphere (which controls the left side of the body) is emotional sensitive, reacts intuitively and is spontaneously creative and disorganized in function. It is this hemisphere we most rely on when flying from memory, improvising or flying "by the seat of our pants".
Learn to alternate left-brain skills, such as organizing ground reference drills, planning a tracking procedure to a VOR or flight planning a difficult weather situation with right-brain skills, like flying by sound, by memory or improvising for
a failed instrument. For instance, do 10 to 15 minutes of simulated chart procedures with all radio frequencies written, OBS settings, and headings walked using the right brain. Then run through the missed procedures using a single VOR.
By briefing the approach variations with the left brain, you will discover that fatigue will disappear and learning will dramatically increase. You will also enjoy flying the approach more. Inability to teach or learn flying by alternating the hemispheres in practice is one of the primary culprits in a student becoming bored or feeling that you are wasting your time.
Many pilots "fly" and call it practice. We need to do both. However, we should know the difference between the two. Flying is reviewing something you already know, polishing up the details. Practice is digging in, recognizing, marking, isolating and drilling on the most difficult aspects until they fit along with the rest of the maneuver. Flying should be a reward for spending a few minutes of highly intensive, concentrated practice time. You can fly for much greater lengths
of time without suffering negative feedback than you can when practicing. Practice segments should be short, intense
and separated by rest and joy riding.
As a student, before each lesson you should have done your mental planing, maneuver walk-throughs and technical reviews the best ways to operate the radios and OBS. A very common radio situation failure is recognizing that any
time you reverse direction for the first time you must reverse the OBS at some point. Then go to the most difficult operational sequence you are working on. Changing airspeed, aircraft conformation, and interception of course and
slope. Highlight the most difficult precision requirements. Go immediately to these highlighted places. Review the sequence of headings or altitudes five to ten times, slowly and smoothly (like slow motion) write them out. Make sure that the sequence of altitude and airspeeds are correct. Do this several times as a study, once again before going to the airport, again when in the cockpit and finally as a pre-approach briefing. Pay particular attention to the missed approach procedure.
After a few flights on other routes, practice flying the difficult routes slowly with preparation and then again with minimal preparation but always with a pre-approach briefing and preview of the missed procedure. Never fly any maneuver unprepared for the sequence of parts clearly in mind. You can keep the sequence of headings and altitudes correct and smooth. This is called flying "drill." Drill will do wonders in helping you master difficult maneuvers.
At altitude you should go immediately to the most difficult maneuver sequence you are working on and drill initially on the most difficult maneuver elements then tie them together. Difficult maneuvers should be no more than four complete series in length. If the maneuver is longer, break it into two or more shorter sections. For example, a complete high altitude practice airport pattern could be so divided. Remember that practice takes more concentration. Keep practice (drill) segments short, no longer than five minutes. Always reward yourself for having the discipline to drill by flying a familiar maneuver tune or part of a procedure that you particularly like.
Flying assumes a certain amount of memorization and/or learning
by practice. The most common memorized parts
of a flight are first frequencies, headings and altitudes. All
flying should be done with your eyes open in anticipation
of what comes next. However, when you could close your eyes,
as with a safety pilot, several positive things happen,
your sense of hearing becomes more acute (sensitive). If you
want to pick up the first engine change while leaning, momentarily
close your eyes. Eyes closed, your sense of touch is heightened,
and you have transferred the primary
brain activity from the left to the right hemisphere. The brain
automatically increases sensory stimulation in other areas when
one sensory input is cut off. When you close your eyes, your
sense of hearing and touch are greatly increased,
as compensating factors.
As aviators, we can take advantage of this brain capability by practicing as much as possible with our eyes closed. Just as a blindfold cockpit check can greatly improve your ability to use touch to locate switches and controls, so can the same process improve a pilot's operational efficiency. The eyes are the only sense that you can easily cut off. Learn to hear and feel your power settings, airspeeds, and coordination wind sounds. Fly with your eyes open only when you need to see.
Most basic flying mistakes are either a result of a wrong visualization, an incorrect application of control pressures, or a misapplication of power. Other considerations are fatigue, diet and preparation.
Analyze your mistakes. Use a tape recorder and record at least one walk-through of a maneuver a day and play it back for self-analysis. This is a difficult thing to do. Most of us have a hard time thinking that critically of our own flying. Learning to critically but objectively critique ourselves is one of the most important skills we can develop as pilots.
Never practice flying when you are emotionally upset, tired,
irritated or distracted. Stop immediately. When you find
your mind wandering while practicing, do something else. Return
to practice when you are more composed. Fly maneuvers or exercises
that are calming, inspiring or exciting to you until you have
your negative emotions under
control. If you must practice flying when tired, cut practice
segments in half. Nothing should be longer than five
minutes without a break. Land and take a brisk walk or find something
exciting and distracting to do between flights. A recent study of brain function has shown that a person reacting
in rage has at least a 30% decrease in reasoning function.
One of the most exciting discoveries in learning is that our basic metabolism reveals whether or not we are morning, afternoon, evening or late-evening people. By taking our temperature with a good thermometer every hour (except
when asleep) for two to three days and then noting when it is consistently the highest, should reveal our metabolic preference for flying or study.
Once you discover which category you fit into, try to arrange it so your most creative and concentrated flying work is done during those times. This includes lessons, practice, cross-country, and staying home. The brain can actually
learn twice as fast during these peak periods, which generally last one to four hours. If you haven't discovered whether you are a morning, afternoon or evening pilot, do it as soon as possible. It's critical to your future success.
Pre-plan your flying and flying study time so that family members or friends will know to avoid these times. All distractions must be eliminated from your flying environment or you will have to find somewhere else to study.
Electronic flight simulators can help students 'fly' without disturbing others. I would highly recommend the use of a simulator for IFR approach procedures. Some students claim they can study better with the radio and/or television on. They are under the same illusion that pilots who drink or use drugs fall under. You only think you do better, you actually do much worse. There is research to support this statement. Room temperature should be on the cool side. A warm room is not conducive to the concentration and high energy you need to study. Lack of oxygen will dull the brain and make concentration that much harder. Drink water.
Today we hear a lot about a "balanced diet." We must learn to balance our practice diet when we fly as well. Check off the following areas in your flying practice. Don't skip any of them. They are necessary for good flying health and creative growth:
Holding altitude and headings (5-10 minutes/right brain)
Steep turns (10-20 minutes/left brain)
Flying without instruments (5-10 minutes/right brain)
Review of known maneuvers (20-30 minutes/left brain)
Flying for fun (5-10 minutes/right brain)
Tracking a localizer (5-10 minutes/left brain)
Recall of radio frequencies (5-10 minutes/right brain)
Note that the left brain flying activity is alternated with right brain activity. Keep your practice segments to no more than 15 to 20 minutes. If you do not complete a maneuver series, do the rest after a break. Repeat this practice maneuver series at least twice before going on to something else. Try to complete one complete exercise series at least once each flight, even if you can only spend one to three minutes in each practice exercise. Overtime you go left, plan to do one to the right. You will always have your own preferred dire ction but this is a heads-up that you will need more practice the other way.
Know your flying strengths and weaknesses. If you are uncertain of your weaknesses go up with a competent CFI for a flight analysis. Review your strengths, but concentrate on improving your weaknesses. Practice is working on
your weaknesses. Flying is reviewing your strengths. Both should be part of your practice routine, but emphasize practice over flying.
Self-evaluation takes courage. Use a tape recorder, ask a knowledgeable friend to listen and compare what you say you do with other pilots. Any pilot who cannot identify his or her flying strengths and weaknesses in a couple of
sentences has an unrealistic image of what is going on. Self-evaluation will be too high or too low. One of the greatest motivations to practice more is to see your weaknesses gradually disappear through identification, isolation, analysis and drill. What a thrill!
If you have any trouble with air-sickness or any other hang-ups about performing during a checkride, you must work on it regularly. Pre-checkride stress is a form of stage fright. Stage fright is an extreme form of self-centeredness.
You are more interested in what the examiner thinks of you than what he thinks of your flying. Remember that you are there to fly, and the examiner is there to see your flying, not to see you. You are just an intermediary between the mistakes of your flying and the requirements of the PTS.
Be less concerned with how the examiner reacts to you than how he reacts to your flying. Always perform for one person only. That one person is you. Allow the examiner to sit in on your performance to yourself. Simulate performance situations often through creative imagery every time you fly. Each day of practice should be flown as though the DE was in the back seat. Because of the intensity and focus of attention required during practice, it is important that you go with a safety pilot. To attempt to both do concentrated practice and watch for traffic is foolishly dangerous.
Practice of itself does not make perfect. Only practice of the right kind leads to perfection. Flying progress is not even, smooth, nor fair. Sometimes it seems we are stuck at a level without progress. When that happens, analyze your practice-flying habits with your instructor. You are either doing something wrong, trying too hard, or you have some subconscious attitudinal block. Such blocks can usually be traced back to an early, unpleasant flying experience associated with learning, practicing or performing. Through the latest creative visualization techniques, we can go back into our subconscious minds and unravel these locks through repetitive visualization of positive and pleasant experiences.
Always end each flying session with something you really enjoy doing like a Dutch roll. It's important that you reward yourself for doing well. The more pleased you are with yourself at the end, of a flight the more ready r you will be to begin practice on the next flight.. Flying is a wonderful gift you have been given the rare privilege of enjoying and sharing with others. Share the gift with every opportunity
Ask yourself the following questions after a practice session. Work hard toward being able to answer all of them quickly and correctly.
Am I practicing the right way?
Am I preparing for the lesson?
Do I have the required basic skills?
Have I warmed up properly?
Am I alternating left brain and right brain activities?
Have I identified, marked and drilled the difficult maneuver elements?
Am I practicing a balanced program of the old and new?
Am I keeping my practice of one thing to no more than 15 to 20 minutes?
Do I look forward to practicing? If not, why (analyze)?
Do I have specific goals in mind when I practice?
Do I know my flying strengths and weaknesses?
Do I know how to use creative visualization to correct emotional blocks?
Do I see myself as bringing the wonderful gift of flying to my passengers?
Choose realistic and attainable goals. You will get and sense progress when the improvement is easily apparent. Be patient with yourself. The setting of impossible goals is self-defeating. Aviators who try to meet unrealistic goals almost always give up in frustration. Your most important skill is learning to enjoy flying and most importantly, the enjoyment of practicing. Making your flying better and safer is the ultimate purpose of all practice.
Learning to fly well teaches humility, patience, obedience
and discipline. All are necessary attributes for success in life
and building character. Flying talent is a gift. Be grateful
for your gift and treat it with respect. Use it to bring joy,
peace and happiness to others, as well as yourself! Those who
claim that they too could have been a successful pilot but
chose other opportunities in life, never learned to enjoy practicing.
A teacher once told me that you always have time
to do the things you enjoy. Finally, if you learn to enjoy practicing,
you will stay with it and make progress. It's that
simple. So learn how to practice for fun first.
Looking at Problems
We all have a couple of problems that never leave us. These chronic problems that never can be resolved or put aside for long. They may fade into the background when replaced by more acute problems but they are always there waiting a chance opening to come back. These problems have some basic reason for existence that are as much a part of our existence as are we. In our unique part of the world we have defined the situations significant enough to be called problems. These problems define our personality, our values, our needs and our sensitivity. Our problems are uniquely our own and make us what we are to others.
It is the chronic problems that do the most to define how we will behave, prepare, react and plan. In many cases it is the nature of the individual to lose sight of the real problem in an effort to place responsibility, blame or to seek help. It is emotionally easier to become totally focused on some minor target to one side of the major problem. We can react with anger, resentment, aggression and mental or real tears. With a serious chronic problem we feel frustration and will react to this feeling as we first learned as a child. The rules of learning and behavior are basic and inviolate. We are what we are and in dealing with our problems we must make do with what we are. The people closest to the person with a problem must realize that many of the actions against them are really directed at the problem or some part of it. They are not the target.
A very common behavior is to just try harder to do what we
seem unable to do. We will work hardest on those chronic problems
about which we can do nothing. It is most difficult of all for
those who have succeeded in surmounting an entire life of problems
only to find a problem about which they can do nothing. Instead
of trying harder to do the impossible, one should take the difficult
path of backing off and take a look at the big picture. We must
try to put ourselves into that big picture not with the idea
of changing the unchangeable, but with the intent of learning
how we can adapt ourselves to live within the situation so as
not to make it worse."
We will not be seeking a breakthrough; rather we want to adapt ourselves to be different so as to approach the problem in a different manner. The sharing of successful experiences from those close but not too close to the situation, is the most likely to be helpful
All of this writes easily but the doing requires an emotional surrender as to what constitutes success. You begin by dissecting the problem into its type and parts as best you can. All problems differ but there are four different classifications, which will provide room for all problems. First you find the type of problem you have and then you study how you can use your understanding of its type to come to a resolution if not solution.
As a flight instructor, I am usually most interested in skill
related problems. This is the first type of problems. The person with a skill problem must be diagnosed as to probable
cause. In flying it is usually a perception or knowledge error
or deficiency. Not uncommon is that the first learning experience
failed to provide the correct
understanding and performance parameters for the phase of learning
involved. Even the simplest maneuver has
a collection basics that must be performed in sequence for a
given level of precision. The takeoff and landing
pattern is a complex assortment of parts requiring mental and physical skills any one of which can present a problem to a student pilot.
The nice thing about a flying problem is that the relative motivation for the solution of the problem is extremely high. A student pilot is trying his best to do well and it is the rarest of student who has not experienced the frustration, anger, fear and anxiety caused by one phase of flight instruction or another. Just as students are not perfect, neither are instructors. No matter when or where a problem is likely to exist the instructor must anticipate how to present his lessons in sequence and combination so that the student will not face anything more than a brief difficulty. When a student's efforts do not produce the desired results, the instructor must fill in the missing parts. This is difficult if the student is not a cooperative partner to the process. The process is not one where a power struggle can force the desired result. When it comes to skills the student must get and apply the information required to perform successfully. Since the original presentation of required information failed to produce the desired result, it is up to the instructor to look for creative solutions.
The second type of problems is related to stress. Stress is a necessary aspect of living. A certain amount of stress is required in every learning process, even flying. The good aspect of stress is as the source of motivation to do well and please yourself and others. You want to get value for effort rendered. The bad aspect of stress is when it is caused by unfairness. In our culture we become very sensitive to real or perceived unfairness. When and where unfairness exists we experience stress of the worst kind. There are two sources of stress, external and internal. When events occur outside our realm of control and change our lives indirectly or directly, we react to the events with degrees of anger, resentment and discomfort for the problems created for us. External chronic problems in flying revolve around weather, FAA, maintenance and scheduling. It is important that we see these problems as origin sources for any internal stress reactions we may feel. There are events in this world over which we have no control. The manner in which we accept such events, view them as a personal affront or accept them as being beyond our influence is what we will feel as internal stress. We all have internal stress signals that we have acquired that rise to surface behavior when our stress reaches a critical angle of attack, as does a wing at stall.
Like a wing stall this stress break can occur at any time and for most any reason. We can learn to recognize this event as it has occurred in the past and will occur in the future. The reaction we have may be physical, emotional or a combination. Reactions will vary but consist of craving for the comfort of food, liquor, a smoke, a walk or a conversation. The list goes on and on. Stress derived from external sources will drive our internal stress mechanism to the breakout point and will continue as a drain on wellbeing until it fades much as does a thunderstorm. If the stress factors are on going or repetitive the process will go up and down and wear you down physically and emotionally.
What we need to look for is a stress reliever that can divert
our physical energy, and focus our mental and emotional energy
into another direction. Everybody needs an outlet activity that
will allow stress pressures to
recede if only for a while. When your stress is reduced the problem
can be set aside if only for a while. Many pilots have found
that there comes a break-through in flying where it ceases to
be a source of stress and becomes a source of relief from other
stress sources. You can learn to take a stress break, if not
by flying, by some other activity. When problems become overwhelming
we must have a source of relief.
When it comes to flying I believe that there are several stress areas for students that are preventable from the outset. First stress preventative is financial. Don't get into flying without sufficient money to get you off to a no stress start. Flying eats money like kids eat candy. Secondly, make sure that you have the time to fly at least twice a week and better three times. Third, you must have an instructor and airplanes that will meet your schedule. There is nothing so discouraging as an instructor who does not make himself available when you need him unless it is an airplane out for an annual or engine replacement. Lastly, learn to fly when the weather seems to keep others on the ground. You will learn more about judgment decisions, living with delay, your personal limits and the aircraft safety margins by flying in marginal conditions. Knowing these problems are certain to exist and learning to accommodate to them will help you accept things that cannot be changed.
Another kind of problem type is dissatisfaction. Unlike a
skill problem, dissatisfaction has obvious and known causes.
The sources of dissatisfaction are a constant area of complaint.
The complainer readily acknowledges the existence of the problem
but is unwilling to take the time and effort to do anything about
it. Over time the problem becomes familiar and accepted as a
to be lived with chronic problem.
In the internet news groups common student complaints seem to center about the finding and changing of instructors/FBOs, the weather, fears and landing difficulties. The last tends to be a skill problem but stress related to costs due to lack of progress are certainly involved. Everyone in any occupation depending on good conditions in the outdoors will complain about the weather so there is nothing new about a student having a problem there. No end to problems with instructors and FBOs, costs too high, poor maintenance, scheduling, reliability and permanence. Fears offer a smorgasbord of flying related chronic problems that are innate to humans or acquired as phobias. Comes to mind are such things as flying, falling, heights, enclosure, noise, silence, turbulence, weather, clouds, midairs, crosswinds, discomfort, fire, accident, solo, cross-country, lost, night, progress, debt engine failure, family opposition and more. Any one of these or a combination can be or has been used as a chronic problem expressed as dissatisfaction sufficient to keep a person out of an airplane directly in the face of good advice and solutions. Fears have little to do with facts they are mental and emotional.
My messy garage is a good example of such an emotional garbage can. My wife can vent her frustration from other less obvious problems on to the garage. The positive benefits the garage problem has in offsetting the negatives of other honey-do problems makes it worth keeping as it is. I'm sure that I have other such problems because our associates most easily detect our chronic dissatisfaction problems. They are there to hear the complaining, offer suggestions and solutions that I choose to ignore because I 'know' where things are.
The most difficult chronic problems are the quality of life problems. These problems are a part of our social fabric, job, home, family, location, change and situation. These are the huge 'What IF's of our lives. These chronic problems have an ebb and flow of enthusiasm and disappointment. Over than over things do not turn out as planned. God, fate, circumstance always seems to doom our most careful movements to failure. These problems are the BIG ones that are positioned by our survival needs. What we do is based upon root fears of childhood and define our concept of self-image and aspirations. The pattern of life will repeat over and over for the individual. Multiple jobs, homes, and relationships will pass behind. Hopefully, we use hindsight to better cope successfully with the next event. Some do; some don't.
The process of classifying these types of problems have opened more 'question' doors than 'answer' doors. Those with chronic skill problems require a great desire to achieve satisfaction. Competence is not perfection. Those of you seeking perfection will find that your flying will remain a frustrating chronic problem. Learning to live comfortably with the imperfections of flying usually becomes a way of life. Accept the fact that there is a full range of skill-level in all of us. We will learn and do better when we lean on the knowledge and experience of others.
The stress we feel has mostly to do with how well we feel
about ourselves. A young person does not consider health as a
stress factor as does those fortunate enough to become aged.
Problems exist as stress points in our lives depending very much
on our mental and emotional health. We must be confident and
optimistic about where we are heading in life. Life is far to
short not to enjoy what remains of it. In a life-limited situation
must live to the fullest every day. The everyday stress points
of living are not nearly so important as we would
try to make them. Do something every day that will make a lasting difference. Teach a child. Plant a tree. Kick a stone. We can affect the future though we are captive in the present.
Do not live in a life filled with chronic dissatisfactions. Clean the garage, fix the gate and dig the ditch. Start out taking care of your local dissatisfactions; join with others in the neighborhood, community, county, state and country to eliminate dissatisfaction as a way of life. Solutions to problems will not work unless you do. Work alone is not enough. Work will soon run out of desire unless accompanied observable achievement. The more your life is filled with satisfaction, the more you will accomplish. Life is too short not to seek maximum satisfaction.
The chronic quality of life problem is a series of furtherances
and hinderances like a western movie. You must be able to answer
some pertinent questions quickly and briefly.
--What is the worst short-term problem?
--What is the worst long-term scenario?
--What are you looking for but can't find?
--What is it that you want that always evades your reach?
--How would you describe the 'pattern' of your life?
--Where do you want to wind up?
--Where do you expect to wind up?
--How has fear kept you from ?
--How has your desires helped you?
--How have your concerns held you back?
--How do people treat you?
--What do you need from others that they never give you?
Using Your Answers
--Your answers will help you see your problems.
--If the problem shows up in a new way, use a new way to resolve it.
--Make a list of your stress symptoms.
--Look for those activities that release stress and make a list.
--Make a matching list of stress vs. release to help you plan both prevention and recovery processes.
--Reduce dependence on a dissatisfaction problem as an emotional outlet.
--Solving the problem is a good place to start.
--Start watching others and your feelings toward them.
--Your feelings may show a chronic problem area.
--Take a life changing risk and talk to 'that' someone about your feelings and concerns.
--A dissatisfaction problem is easier to resolve once it has been fully exposed.
--Try talking to someone about your wants and needs and the behavior patterns they cause.
-- Recognition of a behavior pattern is the first step in making a change.
--With every change you make, your confidence will increase and make other changes easier.
--Feelings of embarrassment and discomfort while making changes is normal and a good sign that change exists.
Everyone seems to have at least one chronic problem that has been a life-long albatross. Changes can be made in even the oldest of behavior patterns. We can learn and behave in a new and different manner. We can master a new skill. We can stop stress before it affects our behavior. We need not be concerned about past defeats. We can be assertive, self-confident and get what we want from life.
Just today I came up with a new, for me, problem. I have been diagnosed to have a tendon problem in the ring finger of my right hand. For the last few months I have had a 'l' keep coming up in my typing. I type about 40-wpm as it is and have found the problem with the 'l' both annoying and time consuming.
Problem is called "dupuytren contractrue" which
is a painless and progressive callous on the palm of the hand
caused the finger ligament sheath's reaction to scar tissue.
Cause is unknown but it affects men over 40 and may be hereditary.
The finger will gradually contract inward (hence all the unwanted
'l's.) and be difficult to extend. Problem can be surgically
treated by removal of excess tissue. Chances of success are uncertain
since more damaged tissue may cause problem to reoccur. I intend
to live with problem so long as I can type with my other fingers
and use spell checker to take the 'l's out of it.
Safety is made of little things
Safety in flying is made up of many aspects large and small. It is the small aspects that reoccur most often and have the greatest probability of not being in a pilots repertoire. What follows is a collection of small things that I do and teach because I have found them of safety value. Where a reason or justification may be required I will explain.
Except for the fortunate few, the cost of flying is a major deterrent. If money becomes part of the problem the potential pilot has compounded his learning difficulty. Even the most economical of flying clubs will take money like a sausage grinder. If you are not resigned to this expense and flow, wait. Have the funds set aside and readily available. After money, the student pilot must have time. You will learn faster and safer if you fly frequently. Daily is best only if you have sufficient time to keep the book work caught up. Minimum flights can vary from two to three according to the phase. Any less frequently will limit the efficiency of the process.
Get on the government mailing list. Their advisory circulars are mostly free as is the NASA callback. Addresses on the internet. FAAviation News at $16 is a good buy as is Flight Training (6 months free to students), Get all the back issues you can. Many government texts related to flying can be obtained at the public library.
Begin your flight training in the Fall. Weather problems will help you develop awareness of the local conditions that both affect your ability to fly well and determine whether you should fly at all. By beginning now you will develop the experience and judgment to make safe decisions. By the time such weather next comes around you will have had an extended period of good weather to improve your flight proficiency.
Use a full size cassette tape recorder with a patch cord into the intercom to record all your ground instruction, radio procedure practice, ATC radio communications, and the flight instruction as it occurs in the cockpit. Such a system eliminates engine noise. As a student you will be surprised at how much communication occurs without your being aware of what is said and especially its significance. It is equally important that a pilot know where other aircraft is in relationship to his aircraft as it is to know where he is.
You will improve your awareness by plotting your flight on to an airport and then locating the position and arrival direction of incoming aircraft. Departing aircraft can be plotted as well. This three dimensional chess game is played by ATC and pilots must learn to play the game as well. The sooner you start using the radio, the better.
On arrival at the airport I feel the wind, look at the flags and windsock. I want to develop my skill in judging winds where the ATIS or AWOS provides a reference check. I may need that skill where no references are available. By waiting to copy the ATIS/AWOS until the engine is started you will learn to copy it under adverse conditions such as will be required on your return. Nothing focuses the attention as well as something costing you money.
On preflight besides the things usually on the aircraft checklist I always roll the tires because the cord may be showing on the bottom. One cord layer missing uses up a lot of safety. Additionally, you have learned that a tire of improper inflation is deemed unairworthy by the FAA. A tire gauge is part of your flight kit. If in the starting process a student fails to check the belt attachments of the instructor, at some point during the takeoff the door seems to open.
Taxiing on the line gives me the greatest margin of clearance. I am considerate of other pilots by taking the smallest space in the runup areas that I can. During taxi and run-up I have my mixture leaned since it is a little known manufacturers recommendation. After runup, I position my aircraft to see both the approach and base legs prior to taking the runway.
I climb at trimmed Vy and at 300 AGL I check for runway alignment by letting go of the yoke and turning my head. Above 300 I do shallow banked 30 degree turns or Dutch rolls both to help seeing and being seen. Above the pattern altitude I enter a cruise climb when I plan to climb above 3000 AGL for improved cooling and visibility. Any lower flights are always flown to one side or the other of even 500s and 1000s which makes it possible to see and avoid. Once you start doing this you will soon realize the advantages along the busy flyways. Make a practice of flying to the right side of roads and valleys. Avoid VORs and other navigational aids, especially those that are part of IFR approaches. The lower the visibility the more important this last becomes.
The making of turns is one of the first four basics a pilot learns. Small safety factors that exist in this basic should be as much a feature of the performance as the turn itself. When making a series of turns, make the first turn to the left. Why? Because any passing traffic from your vulnerable rear is supposed to be passing on your right. Make a practice of saying, "clear right/left; turn right/left" when you first learn and continue the practice for you flying life. Those with you have a right to know your safety practices are in place.
When you depart home field VFR you never have absolute assurance that you will be able to return VFR. Make a practice of seeking out the minimum safe altitudes that can be flown from any direction. You must know where the power lines are, where the roads lead, where the antenna are, and all the major identifiable points within 15 miles of home field. And when you cant sneak in SVFR, know where the large airport with radar assistance lies as well as the best small airport may be.
When you have a problem, call for the first help you can declaring an emergency too early is less likely to get you into FAA type trouble than doing it too late. Given enough time ATC can find you, guide you, and in some instances land you. Your responsibility is to provide the required time.
Need Not Be Expensive
Keep a supply of "post-its" of different sizes in your flight kit. Make a frequency list on a longer one for what you expect to need on a given leg. Use small one to diagram destination runway and reference points for anticipated arrival or 45 entry. Never fly IFR without a ready supply of large post-its to cover failed instruments.
Don't spend any money for overpriced devices from the local FBO (Fixed Base Operator) or "Sporty's." The following suggestions work just as well for a lot less money.
A COUPLE of heavy rubber bands with a paper clip will wrap around your leg and make a good device to hold small note pads. You can walk with it on.
WEST BEND makes a series of kitchen timers and stop watches that can be bought at flea markets for as little as $8. These can be fastened to broom clips that will hold to the yoke. FBO's sell less capable timers for about $30.
A BROOM clip can be screwed to a spring paper clip with a 1-2 inch screw to hold checklists to yoke. A small plastic rectangle will hold approach plates or writing pad. by making slots into the sides of the plastic you can insert banker's clips (Office Max) that make it possible to change papers with one hand rather than with two hands for ordinary clips. Try to make it possible to do all paper work with one hand.
Keep your ground checklist on a piece of cardboard hung by string around your neck. This should include preflight, pre-start, start, taxi, run-up, and pre-takeoff in one series. A second series should be post landing, taxi, shutdown, and tie-down. The back side of the card should be outlined in red with emergency procedures.
THE ASH tray makes a good pen holder. Fasten a pen or pencil to your clip board with a string long enough to make it useful. Hang a pen or pencil with a couple of rubber bands from the yoke as an emergency scribble digit. Always carry an extra supply of rubber bands.
TAKE TWO old sectionals and cut out a circle 10-12 inches in radius centered on your home airport. Take an old record album cover and cut a circle to maximum size. Center the cardboard and your home airport. Glue the sectional to the cardboard and trim to size. Get a piece of fairly stiff wire or a rubber band. Bend the wire so that it goes through the center of the circle and the other end so that it folds under the circumference. The rubber band must threaded through the center and the ends held with a paper clip. Mark the outer edge of the sectional in 10 degree marks and 30 degree numbers as though it were a VORs. These marks should be magnetic courses centered on your home field. If your home field is near the edge of a sectional this card will make it very easy to plan local flights as well as courses requiring both sides of the sectional. Just slide the wire to the desired course. Crease the circle so it will fold for easy storage. The backside makes a good place for emergency checklists, etc. Backside print-out of radio procedures is part of radio material. Design radio callups, reporting points, and runway expectations so that when looking at the chart on one side, you can flip it over and read the appropriate radio material.
A BASEBALL type cap is invaluable when the sun is low on the horizon. It serves well as a barf bag if not ventilated. A bee in the cockpit is a problem best solved with a cap.
A THIN tube of plastic about 15" long serves well as a fuel gauge. Be sure the plastic is fuel resistant. Hold your finger over the end to hold fuel in tube for measuring. Mark the tube at different levels to get accurate time/fuel/flight conditions consumption. Take fuel measurements before and after each flight until you learn to estimate fuel consumption accurately for the flying you do.
SILICA GEL can be purchased with a plastic basket at Motor Home Suppliers. This will absorb cockpit moisture and protect the interior of an aircraft.
LOSING fuel out of the overflow tube can be fixed by raising that side of the plane on a 1x12 or 1x12 ramp for the low wheel.
A long CLIP BOARD can be cut so as to be 2" narrower and then used sideways. Keep permanent checklist data and flight information such as clearance sequence, rate of climb per mile, time over 5, 10 mile distances, on one side. Have a supply of extra clips to hold notes, etc. Wide clip boards interfere with the yoke.
Sunglasses that pass less than 15% light will reduce acuity. Photochromic lenses may not work well with aircraft windshields. These glasses may not change rapidly enough for certain mountain conditions. Polarized sunglasses should not be used through a laminated windshield. Many glass cockpit aids cannot be read with polarized glasses. Wearing sunglasses will protect the eyes and reduce visual fatigue. Get the best 'blue-blockers' you can afford.
Keep a partial roll of duct-tape and electrical tape in your flight kit. Carry a "Leatherman" knife, tire pressure gauge, and cellular phone. Wear walking shoes. Have an extra pack of velcro to replace where needed in the cockpit.
Use a 'Fanny-pack' to keep your preflight gloves, rags, sump-cup and other things in. Put it on for the preflight and take it off when you are about to get in the plane. Cleaning materials are nice to have available.
The Economics of Emotions
Taking a bad mood or feeling into a flying lesson is going to interfere with your attitude toward the lesson, the instructor and flying itself. Scientific studies have found that discontent, frustration and unstated concerns will drive down initiative, preparation and expectations of success or even improvement. There is a direct relationship between your attitude and your chances of success. The television program you see the night before can influence your mood before a flying lesson.
Your willingness to study or prepare for the lesson is reflected in your attitude. The progress of your fellow students can serve as a source of your frustration and discontent. Any amount of depression can and will be reflected in your reaction to whatever occurs before, during and after the lesson. If you are looking for and expecting failure, you will find it. Your learning, which is dependent upon your reaction to how the lesson is presented, can be made to be a failure just by your claiming that you won’t be able to remember it anyway. One form of this depression is failing to do the appropriate reading and preparation.
This means that the failure of the lesson will be a self full-filling prophecy. The student then can claim success in showing that the material cannot be taught nor learned. The problem is exacerbated if the student knowingly spreads the lessons out so that the average is about one lesson a week or less. This is done regardless of repeated efforts by the instructor to get more frequent lessons to improve retention.
His logbook shows that on average he has had only one lesson a week. The cost has been great in terms of the little and poor progress he has shown. At my insistence he has had a couple of weeks with two and three lessons. He made good progress and I was looking forward to solo. I began working him on the pre-solo written test and he immediately dropped off to less than once a week lessons. Progress ceased and he was regressing back to his previously learned flight practices or lack of them. This reinforces my fears that under stress he may revert back to first taught/learned procedures.
Over a number of flights I have learned much of what his initial instruction did to make my teaching so much more difficult than it should be. Apparently he has only recently overcome his fears of being in the aircraft. During the week when we flew three times he admitted to me that the flight was the first time he had not been frightened. It never entered my mind that such would be the case. At various times he has
said that he was never advised as to how to use the rudder during turns. Even today his rudder use comes as an afterthought and not in anticipation. Airspeed had never been a factor in climbs or descents with ten-knot variations never mentioned or criticized. Trim was flipped one way or another with no specific hands-off airspeed ever sought or achieved. He had never been taught the Dutch roll, a constant airspeed in climb and climbing turns, a leveling off process that involved allowing the aircraft to accelerate. His version of leveling off was by reducing the power. This greatly increased his cost of flight operations in the pattern and most anywhere else. My teaching had to overcome his ‘first learned technique’ by flying a constant climb speed in even in turns and trimming for level while lowering the nose and allowing the aircraft to accelerate to hands-off level flight before making a throttle setting for cruise flight.
The most significant areas of difficulty were his ground orientation, interpretation of ATC instructions and misuse of rudder input and braking while taxiing. The student has found that spreading out the lessons again to once a week is self-defeating. He has agreed to have a go at more frequent lessons and has even asked about what he should read. He needs to complete my 5-6 page pre-solo questions with answers so we can go over them. He needs to make useable checklists for all phases of ground and flight operations. For insurance savings where we fly has instituted phase-checks. He is now faced with that as an additional hurdle as do I.
In the beginning he persisted on using the C-152 checklist where we were flying a C-150. His argument against the making of a checklist consists of two approaches. First, he says that he knows what to do and doesn’t need the list even though I have repeatedly told him to make one. When he does it is right out of the POH. I have even made an aircraft and situational precise pre-flight list for him and he has entered several changes but has yet to make a new list. Often he has the list in front of him but open to a different area than what he is doing.
His argument for not making revisions is that it is unnecessary because he will probably never get to use it by himself. What we have here is the need of me, as the instructor, to understand the relationship between his emotional states and his perception of value. With the number of hours he has had over a year’s time he has reason to question the need and value of further time spent exercising his checklist skills. With such a background of failure or lack of progress I have had to exercise some negotiating and marketing devices to try and rebuild his desire and initiative.
I have giving him a sunset to dusk night familiarization flight even though
he was too unhappy to read the material on night flights as I suggested.
Before we flew I spent an hour explaining how the differences in pre-flight
and power control that were specific to night landings. Then I gave him a
C-172 familiarization flight when the C-150 was down for maintenance. His
objections were about the higher cost and that such a flight would interfere
with his learning the C-150. In this case he did do the suggested reading and
performed reasonably well with the souped-up 180 h.p. C-172. My intent was to
show him where I was taking him. He indicated pleasure with the lesson even
though the speed of the plane required him to speed up his procedures when
compared to the C-150. The similarities may have given him new hope.
If the student drives to the airport upset about his lack of progress, the coming lesson is already working under a handicap. On several occasions when the student told me of his negative feelings about his situation I have urged him to cancel the lesson and call me before the lesson if he foresees problems. He always waits until we are both there. He has seldom been late but almost never does he get there early so that he can do the aircraft pre-flight before I arrive. Seems he is concerned that I will make the flight too long and expensive by flying longer. He knows I will spend at least a half-hour going over what we will do on the flight and even longer if it involves unfamiliar radio work.
At the present time I am teaching such a student. Perhaps better stated would be that I am trying to teach this student. He has fifty some instructional hours for a total cost of over $7,000. Before coming to me as an instructor he had nearly 25 hours of flight time and at least that much ground instruction. The instructor was a personal friend of the same ethnic background
What I found from initial flights with my new student was that his
instruction consisted of absolutely no area familiarization, control of
airspeed, radio procedure instruction, rudder awareness, throttle control,
taxiing skills, and use of the heading indicator for orientation. He had
a checklist but never used it once he thought he knew what to do.
A practice I have repeatedly exposed to his making errors in procedure.
My older son once gave me a definition of insanity that certainly applies to this student. Insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over with the expectation that the results will be different.
Email to Gerald,
There are several different kinds of altitude used by aircraft. The altimeter of the aircraft is usually set barometrical by weighing the air pressure on the earth. This air also presses on the oceans, which vary in high tides to low tides twice a day. The average height of these tides are actually below the land level even at the beach. This average is called mean sea level or MSL.
MSL is the height used by aircraft in most situations. The purpose of broadcasting on weather and ATIS transmissions is to assure than all aircraft have the same setting on their altimeter. This means that they can use their altimeter as another means to avoid hitting each other.
Another altitude is called AGL or above ground level. This is the altitude
you often see in parentheses on charted towers or obstructions. There is also
a radar altimeter which gives continuous AGL readings called absolute
altitudes. GPS is also able to give an altitude reading. This reading is
rarely the same as any of the other altitudes.
I have a suggestion about your concerns with altitude. Make a practice of flying during good weather to fly above obstructions, hills, etc. and get an idea of how low you can go safely. Then at night or in bad weather you can use your knowledge to fly at safe altitudes.
Additionally, I would suggest that when flying within 3000 feet of the
ground that you never fly at even thousands or five-hundreds. Make it a
practice of flying 2300 or 2700 altitudes going eastward and 2400 or 2800
going westward. You will be surprised by the number of aircraft
that are flying over or under these altitudes. Just another form of collision avoidance.
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