Flight Training - November 2014 - 49
Nibble, wait, and hook
Cast a line to see what your students know
» By Rod Machado
I LOVE THE fishing channel, and not
because it's fun watching a grown
man try to outwit a trout. It's just
exciting to see an angler detect
a nibble on the line, then wait to
set the hook and reel in a prize.
Wise flight instructors often use a
similar strategy of nibble, wait, and
hook to help their students learn
common myths and misconceptions about flying airplanes.
During a recent phase check,
my student and I had just turned
downwind at a towered airport.
After rolling out, he glanced
toward me (I don't know why
students do this while wearing
headsets) and asked, "Did you get
the airport winds?"
That was the nibble that got my
attention. Why does he want to
know the tower-reported winds?
I turned toward him (yes, I had
a headset on; don't ask) and said,
"Wind? Why do you want the wind
the tower reports?" Sometimes a
good follow-up question will help
the student take a bigger bite on
He replied, "I want to know
which way to crab on downwind
My little fishing expedition had
helped reveal a possible flaw in his
understanding of crosswind correction. Time for another question
to clear up this misconception.
"OK, what do you do when
landing at a nontowered airport
without an AWOS/ASOS station or
unicom operator?" I asked.
"Well, I just check for drift and
make a correction," he replied.
"And how often has that strategy
"Never," he confessed.
At this point I asked him why
he thinks a wind report from the
tower, AWOS/ASOS, or unicom
accurately represents the wind
direction and velocity at pattern altitude or in the runway's
touchdown zone. After all, few
anemometers are located near the
beginning of the runway. In fact,
they're occasionally located in the
far corners of an airport, and most
pilots try to avoid landing in the far
corners of an airport.
My point wasn't to embarrass
my student. It was to do what
good instructors do: make sure
students know why they do what
To sink the hook, I asked the following question.
"So, you're saying that if you
were at altitude in a 20-knot wind
during a slipping turn [constant
control deflection assumed here],
your descent rate would increase
when you turn into the wind and
decrease when you turn with the
"Hmmm, I guess there's no reason why the airplane would know
which way the wind blows on it
during the turn," he replied.
I had just reeled in the Willy that
everyone was trying to free.
MY FISHING EXPEDITION HAD HELPED REVEAL A
POSSIBLE FLAW IN HIS UNDERSTANDING OF
CROSSWIND CORRECTIONS. TIME FOR ANOTHER
QUESTION TO CLEAR UP THIS MISCONCEPTION.
On another occasion, my commercial student turned from a left
base onto final approach with the
runway having a slight left crosswind. During the turn, the student
mentioned he was high and would
use a forward slip to lose altitude.
Since I like to fish, I asked, "In
what direction are you going to
He replied that he was going to
continue the left turn past the runway centerline and point the nose
into the left crosswind, followed by
a forward slip to the right.
That's a nibble, but to know how
serious it was, I asked, "Why not
just forward slip to the left while
the nose points to the right of the
centerline?" I waited patiently for
"Oh, we always want to slip with
our nose into the wind since this
results in the airplane descending
The fact is that the airplane's
descent rate in a forward slip isn't
affected by wind. In this example,
it's affected by the degree to which
the flight controls are deflected.
As a practical matter, with this left
crosswind, it's more convenient to
slip to the left since the left wing is
already lowered for the left-sideslip crosswind correction.
So how do flight instructors fish?
They listen for their students to
reveal a misconception about how
aviation works (the nibble). They
wait to set the hook by asking one
or more questions that expose the
flaw in the student's thinking. The
instructor eventually reels in the
prize as he or she corrects the student's misunderstanding. Hmmm, I
think I'll call this fly fishing.
Rod Machado is a flight instructor, author,
educator, and speaker.
Visit his blog (www.rodmachado.com).
NOVEMBER 2014 FLIGHT TRAINING
Flight Training - November 2014
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - November 2014
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover1
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover2
Flight Training - November 2014 - Contents
Flight Training - November 2014 - 2
Flight Training - November 2014 - 3
Flight Training - November 2014 - 4
Flight Training - November 2014 - 5
Flight Training - November 2014 - 6
Flight Training - November 2014 - 7
Flight Training - November 2014 - 8
Flight Training - November 2014 - 9
Flight Training - November 2014 - 10
Flight Training - November 2014 - 11
Flight Training - November 2014 - 12
Flight Training - November 2014 - 13
Flight Training - November 2014 - 14
Flight Training - November 2014 - 15
Flight Training - November 2014 - 16
Flight Training - November 2014 - 17
Flight Training - November 2014 - 18
Flight Training - November 2014 - 19
Flight Training - November 2014 - 20
Flight Training - November 2014 - 21
Flight Training - November 2014 - 22
Flight Training - November 2014 - 23
Flight Training - November 2014 - 24
Flight Training - November 2014 - 25
Flight Training - November 2014 - 26
Flight Training - November 2014 - 27
Flight Training - November 2014 - 28
Flight Training - November 2014 - 29
Flight Training - November 2014 - 30
Flight Training - November 2014 - 31
Flight Training - November 2014 - 32
Flight Training - November 2014 - 33
Flight Training - November 2014 - 34
Flight Training - November 2014 - 35
Flight Training - November 2014 - 36
Flight Training - November 2014 - 37
Flight Training - November 2014 - 38
Flight Training - November 2014 - 39
Flight Training - November 2014 - 40
Flight Training - November 2014 - 41
Flight Training - November 2014 - 42
Flight Training - November 2014 - 43
Flight Training - November 2014 - 44
Flight Training - November 2014 - 45
Flight Training - November 2014 - 46
Flight Training - November 2014 - 47
Flight Training - November 2014 - 48
Flight Training - November 2014 - 49
Flight Training - November 2014 - 50
Flight Training - November 2014 - 51
Flight Training - November 2014 - 52
Flight Training - November 2014 - 53
Flight Training - November 2014 - 54
Flight Training - November 2014 - 55
Flight Training - November 2014 - 56
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover3
Flight Training - November 2014 - Cover4