Flight Training - October 2013 - 51

PERCEPTUAL MAGIC

Help students to recognize what they’re seeing or feeling
» By Rod Machado

WHEN DAVID COPPERFIELD made
a Learjet disappear from an airport
tarmac in the 1980s, his audience
was stunned. They had the same
expression on their faces that
an owner has when he forgets a
monthly loan payment and the repo
man makes his Learjet disappear.
The fact that magic surprises
us shouldn’t surprise us at all. It
affects us this way because the
magician does the opposite of
what the educator does. He uses
misdirection to keep us from properly identifying and recognizing
the physical sensations that come
our way. We call these sensations
perceptions. Without them, we’re
unlikely to understand what we’re
experiencing.
Effective flight instructors
help their students recognize and
understand what they’re seeing. A
fundamental concept of military
sniper training is that you become
better at seeing what you become
better at seeing. Practice looking
for out-of-the-ordinary items (think
gun barrel in a tree), or inappropriate patterns in the field (think
helmet on grass), and you eventually become better at finding these
things. Put this principle to use in
the cockpit by helping your students better identify what they’re
perceiving.
We typically introduce students
to flying coordinated by having them look at the ball in the
inclinometer. Then we mention
that a right- or left-deflected ball
is accompanied by a simultaneous
right or left weight displacement
(respectively) on their rear end.
Then we move on, satisfied that
we’ve taught our student something
useful. In fact, it’s doubtful we’ve
taught our students much at all.

The next time you demonstrate
flight control coordination, try
using the following five perceptual
modifiers to help your students
perceive properly: isolate, identify,
exaggerate, eliminate, and compare.
Let’s use these concepts to introduce seat-of-the-pants flying skills.
By isolating sensory stimulation,
you allow your students to better
recognize it. When demonstrating
the postural feeling associated with
a slip or skid, place the airplane in
a slipping or skidding turn—and
keep it there. Point out the relationship between the inclinometer’s
deflected ball (a visual perception) and the feeling in the seat of
the pants (a tactile perception).
Give the student time to recognize and experience these distinct
sensations.
Next, help your students identify
exactly what it is they’re experiencing. You can’t fly coordinated by
the seat of your pants if you don’t
recognize that the G-load in your
pants has shifted to one side. Be
careful how you phrase this, but say
something such as, “Do you notice
how the load on your rear end has
shifted to the right (or left) side of
your derrière?” This may require
some translation if your student
doesn’t speak French.
Sometimes it’s necessary to exaggerate sensory stimulation in order
to properly recognize it. For any
potential stimulation to be experienced by an individual, it must
exceed his or her sensory activation
threshold for that stimulus. Some
people just can’t feel a slight slip
or skid. But they can feel it if you
place the airplane in an extreme
slip or skid and leave it there. Now,
the stimulation is more likely to be
perceived.

Here is where you can take your
teaching skills to the next level. To
better ensure that your students
recognize and understand what it
is that they’re perceiving, eliminate
everything you can that distracts
from that process. Once again, we’re
doing exactly the opposite of what
the magician does. We’re eliminating distractions, not using them.
Have your students temporarily
cover their eyes with both hands
while you fly, then begin a turn and
purposely slip or skid the airplane.
By eliminating visual information,
you’re shutting down one channel
of input and letting the student’s
brain use more resources to process
the relevant channel.
Finally, you want to explore
the full range of available sensory
stimulation by helping your students compare newer stimulation
(new perceptions) with either its
polar opposite or its absence. The
postural feelings associated with a
right slip (or skid) are made more
recognizable when immediately
compared to a left slip or skid of the
same magnitude (its polar opposite). If you’re practicing slow flight,
the distinct feelings of the flight
controls in this condition are more
recognizable when compared to
normal flight (the absence of mushy
controls).
All learning begins with perception. By helping your students
isolate, identify, exaggerate, eliminate, and compare the individual
elements of their experience, you’ll
help them learn faster and much
more thoroughly.
Rod Machado is a flight instructor, author,
educator, and speaker. He has been a pilot
since 1970 and a CFI since 1973. Visit his blog
(www.rodmachado.com).

OCTOBER 2013 FLIGHT TRAINING

/ 51


http://www.rodmachado.com

Flight Training - October 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - October 2013

Flight Training - October 2013
Contents
Member Benefits
Right Seat
Centerline
Letters
Night Flight
Success Story Flight Training Excellence Award Winner
How It Works
After the Checkride
AOPA Action
News From Airventure 2013
ASI News
Tech Tip
Final Exam
Flight Lesson
Flying Carpet
The Oops List
One Pilot, Many Tools
Stop, Look, Listen
Technique
Weather
Accident Report
Fuel Management
Career Advisor
Tech Talk
Familiarity Breeds Good Training
Perceptual Magic
Advertiser Index
Debrief
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flight Training - October 2013
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover2
Flight Training - October 2013 - Contents
Flight Training - October 2013 - 2
Flight Training - October 2013 - 3
Flight Training - October 2013 - Member Benefits
Flight Training - October 2013 - 5
Flight Training - October 2013 - Right Seat
Flight Training - October 2013 - 7
Flight Training - October 2013 - Centerline
Flight Training - October 2013 - 9
Flight Training - October 2013 - Letters
Flight Training - October 2013 - 11
Flight Training - October 2013 - Night Flight
Flight Training - October 2013 - 13
Flight Training - October 2013 - Success Story Flight Training Excellence Award Winner
Flight Training - October 2013 - How It Works
Flight Training - October 2013 - After the Checkride
Flight Training - October 2013 - AOPA Action
Flight Training - October 2013 - News From Airventure 2013
Flight Training - October 2013 - 19
Flight Training - October 2013 - ASI News
Flight Training - October 2013 - Tech Tip
Flight Training - October 2013 - Final Exam
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - October 2013 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - October 2013 - 25
Flight Training - October 2013 - The Oops List
Flight Training - October 2013 - 27
Flight Training - October 2013 - 28
Flight Training - October 2013 - 29
Flight Training - October 2013 - 30
Flight Training - October 2013 - 31
Flight Training - October 2013 - One Pilot, Many Tools
Flight Training - October 2013 - 33
Flight Training - October 2013 - 34
Flight Training - October 2013 - 35
Flight Training - October 2013 - Stop, Look, Listen
Flight Training - October 2013 - 37
Flight Training - October 2013 - 38
Flight Training - October 2013 - 39
Flight Training - October 2013 - Technique
Flight Training - October 2013 - 41
Flight Training - October 2013 - Weather
Flight Training - October 2013 - 43
Flight Training - October 2013 - Accident Report
Flight Training - October 2013 - Fuel Management
Flight Training - October 2013 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - October 2013 - 47
Flight Training - October 2013 - Tech Talk
Flight Training - October 2013 - Familiarity Breeds Good Training
Flight Training - October 2013 - 50
Flight Training - October 2013 - Perceptual Magic
Flight Training - October 2013 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - October 2013 - 53
Flight Training - October 2013 - 54
Flight Training - October 2013 - 55
Flight Training - October 2013 - Debrief
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover3
Flight Training - October 2013 - Cover4
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