Safety Publications/Articles

Reassembly Required

One of the most useful techniques in flight instruction is the breakdown and reassembly of flight skills as an aid to learning complex tasks. The process works by breaking down the individual elements of a task, then practicing each element individually. Once the parts have been mastered, it's relatively easy to recombine these elements into a functioning whole. The usual result is faster acquisition of any flight skill, with far less student frustration.

The sideslip method for landing in a crosswind is a good example. Breaking it down, we see that during the sideslip to landing, (1) the airplane is kept parallel with the runway centerline using rudder, while (2) aileron is used to remain in the center of the runway.

Breaking down the skill means that you (the instructor) fly the airplane down the runway centerline for the length of the runway (or nearly so) using ailerons, while the student uses rudder to keep the airplane aligned with the runway. Once the student masters this element, you then keep the airplane parallel to the centerline using rudder while the student manipulates the ailerons to remain on the centerline. After two or three practice sorties on rudder and aileron, your student should be ready to try them both at the same time. Voilà, he or she can perform a crosswind sideslip.

Almost any skill can be broken down and reassembled for eventual mastery by the student. Chandelles, landings, steep turns, stalls, and slow flight are just a few examples. You're limited only by your imagination in how you dissect and then reconnect the isolated elements.

By Rod Machado

Back to the Index of Instructor Reports