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Feature Article: Instructional sequence
By the second flight the student should have previewed the
aircraft manual. The manual checklist material must be completely
incorporated into that of the student. The next flight's preflight
will use the scratch checklist with the instructor reading the
items while the student does the checking. The student will make
another revision from this tape and use it on the next preflight
under the instructor's supervision. On all future flights the
student will have the plane preflighted and ready at the appointed
time. Fuel, oil, and weather status are confirmed to the instructor
The first three flight lessons are designed to acquire competence
in the four basic maneuvers, climbs, level, descent, power changes,
trim, flaps, stall recognition, and associated turns. I make it
a point to combine the basics with radio procedures, area familiarization,
knowledge of aerodynamics, emergency procedures, and safety. The
next two or three lessons uses ground reference flying to develop
those skills required to fly airport patterns according to wind
With these lessons as the basis we now apply them to takeoff and
landings. These are initially practiced as a unified series of
maneuvers, including downwind, base, final, go-around, climb,
and crosswind. Patterns are practiced with emphasis on power,
airspeeds, trim, and flaps to both the left and right. This is
done initially at altitude to remove the inhibitions caused by
ground proximity. Then it is practiced at a neighboring tower
airport with the go-around occurring progressively closer to the
The next four or five flights are planned as landing practice
at nearby airports in different directions from the home field.
These flights include the procedures of departure, arrival, radio,
checkpoint selection, as well as the actual takeoff/landing procedure.
During the actual closed pattern the instructor takes all responsibility
for communications and traffic watch. This reduction of burden
is important to the success of the student.
The landing lessons are then concentrated at the home field. The
landing lesson just prior to solo consists of an airport exercise
utilizing all runways and common pattern maneuvers. Normally two
or perhaps three supervised solo flight follow at the home field.
The instructor next flies with the student to and from one of
the local fields that have been used previously for landing instruction.
On return, the student is allowed to immediately duplicate the
flight. This is repeated three or four times to all the local
fields with the variety of radio procedures required. The student
now has a circular region of 40-50 mile radius in which he would
be knowledgeable of the area, airports and appropriate procedures.
About this time there will be a change in the instructional approach.
Initially, the instructor will become more strident and demanding
in all parameters. Airspeed is now expected within 2 knots, altitude
within 25 feet, headings within 5 degrees, power settings right
on, trim for hands off, ball centered and banks at 30 degrees.
Aircraft control, situational awareness and assertive communications
are now the goal of every lesson.
Suddenly there is silence. The instructor just sits there and
watches or at most, only points. The instructor expects the student
to note and correct mistakes without intervention. It is best
when the student talks to himself so that the recorder notes what
is transpiring. If deemed necessary, I will take over control,
and speak briefly to make a point before again relinquishing control
The next two or three flights, other than local student solo training
flights, cover proficiency in different types of landings. The
first cross-country training flight is an instructor/student prepared,
planned, and flown. Everything works perfectly. The next flight
is prepared, planned, and flown by the student with the instructor.
Creative instruction presents realistic problems where they naturally
occur and otherwise. Subsequent to these training flights the
student prepared, plans and flies a minimum of ten hours of cross
country with one extended flight. About this time the studying
required to take the written examination should be completed and
the test taken and passed.
When the cross-country requirements have been flown, the proficiency
phase begins. All flight maneuvers are reviewed and practiced
in dual and solo flights to meet the Practical Test Standard requirements.
Preparation is for the oral part of the PTS. This includes knowledge
of weather, sectional, aircraft, manual, computer, FARs, navigation,
radio, and airspace. The skillful pilot is smooth. Aircraft control
is done in anticipation and not reaction. You should know ahead
of time what to expect of the airplane, the atmosphere, and yourself.
It is best to learn a new process related to flying, such as aircraft
radio procedures, without any similar previous experience. This
is especially true if the initial instruction is correctly done.
Every individual has background and experience factors related
to flying that can either make it easier or more difficult. The
instincts of the student may be contradictory and erroneous. The
competent instructor must deal with these and more. The incompetent
instructor often provides fertilizer. Changing habitual behavior
is the single most difficult teaching and learning aspect of instruction.
The goal of habitual behavior makes it even more important that
the first taught or learned process be correct. In an emergency,
a pilot will return to his first learning exposure and react accordingly.
A student because of the instructor's inability to detect erroneous
instincts and perceptions may retain basic flight deficiencies.
This instructional weakness may be fostered by the inherent safety
of the modern aircraft. Yet it is this inherent safety of the
aircraft that conceals the damage done by inadequate instruction.
Even the most docile of aircraft will bite given the opportunity.
The problem lies with the instructor who fails to insist on the
safest of all procedures compared to the relative safety of the
other options. It's not that there is only one way to operate
an airplane. However, of the possible options, one way may provide
more safety options. Therefore it is necessary for the instructor
to be knowledgeable as to the what and why of these options. The
instructor is, hopefully, the medium for exposure to both failures
and successes. The problems students have are directly related
to instructional problems.
The instructor must keep the student advised of what constitutes
desirable performance prior to each lesson. After each lesson,
the different maneuvers should be discussed individually according
to these parameters. Students are ultra sensitive to post flight
critiques. Increased smoothness, accuracy, and confidence can
measure any progress in a lesson. It is important that the instructor
be truthful and not given to false praise. The very nature of
flying makes acceptance of anything less than proficiency to the
highest attainable level downright dangerous. This is regardless
of other time considerations. Total immersion into flying at every
moment is the best and least expensive way to learn to fly. Anything
else is proportionately less efficient. The search for superior
performance begins immediately; the acquisition takes longer.
The instructor should be aware of factors, both within and beyond
the instructional domain, that affect the learning and performance
of the student. The instructor has an ever increasing responsibility
to prepare the student. There is no way the student can be prepared
for every eventuality but the good instructor will try. The actual
flying of the aircraft becomes a background for the required radio
procedures, area orientation, and positioning. Situations must
occur or be created that expose the student to the realities of
flying. Increased self-confidence must not become over-confidence.
Every student and instructor has frustration levels that are evinced
by tangible and intangible evidence. The instructor will anticipate
possible areas of frustration and set the parameters to avoid
problems until they can be approached with the appropriate skills
and knowledge. I try to advise the student that the totally overwhelming
amount of information coming at him through the first few lessons
will rapidly sort itself out. Much of what we do is repetitive,
such as starting the engine. Some skills will take several flights.
The Dutch Roll (needed for crosswind landings) requires up to
five flights before the first satisfactory series. The first ground
reference lesson will be a disaster unless it is presented as
The purpose of extending flight times with students, after they
start making mistakes, is to build up that reserve performance
capacity required to meet future flight requirements. Failure
to have such capacity means that on a subsequent flight the student
may reach a capability/requirement imbalance. The student pilot
can be taught to recognize the progression by having the instructor
note mistakes as they first occur during a flight. Pilot error,
as though a single cause, is an over simplification of how fatigue,
lack of preparation, or pseudo-agnosia (Not knowing what you don't
know)affects a given maneuver.
Every lesson will contain review segments where a higher level
of performance is the goal. Transitions into configurations are
performed more quickly; heading and altitude parameters are closed,
and speed tolerances are tighter. Expectations are raised; self
doubts reduced; and confidence increased. A good lesson always
leaves the student full of anticipation for the next level of
Failure to expose a student to a variety of marginal conditions
be it weather, turbulence, airports or terrain fails to develop
Last Modified September 30, ©2022 TAGE.COM