November 11, 2012
By Jill W. Tallman
Teresa Guillemot recalls that when she began training for a private pilot certificate in 2005, “it was like learning a foreign language in a foreign land.” A teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum instruction, Guillemot said she was overwhelmed and confused by all the disparate pieces of information she had to assemble to prepare for the knowledge and eventually the practical test. “I thought ground school was going to prepare me for everything,” she said. “And come to find out it’s really bad instruction on how to take the written.”
Guillemot, of Batavia, Ill., was working on an instrument rating when she hit upon the idea for the Aviator’s Practical Organizer, a tool intended to help student and certificated pilots guide and track their progress while retaining the knowledge they need for the practical test. Guillemot presented copies of the organizer to participants in the Girls in Flight Training Academy, held Nov. 3 through 10 at Wilbarger County Airport in Vernon, Texas.
The Aviator’s Practical Organizer is a three-ring binder with tabbed sections that cover the entire practical test standards for the pertinent certificate or rating. Broken down into sections with a checklist for each, the practical test standards are then more easily digested as the student trains.
An aircraft “quick facts” sheet is designed to get students into their trainer’s pilot’s operating handbook to record V speeds, fuel, performance numbers, and other data. Pockets and additional pages can be used to hold notes, handouts, and other resources.
The organizer doesn’t include any type of syllabus or ground materials other than a reference list that a student can use throughout his or her training. Guillemot designed it that way, because it requires the user to build the organizer with information according to how he or she learns, and shows the user the relevance of the information through its practical application. “I have purposefully stayed away from any kind of instruction, as no one can replace your flight instructor, who will determine the best training plan for you,” Guillemot said.
Why did she take the somewhat old-school approach of a notebook rather than an app? “I guess my argument has always been, the checkride is still old school. There’s a lot of technology in apps that can support the instruction as you’re going along, but when you walk into the checkride, you’re still expected to pull out an E6B, a paper chart, and a plotter,” Guillemot said. With that in mind, she’s investigating the possibility of creating a virtual notebook version of the organizer.
The Aviator’s Practical Organizer is sold online for $49.95. Versions are available for the private and commercial certificates and the instrument rating.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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