Safety Publications/Articles

Teaching to Learn

If you're flight instructing to build time toward an airline career, here's something to consider. At one of our local commuter airlines, a young copilot recently failed his checkride for the upgrade to captain. Apparently, he couldn't intercept a bearing on an NDB ap- proach. This is very unusual, considering that he was a CFII with more than 1,500 hours' dual given. He must have seen hundreds of NDB intercepts and approaches as an instrument flight instructor. Yet he failed his checkride, and this failure will certainly haunt him for years to come.

What happened? I believe this fellow didn't make the most of the time he spent as a flight instructor. I suspect he was more interested in building time than in paying attention to the material he was teaching. Remember, we teach best what we need to learn most, and all of us need to learn stick and rudder skills, stall recovery skills, and instrument flying skills. Teaching these fundamentals to students means that we acquire a better understanding of these concepts and operate airplanes with greater confidence as a result.

So, don't just put in time as the occupant of the right seat; put in time as a flight instructor. The better teacher you are, the better pilot you'll be.

From The Right Seat

Control Hogs

Let Your Students Fly

A student pilot came up to me and said, "My instructor doesn't let me fly all that much. He's always hogging the controls, demonstrating this and demonstrating that. I feel like he's flying on my money."

Hmmm, most of us have heard something like this before. It seems that some instructors are more interested in showing off for their students than they are in helping them to learn. Remember that, as flight instructors, we're not there to show our students how good we are; we're there to show them how good they can be. This means they need stick time. So let 'em have it.

There are times when it's absolutely necessary to demonstrate a maneuver. It may even be necessary to demonstrate a maneuver three, four, or five times in a row. This is how I learned to land in a crosswind. I asked my instructor to show me how it was done. Then I asked him to do it several more times. Watching was tremendously beneficial.

But when it was my turn, it was my turn. Had he grabbed the controls from me the moment I wasn't flying to his satisfaction, I would have felt cheated. More important, I might have felt as though he didn't trust me. Pity the poor student whose instructor always takes the controls away, especially during taxi.

Over the years, I've noticed that the best instructors are just as capable with language as they are with their hands during flight training. Sure, they demonstrate when necessary, but they prefer to talk their students through the maneuver when possible. This is more easily done when the instructor couches his or her instructions in behavioral terms.

For instance, instead of telling a student to get the nose up, the instructor might tell him to place the tip of the cowling on the horizon. Instead of telling a student that she needs more right rudder, he might tell her to push the right rudder in by one-half inch. Instructors who identify their objectives in behavioral terms won't need to touch the controls as often during flight training.

If an instructor has sufficient skill at communication, it's entirely possible (and probable, too) that students, on their very first lesson, will taxi, take off, and perform basic airwork all by themselves. This can be a real confidence booster. But if instructors are always grabbing for the flight controls, this will diminish their student's confidence and performance in the long run.

By Rod Machado

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