Safety Publications/Articles

Transition Time

If airplanes were as simple as cars, we'd never worry about transitioning from one to the next. I speak from experience since I usually rent a car when traveling. Most cars are pretty much the same. Put the key in the ignition, twist it, and go. Nevertheless, I always pay for the collision-damage waiver just in case I can't find the brake pedal.

Transitioning between airplanes is more complex than switching cars (especially since FBOs don't offer collision-damage waivers). In this "Instructor Report," Wally Miller shares advice on how you can help make transitions safer.

I'll never forget my fifth-grade science teacher saying, "Class, meteorites have had a great impact on this planet." He was serious, and I was laughing my tiny head off. I love puns (although not as much as I love sitting in the principal's office). So please excuse the pun when I say that Bruce Landsberg will show you how to avoid making an impact on other pilots. Specifically, Bruce discusses how to reduce your chances of bumping into other airplanes at nontowered airports by proper use of CTAF and unicom frequencies.

Finally, I have something to say about instructors who feel they're compensated by the number of words they use per lesson. I'll tell you why good CFIs avoid excessive talking.

From The Right Seat

Talking Vs. Teaching: Sometimes It's Better To Be Quiet

Do you talk too much when teaching? Do you worry that your students might feel they are not getting their money's worth if you're not saying something? I know one CFI who talked so much that, during touch-and-go practice, his student's cork blew. Stopping the airplane on the runway, the student leaned over, opened the right-side door, looked at his instructor, and yelled, "Get out!" This is an example of how frustrating it can be for a student when an instructor mistakes excessive talking for teaching.

The issue here isn't that flight instructors talk, but that they talk so much that it interferes with their student's ability to learn. Some flight instructors feel guilty when they aren't constantly chatting away. In the instructor's mind, he or she can't be teaching without talking. But that doesn't explain how many experienced flight instructors can talk less while their students seem to learn more. The fact is that talking is necessary when giving flight instruction. The secret, however, is not to jumble your student's already overloaded brain with unnecessary verbal inputs. So how do you know how much talk is enough?

First, go directly to the most important source for this information - the student. Ask him whether he prefers that the instructor do a lot of talking, a medium amount, or as little as possible. If he prefers minimum talk, then reinforce the idea that it's the student's responsibility to speak up when he needs help. Periodically ask him again about his preference for CFI talk in flight. It's possible that the student's desires may change, depending on your teaching style and his level of comfort in the cockpit.

Second, give your students permission to silence you when talking might interfere with their concentration. I instruct my students to give me some sort of cue when verbal interference might hinder learning (simulating hari-kari is always an effective physical cue to get the point across). Most students are reluctant to ask for your silence unless you make it comfortable for them to do so. Of course, there will be plenty of times (plenty!) where you must talk, despite a student's request. Usually these events involve the phrase, "Let go, I've got it."

Finally, if you've reviewed the lesson thoroughly before flying with the student, then make the assumption that it's better to talk less rather than more. At its core, all learning is trial and error. When given a little cockpit silence at the appropriate time, students are apt to develop a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the material you present.

By Rod Machado

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