Flight Training - March 2011 - 22
By Ralph Butcher
A KEY ELEMENT FOR PROPER TRAINING
OPA’s flight training summit last November revealed additional insights on why 70 to 80 percent of those who start flight training never finish (see “Making It Work” page 24). One participant said, “Change the military training program that has been used since World War II.” Excellent point.
Having experienced Army flight training, I can assure you it has no place in general aviation. The quality of training was superb, but learning under the constant threat of failure is not an enjoyable environment. Contrary to military and university student pilots, most general aviation students have widely diverse backgrounds and are learning to fly for pleasure. Consequently, the primary consideration of any flight instructor should be to tailor training to student ability and background, make it enjoyable, and never underestimate the appeal of flying. Avoid information overload. Take it one step at a time. I give students summaries of sections in the federal aviation regulations and the Aeronautical Information Manual that are required for each stage of instruction. In some cases I state, “Don’t read this gobbledygook, here’s what it means.” Flight instructors must also dispel preconceived notions and concerns that new students often have: The flight instruments are critical, stalls are dangerous, and engine failure results in a crash. To do this, I changed my military-based training syllabi to user-friendly versions in 1980. Here’s my philosophy: Regardless of how bold and confident new students appear, I assume they are scared of flying, wary of airplane structural integrity, and terrified of failure. How I deal with this is reflected in my first three lessons, which are short flights lasting no more than 30 to 40 minutes. Does this action extend time to solo? Yes, but it reduces total training time and makes my job much easier. I keep the six flight instruments covered during all three lessons and explain that those instruments are not needed to fly the airplane safely, providing the pilot understands the relationships between airplane attitude—which I define using the wing for reference—and engine power, knowledge that’s easy to acquire with proper instruction. I emphasize the importance of looking outside the cockpit in order to manage attitude, evaluate surface wind and forced landing options, and watch for other aircraft. Lesson one is the initial demonstration flight where I apply the principle of primacy: “The state of being first often creates a strong, almost unshakable, impression.”
those flights I tell students that they obviously enjoyed the first flight, but now it has become somewhat complicated. How would they like to return to the land of simplicity? “Absolutely,” they answer without fail. So I tell them with proper attitude and power management, they will automatically eliminate unwanted deviations. We then start lesson four using visual and instrument reference, which for most other students is their first lesson that introduces straight-and-level flight, turns, climbs, and descents. The late William Kershner, the author of several aviation training manuals, used the term "whole-part-whole instruction" in his flight instructor manual. That’s what I have done with the first four lessons. I start with an overview of flying an airplane, during which I dispel
TAILOR TRAINING TO STUDENT ABILITY AND BACKGROUND, MAKE IT ENJOYABLE, AND NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE APPEAL OF FLYING.
After takeoff, I fly toward our scenic coastline, point out familiar landmarks, and let students experiment with the flight controls for a few minutes. I then have them stay on the controls while I perform an imminent, flaps-up, poweroff stall with a power-off recovery. When initial buffeting occurs, I have them decrease pitch attitude and observe that the buffeting stopped. I explain that stall recovery is quite simple, and with proper use of the flight controls and power, the airplane will never do something that they can’t control. While still at idle power, I have them maneuver the airplane, and I explain that if the engine had quit—something that’s highly unlikely— the airplane remains fully controllable so that they can glide to a suitable forcedlanding area. The second flight explores all the factors that affect pitch; the third flight explores all factors that affect bank and yaw. After student concerns and myths. The next two lessons break it up into the parts related to pitch, bank, and yaw control. On lesson four I make it whole again, and everyone walks away from the experience with obvious enthusiasm. We’re off to a great start. One factor that I have little control over is the student’s ability to study. So I explain the flight training proverb: No study, no fly! If a student is not prepared for a lesson based on the previous lesson’s postflight discussion, the airplane stays on the ground and we stay in the briefing room. To do otherwise causes nothing but problems as training advances. Students save a lot of money if they hit the books—a mandatory requirement for private pilot certification.
Ralph Butcher has been chief flight instructor for four flight schools in his long and varied career. Visit his website (www.skyroamers.com).
Flight Training - March 2011
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011
Air Safety Institute
Since You Asked
Legal Q & A
The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Where Do You Stand?
Is This Flightopia?
The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Who Will Fly?
Career Pilot News
Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Instructor Burnout
By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover2
Flight Training - March 2011 - Contents
Flight Training - March 2011 - 2
Flight Training - March 2011 - 3
Flight Training - March 2011 - President’s Perspective
Flight Training - March 2011 - 5
Flight Training - March 2011 - Right Seat
Flight Training - March 2011 - 7
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Forum
Flight Training - March 2011 - 9
Flight Training - March 2011 - Going Places?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 11
Flight Training - March 2011 - This Weekend
Flight Training - March 2011 - Tech Tip
Flight Training - March 2011 - Success Story
Flight Training - March 2011 - Air Safety Institute
Flight Training - March 2011 - Since You Asked
Flight Training - March 2011 - 17
Flight Training - March 2011 - Final Exam
Flight Training - March 2011 - Legal Q & A
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - March 2011 - 21
Flight Training - March 2011 - Insights
Flight Training - March 2011 - Checkride
Flight Training - March 2011 - The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Flight Training - March 2011 - 25
Flight Training - March 2011 - 26
Flight Training - March 2011 - 27
Flight Training - March 2011 - 28
Flight Training - March 2011 - 29
Flight Training - March 2011 - Where Do You Stand?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 31
Flight Training - March 2011 - Is This Flightopia?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 33
Flight Training - March 2011 - 34
Flight Training - March 2011 - 35
Flight Training - March 2011 - The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Flight Training - March 2011 - 37
Flight Training - March 2011 - 38
Flight Training - March 2011 - 39
Flight Training - March 2011 - Weather
Flight Training - March 2011 - 41
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - March 2011 - Who Will Fly?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - March 2011 - 45
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Pilot News
Flight Training - March 2011 - Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Instructor Burnout
Flight Training - March 2011 - By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - 50
Flight Training - March 2011 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - March 2011 - 52
Flight Training - March 2011 - 53
Flight Training - March 2011 - 54
Flight Training - March 2011 - 55
Flight Training - March 2011 - 56
Flight Training - March 2011 - 57
Flight Training - March 2011 - 58
Flight Training - March 2011 - 59
Flight Training - March 2011 - 60
Flight Training - March 2011 - 61
Flight Training - March 2011 - 62
Flight Training - March 2011 - 63
Flight Training - March 2011 - Debrief
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover3
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover4