Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Protecting Your Freedom to Fly

Safety Publications/Articles

Responsibility

It's one thing for a student to scare himself or herself in an airplane, but it's an entirely different thing when a flight instructor does it.

Over the years, I've heard stories of flight instructors who-unintentionally or not-managed to scare their primary students. Think about what that means to the student. An instructor who scares a student may deprive him or her not only of the temporary enjoyment of aviation, but also loss of the joy of aviation for the rest of their lives. Why? Because strong fear can leave an indelible impression on a student's nervous system, especially during the early stages of flight training. Flying or thoughts of flying now become a source of anxiety rather than pleasure. It's little surprise that they may never fly again.

Based on my anecdotal collection of data, the most common source of fear for students is the stall/spin part of training, along with unnecessary and unexpected aerobatic-type maneuvers foisted on the unwary. Students are frightened either because the instructor fails to explain and/or introduce the stall/spin maneuver properly or he attempts to impress his student with some fancy stick-and-pedal work. Yes, I said he because in all the years that I've collected these reports, it's hard to recall even one instance where a female instructor scared her students.

So let's keep this thought in mind. If a student is somehow frightened during a golf or tennis lesson (if such a thing is possible), that student may still find a way to enjoy other sports involving clubs or sticks. The same can't be said for those who want to enjoy flying airplanes. Scaring a primary student means we may scare them out of aviation for the rest of their lives. They might never fly an airplane again, and that's a terrible shame.

By Rod Machado

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