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CFI Report

Pilot Picassos

My friend and fellow CFI Tim Peterson shared a secret with me about how he helps his students to understand the airplane's panel. He has them draw it. Yep, he sits them down in the left seat with a pencil and pad, and sets them to work replicating what they see. Does it work? You bet it does, and here's why.

Have you ever walked through a part of town that you normally drive through? If so, I'm sure you realized how much you'd failed to notice. Anything we do that slows us down forces us to pay attention to detail. Drawing what we see instead of just looking at it is an example.

When your students try this, they, too, will be amazed at what they didn't see. They may notice the 20-degree and 45-degree-bank lines on the face of the attitude indicator. They may also notice that the mixture control knob has little bumps. This is to remind you (by feel only) that the knob isn't the throttle or the carb heat. Students may even discover that the airplane has an alternate static system (which doesn't provide static to the radios, either). Oil pressure levels, cylinder head temps, and maximum rpm limits are just a few of the items students may find.

The next time you have a student sitting idle, give him or her a chance to learn something. While the drawing may not end up in the Guggenheim, it will make your student more familiar with the panel.

By Rod Machado

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