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Feature Article: The Nature of Certainty
In my careers as a school teacher and flight instructor I
have developed 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
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 maneuver the maneuver will cause 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. Having comprehensive study materials
and a question/answer forum such as recreation.aviation.student
on the internet can best do this. 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 left
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 teachers (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 the last.
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.
Last Modified September 25, ©2016 TAGE.COM