Safety Publications/Articles

Instructors who don't let students fly

At a recent seminar, I was asked about the difference between inexperienced instructors and those with a great deal of teaching experience. While I’ve always believed that it’s a person’s character that ultimately determines the quality of instruction given to a student, there is one area where experience does make a big difference. As a general rule, new instructors tend not to let the student make the mistakes that are so very necessary for learning to occur.

For instance, one student told me that during the 10 hours of landing practice she’s accumulated so far, her instructor’s hands were either on the controls or were taking the controls away from her during every landing. Further questioning revealed that her instructor is new to the teaching business and doesn’t have the confidence to let his student fly the airplane to landing. What a shame.

If you’re a new instructor, you absolutely need to know how far you can let a student go without taking over the airplane during landing practice, as well as in other areas of training. How do you do that? If you haven’t already received that training, then you need to find yourself an experienced, capable instructor who will help you understand these limits.

That person may either fly with you for an hour or two and demonstrate these limits or discuss them in an extensive ground session. You’ll learn how to prevent the student from getting too slow on final and when to intervene and recover from a bounce, as well as how hard you can let a student land before you need to grab those controls and smooth things out. These are just a few of the items that an experienced CFI is capable of sharing with new instructors.

By Rod Machado

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