Safety Publications/Articles

Professionally Speaking: For the Glory of the Skies

One way to keep your students fascinated with flight is to show them something beautiful every now and then.

Schedule a lesson just before sunrise, so the student can see the sun rise from the air. Or plan the lesson for just before sunset, so he or she can see the day end.

Do you realize how few people in the world have ever seen a sunrise from an airplane cockpit? It really is a special event. Perhaps you have become somewhat jaded by the abundant beauty of the skies, but it's all new and wonderful to your students.

Every part of this great country offers something of beauty. Be sure that your students see it from the air. I grew up in coastal Georgia not far from an island where wild horses still roamed. One of the great thrills of flight was seeing those wild horses. Surely there is something beautiful near your airport. Have you shown it to your students? Doing so not only provides a moment of beauty, it also invites them to join you as a member of a very special club-the club of aviators.

Some things that appear ordinary from the ground do indeed look extraordinary from the special perspective of a cockpit. Have you ever seen an ugly river from the air? Even the most polluted river is lovely from on high, as is the grungiest city.

All too often, learning to fly becomes a constant struggle with heat, noise, and frustration. Take a break every now and then to remind your student-and yourself for that matter-that flying really is very special and very beautiful, that we see the world from a different angle.

Face it, most people don't fall in love with rate of climb, adiabatic lapse rate, or parasitic drag. But they do fall in love-and stay in love-with night flight, dew on a grass strip, and the wonder of the perfect rainbow.

Saint-Exupery, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and John Gillespie McGee didn't write about induced drag; they captured the minds of millions by writing about the beauty of flight.

By the way, you have seen the perfect rainbow, haven't you? You do know that it's not an arc at all, but rather a perfect circle? Many-even most-pilots have never seen a complete, circular rainbow, and don't know how to find it. That's a shame, because it is indeed a very special sight, and God's gift to aviators. It can be seen only from an aircraft.

If you would like to see the perfect rainbow, don't look for it. Instead, look for the shadow of your airplane against a cloud. If the perfectly circular rainbow is to be seen at all, it will be around the shadow of your airplane. In fact, the original symbol of the Beech Aero Club was the rainbow around the airplane.

Once you learn the trick, the perfect rainbow can be found-and shown to others-quite regularly. One of the great joys of flying is introducing that rainbow to other people.

Here's another fact about that rainbow. If you fly in trail with another airplane, you can see the shadows of both airplanes. But you will only see one rainbow. The other pilot can also see both shadows, but only one rainbow. The perfect rainbow you see is there solely for the people in your airplane. Another pilot once explained it this way: "God made that rainbow just for me." Yes, he did, and he also gave you the privilege of sharing it with your students.

The old hymn expresses joy, "for the glory of the skies." Let's share that glory and spread the word.

Ralph Hood is the national CFI marketing mentor for AOPA Project Pilot Instructor.

By Ralph Hood

Back to the Index of Instructor Reports