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PTS for CFIs

Free pilot training support for flight instructors

Who among us has never had a student ask, "but where can I learn more about...."? One recently developed-but little known-free resource is the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's new "PTS" for flight instructors.

We're all familiar with the FAA's Practical Test Standards (PTS) used for pilot certification. That document reflects the explosion in the amount of knowledge required of pilots these days, making our task as CFIs ever more daunting. If you're like most of us, you can use some help from time to time in making sure that your students understand some of the more complex subjects.

Enter ASF's version of the PTS-ASF's free Pilot Training Support for flight instructors, a logical outgrowth of the foundation's long-time leadership in providing continuing education for professional flight instructors through Flight Instructor Refresher Courses. ASF's PTS is an impressive collection of free online courses and other training aids that can benefit both you and your students. A quick click to the ASF home page gets you started.

Buttons located along the right margin of the home page link to all of the courses and other aids, many of which are fully interactive. And as with all ASF safety courses and materials, these are available to all pilots-including you and your students-without cost or obligation. ASF safety research and education for general aviation pilots is funded largely through donations from individual pilots and companies interested in promoting aviation safety.

Among the courses now available are:

Runway Safety. Particularly for instructors who work from nontowered airports, teaching students to feel safe and comfortable at towered fields can be a challenge. A good start in preparing students for radio-required airspace is just a click away at the "ASF Runway Safety Program" button.

An interactive training experience guides your students through arrival and departure procedures at two busy towered airports. They'll hear actual ATC clearances that must be understood and followed in order to operate safely. Throughout the program your students will answer questions relevant to the task at hand. The program keeps score and, if enough correct answers are given, a certificate of course completion can be issued. Successful completion of any of the new ASF online training courses also counts as seminar attendance in the FAA Wings pilot proficiency program.

SkySpotter. We all wish there was more time for weather education, but with the exception of instrument training, good weather is a prerequisite for flight training. ASF's SkySpotter interactive training course can help your students to understand the importance of pilot reports (pireps) in helping other pilots, especially when the weather isn't quite so good, as well as weather forecasters' use of pireps in improving forecast products. The course teaches proper pirep formulation and gives hints for the easiest ways to get the pirep into the system.

When your student successfully completes the ASF SkySpotter course, he will be better able to recognize cloud types and the weather conditions those types represent and will better understand the art of visibility estimation. He will also receive a list of locations where the National Weather Service is especially interested in receiving pireps.

Know Before You Go. One concern every pilot shares these days is access to airspace. The attacks of September 11, 2001, brought about numerous large and often-ambiguous airspace restrictions, as well as severe penalties for infractions. The interactive Know Before You Go course has the latest information on airspace restrictions nationwide. It provides your students with up-to-date information on prohibited and restricted airspace, air defense identification zones, temporary flight restrictions, and more. Your fledgling fliers will learn how to get the latest information necessary to operate within or avoid restricted airspace and learn about interception procedures. A stand-alone section provides an opportunity for a review of traditional airspace classifications.

IFR Adventure. A special online program just for IFR pilots and students, IFR Adventure is an interactive discussion of regulations for instrument flight operations. As all instrument instructors know, there's nothing more boring than memorizing regulations but, if related to real-world scenarios, they become interesting and grist for myriad hangar discussions.

IFR Adventure does that relating, taking your students through the preflight planning process and into the cockpit for an actual instrument flight. They'll deal with situations that require intimate knowledge of instrument regulations. Their progress is monitored and, if they've answered enough questions correctly, they'll receive a certificate at the end of the course.

But wait, there's more

While interactive Pilot Training Support for flight instructors programs are the latest way ASF helps CFIs, there are also many traditional programs available on our Web site. Clicking on "Safety Topics" in the right-hand margin of the ASF home page will give you a list of subjects with ASF materials available free to you and your students.

"Publications" gives you access to a host of online resources including accident statistics, Safety Advisor publications, Safety Pilot articles, and more.

The "Training" tab leads to interactive Safety Quizzes that you can assign to your students. You'll also find information on ASF's acclaimed live and online Flight Instructor Refresher Courses at this tab.

Don't leave the training section until you've explored the "GPS manual and simulator" tab. Here you'll find manufacturers' manuals and information on popular GPS receivers. You'll also find links to download GPS simulators to assist you in GPS education. Not all ASF help for CFIs and their students is restricted to the Web. Information on critically acclaimed AOPA Air Safety Foundation live safety seminars is also available on the Web, with schedules searchable by subject, date, or location. If you don't find a convenient live seminar subject or location, you can make the presentation yourself. Click on the "Seminar-in-a Box" tab for a list of subjects. We'll send you audiovisual media, instructor notes, and handouts to support your presentation for a small fee to cover shipping and handling costs. If you don't have access to the Internet, you can request a Seminar-in-a-Box or other ASF materials by calling 800/USA-AOPA (800/872-2672).

For more than 50 years the AOPA Air Safety Foundation has provided flight instructors and their students with state-of-the-art safety education. Your computer is the key to twenty-first century Pilot Training Support tools from ASF.

John Steuernagle, formerly vice president of operations for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation, is a program development consultant.

By John Steuernagle

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