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Instructor Report

A Good CFI Is Always Learning!

There are basically two ways to present training maneuvers to your students. You can present them as isolated activities or as activities that relate to the actual events student are likely to experience. I hope you choose the latter.

Take stalls, for instance. Often, flight instructors will present stalls to their students without presenting the context in which they could experience the real thing. If a stall is presented as simply a maneuver that's done in straight-and-level flight or out of a turn, the maneuver is nothing more than a bland exercise used to pass a checkride. Wouldn't it be better to surround the maneuver with context by creating the scenario in which it might occur? I think so.

The next time you introduce a student to stalls in a turn, try the following. Begin by telling the student that stalls often occur when a pilot is distracted. Reduce power as if you're approaching to land while in the traffic pattern. Tell the student that ATC has just asked you to follow an airplane on base leg. Explain to the student that, as you're looking for traffic, you overshoot your turn to final and attempt to steepen up the turn. As you do, the airplane exceeds its critical angle of attack and stalls. Voil¿! Context has given the maneuver meaning.

Now your students will be more likely to remember the activity. They are also more likely to be motivated to learn other maneuvers when it becomes apparent that these activities aren't just useless exercises designed to satisfy some bureaucrat's idea of what makes flying safe.

You can apply context to everything you teach. Take turns about a point, for instance. After you introduce your students to the fundamentals of the maneuver, show them its value during a forced landing. Explain that when circling down over a landing site after an engine failure, they will be able to check for wind drift based on the principles that this maneuver teaches. This will help determine the proper landing directions. For instance, the portion of their constant-radius descending turn that requires the steepest bank represents the downwind direction. This means that a landing should be attempted in the opposite direction if possible.

Context is everything when it comes to making flight training maneuvers meaningful to your students. With a little thought and careful preparation, you should be able to present every flight training maneuver in a meaningful context. Your students will really appreciate it.

By Rod Machado

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