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Getting rid of ‘rote’
A student pilot is flying the traffic pattern in a brisk wind. Turning final, he reduces power to nearly idle to maintain the proper glide path, but immediately recognizes that the aircraft is getting too low.
He finds this result confusing. Reducing power at that point worked like charm an hour ago—but an hour ago, there was no strong headwind reducing the trainer’s groundspeed. The student pilot grasps the cause of his miscalculation and vows not to commit the error of rote flying again.
Congratulate the student. He has moved to a higher level of learning.
Any time you find yourself performing a piloting chore without knowing the “why” of your actions, you are flying by rote. As a matter of learning, rote is its lowest level, only a starting point on the way to mastery.
As every flight instructor knows, rote is just one of four levels of learning. The succeeding levels are understanding, application, and correlation. This April 2010 Flight Training article gives descriptions of each level, and examples of how a pilot might function in each in the scenarios presented.
In many subjects, you already enjoy prior knowledge or ready understanding, so the risks of rote are avoided. But in unfamiliar training territory—such as learning to land an aircraft—it can be a necessary hurdle.
“Many poor approaches flown during training, for example, stem from the rote extension of flaps, regardless of changing conditions or the need to compensate for mistakes such as misshapen patterns or incorrect approach speed or altitude,” explains this AOPA Pilot feature on use of flaps.
Rote isn’t only an issue in the teaching and learning of in-flight skills; it also can surface when preparing for the knowledge test. Be sure that your preparation delivers real understanding of the underlying material.
Count on that emphasis extending to your flight test. “As much as possible, examiners should test correlative abilities rather than rote learning,” cautions the Air Safety Institute’s Pilot’s Checkride Guide.
Your flight instructor should know the difference between rote performance and lessons well learned. But if the problem was the presentation, discuss it! Ask for a better demonstration, and rid your training of rote.
YOUR PARTNER IN TRAINING
Pilots accustomed to nontowered airports sometimes are flummoxed when they go to tower-controlled facilities. There’s no need to avoid them. The Air Safety Institute’s Operations at Towered Airports Safety Advisor takes you through the procedures and helps you to gain a clear understanding of how things work.
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time) or from Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you're not already a member, join today and get the pilot’s edge. Login information is available online.
If you doubt the existence of natural-born pilots, Jacob Barson of Allentown, Pa., is likely to change your mind. He won a spot landing contest on May 7, beating out eight other seasoned pilots. He’s a student pilot. And he’s 14. Read more >>
Two wounded veterans who won scholarships for general aviation flight training made their first flights as students May 6 at Manassas Regional/Harry P. Davis Field in Virginia. Read more >>
Building a better flight training experience
What can aviation educators do to make flight training a better product—one that is more likely to succeed for its customers while turning out good aviation citizens? An energetic quest for answers, spurred by the sharing of insights among professionals in the aviation education industry, marked the 2011 Pilot Training Reform Symposium May 4 and 5 in Atlanta. AOPA Director of Flight Training Initiatives Jennifer Storm and Air Safety Institute Chief Flight Instructor JJ Greenway participated in industry panels and led discussions about improving the flight training experience. Read more >>
Although we spend a lot of time training for them, real-world emergencies are rare enough that it’s hardly surprising pilots sometimes get complacent. But emergencies don’t always happen to “other pilots,” and mental preparation can make a big difference when things start to go downhill. Don’t take the head-in-the-sand approach: Put your emergency procedures knowledge to the test with the Air Safety Institute’s latest safety quiz, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency. Take the quiz >>
Piper delivers Warriors to Farmingdale State College
Piper Aircraft recently delivered two new Warriors to Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, N.Y. The school also is purchasing a new Piper Arrow. The three aircraft, a combined purchase of nearly $1 million, will expand Farmingdale’s fleet to 22 airplanes. The college’s professional pilot program capacity will expand from 80 to 125 students.
Flight school planned for N.D. airport
Jamestown Regional Airport in Jamestown, N.D., may soon have a new flight training facility. According to a report in the Grand Forks Herald, Jim Pryor has applied for Part 141 certification from the FAA for the proposed North Dakota International Aviation Academy. Pryor has lined up a flight instructor and also has contacted a local college about a possible program.
Flight service stations: Behind the scenes
Do you know who to contact for the latest information on temporary flight restrictions and notams? Or the weather conditions at your destination at your expected time of arrival? Who do you call to open your flight plan? Flight service is your one-stop shop for all of those services, whether you’re on the ground or in the air. Learn what they do and how to reach them in the Pilot’s Guide to Flight Service online course from the Air Safety Institute.
Sony breach left millions exposed—are you next?
More than 77 million Sony PlayStation Network customers are now victims of a corporate breach. A computer hacker stole names, birthdates, credit card information, and addresses (including email), forcing the company to take down its service. This is just the latest in a long list of corporate breaches putting the identities of millions at risk. Your personal AOPA information continues, as always, to be fiercely protected. However, AOPA understands the times we live in and that even the best systems available could be compromised. That’s why the association has partnered with LifeLock. Read more >>
Fit to fly: Simple steps for your fitness routine
When starting a new diet and exercise program, it’s important to make small changes rather than going all out in the beginning. Each week, try adding one of these mini-tweaks to your daily routine. Within a month you’ll have adopted several good-for-you habits that will stick. AOPA members enrolled in the Medical Services Program get advice like this in a bi-monthly email newsletter to help them stay healthy and keep their medical certificate.
Glare Wizard for Garmin Aera GPS from Pilotmall.com
If glare is an issue for your handheld Garmin Aera GPS, the Glare Wizard is available to tackle the problem. The gadget attaches to the unit and does not interfere with mounting systems. Glare Wizards are available for the Aera 500, 510, 550, and 560. Each sells for $39.99.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: What should I do if a cabin door opens on takeoff?
Answer: The most important task to fulfill if this or any other abnormality presents itself is always to fly the aircraft first. Be familiar with any special procedures your aircraft flight manual might recommend for your specific aircraft. Maintaining control and not becoming distracted by the situation is vitally important. Once you have reached a safe altitude, establish a straight-and-level flight configuration and trim the aircraft. Reduce the airspeed and then make an attempt to close the door. Closing the cabin air vents will reduce cabin pressure and will likely make it easier to get the door secured. If you still cannot get the door closed, your best bet may be to return to the airport and land. For more on emergency procedures, read the Air Safety Institute’s Emergency Procedures Safety Advisor.
Got a question for our technical services staff? Email [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.
What’s New Online
Before Sept. 11, 2001, the airlines had ratios of 100 employees to each airplane in a fleet. Nowadays, those numbers are much lower. Chip Wright explains the meaning behind it all in this week’s Flight Training Blog.
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an application support engineer and member services representative. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
Pilots love to take photos, and they love to share them with other pilots. Now you can upload your flying photos to our online gallery, “Air Mail.” Share your special aviation images, or view and rate more than 7,500 photos (and growing). Photos are put into rotation on the AOPA home page!
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER
Want something to do this weekend? Planning an aviation getaway? See your personalized online calendar of events . We’ve enhanced our calendar so that with one click you can see all of the events listed in the regions you selected when personalizing ePilot . Now you can browse events in your region to make planning easier. You can also bookmark the personalized calendar page to check it as often as you want. Before you take off on an adventure, make sure you check our current aviation weather provided by Jeppesen.
Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics
The next Air Safety Institute Flight Instructor Refresher Clinics are scheduled in Sacramento, Calif., Kansas City, Mo., Albany, N.Y., and Houston, Texas, May 21 and 22; Orlando, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., and Columbus, Ohio, June 4 and 5; San Jose, Calif., and Minneapolis, Minn., June 11 and 12; and Phoenix, Ariz., and Ashburn, Va., June 25 and 26. For a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Can’t make it in person? Sign up for the CFI Refresher Online.
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars
Air Safety Institute Safety Seminars are scheduled in Oshkosh, Wis., July 27 through 29; and Germantown, Tenn., Wichita, Kan., Fort Worth, Texas, and West Houston, Texas, Sept. 12. Topics vary—for details and a complete schedule, see AOPA Online.
Got news? Contact ePilot. Having difficulty using this service? Visit the ePilot Frequently Asked Questions now at AOPA Online or write to [email protected].
Editorial Team: ePilot Flight Training Editor : Jill W. Tallman | ePilot Editor: Sarah Brown | Contributor: Alton K. Marsh