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Training Tip: Teach it to learn itTraining Tip: Teach it to learn it

The checkride is scheduled, your flight time requirements are met, practice sessions are going well—except for one maneuver that never seems to click. What to do about that?

Photo by Mike Fizer.

Your flight instructor is stumped, and you are getting antsy about the test.

Not an uncommon scenario in flight training. One way to break the logjam is to try a role reversal. Instead of you flying the maneuver and your CFI playing coach and critic, try “teaching” the maneuver to the CFI. You can’t teach what you don’t fully understand, so any gap in your knowledge is likely to be exposed by the switch-around.

Even a minor misconception can have a huge impact on a student pilot’s ability to perform a maneuver to practical test tolerances.

Take crosswind landings: It is observable that some pilots simply can’t get it through their heads that it is okay to land the aircraft with the upwind wing low, which allows the main gear on that side to touch down before the other wheels make contact. They unconsciously—or in some cases, consciously—undo their crosswind corrections before touchdown.

The insight your CFI hopes to convey by having you “teach” the maneuver is that unwinding the crosswind correction prematurely forces the aircraft to drift downwind in the remaining seconds before touchdown—which may then occur with a screech of a side load imparted to the tires. If you are making the error unconsciously, or are too task-saturated to perceive subtle errors during routine practice, having you “teach” the maneuver—with the instructor replicating the flaws in your technique—can highlight the hitch in your handling of the task.

A variation of this idea is a “What am I doing wrong?” exercise: Your instructor performs the maneuver as you have been doing; your job is to observe and isolate the error.

Either approach can find the solution to stubborn problems in a wide range of practical test tasks, from incorrect level-offs after a climb or descent—often a product of retrimming the aircraft before it has restabilized—to steep-turn errors like losing altitude caused by overbanking or applying insufficient up-elevator pressure (or both).

In essence, the teach-to-learn approach makes a fresh perspective on the technical elements of flight training maneuvers available to you while you are free of demanding flight chores.

Perhaps you will even discover that teaching flying is fun, and a worthy goal to set your sights on for the future.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Training and Safety, Aeronautical Decision Making, Flight Instructor
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