Safety Publications/Articles

Teachable moments

Recently, I spoke with a young CFI who used a phrase that I seldom hear among flight instructors. She used the words teachable moments and said she always looks for them when training students. Teachable moments are those unplanned events offering just the right combination of circumstances to make an important impression on your student.

Suppose, for example, you¿re flying downwind behind another airplane and encounter that airplane¿s slipstream. Depending on the size of the airplane ahead of you and your distance from it, your student might easily be rolled into an immediate and unexpected steep bank.

Can you think of a more meaningful time to impress on your student the effects of wingtip vortices on an airplane? Of course, a slipstream isn¿t anywhere near as strong as most wingtip vortices, but the teachable moment allows you to impress your student with the power of wingtip vortices. ¿You just experienced a propeller slipstream, but if this were a wingtip vortex from a larger airplane, the effect might be 10 to 100 times more powerful.¿

You might be taxiing with a student when he looks down to check his clearance and another airplane enters the taxiway on a collision course. Is there a more perfect time to emphasize the need to stop an airplane anytime a pilot¿s eyes are focused inside instead of outside the cockpit?

There are many opportunities for a flight instructor to seize the moment with teachable moments. What makes these moments so powerful is that they are undeniably real. So keep your wits about you and look for those unplanned opportunities that are so useful in helping students to learn valuable lessons.

By Rod Machado

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