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Pinch Hitter

As a non-pilot you may wonder what it would take to be more than a passenger and help your pilot—even becoming a pilot yourself. So, let the fun journey begin!

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For the Flight InstructorFor the Flight Instructor

Safety Spotlight: Pinch Hitter

You have a new student who wants the Pinch Hitter experience? Here’s how to start, including some basic lesson plans to expand upon as needed to suit your student’s needs.

There are two parts to these lesson plans: ground school and basic flying skills. As an instructor, and especially as a Pinch Hitter instructor, you have a unique opportunity: You will be the one to introduce your student to the joys of flying in a new way. Plan instruction carefully and gain your student’s confidence quickly. Keep in mind that some students are taking Pinch Hitter training to help lessen their nerves in the air, so be careful to avoid anything that might startle or frighten them. Make sure that you keep the idea of flying, and especially landing, accessible.

Here are a few pointers from those with experience teaching Pinch Hitter students:

  • Have students fly from the right seat
  • Concentrate on the basics and keep all maneuvers gentle
  • Limit instructional periods to one hour or less
  • Stress attitude flying using exterior visual cues
  • Correlate cardinal headings with compass directions—for example, “Turn left to a heading of west, or 270 degrees”
  • Emphasize the use of elevator trim to relieve control pressure

Of course, landings tend to cause the most apprehension and difficulty for students. Keep things consistent and simple, and be prepared to give subtle help if necessary to avoid any abrupt maneuvers or hard landings. Remember: Pinch Hitter students aren’t working toward an FAA certificate (yet!). Your primary goal is to make this a fun, positive learning experience for them.

Download Pinch Hitter Syllabus